Some music becomes the vogue. Some folks tool their own groove regardless. I think the latter might currently be in the minority. It seems we can`t move for pitched down Trance around here at the moment.
MAX ESSA / DOVODAH! & BURNING PALMS / IS IT BALEARIC..?Max Essa I know is at pains to try to do something slightly different with each release. Not drastic change, but subtle, gradual. Evolve, develop. Over the course of more than 14 solo singles he has moved from “Back To The Beach” to “Burning Palms”, a Michael Chapman-esque urgent strum off into the desert, campfires and the legend of the Joshua Tree. Something about the track makes me think of Kathryn Bigelow`s “Near Dark”, a suggestion of menace in some dusty border town. Broken down bordellos, unseen eyes, and the sudden movement of wind chimes breaking the silence has you checking the shadows as you walk a ghosted main street. The Hardway Brothers put the track in to leather chaps, tie a red `kerchief smartly about its neck and send it, whooping and yehaa-ing, on a cattle run. Now more Joel Schumacher`s “Lost Boys”.
“Dovodah!” takes some inspiration from Adriano Celentano`s “Prisencólinensináinciúsol” and starts out like the Gipsy Kings accompanying Vasco Rossi on “Una Splendida Giornata” before somebody turns out the lights and turns on the smoke machine. Listening is something akin to moving from the terrace at Ibiza`s Space to the interior, from sunshine to “Hablando” banging out and g-stringed go-go dancers suspended above you in cages. Surrounded by an international jet set of freaks on god knows what dressed in welders goggles and little else with the acid you ate for breakfast kicking in. From a snifter on a quiet harbour in the Old Town, to eternal night. Mod. No.4 doing “Zobi”. Italo covers and roast beef remixes, and the Lee Douglas take is a bit of surprise. If you were expecting an epic smooth “Nu-Disco” ride, a “Dancefloor Reaction: Massive” by numbers think again. Instead we get mad drunk incessant cowbell, Pascal`s “Pere Cochon” bongos, and bursts of 808 interrupted by speaker blowing blasts of bass, rewinds, demonic vocals, and fragments of melancholic “How Much Are They?” / “Mad Monks On Zinc” piano, bringing to mind Weatherall`s first shot at remixing the Love Corporation, Midi Rain, Depth Charge, Ian David Loveday and J. Saul Kane.
Is It Balearic..? on Soundcloud.
COOBER PEDY UNIVERSITY BAND / MOON PLAIN EP / KINFOLKTornado Wallace, Tom Moore and Chet Faker. “Moon Plain” sounds like The Hardway Brothers remixing Max Essa. Almunia`s dark Folk / new Floyd driven by Arps. Rabbit In The Moon, Hardkiss, with power chords. Stoner Rock Disco. Soft Rocks name check Hardfloor for their remix, stick their tongues in their cheeks and have me back at Happy Jax in a dungeon full of skinny boys with ponytails and bad skin, or bashing my shins dancing to Fabi Paras at a Bone boat party. “Oblong” could be The Sonic Aesthetic, if a bit more “Miami Vice”. Reversed guitars and the morning after. Don Johnson with a hangover. “Sentenced Beyond The Seas” adds tablas and sounds as nice as Bim Sherman`s acoustic set for On-U until gravity pulls at the ocean and black viscosity rolls in. An Acid House record made on cough syrup.
Soft Rocks on Soundcloud.
FYRE CREW / HARD TIMES / PARKWAYMark, Soft Rocks, and Max are all contemporaries, all referencing a shared past, but Mark has gone way way back. Arthur Baker, John “Jellybean” Benitez, Bob Blank, Fred Zarr. Tee Scott. Streetwise, Emergency. Herbie “The Pump” Powers etched in run-outs. Maybe even a touch of the Hardcastles. Persuasive bass, groovy congas, nagging two-finger refrain. Sparkling synths, and Mark`s beloved dubbed out vocals, song stripped back to chant. The message made simple. Music as a means of escape from the day to day. The dance, a sanctuary, a utopia where colour, creed, religion and sexual orientation are forgotten. A labour of love. A tribute to the music of his youth. It`s not about fashion. The attention to every detail a reflection of Mark`s passion.
To get lost in an artistic endeavour, the creation of something, even for a short while, is to step outside the craziness of our awkwardly ordered world. This is art`s primary function, but does art require an audience? How long can you create simply for creation`s sake? Do we all, from time to time, need the encouragement and confirmation of others? Mark and Parkway / Parkwest are so willfully “out of step” (his words) with current trends, that I do hope someone is listening. The sleepers, in the years to come and in these days of limited runs, they`ll be collecting this shit like Aaron Broomfield.
Parkway Records on Soundcloud.
You can hear tracks from these releases, and others like them, every Saturday on “The Remedy” / local FM (8 – 9 PM Japanese Time) / 11am in the UK (Noon in Europe) / on Karuizawa FM / to stream you need to click on web radio / then chose the first option – インタ-ネトdeラジオ / the shows are archived on Samurai.FM the following week here and you can find the Facebook page here.