Skeletons do smile
‘Smile’ is an amazing new album from Ben Lamdin of Nostalgia 77 fame on Impossible Ark records which combines jazz, funk, afrobeat and most obviously the Ethiopian grooves of Mulatu. In fact, it is good to see that Lamdin chose to name one of the tracks ‘Mulatu’ as the nod to the main inspiration for the album is well deserved and a nice touch. There are so many strong tracks on the album it is hard to pick any one out for special praise, but both ‘Positive Force’ and ‘Over The Bridge’ have been getting constant rewinds this weekend. While fans of Alice Russell might just go straight to ‘Adam and Eve’ to hear her stunning voice over the African jazz.
What is all the more impressive is the fact that this isn’t some ensemble piece of master African musicians, it is in truth an homage lovingly created by Lamdin himself using offcuts of previously commissioned library music (the skeletons in his cupboard) as the primary source material. As he himself explains; ‘Skeletons is a made up band. I kid you not – it doesn’t exist. These musicians never stood in the studio together, they just passed through my house or left some scraps of sound behind after sessions we were working on… some of the music here started life as commissions for a library music company, pastiches and forgeries paid for by the current vogue for a certain style of African jazz. Once I’d done a few though I couldn’t stop, it was my default preoccupation, something for me once I’d finished working on other people’s albums. It was relaxation, something that didn’t matter whether it worked or not. The whole LP was made like that, done in the time between recording jobs’.
I’ve picked up the limited edition letterpress vinyl version which is a beautiful designed and printed by atwopipeproblem (shown above), but be quick if you want one of them as they are only doing 300 of them.