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Skeletons do smile

March 22, 2010
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‘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.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. jeremy smiles permalink
    April 21, 2010 9:43 am

    He didn’t so much ‘choose’ to call that track “Mulatu” as base the whole tune around samples of the actual track “Mulatu”, by Mulatu. One might go so far as to say it is almost a cover version.

    I prefer OH NO’s take on ethio-jazz personally but I LOVE those printed sleeves.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

    Jeremy Smiles.

    • djsid permalink*
      April 21, 2010 7:36 pm

      that makes more sense actually. thanks. need to track down the original now then…

  2. Jeremy Smiles permalink
    April 22, 2010 8:30 am

    To my ears Mulatu’s original doesn’t sound at all dated.
    An anomaly in sound!

    Jeremy Smiles.

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