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Banana Moon - Delphinium Blue (Funnuvojere Records, 2021)

The latest effort from Massimiliano Pagliara's brilliant imprint is a collab between the head honcho himself and Cocktail d'Amore resident and dear friend Luigi Di Venere, and the results are illuminating, profoundly groovy and filled to the brim with passion.

Chemistry is key within music, whether it be the music made alone or with others, and residing in that second dynamic there is a certain magic that only comes from likeminded people coming together and crafting something in their own collectivised image. And that kind of magic really does flow from every corner of this brand new release from Banana Moon, which consists of Berghain resident and Funnuvojere head honcho Massimiliano Pagliara, and Cocktail D'Amore resident and label head of Philoxenia Records, Luigi Di Venere. Pagliara and Di Venere, who both hail from Italy originally, are shining lights within the Berlin scene and beyond, with both doing the business behind the decks on a regular basis in all the hottest night spots within the city and across the globe. Alongside that, both of them oversee two excellent labels, in the form of Funnuvojere and Philoxenia, both of which we here at Endless Grooves have had the honour of doing reviews for some time now, and to see the labels grow under their stewardship has been a real joy. Pagliara has also released extensively as a producer, with his works characterised by a deep adoration for 80s hardware and an ability to intertwine the key facets of House, Techno, Acid, Downtempo, Dream House and much, much more. Funnuvojere is very much a reflection of his refined take on those aforementioned genres, with every record that has flowed our way from the imprint providing another angle into the mix that has made Funnovojere a buy-on-sight staple. Some recent records of theirs to check out include the excellent 'Minority Resist' EP from Goodbye Mirage (2020), 'Cosmic Perspective' by Reformed Society (2021), and 'Invisible Path' by Clarinets (2021). Di Venere has also turned his hand to productions, abet in slightly differing flavours, with his works covering a mixture of field recordings and ambient musings, with the tracks 'Talking Gongs' and 'Soundscape' indicative of his broad reaching appeal when it comes to sensory engagement. His label Philoxenia, which he runs with Neu Verboten, might just be two releases deep but all signs point to a bright future indeed, with the debut 'HO!' by Steve Marie getting the blood pumping whilst the incredible reissue of 'La Noche Del Atomo' by Mexican producer Decada 2 remains one of the highlights of our year so far. In short, these two have their fingers firmly set on the collectivised pulse, whether it be DJing, making music, curating labels or overseeing superb radio shows, there's an enormity that they bring to the table, a complete audial package that stems from passions that will ignite til the end of days. To peek into their worlds is to see the wheels turn on multiple levels, from the cogs that spurn mixes into life or fuel the groundwork for the next dazzling release, excitement hangs in the air around Pagliara and Di Venere, no matter what kind of endeavour they reach for.

The duo's shared ideals for articulating these varying artistic treads could only really lead to one thing - a joint release, and what a release they have for us. Paligara and Di Venere lay their collective passions bare right from the off, with the name of Banana Moon inspired by the 70s Florentine Rock Club, whilst the name of the album, 'Delphinium Blue', was a favourite flower of the iconic British director Derek Jarman, and that's not even getting into what the music within sounds like. The overarching audial narrative comes across as a love letter of sorts to the Italian House sound of the early 90s, where grooves layered and mingled within themselves alongside an array of Deep House chords and Acid lines, but as always there's a contemporary twist in there to keep us on our toes. Each track is expertly balanced, with the progression keeping its eyes firmly on how the next stanza can flow into view, as little elements slide in from across the pan which keep the mind ticking over. There's plenty of euphoria, tonnes of passionate evocative imagery, and maybe even some imagined sweat to boot, and as you pass through the four tracks you really do imagine not just the shared energies but the inputs that these two put within the music that they make. It creates this joyous harmony that is reflected into our hearts and we reflect it back, a collectivised breath that opens and closes our eyes, as the largest of smiles spread across our faces. Its sometimes hard to describe the vibe that Dance Music creates, but there's all the emotions that you could ever require within this track - and on that note, lets whack it on, crank it up, and maybe have a little bit of fun as we dive into this wonderful record....

Up first comes the aptly named 'Tie Me Up' - which knot style are you using, I wonder? be gentle round the hands. Anyways, the track kicks things off with plenty of energy, rhythmically keeping things very tight indeed, and almost immediately we are greeted with a cutesy kind of arpeggio that chimes in and around the core foundations, never leaving the side of the drums. The kicks remove themselves for a moment, and when they come back up we have the bass line alongside us to get the floor shaking indefinitely, and this outlay seems content to sit back and see how things will unravel. The claps that come into view soon after add so much texture, but its the repeating vocal lines that get the blood pumping beyond belief, our eyes closing and opening to the beats and the energies of it all. The vocals retreat a little bit to provide space for the drums to continue working their magic, and when the melodics come back into view there's a hefty amount of dynamism thrown into their application. The track takes numerous dips in energy that allow for the progression to remain going on strong for some time, with the switch up in density around the 3:30 mark really emphasising the desire to continually move things onwards. The structure changes again soon after, and we are left with a body and mind very much fulfilled by what it has been fed. As openers go, you don't get them much more energetic than this beauty.

Up next comes 'Full Service', and this one starts with the more ravey inspired jumps to get us going. The outlay then fills itself out with a excellent rhythm structure, with a delicate bassline to boot, and as the hats and backdrop chord arrive you just know things really do mean business. The structure is to die for, but its the melodics that arrive soon after which really keep you living, with that classic rhythmic light key stab dominating the mid section of the flow, its momentum chime along to the groove impeccably. The drums move away for a moment to allow the keys the time to breath, and after we wrap our heads around their feel the drums come right back into view once more, with little textured applications making their presence known up above the rhythm. The main key line returns once more to add further flavour to proceedings, before drifting away to provide further focus on the drums and their unending depth, with plenty of dynamism injected into the mix which means there's plenty to explore and much to understand. The keys return one final time, and we are left with a wholesome memory indeed, dreaming of the next moment we might all share together under a banana shaped moon.

Up next comes the 'Kabuki Mix' of the title track, and this one begins with the kicks firmly in the foreground and plenty of ominous sounding elements found deep in the background. The intro focuses on the little things, as tiny elements subtly move their way around the emerging frequencies, and before long these sequences have wrapped their way largely around the excellent drumming pattern. What comes to the forefront as time passes by is a symbiotic acid line, consisting of a key thrust alongside a remarkable recording of a Nightingale song, and this contrast shallows up all of our interest with its beauty and intelligence. The line continues to feel its way out across the top ends of the cut, keeping a steady pace up top that keeps us firmly in place as we dream of the rave, our souls yearning for the heat and the presence of bodies. The track strips it all back around the 4 minute mark, but this feel doesn't last for long as the sound waves continue onwards full throttle, with the acid line making a welcome return into the fold as we drift then drift some more. As if our smiles couldn't get any wider from all the rhythmic and acidic overloads, the drums knock it up massively as kicks and claps hit enormously hard through the middle, giving us the jolt of energy we needed to keep on keeping on. Glorious stuff. To wrap things up, we have 'Polyamory', and this one takes the vibrations down a notch and back into the sultry smooth territories. Things open up with a delicate drumming pattern, with plenty of claps and expressive hi hats filling up the top ends, and as time passes by we see the first semblance of melodic arrive in the form of a repeating note that bounces up and down within. The kicks then drop out for a moment, and this is when the bass sequence comes into view, and before long we are greeted with this gorgeous cascading arpeggio that hangs in the air so superbly, and lets just say we are enticed. The ensemble flows along with real elegance and grace, and just when you thought you didn't need any more, the arpeggio falls away to give way to some truly spectacular chords, which is singular at first but doubles up in true Balearic fashion, creating this call back effect that works so well with the emerging vocal samples. The track takes a dip in energy to allow us time with the melodies, as we stare lovingly at all being presented to us, and as the kicks come back into view the densities have changed. The piano remains but slowly drips away, as the bass features more prominently, and to wrap it up we arrive back at the original outlay, as if we have just passed through an experience full circle. A fitting end to a record that shares passions, memories, idols and interests, and above all else, a friendship, and you feel all of these things (and more) flow from every corner of this wonderful record.

Records that present themselves with their hearts on their sleeves will always have this deeper quality to them, perhaps due to the fact that the concept gets thrown in first and suddenly every element feels like it belongs. Massimiliano Pagliara and Luigi Di Venere clearly have a lot of shared passions, and on 'Delphinium Blue' there's so much to unpack, from their influences through to the wonderful production value and the sense of progression, but perhaps what prevails most is a sense of playfulness that only comes from two people working alongside one another. Deep seated affections come to the fore all over this record, from the dynamic swings in the drumming patterns through to the lustful vocal samples, and back round via the delicate melodic blemishes that cut through the top ends, it all comes presented to us as a package to buy into, and we certainly do buy into it. Each track feels like it occupies a slice of the Massi-Luigi sphere, a shared audial and creative universe that spreads itself out through time and space in order to define a moment in time where these four tracks have found themselves into our world. The feeling is simply infectious, and as debuts go, it remains one of the most compelling of the year, and we for one cannot wait to see what flows from their finger tips next.

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