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Bosq - Wake Up (Bacalao, 2020)

Heartfelt meaning and soulfulness just reached new heights on this wonderfully warm and bountiful release.

Sometimes the full package of sounds really does a number over listeners and dance floors alike. The infectious paring and distilling of melodies and tones into a rhythmically and joyous experience is something that is often attempted, but not always executed to its fullest extent. Sometimes, to delve deep into the meaning of good groove, you have to have the wisdom and knowledge to pull it off, to create something magical and ever lasting, a musical enriching of the soul that lasts well beyond the listen. Within many genres, from blues, soul to funk, Latin to Afro beat, there was a real exploration of the deep well of human experience, pairing sounds with the mind or the body. The grooves got us on our feet, the words delved into emotion and reflectiveness, and it was the whole spectrum that allowed for people to give into the music as a tool to soundtrack life. It dealt with the good times, the bad times, the inbetweens on occasion, but all the time, it lead back down the road of grounded experience and emotional groove. Today, many individuals and groups constantly search for ways to replicate the feels that sparked inside so many that came before, looking for methods in which to re imagine these environments within a new context. Whilst we live in a increasingly digitalised world, what people really love to reconnect with is that sense of fulfilment only gained from the full band experience. An experience based upon the full on groove, layering of carefully considered textures that fill the room with their delightful and playful energies, where our emotive tendencies are catered for as much as the compulsion to dance is overly satisfied. Setting the bar far and wide in terms of dedicated grooves and selected contexts, these producers occupy an important space within the contemporary dance spectrum. They remind us of where it all came from, pairing the origins with the here and now, blending all of the contextualised atmospheres of the past with the progressive tendencies that give both a club feel but also a pleasurable home listening experience. Connecting to the soul, the heart, that is where we always truly wish to reside.

For a while now, Bosq has been drawing from the never ending pool of Afro beat, Latin, Disco and Funk influences, that he has used frequently as a basis for his own musical creations. His music completely conjures up the same feels that are often associated with the aforementioned genres, a deep love and passion that resides for these genres paired with a brilliant musical outlook that creates real moments of brilliance within his releases. Its the re-imagination that occurs time and again, ripping up the script when it comes to old groove inspired tunes, creating something fresh and invigorating, only adding and not taking away. His music is constantly moving within itself, ticking all the boxes when it comes to straight up music to dance too, but also caters for the tender people, the melodic structure always moving through the motions to give over experiences that will create lasting fulfilment. Its the kind of larger than life feel that really resonates from Bosq's music, but perhaps more importantly is his expertise and depth within sound and genres, the mergence of varying styles that always comes together so flawlessly within his releases. Each record changes the blend up ever so slightly, depending on perhaps, the mood for which each record is most suitable for. He's also not afraid to carry this vibe over to LPs, of which all are brilliant, with his 2013 debut 'Bosq Y Orchestra De Madera' catering to all sides of the groove spectrum, his 2015 'San Jose 51' record featuring the La Candela All Stars a breezy ride through the beauty of Latin goodness, and the stunning 'Celestrial Strut' LP from the same year all demonstrating that it is possible to conjure up real magic through this medium across a full album. His EPs are no less impressive, and act like brilliant bookmarks that cross reference the LPs, along with the inclusion of some incredible edit works. Some particular highlights from a sunny as hell discography include 2013's funky fresh 'Movin' On' EP; the dense edit workout that is 2013's 'Stevie'; the big time 'Gator Boots' release from 2014; the breezy 'Tumbala' EP from 2015; and the superb 2019 cut 'Backstrokin'', featuring former Egypt 80 performer Kaleta, a close collaborator. All in all, if you look for the finer things in your funk, the sultry passion of Latin and Cuban cuts, the effortless percussion of Afrobeat, or the emotive tones of sophisticated disco and boogie, then look no further than Bosq. You will find what you are looking for in his back catalogue, and then some.

So now we arrive at his latest effort, the 'Wake Up' EP featuring guitar wizard Kaleta, and local Columbian legends Justo Valdez and Evan Laflamme. The balance within the record remains to be seen, with a heavy dosage of Afro rhythms across the board, that slips between more straight up riddims before descending into a full on masterclass of the genre's very best. Hardly surprising considering the calibre of Bosq's guests, with Kaleta having a supremely impressive resume, whilst Valdez and Laflamme also bring a high level of enthusiasm, technicality and class to proceedings. It all bands together quite magnificently to give forth an EP that showcases all the beauty found within Afro inspired dance music, a record filled with confidence, powerful performances and moments that will ripple throughout the year and beyond. So lets get into it.

First up comes the title track, with Kaleta leading the way on this one. The track begins off with the congas setting the rhythm, inviting the drums to follow suit and provide the back bone to proceedings. The horn section then really sets the tone, before the switch up melodically brings in the perfectly placed guitar work, singing along with the keys underneath. The horns permeate when needed, in true Afro Beat fashion, they emerge at all the right moments. The tune swings through the motions, before then Kaleta takes centre stage, delivering with grace and precision the heart of the song. His voice floats along to the sublime groove underneath, that slowly bubbles along to the movements through octaves. The switch into the chorus is very effective indeed, the release of energy defined not so much by the instrumentation, but the vocal work, it takes full command of it all. The descend back down to the groove level sees the horns chime back in, adding in further elements that carry the groove along. Its not a minute before the vocals then take centre stage once more, allowing the song to slow down for a second, as the congas and sparse guitar follow Kaleta's call back vocal technique, as the track then simply builds up around that. And just like that, we arrive at the chorus. Simply glorious. You will never get bored of listening to that. Next up comes 'Omo', and the tempo becomes more soft but no less urgent. The percussion is dense and full, as Kaleta's voice signals the horns to come blasting in. The swing is in full effect, the intuitive movements through bars and scenes so fluid, the track revealing more and more to us as time marches on. The vocal work provides this sense of every element talking to each other, as if the horns wish to respond to the voice, the drums grouping together to say something important. It is this kind of vibe and experience that invites you in to reside somewhere within this world filled with all kinds of wonderful trinkets and meaningful pleasantries. What a world we want to live in.

Next comes 'Mambue', that features Valdez and Laflamme. The beat begins off in similar territories to the previous cut, slowly emerging from beyond and moving into our field of vision. The percussion does its thing to create the vitality, then horns and keys fill the world with a sense of personality and interaction. The vocal work once again is enriching and soaring, whilst never having to over stretch, it sits in perfectly within this warm sea of sound. The flavours abound from all over, every corner of this track exudes life and feels, the vibe low slung yet inviting you to get immersed in it all. That might be the key to this record, the level of immersion, it tries its very best to make you free your mind and really focus on the riddims on display. The feeling comes from the highs of the horns and right through the bass, the layering coming across as a world of goodness. The vocal work continues to create that sense of dialogue, floating above and rhythmically calling the instruments to express themselves and live their best life. Wonderful. To finish up, we have 'El Carriqui', and the tempo gets upped just a little bit on this one. The percussion hits true and proud, creating a wave of sound that rushes over the listener to great effect. The melodic movements within create intrigue and engagement, before the bass line moves into the picture. Not before long, the horns have moved front and centre, piercing through the sea of percussion that holds the fort underneath. If immersion and infectiousness can be achieved through sound, then this one tops the lot, and that is quite an achievement. No vocals on this one, but the relationship between instruments remains the same, the infusion of feels and grooves all come across like interactions and the energies that surround them. Drawing much from Afro Beat styling, this one alludes to other genres, such as Jazz fusion and Latin, drawing high and wide to give over one final ever lasting atmosphere that has you dancing when you merely remember it. Damn.

This record is, to put it simply, glorious, in every sense of the word. The combination of brilliant musicians, the wide boundless perimeters of sound that have been set, the clear as water passion that is put into then extracted from every beat and note, it all comes together to create an experience unlike no other. A fusion of all manner of contexts, musical cultures and techniques, it is truly live band dance music for the modern day. Never failing to remind us of the qualities of old, this is the kind of music that would make anyone move, make anyone feel, getting lost in the beautiful complexities of rhythm and chords. Its all here, right here. Immerse yourself.

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