Clarinets - Invisible Path (Funnuvojere Records, 2021)
On the label's 8th release, we see Tbilisi based production whiz Gacha Bakradze conjure up an exceptional slice of progressive Balearic goodness under his new alias Clarinets, with the music only adding further strength to the wonderful Funnuvojere sound.
There are a number of wonderful musical narratives that persist within the contemporary scene, and for sure one of the imprints that we feel has carved out a beautifully consistent story is Funnuvojere Records. The imprint, founded by Italian producer and DJ Massimiliano Pagliara, has revolved around a particular crossroads of dance music's complex tapestry, a space where Balearic atmospheres morph alongside progressive house, deep brooding techno and subtle yet absorbing Italo, with this unique blend of flavours setting the tonal parameters very wide indeed for producers to be welcomed into the fold and bring forth some wondrous music every single time. The discography really sings as a result, with a positive spirit making the music feel interconnected and full of vitality, with plenty of inventive musicianship on display as to keep our hearts and minds firmly in it for the long run, with the dance floor very much catered for but a hefty dosage of home listening opportunity afforded for the astro travellers amongst us. Putting on a Funnuvojere record is a masterclass in melodic outlays, as interwoven layers take over as a key characteristic of the music, with point A exploding into life as all the colours imaginable wrap around us as we head towards point B in the most invigorating of ways, an injection of pure joy into the soul that persists all around us and inside us too. It's a delicate experience that takes it's time to reach full throttle, but when we arrive at that point it feels incredibly natural, with the producers involving blending progressiveness superbly with climatic features, the wavelengths that spew forth forming the most majestic landscape you could ever imagine. Keys and chords bounce off mountain lines, the bass and kicks shake the trees that line the vistas, the tone and ambience flow through the rivers and lakes, and the spirit of it all evokes something very special inside us indeed. It's testament to Pagliara for overseeing it all, his vision for how the label has progressed over time shining through so strongly with each release, with each record enjoying a space of it's own to truly shine but as a collection all the records act as one unit, sharing an interconnected story that shows itself in the melodic outlines and chordal expressionism. All of the previous releases are well worth a mention, which include 'Bath Time' by James Booth, 'Biscotte' by Jules Etienne, 'Awakening' by Rotciv, 'Reason Machine' by Derek Neal (all of which were released in 2019), 'Starlight Keeper' by Armonics, 'Minority Resist' by Goodbye Mirage (both from 2020), and finally 'Cosmic Perspective' by Reformed Society, which arrived earlier this year. The music is consistent in it's flair and an eye for detail, an ever present focus on how music can unwind from a distant horizon line to then flow across a spectacular landscape and arrive right in front of us, it's form and flow a marvel of sound design and purpose as we simply stand back to take it all in. From the surface level right through to the very core of proceedings, the music on Funnuvojere really means something, it's very construction testament to the relevancy of keeping things consistent but also having the scope to look beyond and help feed the desire to keep exploring, to keep pushing, and to keep nurturing. And at the end of the day, that's something that all labels should look to emulate.
The latest offering from the label comes from the mind of producer Gacha Bakradze, who introduces his new alias Clarinets to us on the 'Invisible Path' EP. Like with many of the producers who flock to the Funnuvojere imprint, Bakradze's narrative is an incredibly rich one, with his style imprinting itself into every single strand of melodic expressionism. Bakradze has certainly spread himself far and wide in terms of his audial identity, with the music he releases a bountiful journey that sings very beautifully indeed, with emphasis always placed on the tone and how it's texture can transport us to very special environments indeed. His music appeals to all the senses, it's depth one that reaches well beyond the land we stand upon and the skies that unravel in front of us, presenting a space which feels somewhere between our emotionally driven imaginations and the perceptions of life that follow us everywhere we go. It's like a dream state that feels never ending, a vista that continues on to a place well beyond the ridges in the far distance, a world painted in technicolour that feels so vivid and warm to the touch. Bakradze achieves these notions in the most enriching of ways, with his vision reaching well beyond the parapets of one singular genre as it expands into a multitude of aliases, feeling it's way like a river making a new course through a number of genre tropes, with his sound touching upon everything from ambient to dub techno to IDM to House, and pretty much all the spaces that persist between these two genres. His sound design is second to none, propelled forward by a clear affinity with melody and how it can enchant the mind of the listener, but with an additional edge of being able to portray these internal images into tangible audial experiences that simply shine like dazzling stars in the night sky. It's an experience that touches upon both the heart of the human experience and the ethereal rhythms that sliver through the neurones, music that is as tender as they come and as interesting as anything else you ever had the pleasure of listening to. From his discography, there are many, many highlights, starting off from his EPs and compilation contributions with the beautiful sublimity and ethereal floating that exude from both the 'Remember' and 'When The Watchmen Saw The Light' records, which were released under the Gacha name in 2012 and 2014 respectively; the gorgeous undertones found within the 'Letter' record, that was released under the Bakradze name in 2014; the wondrous tones that gently sway from within the track 'Blackout', that appeared on the Lapsus compilation 'Deu', which came out under the Winter Flags project in 2014; and finally, the wonderful vibe of his two tracks 'Bantu' and 'Mumande' that appear on the 2015 various release 'Ritual In Transfigured Time Vol.1' record under the Akwaaba name. Bakradze has released a handful of LPs too under the Gacha name, all of which build upon the constellations of sound that hang together on his EPs in the most mesmerising of ways, with our favourites including the spectrum of colour that spews forth from the 'Send Two Sunsets' release, which landed in 2015; the dynamic and extremely bold feels that resonate from the 'Word Color' record, which arrived in 2018; and finally, the fast paced and incessant rhythms that abound from the 'Obscure Languages' LP, which arrived earlier this year. Everywhere you look there is difference in scale, scope and feel, but the intimacy always remains, a feeling that we get inside from the most observant and emotionally intuitive kind of record, and each time Bakradze conjures up this feeling within us. It's an audial tone that places as much importance on the feeling behind it all as much as the emotion found within, and when electronic music in particular approaches it's construction in this manner then magic will always follow, and with every release you get that exact same feeling. A sound built of layer upon layer of chordal bliss, and drumming patterns to die for, and an eye for the best kinds of sonics, Bakradze's discography is well worth checking out, so why not have a little dive before we get into the subject of today's review....
In many ways it's as if Bakradze and Funnuvojere were destined to meet at some point, and with the record 'Invisible Path' we get the impression that liked minded paths always do usually link up at some point. The Clarinets alias sees Bakradze find his inner progressive self, with the music as always impeccably put together and filled to the brim with emotion and feel, but it's laid out to us in the same vein as much of the Funnuvojere releases have done before, with an extra level of detail placed on how the wavelengths flux and maneuverer themselves in the air. We become firmly immersed in the world being painted before our very eyes, our mind picking up on all the gorgeous details and subtle momentum changes that keep us very much locked in, from the driving lows to the euphoric highs, this record has it all. So, without further delay, lets dive right into this sublime display of colour and light.....
Up first comes the title track, and this one begins with the arpeggios to get us going. The keys are quite distant, setting themselves over the background edge as the drums evolve from a series of hats and cymbals to include kicks in the foreground, with the intensity of the composition continuing to swell as time passes by. The bass line which emerges soon after adds further to the foundations, as the melodic sequences on top continue to simmer, patiently waiting for their moment to flourish into life but they work very effectively in their current capacity. The track takes a moment to breath but swings right back into the main progression in due course, with the bass line leading the way as it grows in volume and presence, with a series of sweeps moving right through the heart of the track which encourages the melodic sequences to abound further and further. The climatic swell which arrives next is perfectly pulled off, with the emotional density rising higher and higher before switching back into the core rhythm, but the track continues to build from here, with each phase of the track transitioning so beautifully indeed, like a singular stream of consciousness that never fails to impress. The final breakdown is particularly textured in it's feel and application, and as the drums and bass arrive for one final moment in the early evening light, we remain as transfixed as we did when the track first slid into view, just as lost within the strata, just as mesmerised and full of wonderment. A beautiful opener, for sure. Up next comes 'Dry Bridge', and this one begins with the flowing bass line to get us going. This is quickly joined by distant chords that wrap themselves around the sequence very effectively indeed, with the kicks joining into the momentum soon after to provide further weight to proceedings. The overall momentum is wonderfully balanced, with the bass line doing it's best to propel the composition onwards as further arpeggios throw themselves into the mix, the impeccably timing of new keys making us want to dive further and deeper into this sparkling pool of possibility and feeling. As the kicks move away we become really immersed in the tune, with the lovely de do de key line that resides just to the right of the pan doing everything it can to keep us locked firmly into the momentum, with the bass line continuing to rise and fall as time passes by. The final third of the track sees it return back to it's original structure, with the bass allowed to freely meander and make progress across the plains, but the keys start to emerge once more to give over one final dosage of vitality, something that has been consistently served to us during this records life span, and there's still more to go yet. Beautiful stuff!
Up next comes 'Knee', and this one begins with the incredibly delicate drumming pattern to get us going. This is quickly joined by a deep swelling mixture of melodic features, which consists of a longing guitar line and distant pads, their looping nature encouraging the drums to increase ever so slightly in terms of presence and feel. This is achieved as time passes by, with the kicks and arpeggio sequences arriving around the same time, and with these new notions we sweep right into the next phase of the plan. The guitar moves away from it's original loop as it remerges as a more sporadic placement, it's movement now winding in and out of time as sublime key movements switch between plains and layers with ease, with the bass line keeping things ticking over underneath it all. The track then leads into it's breakdown phase, and this is when the melodics really space things out, with the serenity of the pads that remain keeping our gaze firmly locked into proceedings, with the drums slowly coming back into view to give the dance that rhythmic hook to latch back onto. The scale of this segment is something else, with not just a room being filled up but the entire surroundings in which we find ourselves in, a scene being painted that is full of vibrancy and momentum, with this notion confirmed as we slide back into the kick laden drumming pattern. The track sees further lines of inquiry emerge from all over, with new chordal lines throwing themselves into the mix to really get the euphoria pumping through every vein in your body. Top notch stuff. To wrap things up on this wonderful record, we have 'Afternoon', and this one begins with the kicks and the beautiful chords to get us going. The sweeping cymbal noise leads us right into the emergence of the bass line, along with further melodic flourishes that bind us further into the progression, with background samples contributing further to the tracks narrative strength. The lead key line that abounds into view is something to behold, it's presence moving across the layers right from the top to touch the inner most depths of the experience, with the track moving into a rhythmically heavy segment before entering right back into the chordal progression. The many layers then intertwine once again, with their presence and outline still sounding as bold and beautiful as ever, our minds allowed to walk along their pathways, with the amount of directions in which to wonder representing a multitude of experiences in which to discover. It's a fitting end to an EP filled to the brim with melodic excellence, beautiful soundscapes and above all else, an expert pairing of technique with creative and emotional vision.
Labels that continue to fly their flag high in relation to consistency but also in a manner of reaching out across the spectrum to incorporate new styles and ideas will always remain relevant, and with this record we are reminded of both the power of the Funnuvojere sound and the incredible talents of their newest family member. From the off the vibes are immediately familiar, but as time passes by we are introduced to the way in which Bakradze looks to reflect both his newly conceived sound alongside the notions of the label, and on every level the music just works so beautifully. The progressions are timed to a T, the movements between differing segments lucid and elegant, the melodic touches on top are warm to the touch and filled with substance, with every inch of the landscape being explored filled with intrigue and delight. Bakradze continues onwards with his quest for chordal perfection, and this EP is another addition to his captivating universe, one that sees no end to how one can pull chords together and make tracks feel so much larger than they are. An EP we won't forget in a long while, and one that continues to make the Funnuvojere flag fly even higher. Top quality stuff, as always.
Support the troops: