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Cosmic Garden - Aphrodisiaca (Cosmic Rhythm, 2021)

Nicola Loporchio once again revisits the beloved Cosmic Garden alias with this new stunner, with the vibes just as mellow, ethereal and dreamy as it ever was.

House comes in many forms, so much so that the original essence of spiritual awakenings on the dancefloor can be experienced with so many sub genres and representations of the movement. From the original Chicago sound came all sorts of new age developments that carried forward its core values and repackaged them into something new and progressive. The deep house sound of the late 80s and early 90s would become particularly groundbreaking, with its foundational notions of swelling emotive chord lines set out alongside delicate yet highly effective drumming patterns helping to craft a new kind of dancefloor experience - not of jackin', but of inner reflectionism and emotional expressionism. No sub genre of house encapsulated this feeling more than the Dream and Italo house genres that abounded from Italy during the late 80s and early 90s, which in a short period of time produced some of the era's most iconic cuts, which soundtracked many deeply personal experiences on the dance floor. It was a genre that evoked a feeling within its context, inspired by the more emotive side of the Chicago sound and the second wave of US producers who pushed a encapsulating synth led sound, with the narrative playing out one of dipping and diving through the layers that make up the genre's dense and enriching sound. Its audial presence immediately paints a picture of lush vibrant environments, where the simmering blue meets the green dotted coastline, where the sun shines well into the orange evening as the music perfectly transitions into the night time. The genre is capable of lifting the spirits with its interplays and melodies, and in many ways this is why its appeal has remained so strong all these years, in that its content was so geared towards the emotive side of the dance as to still find connections with dancers and listeners who seek out those kinds of audial pursuits. Ever since the days when deepness became an near essential part of the house producer tool kit, its potency has remained in the backs of producers and listeners minds alike, maintaining its legacy and its meaning throughout time, with many music makers today still producing sounds that hark back to those hazy easy going days of the late 80s to early 90s. Its these links back through time that provide not only inspiration but a gateway, one that opens up worlds of possibilities in our heads, where the smoothness of the keys and the chords sounds as powerful today as it back then, with its essence given back over to us via producers who adore the sound so much they inject its mantras into their own outputs. The physical output may have ended long ago, but the legacy of genres like Dream house, Italo house and early 90s Deep house will forever be entrenched in both the collective mindset and the annuals of music history, as a moment where emotion escapism fuelled not by lyrics but by melody and rhythm became the key driver of moving the dance to new heights. Now, in the current age, we can enjoy even more the fruits of their labours, as new generations of producers try their hand at evoking the beauty of those iconic movements, often achieving that notion in equally brilliant ways that make it seem like the 90s never left at all, but only sauntered about for the right moment in which to reveal itself once again. Spiritually, the feeling remains, and in electronic music, that is sometimes the most important thing to capture.

Simmering, potent beats, with a layer of hats that perfectly occupy the high ends. Driving yet intricate bass lines, chiming to the pulse of the world around us. Melodics and key work that floats down from the heavens and nestles itself in your hands, a huge smile appearing across your face. An atmosphere of blissed out serenity, where the warm evening air soothes the body as it sways from side to side, eyes closed as the tones flow through the crowd and the ground. An essence, a spirit, conveyed through a passionate mindset and a brilliant application, coming together as a homage to the past and yet sounding all too current, a bold and succinct feeling that comes packaged and primed for euphoric wonderings. Yep, that all sounds very much like a Nicola Loporchio record, who for some time now has been embodying the ideals of every genre he decides to lend a hand to, bringing forth truly extraordinary music in the process. As the label head and key driving force behind Cosmic Rhythm, Loporchio has utilised the imprint as a means of curating a sound that is profoundly impacted by the 90s deep house and dream house scenes, with the essence and feel carried over brilliantly and presented very much as a fresh yet familiar sound. He has established one of the strongest identities in contemporary house as a result, with listeners always aware of what kind of music will flow from the label, but its always presented in new and invigorating ways - a clear indicator of Loporchio's love for the era and dance music in general. Loporchio, like many iconic 90s producers, has maximised his outputs across an array of aliases, that cater for a mixture of styles and sub genre leanings, with the range covering deep/dream house to jazzy house, through to jungle and Balearic undertones, there's something literally for everyone within his wide ranging and thought provoking discography. Spreading yourself across differing aliases takes time and attention, but Loporchio makes it look like an artform, acting like a musical chameleon who moves with not just the times but the creative whims that abound from his mind, able and eager to showcase all his thinking to us in the form of a musical identity that is filled with so many strands of DNA. Be it B.U.M, D38 Authority, Galaxy87, Loss of Gravity, Mediterranean Key Collective, Raw Joints, Rydm Sectors or XPRESSION, Loporchio has you covered in so many inspiring and captivating ways, dipping and diving between the annuals of dance music to give over sounds that are truly captivating. One alias we haven't mentioned yet is Cosmic Garden, one of the more established names that Loporchio has released under, and since its debut in 2016 the name has not looked back, with a series of stellar records flowing from the Garden and into our willing hands. Unlike with other aliases that have stuck close to the Cosmic Rhythm label, Cosmic Garden has been released on numerous other house labels, with each record feeling like an individualised chapter in the name's development, starting off with more contemporary leaning compositions before transitioning into the lush vibrancy we associate with Loporchio and his music. Some highlights include the gorgeous 'Sealaconda' record, that landed in 2016; the grooving and mesmerising 'Sole Mistico' release, that landed in the same year; the intricate and ever evolving 'Universe' EP, that arrived in 2016; the dense and varied extravaganza that is the bombastic 'Pleasure Moment' record, which landed in 2018; the laid back and ultra groovy 'Promise Of The Sun' album, that arrived in 2019; and finally, probably our absolute favourite of any of Loporchio's music, 'Rhythm Of Life', that arrived in 2019. In all, the Cosmic Garden sound has thrown up plenty of surprises, showcasing Loporchio's knack at merging styles expertly within his beloved dream house core, and it makes for compelling listening each and every time we wonder back through any of his alias' discographies. We've said it before, and we'll say it again - spend a bit of time with a coffee, some headphones and hopefully a beautiful sunset, and feel the richness of his music rush over you, trust us, its quite the trip.

And now we arrive at the latest offering from the Cosmic Garden name, 'Aphrodisiaca', that arrives on the Cosmic Rhythm imprint. Like with previous records, the sound revolves around a melodic core that continually gives over to us, a life force that provides the basis for all manner of elements to fixate themselves around, with the overall tempo slowed down in order to provide us with all the time in the world to get to know every little intricate detail of this meticulously crafted musical universe. Loporchio is a very, very good world builder, with his music obtaining a visceral quality to it that contains depth and feel in equal measure, and on this record it is no different, with the essence of it all evident from the get go, ready to immerse us into his universe once more. So, without further delay, lets dive into this wondrous slice of heaven.....

Up first comes 'Morning Light', and this one begins with the chiming key line setting the scene. The piano line is set quite far back within the scene, and as the drums emerge they occupy the mid and high ends of the track, the keys filtering through the cracks, their presence and sense of progression hinting at the first melodic rush of the record. And, like that we descend into the simmering pool of synths, with the main key line pushing itself front and centre as rising stabs capture the imagination with their tone and touch, with the overall ensemble a classic example of all that Loporchio can achieve with his music. The layers keep on flowing inwards with the addition of a subtle yet flavourful bass line, with elements sweeping in and out of the scene as time passes by, with the 808 sounds adding additional textures and rhythmic density. The second main breakdown sees the keys really flourish into life, a blossoming of colour and sensory brilliance that draws us in, with the climax arriving as the drums swing right back into view, carrying forward the new melodic arrangement with meaning and energy. The swings between rhythmic breaks and injections keeps our interest honed in, willing and able to go in any direction the cut takes us in, pausing and reflecting at all the right moments to keep our hearts very much in it for the long run. A glorious start, as to be expected. Up next comes the title track, and this one begins in suitably natural surroundings. The disparate drumming sounds quickly gravitate towards the kick that emerges from the undergrowth, pulling in all the life forces that persist around it, with the break like percussive arrangement that slides into view the icing on the cake of the intro salvo. The drums move away to give some breathing room to the pads that sweep into view from the left, their application and tone contrasted very well with the chiming notes that land on the other side, giving over that classic dream house vibe which immediately welcomes us into the fold. The little touches that flicker through the night sky provide engagement with the weaves that propel the track forwards, with the drums moving along with the keys in such a succinct manner, vibing off each other with intent and ease. At about the half way mark we see the emergence of the stand out key line, placed and toned perfectly as it shines amongst the sea of goodness, its instantaneous nature not lost on us as it returns during the next breakdown before carrying itself onwards and upwards from that point. This track is all about balancing the delicate underbelly with the soaring chordal line, and its one that is expertly pulled off. Glorious stuff, a laid back adventure that will have you grinning endlessly.

Up next comes 'Mediterranean Dream', and this one begins in very soft surroundings indeed. The initial chordal arrangement sweeps across the ground plain with meaning, as delicate key lines worm their way to the top of the outlay, with additional sequences adding to the ethereal nature of the cut, and before long the drums join in on the fun to make the picture complete. The thudding bass line provides a nice contrast to the interplay of the keys on top, which are given another chance to shine as the drums move away, and the resulting interlude is simply stunning as pianos twirl and prance across a tundra of awe inspiring synths, with the keys maintained as the drums and bass return to lift us from our star gazing and into the dance. The approach to layering in this cut is off the chain, with the structures moving so elegantly between densities and textures, its just outstanding. Every time that soaring synth line comes into view, it almost brings a tear to the eye, its just so life affirming, a reassuring presence, a fire being lit in our souls. This might be one of his most beautiful tunes yet, and that's really saying something. Stunning in every sense of the word. To wrap things up, we have the 'Rainy Paradise Mix' of the opening track, and the environment we descend into remains a sign of things to come. The wind and the rain craft a energetic and almost frenzied atmosphere, a sound that we are all familiar with, as we are placed right outside within this viseral and moody scene. Yet, out of the rain and the thunder, a glimmer of light, a singular sequencing of chords, that calls to us from the calm interior of our house, pulling us away from the wet and cloud and into a room with a view, its interior orange and reassuring, as the storm continues at full stretch outside. We watch the raindrops pound and slither down the window, the dark greys and deep blue hues a formidable sight, as the synths and chords wash and dazzle around our peripheries, keeping us safe and warm indoors as the forces of nature do their thing. This track is truly euphoric in its own mellow and energised kind of way, and it remains yet another triumph in regards to vision and sound design from Loporchio, and as an ending cut it leaves a formidable impression on us. The rain feels so real, but the keys prevail in our hearts.

There's always an immense level of satisfaction that flows within us when listening to a Nicola Loporchio record, and when the needle comes up the emotions we just went through become a part of our embedded consciousness. Its not just the sultry and ultra emotive synths that capture our attention, but the flows, the transitions, the expertly timed pauses and explosions that take the breath away, and that isn't even mentioning the layering of such well considered and designed melodics which channel themselves very much within the body and the mind. This record is another step on a journey that has seen Loporchio do many great things with his music, and the sounds found here are testament to his ability to make us feel as much as we do think, a captivating set of tracks that give us all the feels we look for in a deep house record and then a shed load more. Its dance music at its most captivating, its most sophisticated and intuitive, and that is why we will always find ourselves being drawn further and further into Nicola's world. Simply incredible, as always.

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