KETAMA - Mentalmismo (Cosmic Rhythm, 2021)
The dream team of Nicola Loporchio and Michele Lamacchia return as KETAMA with their second offering of hyper textured and deeply cosmic Balearic house.
Its far to say that the Cosmic Rhythm label has spearheaded the recent interest in the Dream House sound, and that remains solidly in the hands of the producer behind it all, Nicola Loporchio. The joy in knowing that every time a label releases a new record and you have a feeling of what is to come and still be served a different layering of flavours is a beautiful thing indeed, and this tends to come from imprints with a distinctive and spectrum heavy identity thats emphasises the flows between releases in regards to sound, tone and application. Cosmic Rhythm not only has a spectacular aesthetic to it, but a deep comprehension of its fundimentals, a invisible and spiritual linkage to house movements gone by repackaged by a collective of producers who embody the concept of making something fresh out of something timeless. Loporchio deserves an immense amount of credit for steering the label in a cohesive and highly enjoyable direction, providing listeners every single time with a specific sonic landscape in which they can inhibit but crafting a shifting on-your-toes kind of mentality that means each release sounds somewhat specific to itself, yet acts very much as part of a grade A group effort. Its a family affair of the highest order, with the rooster of artists involved including a heavy input from Loporchio, alongside producers Michele Lamacchia, Davide Disanto, and the iconic duo of Ivan Iacobucci and Carlo Troya, all of whom work alongside each other under differing aliases or alone to provide enriching and bountiful house leaning cuts which give us only the most vivid of visual experiences. Loporchio and Lamacchia have probably the most fruitful of musical relationships, with such projects including XPRESSION (who served up 'Come To Me', a brilliant foray into the realms of hard hitting cosmic jungle), Loss Of Gravity, Rydm Sectors, the techno orientated D38 Authority, B.U.M and Mediterranean Key Collective, all of which have seen the duo express their sound through differing strands of house to contribute significantly to the Cosmic Rhythm vibe. All of these aliases provide on the surface a similar sounding aesthetic in relation to vibe and tone, but beneath lies all the subtleties that make the imprint such an integral one to the contemporary house scene, like the freshness and depth in the Loss Of Gravity EPs 'Sotterranea' and 'Deeparture'; the emphatic and ultra expressive 'Self Control' and 'Spend The Nite' records from Rydm Sectors; the gorgeous techno leaning tendencies of the 'Elements' record from D38 Authority; the soaring piano heavy 'Feel Alright' record from the B.U.M name; and finally, the utterly sublime textures of the 'Fragranza' release from mediterranean Key Collective. In all, these records represent the fullest extents of Loporchio's and Lammacchia's musical exploits, encapsulated and distilled into varying strands that flux and grow together to craft a audial narrative big on enrapturing the listener in a warm glowing cocoon, enticing their senses with rich synths and rhythmic pulses that take the breath away. Its a world constructed on a firm ideology of the direction of the sound but also the potential of it too, an identity erected on a solid basis but with an element of elasticity worked within it, with both sets of eyes constantly searching for the next avenue to explore and delve deep within. No matter what this duo touches, or indeed the Cosmic Rhythm family at large, you know its going to be something special, and its this knowledge found within listeners that really endears them to the imprint and all that they look to achieve.
And now, we turn to the subject of today's review, the second outing from the pair's KETAMA alias, 'Mentalmismo'. The alias' first outing, 2019's 'Voyage' EP, was a masterclass at understanding the varying moments in the dance, from its ultra groovy title track through to life affirming house cuts like 'Dreamscape' and 'Agua Para Ti', it was an EP that reflected much of the goodness and variety on display within the CR label, and further showcased the duo's ability to shift between the gears and give over a full and enriching display. On this new record, the beats are slightly more consistent in tempo and depth, but its the work that goes into the tone building on top that contains the magic of it all, that flows from highly effective simplicity through to complex and enchanting densities at the drop of a hat, and oh yes does it work ever so well indeed. The music, as always, immediately transports you, away from a rainy Glasgow morning and right into sun drenched and easy going environments, where the cool breeze touches the skin and the faces around you have big smiles, eyes closing periodically as the music laps over the crowd like the waves on the beach behind you. Its house music at its most broad, most escapist, most intuitive and textured, its music with soul and feeling, and its just one of the many positive aspects we have come to know and love with Cosmic Rhythm records. So, without further delay, lets get into this little piece of brilliance.....
Up first comes the title track, that begins with the soft crashing of the waves filtering through from the distance. The waves draw us in as they bring with them from the deep a wonderfully curated synth sound, with the kicks and other drumming elements riding the crest of the wave right up to our feet, as additional key lines add feeling and weight to the melodics. The overall picture is one of sheer bliss, the waves continually piercing through the now well established song structure, the bass line softly breathing underneath as the singular high note calls the drums and foundations of the cut to really shine rhythmically. The keys simmer in the distance after a few bars, not making their presence immediately known but calling out from beyond our vision, carefully waiting for their time to swing back into action, their sound and volume growing with each passing moment as the foundations do their thing with elegance and meaning. The breakdown leads to the melodies spreading themselves out a bit further, but as the drums come back into view their presence goes back to being one of reservation, happy to allow the percussion to go into overdrive with the additions of further hi hats, as the waves come back into view to bring us back down to planet earth. A gorgeous start. Up next comes 'Overture', and this one begins with the delicate weaves of the percussion getting us going. The varying layers of hats, toms and other elements craft an intoxicating rhythm, perfect in every single way for the stab like keys and deft jazzy solos to slide into the structure, with the climax of this coming as the main chordal riff comes into view, and its everything you could possibly want. The dip in the drums sees the backdrop become filled with a soaring chordal line that contrasts very nicely with the flowing interplay of keys, which by this point have become a more expressive element of the rhythm. Our heads are nodding along very nicely at this point, the tune lulling us into a very soft and relaxing place indeed, with this feeling only enhanced by the introduction of a beautiful jazzy key solo, which navigates the intricacies beneath it with elegance and meaning. The dip in energy around the 3:30 mark sees the varying elements take a breather, before the drums come right back into the mix, encouraging the rest of the features to take off alongside them, with a particularly engaging key solo taking the lead on top to really take us places. The main groove on this track is spectacular, sequenced and considered to perfection, sliding right through in a breezy way that channels into the most pleasurable parts of the brain. Cosmic Rhythm at its very finest, right here.
Up next comes 'Suspira (5AM Mix)', and the immediate feeling is what it says on the tin. The drums are set to an up beat tempo, as swirling synths sparkle on top of the percussive ensemble, reflective of all the energies that have flowed through the set before, and just as the sun starts to peak over the hill tops in the distance, the kicks pull away and the melodies blossom right before our eyes. Their touch and tone have that immediate euphoric feeling, the one that resides in all of us when our bodies are tired but the mind is so very willing to keep going, a foray into the final act of the evening where the chordal arrangements do all the work in keeping the neurones ticking over and the hands swaying from side to side. The parts where the keys have moved away are quiet and considerate, with whispering voices and textured audial elements adding an extra layer on top, soothing in many ways as they enter into our ears, with one of the main key sequences making an appearance from within the mist. This signals the rest of the main melodic features to come flying back into the mix, once again taking us through the most glorious of sunrises with their ambience and flavourful delivery, appearing only for a few bars before evaporating into the drumming pattern, coming to the surface to breath before descending into the depths of the sound. The track sees itself out with the drums, the bass and the vocals, its enchanting blend one that will stick long in the memory after this record finishes. To wrap things up, we have 'The Secret', and the drums begin in particularly bombastic fashion. The kicks work double time to craft a serious rhythm, with the top ends of the track characterised by the heavily layered hats and cymbals, with the spaces in between waiting for a proper groovy melodic section to come in and take us away, and that is exactly what happens around the 1 minute mark. A mixture of funk style chords intersperse the drumming pattern, as the vocal application from the previous cut makes it way into this track, but rather than previously whispering along it makes more of an obvious appearance, leading the dance in all manner of directions as the melodies underneath multiply with the introduction of a piano line. The bass that slides into the mix adds further depth and emphasis to the groove, with the little touches to application and tone on top making for very compelling listening indeed, keeping the audience very much engaged and in the flow as the track serves between rest periods and full on power mode. The tone is knocked out superbly, with the upbeat feeling of the record leaving you with an immense level of satisfaction, as ever with a Cosmic Rhythm record, with our souls fully satisfied by all that has transpired in the previous 20 or so minutes. A real pearl of a record, this one.
Consistency in musical identity is always an important factor for labels to consider, and we have made it no secret that we consider Cosmic Rhythm to have one of the most consistent and enjoyable ones going. This latest KETAMA release feels very much like an accumulation of all that the label, Loporchio and Lamacchia have been trying to achieve over the past few years, reading like a resting post between generations of records, with the current one oozing with brilliance and the next one seemingly brighter than the sun. You have the hallmarks of the classic CR sound, but also differing elements such as wonderful vocal applications and hazy jazz fuelled house numbers that add diversity to the listening experience, with each cut offering up a slightly differing variant to the others. As always though, its the masterful direction and vision of these two producers who know always what kind of record they want to make, but never loose sight of what has made this label so wonderful in the first place. A bright bright future awaits Cosmic Rhythm, and with records like this one, you can't really imagine any other way but up. Sublime in every shape and form.
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