Quiroga - Chords and Desire (Really Swing, 2020)
Come sail away once more into deep blue seas and pale orange sunsets, soundtracked by the new excellent slice of heaven from master vibesman Quiroga.
Sometimes music looks to feed into that node in the mind that simply has to nod along and smile constantly, a bedrock of sun kissed flows, infectious melodies and stunning visual imagery. A snapshot into a brighter context that we all look for in our day to day lives, a cut that transports us to a more appealing and happy place away from the humdrum and placid consistency of the week. Its more often than not the blend of melodic tones that is able to achieve this effect, a series of upbeat yet tenderly emotional keys that when combined with a glorious funky underbelly has the power to allow listeners to envisage somewhere new, bold and exciting. The kind of music that has always dwelled within electronica and its numerous genres, always coming across in slightly differing ways as tones and textures combine in uncountable ways, but if its groove with a modern twist that you are after, contemporary funk, disco and light breezy house has lead the way in terms of maximum feels in relation to getting people to feel the rays on their face. Evoking images of tropical places and endless moments by the sea has always been associated with the concepts of Balearic music and Neapolitan funk, with both genre's hazy emotive feel and often out there musical compositions capturing the essence of the Isles that to this day is able to paint a very convincing mental picture indeed, and this legacy has been built upon brilliantly by the scene's contemporary figures. Moving beyond into a current setting hasn't changed the scene's ability to craft awe-inspiring rhythms and intoxicating melodic work, with all the varying labels and individuals involved helping to really hammer home the core values that the past holds dear, with a series of exquisite records in particular flowing out of Italy in recent years. An emphasis on the full live band feel runs through to the very heart, providing many of the releases with a tender and full realised tone that only maximises the affection we have for it, and the music found within represents a very worthy successor to the musicians of old indeed. Its an understanding that runs through to the core of these musicians DNA, a shared passion in the sound that transcends time and space to continue to serve up records that engage us on so many levels. Perhaps its the deft blend of instrumentation that eternally revolves around maximum emotional investment, or the fact that the full bloodied feel crafts a sense of full room perspective, or its just the environment that gets painted in front of us as we listen, a vivid and bold musical narrative that comes to life as moments and notes pass us by. For sure, its a scene that has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and the remarkable consistency in quality means the heads behind the music must be given absolute credit for continuing to keep the traditions alive whilst also making their own place and sound in the annuals of music history. In a few decades time, the music being made right now by the Italian funkers and groovers will be idolised and remembered as a scene with so much to say, and the brilliance to back it up.
Out of the current crop, there is much to pick from, with Walter Del Vecchio very much one of the leading lights of the world's current infatuation with the Neapolitan sound. Largely releasing music under the name Quiroga, Del Vecchio has certainly spent time in exploring every possible avenue of musical feel in relation to his music, with a wide range of diverse styles blending and merging together on each of his releases. There's much to unpack from his previous works, which move within a wide spectrum of sound, with funk, hip hop, boogie, house, soul, balearic and disco all appearing as near constants in his work, but always merged and blended in such exciting and continually evolving ways. For the moods when you need to escape just that little bit, or the times when you see something magical appear right before your eyes, there's something for everyone in the Quiroga discography, and when looking back through it you see clear trains of thought begin to take shape. This makes for a powerful journey for listeners, who endear themselves to the sounds of a music maker who likes to surprise and delight with each new record, building upon what comes before and using it as tools and elements in which to grow and expand from there. The movements forward always pleasant and enriching, allowing us to see his world broaden just that little bit much each time, a constant source of brilliance for which we can totally buy into with the utmost glee. He often pairs this broad range of musical interpretation and influence with a stunning technical application, with many of his tracks standing out not only for their emotive content but sheer musical excellence, which when combined is always an absolute winner. This has become particularly prevalent in his later releases, where a more live instrumentation approach has shown a new side to his works, where the energy mellows and contracts with each passing second, a soundtrack to the rhythms that bind us all to this earth. No matter what kind of vibe he goes for, you will always hear the core themes running through it all - one of illustrious keys, sombre tender atmospheres, intoxicating rhythms and a spacious area for which something new to appear and grace us with its presence. Looking back at his works, there is a lot to marvel at, with some of our favourites including the sure fire dream dwelling funk fuelled fantasy that makes up the the 2019 masterclass long player 'Passages', that contains all you would need to make your imaginations a reality; the decadent and effortless flows found on the 'Vol.2' record, that arrived in 2010;
the deep spacey divides found on the excellent 'Vol 4' record, that landed in 2012; the brilliance disco tinged groovers that reside on the brilliantly danceable 'Viaggio A Tulum' EP, that arrived in 2017; and finally, the breezy new age disco brilliance that dwells within the masterful 'Cups And Balls' record, that arrived in 2018. A real sense of place starts to shine forth from all these releases and beyond, a movement through the gears and into a sweet spot in the mind that is willing to let the song unravel itself around and reveal all it has to show on the inside. The groove and feel that resonates from his works never ceases to amaze, from the deep underbelly up to the brightest key sequence, you will be fulfilled throughout every single listen. As contemporary funk laden producers go, Del Vecchio is certainly a name to keep on your mind and listen intently when you do.
And now, we arrive at his latest offering, 'Chords & Desire', that lands via his imprint Really Swing. From the off, we are greeted with Del Vecchio's signature mixture of hypnotic jazzy fuelled chord progressions and sultry beat structures, once again transporting you to the riveara that you now probably call home when engaging with his music, with a heap of sophistication and flair thrown into every passing moment of the tunes. The smoothness and transitions are very much on point, as always, with a wide amount of space for lovingly curated solos to add their grace into the progressions, alongside a healthy level of variety in tone and mood that will keep the fire burning inside you for a long time after you finish listening. As the sun fades and autumn turns its head, this record reminds us of the radiate moments we spent in the company of good people, in a context where the ills and sorrows are left alone in order to fully enjoy all that persists in that moment, a uplifting notion that is soundtracked by some excellent music indeed. So, without further delay, lets get into it.....
Up first comes 'Dabbler in Love', and as mentioned there is no messing around as we dive straight into proceedings. The fuzzy chords lead the way into the heat of the instrumentation, adding in layers and additional tones, as the drums then swing right into view, providing a swinging pulse for which the keys to relate and respond to. The structure quickly moves into a more delicately poised state, where deep swelling chords light up the backdrop, with the meandering bass line adding further weight to the rhythm, with the track then smoothly waltzing into its solo laden mid section. The key line rises along the warm tidal undercurrent, fluttering and fluidly moving with the notions without a care in the world, delicate and tender in its application and through in its examination of every single element going on in the track. The groove underneath holds its own going through this segment, providing the rock solid groove for which the solo really shines with every passing second. As openers go, its pretty damn perfect in setting the stage for what is going to flow on next. 'Kundabuffer' arrives next, and we begin in similar surroundings, but this time the tone comes down a notch ever so slightly. The chords are rich and immediately inviting, swirling around the consciousness like a breath of fresh air, ventilating the room with its easy going demeanour and depth. The drums arrive soon after, quiet and spacious at first but responding to the ever morphing nature of the melodic structures on top, which have now invited a ethereal key segment into the mix. The jazz chords suddenly find a fast paced rhythm, which begins as the drums drop out and then lead the track into some very interesting territories indeed, with the chords and drums synchronising and leading the charge into the next phase. The additional little percussive elements and soft chordal lines do much to craft further intrigue as the seconds pass by, crafting an unbelievably pleasant mood that becomes increasingly vivid as each bar flows from the next. The core groove of this track is phenomenal, a true delight to get involved within as its succulent feel caresses the nodding head mode we currently find ourself in. A truly beautiful slice of heaven, right here. Up next comes 'Villa Lysis', and the tone comes down a little bit further into very cosmic worlds indeed. The cymbals craft a wave of quiet euphoria in the backdrop, as the most enriching of key lines greets us right through the middle, like a dream they simply float in the realms of here and there, deftly placed by the creator behind them. The cymbal like notions in the backdrop develop deep set melodic tendencies, and with that put in place the beautiful bass line chimes into view, which grooves along to the track as if it was born to do it. The combination is pretty easy to fall in love with, fluttering along to the beats and rhythms that then sees the intro of the flute like solo, that keeps the blood flowing along from the initial key line, and from that point onwards its an upward trajectory to the stars and beyond. A blissful bed to lie in might have been curated before in another song, but this one is the bona fide definition of the word, a track you will fall in love with over and over again.
Up next come 'Snaporaz', and this track builds very much on the melodic parameters set during the previous cut, but the tempo gets upped ever so slightly. The drums begin us off, skipping along with to the pulse, as the main chord arrangement comes into view, and its quite the sight indeed. Tonally on point, the kicks then arrive soon after to provide the new rhythmic foundations, which allows the melodic features to grow and flourish, with the original chord arrangement joined by all manner of beautifully considered keys that create this extremely rich top to the track, further exemplified by the squelching dripping key line that aligns itself right at the very top of this luscious melodic undercurrent. The rising synths come to meet its heights in the backdrop, as the two feels interplay and caress each other with an embrace like that of old friends meeting for the first time in years. An interplay that relies on both to be in sync, a symbiotic relationship that does absolute wonders, a real joy to listen to and get to know, a weaving narrative that begins to flow from every facet of this piece of brilliance. And finally, to wrap things up, we have 'Drum and Bass for Papa', and you could probably see where this is going. Lovingly named in reference to the 1996 album of the same name (we assume!), we get a real flash of d'n'b energy on this one, as the filtered drums move in and out of time underneath an ever increasingly dense melodic flow that gets more incessant by the minute. The way in which the keys drive the sequencing between the varying flows on show in the track is so impressive, moving between the core rhythmic line and the swirling high lines that weave amongst the drums with all the glory in the world. Its a fitting explosion of energy to an album that by that point had been beautifully sombre and tender, but to then finish up on a destructive level of energy is a superb way to go out, as Del Vecchio demonstrates one final time just how refined his key work is. Absolutely brilliant.
The way in which this album unravels is nothing short of remarkable, in that the flow that persists from the very beginning to the very end is bound by the melodies and their tonal appearance. You'll find Del Vecchio showcasing his now highly refined and exceptionally well done silky funk style pieces that really tug at the heartstrings and the mind, alongside verging into the realms of house (where the pulse is similarly beautiful and ethereal in a way) before having the confidence to explore the explosive nature of fast paced drum and bass, with the whole journey feeling unbelievably refined and put together. We become attached to all the micro evolutions that take place, the journeys that persist within the landscape presented to us complex and intelligent, gracious and fluid, jazzy and deep to the point of near perfection. Del Vecchio is a producer with a superb vision for his sound, and this record is very much testament to that, and we still can't get enough of the keys on this slice of magic. A real winner.
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