Salomo – Reflecting Pools
Completely new on me are both Leipzig based label ‘VARY‘ and their first official artist release, by Salomo, an artist located near to the label. It appears that VARY are essentially an art hub, running the label as well as a record shop, coffee shop and place hosting events. I haven’t the luxury of having visited but one can envisage something you might stumble across in trendy London backstreets and sound-wise, this record has me thinking of Peckham based label Rhythm Section, nodding to artists such as Jeen Bassa, Al Dobson Junior et al:
I’d imagine this one will be filed mostly under Deep House as often there’s a 4/4 beat ticking away at a leisurely 110-120bpm. However, it is absolutely brimming with influences including the Detroit sound, Germany’s lo-fi Hip Hop scene, jazz and soul. There’s a healthy blend of the electronic and the organic as computer generated rhythms are joined by the warmth of jazz keys, bass and vocal hints.
Crucially, this one’s strictly vinyl with searches for a digital version nowhere to be seen, not even Bandcamp streams are on offer here. The Soundcloud playlist above will give you a flavour for each track and if you’re anything like me, a vinyl purchase will swiftly follow…If I’m forced to buy a great album on vinyl (my preferred format), through the absence of mp3s, I’m sure to go for it, whatever the cost. Once I’m committed and receive the goods, I feel fully behind my decision to splash the cash.
Reflecting Pools opens with the reprising ‘Terra‘, warm Ambient keys and stuttering hi-hats dance before a broken-beat House loop joins for a few minutes by way of introduction to side ‘A’. ‘Pavilion‘ follows, funky bass and seriously deep and moody keys create an atmospheric groove. ‘Gradient‘ is next, notching the tempo a little, with key stabs and funky bass, recalling Max Graef or Glenn Astro. The claps opening ‘Together‘ follow with a mellow House vibe then ‘Dialogues‘ slows things down a little, with beautifully swirling keys, before side A closes with the melancholy keys of ‘Distant Love‘ – a really strong way to end a truly engaging side, coming to an untimely close.
On the flip side, ‘Water Your Ferns‘ maintains the warmth as Ambient fuzz and confusing beeps and light noise warms the soul. ‘Change‘ introduces a spoken soul vocal with distant whistles and low slung bass and jazzy vibes. The beats return, much slower than the first half of the record – so far, this feels like the lazy side of the record and it’s a joy for your ears at this stage – you’ll recall the likes of Madlib, which is no bad thing!
‘Open Window‘ is next with a patient opening of chiming tones and a warm, evolving drone which gives way to a woolly House kickdrum and chord changes and a vocal hook. This is my pick of the bunch – a monster of a tune, in full on Detroit beatdown mode. ‘Ancient Plants‘ is less melodic to begin with, focusing on beat repetition but before long a droning swell of Ambience and spoken vocal snippets crescendo into a lulling pit of melancholy. ‘Trainview‘ notches that tempo back down a little, beautiful House music with a chilled aesthetic recalling the likes of Guidance Recordings and the days of the early 2000s when sophisticated ‘chill out’ music and minimal Techno were the buzz genres. Here, the two collide effortlessly in classy fashion for an all-too-fleeting moment. In ‘Last Look‘ we’re treated to one ‘last listen’ to this marvellous set of tracks and I’m reminded of the work of Al Dobson Jr more than ever as simple, slow rhythms are joined by yet more beautiful keys before ending on a percussive note.
This is an excellent record that I’ve purposely interrupted my busy schedule to write about this evening, as I can’t stop listening to this fine slab of vinyl, packaged beautifully and surely something I’ll be reaching for in many years to come. Highly recommended