Journeys In... by Jose Manuel
Over the course of the last decade, Black Pepper label boss Jose Manuel has proved to be one of electronic music’s finest contemporary alchemists, conjuring percussive, intoxicating and otherworldly musical treats for such labels as Tusk Wax, Kinfolk, Kill The DJ, Optimo Trax and Music For Dreams.
The genius of Manuel’s productions lies in the Italian’s ability to conjure cracking cosmic compositions out of a diverse range of global rhythms, instruments and influences. Rarely has this been more evident than on his debut release for NuNorthern Soul, a four-track serving of dance-floor mysticism that puts mind-altering rhythms and saucer-eyed instrumentation front and centre.
Track, for example, the light and dreamy wrapped sumptuous Balearic synthesizer chords and melodies around gentle hand percussion and drifting Zambian vocals on the sublime “Journey in Lusaka” followed by the feverish, trance-inducing African rhythms, delay-laden chants, psychedelic acid lines and jangling Jew’s Harp motifs of intense opener “Journey in Lusanda”, a ritualistic Afro-Cosmic onslaught ripe for peak-time plays. If the EP opener is all about being flat on your back and staring skywards, the follow up is all about druggy, heads down sweatiness!
Manuel’s deep love of Indian music is explored on “Journey in Mumbai”, where exotic sitar lines, fluttering clarinets and echoing, densely layered female vocals rise above a thick, tabla-fired groove. It’s naturally hugely evocative and atmospheric” – a fine dose of emotion-rich spirituality capable of inducing hallucinations in the straightest of listeners.
To complete the EP, our hero travels even further east for “Journey in Osaka”, a fittingly percussive exploration of Japanese music’s past and present that also includes audible nods towards the polyrhythmic drums of West Africa. It’s a superb combination of traditional instrumentation, 21st century electronics, heavyweight rhythms and mood-enhancing melodic flourishes. Like the rest of the Journeys In… EP, it’s both hugely alluring and impeccably produced.