New on Hell Yeah! Recordings, a 12-track beachside escapade that fizzles through its four sides of vinyl in the warm glow of the sun, put together with love, skill and restraint. Think Nu Guinea and the Napoli camp of jazz-funk / retro synth sensibilities with a more reflective spirit – where Nuova Napoli presides over the brimming streets and walkways of metropolitan Naples, Passages parks itself on the rock pier at the edge of the beach, looking out over the water and interpreting the mysteries of natural and synthetic worlds via the patterns and passages of the tide .
First track ‘Got Your Love’ sets the tone with a ceremonial beat morphing into an electroid, almost chillwave groove, with dusty pianos and sporadic exhortations to love as the order of the day. It’s an overture to ‘Martinica Feelings’, which layers balmy keys, soaring arps and swing jazz guitars over a rock-tight rhythm section for 6 minutes of sultry slo-mo fun. Third track ‘The Zoist’ has become a bit of a favourite inside certain balearic circles, not least for its springy b-line and sinking piano inflections that tiptoe over smooth percussions as they sink into the horizon. A charming, laid-back number for intimate moments.
Over on side two, ‘North Hollywood Witches’ is startling and insistent, laden with badman polyphonic pads and deceivingly abrupt for something so tempered, culminating in a majestic arp solo slipping and sliding between stereo channels. ‘Non Dire Notte’ is knocks of wooden blocks and slow, striding labyrinth textures, a sizzling 303 breakdown, shimmering guitars and oh-so-subtle pads, while ‘Africa Addio (Ode to Fourth World)’ starts with an ensemble of hypnotising polyrhythms and marching psych-rock bass side by side with skittish wind instruments and juicy analogue chords.
‘Città di Mare’ changes gear for something more thoughtful and balladesque, ripples in the ocean casting back an image of a city fractured and fragmented, expanding to its outer limits and disappearing in the gentle flow of the water. Slow, jazz-flecked and reflective.‘ Luzhin Defence’ does away with drums in favour of the exigent knock of percussion, an ambient fairytale ode to somewhere deep on planet earth, and ‘Amori Proibiti’ brings back the smooth 70s feel and culminates in a deep and gorgeous pad-workout that conjures up deepest blue waters, floating away from the city in a search for uninhibited freedom.
As the sun begins to drop we have ’Chiaia Sunset’: an immediately taut arpeggiated line provides the circle-shaped backdrop to a sky, sea and sand made up of earthy percussion, soft vocoder vocals and mellow piano flourishes. ‘Viaggio a Tulum’ blends a 90s inner city feel (complete with emotive four-to-the-floor) with a melting pot of breezy synth patterns and vocal snippets, each of them imparting streaks of colour for a proper jazzy house workout. Final track ‘Bava’ is the moment the tide recedes in the dead of night; a sea-organ, haunting and beautiful, regurgitating the day’s echoes in blissful incomprehension. A fitting closer for a record that nails the balance between too much and not enough, flirting with excess and temptation but, in the end, following the natural passages of patterns in the sand, the curves of cliffside rocks and the gentle undulation of the waves.
Passages is out now on Hell Yeah! Recordings. Pick it up via their Bandcamp page, on all of double vinyl LP, limited Japanese CD edition and digital formats. You can also follow Hell Yeah! on their socials to keep up to date with new releases.