Artist: Layo & Bushwacka
Title: Feels Closer
Label: Olmeto Records
By: Jason Calvert | 13 March 2006
  1. Life2Live (Feat Green Velvet)
  2. Feels Closer (Feat Mino Cinelu)
  3. Ride The Train
  4. Me And You (Feat Tim Hutton)
  5. Smith Street
  6. Sunshine In Ipanema (Feat Rogerio Flausino)
  7. Dr. Teeth
  8. Isn't This A Lovely Day (Feat Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong)
  9. We've Been Here Before
  10. Hang Tough
  11. Saudade (Longing) (Feat Jessy Molnar)
  12. K (Feat Alison Jiear)

Layo & Bushwacka "Feels Closer"Layo & Bushwacka "Feels Closer"

Out Now on Olmeto Records

2002 saw the emergence of one of the greatest house albums to grace my collection. It was 'Night Works' by Layo & Bushwacka, and this was the album which introduced me to their amazingly unique sound. This then prompted me to go and check out their earlier album 'Low Life', which was released in 1999. After hearing this, I knew that I had come across two very special producers, and they were certainly ones I watched closely in the following years. Their breakout hit was ultimately 'Love Story', which blew apart countless numbers of dancefloors across the globe throughout the better part of summer in 2002. Here on 'Feels Closer' they strike yet again. As they say, third time lucky, so let's see how true they stick to the old saying.

The album starts off on a reserved, but upbeat tempo. 'Life2Live' has a sense of anticipation building up throughout it, and whilst itself it never explodes, it sets the scene by telling us that there are many big things to come from the rest of the album. A lo-fi vocal echoes out from underneath the sexy percussion, which is provided by none other than the amazing Mr. Green Velvet himself. An interestingly electro fuelled bass synth emerges at the beginning of the title track, but as soon as the immensely huge percussion rolls kicked in, I instantly felt right at home, and it felt much more like a Layo & Bushwacka sound. Percussion is provided by a man who is considered one of the finest percussionists in the industry: Mino Cinelu. He has performed alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Sting, Herbie Hancock, and a host of other massive names. A very unique contrast is formed between the tight acoustic percussion and the electro nature of the bassline. 'Ride The Train' strips the groove right back and allows the airy melody to flow freely. The groove created is almost reminiscent of a more uptempo Silicone Soul type sound, and add to this the genius production work of Layo & Bushwacka, who layer in electric guitars, solid percussion, and beautiful string arrangements, and we have one of the finest uptempo tracks on the album!

Light up your cigarettes, sit back, and puff out to the sly guitar chords thrown at us on 'Me And You'. The amazingly talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tim Hutton provides a lot of work on the track, and his trademark eclectic style is evident throughout. But only Layo & Bushwacka could pull of using a track such as this on an album you might find in the "house" section of your record store, and they do a magnificent job. Laid-back funk is the key theme on 'Smith Street'. Whether it be the powerful trumpet riffs, or the haunting guitar progressions, or perhaps even the minor vocal, the guys have really got everything right here on this track. Coming from a non-electronic background, I really found a lot to appreciate on this track. The atmosphere goes a bit deeper on 'Sunshine In Ipanema'. A laid-back 4/4 flows underneath a lazy bassline and some easy-going Spanish vocals provided by Rogério Flausino. While the track is deeper than some of the others presented, the guys still manage to give it a very cool feel, so nothing ever becomes too serious.

After the string of mellowed out tracks, we are whipped right back up to speed on 'Dr. Teeth'. The tough percussion is right back up to scratch, again being complimented by some tight jazz riffs on a trumpet. Deep electro stabs are later introduced, and whilst they have been doing it for years, Layo & Bushwacka still amaze me at how they fuse together so many different genres on the one album. It truly is a remarkable effort, which really begins to shine from this track forward. In 1957, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded a groundbreaking album titled "Ella & Louis". It was an album you would listen to, and would have to be a very sad person to not have a smile on your face by the end of it. An amazing track from this album was 'Isn't This A Lovely Day', and I was amazed to see this on the tracklist, and was quite interested to see what the boys had decided to do with it. I was instantly shocked by the different chord progressions, and some interesting sidechain work. Ella's sultry vocal sings out through the smokey composition, and an entirely new light is cast upon the track. For those like myself who are familiar with (and enjoy) the original works of these two, this track is most certainly not to be missed! 'We've Been Here Before' heads down quite an experimental path. Of course we have the beautiful trumpet melodies flying like the wind high above the rest of the composition, but the majority of the other elements are focussed into the lower range. This creates a big divide between the upper and lower ranges, where we almost have an empty space. Somehow (and I have no idea how) this works! And it works extremely well! Most tracks need to have a pretty much even balance in all ranges to work effectively!

'Hang Tough' speeds right up to an almost crazy tempo. Beautifully eerie piano lines flow over the extremely tight percussion and dusky bassline. The piano is complemented by some slick Spanish guitar riffs, and all put together this spooky composition is one of the best tracks heard on the album. It certainly may take a few listens to absorb everything going on, but once you're there, you won't be able to take this one off repeat! Things start to wrap up from here. A very positive atmosphere is portrayed on 'Saudade', and the breakdown sets the track alight. Smooth summer-esque guitar patterns back up the sultry and soulful vocal of Jessy Molnar, who could almost be taken as a cross between Beth Gibbons and Sia Furler! This finally takes us to the closing number on the album, 'K', which sadly ends things on quite a depressing note. No real percussion evident here, the track consists mainly of an electro stab bassline and some wailing to fill the upper ranges. For me this wasn't the best way to end the album, but then again however it did prompt me to go back and listen through the others all over again, just to brighten my spirits!

To be honest with you, if you like progressive music, house music, or any other electronic music, and that is all, then I cannot recommend this album to you. However, if you've grown up on a sound other than electronic, or if you have appreciation for influences stretching from jazz, to funk, to rock, to reggae, to hip-hop, and also love your electronic, then is may possibly be one of the best albums you will ever hear. It is evident that many many sleepless nights have been spent carefully constructing these tracks, and for those who have taste far beyond simply electronic, then the album should have you drooling over it by just looking at the collaborations! Personally, I can't get enough of this album, and it has been in constant rotation in my car for quite some time now, and I can only assume that it will for quite a while to come!

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