By: Daniela Patrizi
Lilacs & Champagne | website | facebook |
Released on March 17, 2015 via Temporary Residence Ltd.
When a few years ago Alex Hall and Emil Amos splintered off from Grails to form Lilacs & Champagne, we all expected a sound close to their long running instrumental outfit. We were definitely wrong because listening the their eponymous record we immediately realized that Alex and Emil moved towards a completely different direction to deliver a warm hip-hop sound. Danish Blue , that probably refers to Danish Blue, a documentary of 1968 that supported the legalization of pornography in Denmark, was a kind of continuation of the eponymous album with the addition of lounge oriented samples.
From there the band, composed by Alex Hall (guitar/sampling), Emil Amos (drums /guitar), Jay Clarke (piano & synths) and Zachary Reno (sampling/bass) moved to Midnight Features in a territory of much more freedom of expression, without restriction to creativity. Midnight Features can be considered, as they said, a series of “fantasy records” that are inspired by the classic Marvel comic series What If?. This first volume of the series , Shower Scene, recall the music used in the TV shows of 1970s and now Lilacs & Champagne are releasing Midnight Features Vol. 2: Made Flesh through the well known Brooklyn based label Temporary Residence.
Listening to the thirteen tracks of Midnight Features Vol. 2: Made Flesh the first adjective that came to my mind is variety. The number of genres that Alex and Emil embrace in this album is enormous and they impress for the way they mixed them and pass from one style to another one in an instant demonstrating their talent in crafting completely new sounds. Every track of the record has a very independent feel and together they offer a wide range of hip-hop and psychedelic sound with the addition of elements that recall obscure film soundtracks, b-movie samples, indistinguishable radio broadcasts and library tapes. I really like the silky-smooth guitars accompanying sensual samples of airy female vocals as it happens in the opening ‘Roses & Kisses’. The whole thirteen track album floats along like this, showing off flurries of different instrumentation along the way. The whole work is completed by very refined visuals of dreamy vintage pornography that contributes to making it an easily repeatable listen. The outcome is an album that’s cinematic in its imagery and full of emotions.
The atmosphere of Midnight Features Vol. 2: Made Flesh is smoky and seductive and the sound shifts between lush strings and spiraling guitar solos with a sinuous intertwine that lures you and doesn’t abandon you. ‘Longjohn’s Lust’ is a clear example of their ability to create unique sex jams. As the album proceeds the mood change as the band approaches different styles – just think about the atmospheric, trapping loop offered by ‘Case Closed!’. It’s a great track that sometimes recall the sound of Grails and it’s the perfect soundtrack to the perfect mind journey. In the same way the warm space of ‘Euro Blow’ is another highlight of the record where they have created an ambient blend that really works.