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Breathe Sunshine (Vol. 1) - Chilled Electronic Beats from Cape Town and Johannesburg


Review: Jack Foley

ONE OF the undisputed perks of carrying an alternative/independent sounding name and attitude, is that you get to hear stuff that you might otherwise never listen to, or realise even exists.

There is the crap, of course, as with any line of reviewing, but when a new 'find' comes along, it is genuinely worth getting excited about - as much as, say, the new album from The Strokes, DJ Shadow or Coldplay or U2.

In the short time that IndieLondon has been going, we've had music sent to us direct from the US and Australia (not bad, for a London-based site!), and have now heard from South Africa.

Breathe Sunshine, like its long title suggests, is a compilation of chilled electronic beats from Cape Town and Johannesburg, that was kindly sent to us by the good people at Amabala Records.

And it is a frequently surprising collection of records, all of which incorporate African rhythms, instruments and lyrics, into a broad spectrum of chill-out influences.

Better suited to the late-night, down-tempo chilled crowd, of Radio 1's Blue Room fame, or Cafe Del Mar, this is a frequently mesmerising collection of tracks which mostly hit the target as effortlessly as a cool breeze on a hot Summer's day.

And while the African influence is prevelant on several tracks, it never threatens to take over, with plenty of tracks worthy of consideration on any of the Ibiza-based chillout compilations, or evoking memories of some of the beats and samples that Nitin Sawhney incorporates into much of his work (see Human).

The highlights include Beifus' funky Chemical Fire, which retains its African roots, while also sounding a little like early Chemical Brothers mixed with a little Beloved; or Felix Laband's upbeat, breezy, Run Alive Run, which possesses an orchestral feel more akin to The Avalanches, and a beat and guitar loop that really makes you want to get up and dance.

Dino Sofos's hopelessly chilled out opening track, Breathe Sunshine, featuring the laidback vocals of Delenta sets things going in fine style, with its breathy vocals, dream-like soundscapes and neatly observed piano, while the Kalahari Surfers' Kicked By The Ball, evokes memories of an early morning sunrise over the ocean, or the type of Mali music that Damon Albarn has helped to bring to a wider listener base.

The album features some better-known artists, such as Craigie Dodds (well known as the Sugababes producer here in the UK), as well as the lesser-known likes of Dino Sofos and the African Rhythm Travellers.

But while not every track captures the imagination all of the time, and certain others take a while to fully get into, this compilation is an excellent introduction to a new area of chillout which succeeds in achieving exactly what it set out to - ie, act as an ambassador.

One can only look forward to volume two with relish.

Track listing:
1. Breathe Sunshine - Dino Sofos, feat. Delenta
2. Still - Egyptian Nursery
3. Loungy Bastardos - Weasilboy
4. Run Alive Run - Felix Laband
5. Kicked By The Ball - Kalahari Surfers
6. Kumnandi - Ben Amato
7. L'aube - Gringo Bros
8. O A Lla - KB
9. Sunset Cabriolet - Cafe Settee
10. Leader - Gringo Bros
11. No More War - African Rhythm Travellers
12. Chemical Fire - Beifus
13. Afro Snap - Omitsu

14. Happy Daze - Beat Pharmacy

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