LOST ON ARRIVAL.

LOST ON ARRIVAL.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always got a real thrill from discovering new music. Even now, after over thirty years of chasing new music, I still get the same buzz when I discover something new. Whether it be a new artist, compilation or new label, the thrill is still the same. Back in 1999, leafing through a catalogue of forthcoming releases, I noticed a new compilation from a label called Naked Music. This was their first ever compilation Nude Dimensions Volume One, compiled by Bruno Ybarra and Petalpusher a.k.a.Miguel Migs. Straight away, I realized that this looked like something special, so ordered the album. When I received Nude Dimensions Volume One I absolutely adored the compilation, and after this, bought every compilation Naked Music released. This included two further volumes of Nude Dimensions, three volumes of Carte Blanche, two volumes of Bare Essentials, plus Midnight Snack and Nude Tempo. In 2002, Naked Music started releasing studio albums, with albums by Blue Six, Aquanote and Miguel Migs following in 2002. Then in 2003 came something quite different from Naked Music, Lost On Arrival, compiled by Bruno Ybarra. What was different was the music, with Bruno describing the music as a combination of: “dirty disco, electro funk and dub house.” Although this was different to the soulful house of earlier releases, with its slightly harder, edgier sound, I was immediately hooked by Naked Music’s latest offering, swept away by the change in sound and funk drenched beats Lost On Arrival, which I’ll now tell you about.

Lost On Arrival was released back in 2003, compiled by Bruno Ybarra, who previously, has compiled various compilations for Naked Music, including Nude Dimensions, Bare Essentials and Midnight Snack. On Lost On Arrival, Bruno has compiled a collection of seventeen tracks that combine elements of disco, house, funk and dub music. Each of the artists that feature on Lost On Arrival are newcomers to Naked Music compilations. Only Trentemoller and Chicken Lips feature more than once. Trentemoller features twice and Chicken Lips three times, once with Zeefungk. Among the other artists are Tea Dancers, DJ T, Unai, Cosmic Force and Daniel Wang. As you can see, this is an eclectic selection of lesser known artists, who many people would be unfamiliar with. However, this was Bruno’s idea.

According to Bruno, the aim of Lost On Arrival was to provide a “showcase” for new artists whose music was “intriguing” and “operating just outside the beaten path.” This is commendable, because how else will new artists and producers get their music heard by a wider audience? Nowadays the internet allows artists access to a worldwide audience, but back in 2003, the internet was neither as sophisticated nor commonplace in many homes. So, an established label like Naked Music giving artists a break like is to be commended. However, some people would say it was also risky. After all, previously, Naked Music had a successful, winning formula, releasing compilations with their trademark soulful house sound, which was loved by a worldwide audience. Was releasing a compilation like Lost On Arrival, full of lesser know artists whose music was slightly more leftfield than previous Naked Music compilations not risky? That was maybe the case, but releasing any compilation of new music is risky, and previously, Naked Music had been pioneers of the soulful and vocal house scenes. So why not release another pioneering compilation. That’s what Lost On Arrival was, but what did the music sound like?

The track that opens Lost On Arrival, Tea Dancers’ Cosmic Dance Percapella, perfectly demonstrates the very different sound on the compilation. Tea Dancers is a collaboration between Jamie Odell and Nick Cohen, released on Jamie’s Freerange label. Opening with a spoken word sample about space travel, crunchy mid-tempo beats accompany another similar sample as synths sweep in. By now the beats are to fore, while synths whoosh and sweep, and a variety of beeps and effects accompany the sample. This deep house track is both intriguing and compelling, with a edgy, nervy and with a harder sound that’s never before graced a Naked Music compilation.

Staying with the harder, edgier sound is Themroc’s Bloodline, with the version chosen the Eastwick and Holloway Mix. Released in 2003, on the Wall of Sound label, this is a much quicker track, at 122 beats per minute. Here the beats are crunchier, with synths and keyboards accompanying a vocal that drifts in and out of the arrangement. There’s a real deep house sound to the track, very different to the softer, more soulful offerings of previous Naked Music compilations. However, times change, and Naked Music didn’t want to become stale, so released tracks like this. With it driving beats, handclaps and myriad of samples, synths and keyboards, it’s one of Lost On Arrival’s highlights.

With my long standing love affair with the Philly Sound, I had to include any track entitled Philly. Hopefully, DJ T will pay homage to the Philly Sound by including some lush cascading strings and a proliferation of percussion, as you’d expect to find on any track from Philly. Released on Germany’s Get Physical Music, DJ T was written and produced by DJ T and Booka Shade. The track opens with dark pounding beats while synths reverberate. They’re joined by swirling strings and percussion as the mid-tempo arrangement flits between a softer, more soulful sound to a deeper, edgier sound. Later, the harder edge becomes prominent, as before revealing another glimpse of the track’s softer sound. Again, it’s very different from what I’d expect from a track on Naked Music compilation, but is a hook laden, catchy track that you can’t help but love.

Switch’s Get Ya Dub On is another track released on Freerange Records in 2003. Here it’s remixed by Jamie Odell, using his Jimpster guise. The track has a tech house sound, with the quickest tempo on Lost On Arrival at 126 beats per minute. With its dark, harder sound, the crunchiest of beats, combine with a female vocal and squelchy synths galore. Occasionally, a sinister sounding sample makes an appearance, while the arrangement reverberates revealing a softer, sweeter sound. Personally, this is a track I find hypnotic and mesmerizing, sweeping you away with its dichotomy of dark and soft sounds.

While there are two tracks from Trentemoller on Lost On Arrival, the best has to be Le Champagne, a track from a 2003 EP Trentemoller, on Naked Music. It’s a track with deep house sound, with crispy beats, sweeping synths and percussion combining, to give the track a compelling sound. Again, the track mixes a hard edge, with a sweeter sound as the tempo hits 124 beats per minute. Much as I like  Trentemoller’s other track Work In Progress from the same EP, Le Champagne just has the edge for me. Both tracks have a similar deep house sound, while Work In Progress has a slightly dubby sound. The beats are crisper, while flourishes of synths build the track up, then slow it way down. Brief bursts of a vocal are a welcome visitor, and sometimes, delay is added to the arrangement, giving the track a dubby sound. Although it’s hard to choose between the two tracks, for me Le Champagne is the best track, purely because it has a slightly softer sound.

Although Trentemoller has two tracks on Lost On Arrival, Chicken Lips go one better with three tracks. Since 2000, Chicken Lips have released four albums, with 2010s Experience of Malfunction their latest album.  Of their trio of tracks on this compilation, Hey What You Doin’ is for me, the best of the three. On this track Chicken Lips collaborate with Zeefungk, from their Clap Slap EP on Session Recordings. Written and produced by Andrew Meecham and Dean Meredith, the track was mixed by Zeefungk. Squelchy synths reverberate, while beats pound at 116 beats per minute. Stabs of keyboards take over, driving the track along while the beats now reverberate. Delay is used sparingly and subtly, giving the track a dubby sound, while the synths swirl above the arrangement. This gives the track a quite different sound to many on the album. If you combine deep house with electro and add some dub, then this is how this tracks sounds like. For me, the dubby sound helps make the track the best of Chicken Lips’ trio of tracks.

My final choice just happens to be the final track on Lost On Arrival, Manzel’s extended version of Space Funk. This isn’t a recent track, far from it. Released in 1977 on Fraternity Records it’s a track that mixes disco with funk. The track joyously bursts into life, with the rhythm section, searing keyboards and the unmistakable sound of a Hammond organ driving the track along. Fast, funky chiming guitars, blazing horns and later, a funk masterclass on the Hammond organ. After that things get even better, making you realize that music doesn’t get funkier or sweeter than this. Not only is this a fantastically, funky track to close Lost On Arrival, but it’s my favorite track on the album. Bruno it seems, kept the best to last.

Although Lost On Arrival was very different from the previous compilations on Naked Music, it’s still a compilation of the highest quality music. In many ways I admire Naked Music’s bravery in breaking from their previous style of compilations. After all, they could have continued to release similar releases to Bare Essentials, Carte Blanche and Nude Dimensions and this would’ve proved hugely popular and lucrative commercially. However, the problem with this, as many other labels have discovered, is that there’s a risk that the music becomes stale. If that happens, then sales fall, the compilation concerned and even the label’s image can be damaged. So sometimes, it’s best to quit while your ahead, and move the music in a different direction like Naked Music did. Thankfully, they didn’t forget the people who loved the “old” Naked Music sound and began to release further artist albums from Blue Six, Aquanote, Lisa Shaw, Gaelle and Aya. Sadly though, after 2003, there were no further compilations from Naked Music. Instead, they released artist albums by Gaelle, Aya, Lisa Shaw and Blue Six. While Naked Music may not be the most prolific label, it tends to concentrate on quality music, rather than quantity. Where Lost On Arrival differs from other Naked Music compilation is with the style of music, with the style new, contemporary and eclectic. Lost On Arrival had one thing in common with Naked Music’s previous and subsequent releases….quality. Standout Tracks: Themroc Bloodline, DJ T Philly, Trentemoller Le Champagne and Manzel Space Funk.

LOST ON ARRIVAL.

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