Lord Echo ‘Harmonies’ 2LP/CD/DIG (Soundway) 4/5

We had ‘Melodies’ followed by ‘Curiosities’ and now, arriving at that well discussed situation that can be called ‘A trilogy’ a new album release by New Zealand resident, DJ and all-rounder musician Lord Echo with his latest offering ‘Harmonies’, a ten track straight from the soul experience.

As I have read somewhere before, “Lord Echo’s music imagines a world where Reggae, African soul and Latin rub their shoulders together” all true, it does exactly what it say’s on the tin.. however his music generates much more than this, it is an ‘ambiance formidable’ as the French would say, We have extremely well presented relishes available on this album such as very authentic sounding Lovers Rock – that wonderful old ‘named in London’ genre of reggae – we have also that original Jamaican genre known as Rock Steady circa ’67/’68 it has been 50 years since that genre of reggae hit the dancehalls and lawn party’s in JA and Lord Echo along with his entourage do a pretty good job at it with the piece “Note From Home” featuring fellow New Zealander Toby Laing from the ‘Fat Freddy’s Drop’ outfit. We have Soulful flutes and floating vocals, idiosyncratic jazz funk workout’s, indeed Lord Echo provides quite a decent musical backdrop to a cool dinner party, preferably in the garden just after dusk or that late Saturday afternoon vibe at home, the album on in the background nice and bassey whilst grooming one’s feathers ready for the Saturday evening meet up in clubland city.

Oh what the hell, you’re already in the pre club pub zone and quite a few people are commenting on the cool music coming through the speakers as track one delights ears, the album presents itself with “Whoa, There’s No Limit’, a harmonious downtown soul dipped instrumental piece featuring harmonies by golden voice Mara TK which is followed by a latin inspired lift up piece “Life On Earth” again featuring Mara – and as is the first few tracks – in semi instrumental mode, the scene is set, the ambience is on groove lockdown. This is not only a nice background album it is also an upfront album, a difficult feat to pull off, to cater for all, but the scene is set and we continue with third piece “The Sweetest Meditation” and with this we are in 1970s disco vibe ultra funk mode sounding a touch of Doobie Brothers style perfectly blended into the mix, I swear I can hear their distinctive vocal style and vintage ’74 phaser setting disco/funk keyboards in this piece, the riddim track kicks in rather much like DeeLite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ with Mara TK riding the harmonies in full passion after which the melodies give way for a very Ozric Tentacles sounding club groove, a very interesting blend it has to be said. The fourth helping offered is called “Makossa No.3” a flute and saxophone (Lucien Johnson) led tight groover, a pure instrumental.

The same cool sound ambience yet a change of genre next for track 5 “Low To The Street” featuring Lisa Tomlins on vocals, here we have a nice piece of Lovers Rock circa ’78 in essence, featuring a very cool and laid back double length organ solo which plays out the last minute or so of the piece.

The album is running in now at around twenty three minutes of pleasure, the next ten minutes however feel a bit disjointed by contrast to the previous 5 tracks with both “In Your Life” and “Just Do You” – they being fine pieces as stand alone tunes – sound a tad out-of-place with what’s gone before, non the less we arrive back on track with 8th offering “C90 Eternal” a horn led idiosyncratic discoTech workout and again for some reason I am receiving an Ozric vibe.

The album finishes with two reggae inspired pieces; track 9 being the aforementioned nicely done Rock Steady number ‘Note From Home’ and finally another Lovers Rock inspired piece entitled “I Love Music” with Lisa Tomlins. We have ourselves here a multi genre laid back groove of an album, an album to appreciate ensemble, ‘Harmonies’ by Lord Echo has a smooth production and very vintage sounding instrumentation, the vocal and harmony work is outstanding, c’est une bonne ambiance.

Gibsy Rhodes