Limited edition run of 500 copies – pressed on transparent blue vinyl.
Following a CD-only release in Japan in 2021, legendary downtempo producer Calm finally releases his ?Before? album on vinyl and digital courtesy of Hell Yeah. The 10-track record is a slow-burning Balearic beauty.
Calm aka Kiyotaka Fukagawa has never been to the White Isle, but he sure knows how to capture its musical essence. He has done so over a long and storied career that has taken in 17 albums and some 35 EPs on many labels including this one over the last 20-plus years. His unique blend of ambient, jazz and leftfield was last showcased on this label in 2018 with his By Your Side album, and now he does it again with another timeless and escapist offering.
The record was written, arranged, mixed and produced by Calm, but with gorgeous musical embellishments, trumpets, flutes, saxophones, violins, bass and keys played by friends and guests like Shiba, Sinsuke Fujieda, Fumiko Takeshita, Tomokazu Sugimoto, Yuichiro Kato and Toshitaka Shibata. Tracks from it have already had support from Cosmo Coleen Murphy on Worldwide FM, while Phil Mison says it is “100% reminiscent of an old Caf? Del Mar or Jos? Padilla record.” He is not wrong.
As soon as the opening chords of ‘Beauty on Earth’ wash over you there is no escaping the naturalistic charm and beauty of this record. ‘Long Summer Dream’ layers mystic wind sounds and gentle percussive patterns into suspensory bliss, ‘Blue in Void’ is a plaintive moment of sombre sax and pensive piano, then ‘Liminal Moment’ awakens the soul with its gorgeous flute lines and looping arps.
There is perfect horizontal sunset house on ‘I Love You,’ ‘Feel It’ picks up the pace with seductive saxophone motifs and psychedelic synth loops and ‘Before Sunrise Blue’ is crushing downtempo melancholia. ‘Kunpoo’ reawakens you with leggy bass and expansive synths that reach for the heavens, while ‘Freedom Sunset’ is an epic 10-minute journey out to sea. Lastly, ‘Let’s Make Harmony’ is super slow motion jazz-funk that swells the heart. Before is a superb album that is well-deserving of this double vinyl pressing and is sure to become a Balearic classic.
Phil Mison, Colleen Cosmo Murphy, Chris Coco, Buena Onda Crew