a double dose of early evening slow disco with Madonna and friends. Dance if no one is watching. despacio is back! Sip don't skip.
As James Murphy and Soulwax put on their Despacio Disco at festivals this summer (including Nile Rogers’s Meltdown - now that will be interesting!), we continue to provide our Song Sommelier “Homebrew Despacio Disco kit”. We can’t guarantee the sound reproduction of the McIntosh and Jordan Acoustics speaker system used by James et. al. (unless you wish to part with a lot of cash) but make do with the best you have and crank up the volume. We also recommend hitting your settings (Spotify users), Playback, Crossfade - and set to around 9 seconds. Apple Music users - we cannot find such a function, sadly.
Not only do we despatch another Despacio (vol. 4!), but like a London bus, you wait for ages for one to come, to find two of the buggers arrive in a convoy. Unlike the buses however, you need both of these. Our Despacio Double Disco (take that JM and Soulwax!) has come as a kind of dual celebration. For one thing, our mascot Madonna has a new record out. She does. It’s worth your time. Some of it. Quite what the majestic Madge expects from an album release these days who knows, but the music scene is very different from when a Madonna album was a proper global event. Probably the last time would have been her trend-setting foray into ‘electronic acoustic’ with the album ‘Music’, almost 20 goddamn years ago.
Proving herself to be as prescient as always (some 36 years after declaring her ambition to “to rule the world” on her first TV appearance on American Bandstand) the new record contains a wonderful reggaeton style number called ‘Future’ and that’s the one we lead with for our Despacio All New Summer ‘19 edition. It’s great. It is also a convenient excuse for us to segue into an artist we are excited about (and so is everybody) and that’s Koffee, the Jamaican Reggae artist, rapper/DJ (and guitarist no less) from Spanish Town, Jamaica. If you haven’t heard ‘Toast’ until now, you may as well raise your glasses. Now consider yourself thoroughly Toasted. It is as refreshing as an Espresso Martini.
Koffee may be one third of Madonna’s years, but we love that they both sound contemporaneous (yes, that is a word). That’s the ticket here - two bangers to set off an all new list of tracks from the past few weeks. We predict a big summer for Reggae, so look out for something special coming up. Meanwhile, after the bangin’ start, Despacio Summer ‘19 limbers up in relaxed fashion, with some lovely, languid stuff from Vampire Weekend. Their recent single ‘This Life’ is their unique blend of Cape+Caribbean+California but the sunny sheen of the music is accompanied by some pretty philosophical musings. We follow with Cuco (mmm, is this single the best use of a Spotify visual Canvas yet?), King Princess and Easy Life (kitchen sink poetry for the Instagram generation?). Somewhat continuing the sunny music with more sardonic twists in the lyrics. It’s okay the party’s hardly started we may as well get the regretful stuff over with.
From there, we ramp it up gently, with Steve Lacy’s ‘Playground’ - surely the ‘alternative’ hit of the summer? That’s what we go in for at TSS, none of this cynical attempt to write the summer chart hit by the numbers, no thank you. It’s the genuine stuff we like - and should it sound summery enough for a party piece - mo better. And so you have it - some home-made garage band soul from Still Woozy, before we transition again into something way more...exotic.
It may be 2019, but we make room for new sounds by the old skool crowd here too. They get their own whole movement here. Róisín Murphy will always find room on TSS decks, and with new tracks by Metronomy, Hot Chip and none other than the ringleader of the old skool himself, Craig David, we rewind it back to right now, in some considerable style. And if you ever thought you would hear a Noel Gallagher track on a summer groove playlist, welcome to our world. With Bowie to blame, Noel’s ‘Black Star Rising’ was apparently inspired by Fashion - and you may recall the Bowie classic from an earlier edition of Despacio. We love a bit of lineage. Everything is connected in this crazy universe, and that’s something worth considering when swaying gently to a groove in the summer breeze a? If this isn’t quite making sense just yet, keep drinking and dancing until the opening bars of our chosen closer: Underworld’s ‘Schiphol Test’. You’ve got 8 minutes 34 seconds to work it out, or care less.
As if ‘All New Despacio’ isn’t enough to get your groove on, we’ve done the double Despacio - with Vol. 4 of the more classic series dropped right there beside. Madonna to lead as ever, this time with a classic forgotten track ‘Don’t Tell Me’ from the 2000 Music album (see - everything really is connected!). There are a few absolute treats in store on Volume 4. Don’t tell me you’ve never come across the track ‘Ring’ by Laura Izibor? I heard it first in my local coffee shop just about a year ago - and Shazam helped identify what must be the longest, lostest guiltyest, pleasure of the summer.
But Vol. 4 continues where we left off with Vol. 3: mixed up early evening spins that blend recent cuts with modern classics, and deep catalogue to boot (come on - could you resist ‘All Night Long’ by Mary Jane Girls?). It’s the stuff to get any garden party going. Our only rule then, is sip, don’t skip. The summer rolls on, and thanks the gin gods for that!
Playback notes: It’s up to you - and if you run out of tracks, remember there is always Despacio Vols. 1-3? No!!!! Here you go then.
Madonna’s 14th studio album ‘Madame X’ is released June 14th. Do check out the awesome EPs by Koffee, Easy Life and Still Woozy. It’s nice to see EPs are back (someone should tell Madonna).