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Friday, Jun 19 2015 | 06:27
Image: 1597901 After the international affair of NADO015, Moonboots' and Boardman train their gaze a little closer to home for the latest Aficionado release, welcoming the return of the majestic Stratus to the label.

Back in 2013, the outfit gifted the world the sweeping beauty of the 'Spring Tide EP', a fuzzy hybrid of Dorothy Ashby, Pat Methany and Manuel Gottsching which soundtracked many a horizontal afternoon in the late Summer sun. Now Mat Antony returns to the imprint with another four tracks of intricate, immersive genius, primed to fling open the doors of perception and guide you into a brave new world.

'Axis' eases us into proceedings with the gentle cadence of languid guitar, allowing us a moment of hazy tranquility before an explosion of symphonic funk sends us spinning away into a different plane of consciousness entirely. The lost soundtrack to a peyote fuelled Sergio Leone flick, 'Axis' is a lone ranger riding an Axelrod rhythm deep into the desert while the chiming bells, choral vocals and campfire guitars swirl and eddy in the dry heat.

On the A2, 'Oxwich' offers a glimpse of lush vegetation, flora and fauna in full swing in the tranquil paradise of a rich oasis. Opening with a field recording of a tropical lakeside, the track blossoms into life with rhythmic guitar, gentle percussion and a pastoral bassline, all washed through with a fuzzy psychedelia, before wavy North African melodies shimmer this way and that in the midday swelter.

'Solstice' sees Antony embracing the mellow magic of a violet dusk, taking us on a stoned journey into cinematic jazz territories with an Air of French sophistication. The relaxed charm of gentle Rhodes paints an endless horizon before the celestial keys and glittering arps scatter stars far across the heavens. 'Tisno' closes the EP out in more earthly surroundings as aquatic keys lap over organic percussion, and airy strings breeze over the thick and sticky bassline. Fragile piano chords glimmer in and out of the dubby soundscape, suggesting an emotional release finally realised by the euphoric sequence which closes the track and the EP. This is a vivid, expressionist masterpiece from Stratus, and another essential release from a flawless label.

Officially Aficionado...

B1. TISNO Available from 10.07.2015
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