For this month’s selection of summer sounds, our esteemed TuneSmith, Rob Wood, picks out a surprisingly uplifting medley of melancholia, and an album inspired by one of Smith’s top honeymoon hotels, the Maldivian paradise of Huvafen Fushi…
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Boys Outside by Steve Mason
When? You’ve exhausted Beta Band and Hot Chip
Why? This is the alpha Beta’s finest solo outing to date
There’s a black cloud hanging over this album that, in theory, shouldn’t be there given it’s produced by Richard X – the man responsible for frothing the pop of the Sugababes, Rachel Stevens and Liberty X. Yet the coming together of this musical maverick and Steve Mason’s heart-wrenching exposure of his own depression proves to be a masterstroke of music-making. As the former frontman of the revered Beta Band, Mason is no stranger to experimenting around the fringes of pop, dub, dance and folk (as heard on Smith’s Something for the Weekend CD series). Boys Outside is his best solo work so far. For all its sombre subject matter, each song is lifted by a shimmering electronic soul sound which floats above Mason’s delicate guitar and piano on a bed of dubbed-out electro pulses. It’s sad but rivetingly beautiful and instantly captivating. A record that’s sure to be championed as an under-appreciated classic in years to come.
THE SMITH CLASSIC
Huvafen Fushi by Ravin by Various Artists
When? You want to pour some of the Indian Ocean into your living room
Why? It’s a sizzling blend of exotic grooves plucked from the Maldives
DJ Ravin is one of the best purveyors of global beats, and Huvafen Fushi is one of the finest desert island retreats in the world. When the two come together it’s worth sitting up and listening. Tasked with evoking the Huvafen experience, Ravin has created an outlandish and atmospheric blend of unreleased world music, house and electronica that captures the glamour and allure of the Maldives hotel. Soaring above the ordinary, this compilation distinguishes itself through sheer passion, groove and sassy cheek. Not one to be played in the underwater spa, but perfectly appropriate for canoodling under the stars (or, in less exotic climes, behind the sofa).