This album arrived on my doorstep just over a week and from the moment I clicked buy the sense of anticipation was strong. Looking back over 10 years ago, Louie Vega released the first Elements of Life album. Lush and tinged with afro & latin influences a plenty. The album got heavy rotation in the CD player and the singles and remixes got a good battering in all my DJ sets at the time.
This new album has a lot to live up to. With baited breath I got the album, loaded it up and went for a walk to have some uninterrupted time. Things open with some spoken words by Ursula Rucker setting the scene for whats to come and in these few short moments i’m already smiling, knowing that whats coming is probably pretty awesome. Big grand stabs and percussion, a call of hypnotic proportions which melds into the soft, sultry tones of Josh Milan and the track ‘Celebrate’. Joyous and uplifting, as this comes to an end I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve been transported in to the world which Louie has created.
When ‘I Dream A World’ starts the vibe just continues. Warm, fresh and breezy. A feeling which throughout the whole album just continues and draws you in. On first listening I really struggled to figure out where one track finished and another started. Tracks seem to link to one another in pairs or threes. It makes for a beautiful listening experience from beginning to end and once you start skipping around individual tracks still make sense too.
Compared to the previous album, Eclipse feels far less scripted. Helped massively by the fact that its almost entirely played by some incredible musicians (Luisito Quintero & Roy Ayers to name a couple). It doesn’t make the first album a poor relation but the sound has changed and this just feels alive because your listening to band rather than live elements over programmed parts. The unrelenting kicks on each track pop you in the face and each instrument as it takes its turn sounds wonderfully crisp and vibrant.
Another slight departure comes in the form of covers. Unexpected but done with respect for the artist and the original composition. I really can’t get enough of ‘Barbara Ann’ which is a cover of the Webster Lewis joint of the same name, ‘Harlem River Drive’ is a joy to behold too. Other highlights now I’ve had chance to listen include ‘This is us’, ‘Children of the World’, ‘Live Your Life Today’. I need to save some special love for ‘I’m A Women’, it kinda reminds of Incognito or the Young Disciples locking horns with MAW, awesome track. The package contains 2 CDs weighing in with over 2 and half hours of music in total. Your getting serious bang for your buck and its all at pretty astounding quality.
CD2 kicks off with ‘EOL Soulfrito’. A 33 minute session which sounds like a live jam and is a perfect accompaniment and ointment to what you have heard before. The remainder of the tracks definitely tip their hat to the DJs, ‘Draggin My Heels’ is a lovely shuffling joint that will probably make its way in to several sets here and there. You get extended versions of ‘You Came Into My Life’, ‘Children of the World’, ‘Overtake Don Overtake Overtake’, ‘This Is Us’. Things come to an end with a reworking of ‘Pastime Paradise’ and I got to say that I felt a little sad that it had come to an end.
I’m so glad Louie took his time and delivered this album following the first. Its definitely not as house orientated but it still maintains a strong four to the floor feel in places and you’ll find it hard not to want to dance throughout. I’m sure he’ll tour with the band, its setup perfectly to do so, and I sincerely hope it makes it to the UK. The whole thing is buffed with a sheen that made all the best Master at Work productions stand out over the years. But this is unmistakably Vega doing his thing and you can’t help but be impressed by this Master who is certainly at the top of his game.