Album Review: Andy Cato / ‘Times & Places’ (Apollo)

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★★★★☆

Owner of a well-worn passport, Andy Cato sidesteps going around the world in 80 raves and creates instrumental reflections out of check-ins, layovers and time to kill. Hotel lobbies, lock-ins, road trips and terminals are his canvas, as the co-captain of the good ship Groove Armada re-masters lost cassettes, audio doodles and sonic postcards, in some cases rebuilding them from scratch to preserve their memory.

Production both plush and tremulous could just well have seen Cato holed up in an orchestrally-extended studio (“The Coastal Path”) for years on end rather than revisiting a traveller’s scrapbook. Lots of wise electronica, trip-hop kickbacks, free and open chillout and back to mine strums bump in time to the wheels of the pick-up truck Cato thumbs a lift from. A sense of the open road/world does not make for a cultural compare and contrast. It’s more a means of de-ringing ears and finding a happy place when the life of the jetsetter sometimes yearns for home.

Here lies the album expressive lean; everything’s fairly buoyant and in the moment, save for a couple of sterner border checkpoints, dismissing the dullness of any waiting room by looking for its next session under the stars (“Back from Castlemorton,” “Rear Window”) or hitting a secret spot only his inner circle knows of. Very media-savvy as well (“Abbey Road Jam,” “North from Montparnasse” as a boy of summer), it’s a fine companion for your own travels or when returning to terra firma.

File under: Andrew Bayer, Anthiliawaters, Windsurf

Compilation Review: ‘All Gone Miami ’12 Mixed by Pete Tong & Groove Armada’ (Defected)

★★★★☆

The immortal spinner certainly knows how to keep picking his headline partners. Pete Tong follows last year’s Felix da Housecat hook-up to show that there are many ways to approach the Miami experience, compared to the virtually non-stop fireworks of CR2. He keeps on with his recent compilation demeanour of responsibly laying down his sound and letting the other headliner (in theory) go to town on the crowd. Opening with an inauspicious reintroduction of Goldfrapp’s “Strict Machine,” unfussy funkiness on an ever steady footing dominates, with Anonym, Marc Fanciulli and a Marc Romboy, Rodriguez Jr and Deetron three-way building up the sparkplugs. It’s a solid set low on jump-out moments but higher on persistence, with Tong in the poolside pacesetter role looking to make good time before passing the baton.

Groove Armada’s is a mixed but less conservative bag, with original house flashbacks (Fingers Inc., rubbing off on NY Stomp) to 303 fast-forwards (Cle, Lazy Ants & Rob Threezy), simple but hard-hitting house geometry (Djedjotronic), and reinstating Stacey Pullen from All Gone 2011. Their chart-troubling persona is different from when in the mix, in a not-giving-up-the-day-job kinda way, but Andy Cato and Tom Findlay have more life than their forerunner as the funk (Shenonda’s “Finally”) and thunder filters through more freely, ramming home the advantage set up for them.
File under: Bingo Players; Sable Sheep; Bubba