Monday 15 January 2024

'Roadmaps' by New Visionaries

'Roadmaps' is the new collaborative release from music-makers Joel Sarakula and Phil Martin for the Spanish label Lovemonk Records.

Under the guise of the New Visionaries, Sarakula & Martin have clearly stumbled onto a winning and creatively satisfying formula that sees them employ their years embedded within their respective - and incredibly vast - music scenes and transforming them into a series of lush, cinematic soul-infused soundscapes.

Both artists have each thrived throughout various collaborative projects over the years but their latest joint venture seems to have genuinely tapped into exciting new avenues for each of them.  For the Australian singer, songwriter and musician, Joel Sarakula's musical contributions to date have seen him release projects running the gamut of disco, soft rock, soul and reggae.  With a hefty amount of releases to his name - including albums via the revered German contemporary soul music label Légère Recordings - Sarakula has travelled the world in a bid to not only spread his musical message but also to continuously find new ways in which to convey it.  And likewise for the multi-instrumentalist and producer, Phil Martin.  A veritable one-man band, the Dutch musician can boast collaborations with a dream line-up of artists including Dr Lonnie Smith, Azymuth and Laura Vane.

Having collaborated together on projects previously, including Sarakula's 'Island Time' (2023) which saw Martin tackling drums for the album, New Visionaries presents a brilliant extension to each of their musical offerings to date.  Inspired largely by the work of contemporary soul bands like El Michels Affair and Khruangbin, 'Roadmaps' presents some wonderful interpretations on the theme with some frankly inspired compositions throughout.

With instrumental duties split evenly between the two, as seasoned musicians and producers, both Martin and Sarakula have become adept at creating music that reflects their distinct perspectives and personality.  Album opener 'Giallo Days' proves the point immediately with its infectious hook that sets the album's bar incredibly high; the challenge is met however with follow-up tune 'The Sunshine' and it's fairly lush, Roy Ayers-tinged, summer-kissed treasure.  The criminally short sonic funk number 'Firecracker' boasting Peter Broekhuizen on flute is another standout as is the synth-led and multi-faceted 'Instellar Bachelor Pad'.  

Special mention really has to go to the riveting inclusion of Hannah Williams who provides guest vocals on the track 'Summer Rain'.  Typically backed by The Affirmations and with two compulsory releases via the Italian label, Record Kicks, Williams's inclusion on the album marks an excellent win for the duo resulting in something very special.  The introspective 'Spiritual World' closes the album's ten track adventure rounding out an awesome release.

As mentioned earlier, the New Visionaries project marks a tremendous entry into the catalogues for Martin and Sarakula.  Fingers crossed the duo will take listeners on a further ride through their captivating and enthralling journey into the far-reaching realms of unexplored soul music. 

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