Timewarp Music Αθήνα, Greece
Aural Pleasure, Released 2004
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01 [0:00:00] Ocean Floor - Afternoons In Stereo
02 [0:03:41] Sunrais - Afternoons In Stereo
03 [0:09:54] Turtleneck - Afternoons In Stereo
04 [0:14:28] Manihi - Afternoons In Stereo
05 [0:20:48] Esquema da Sophia Pt I - Afternoons In Stereo
06 [0:25:03] A New Dawn, A New Day - Afternoons In Stereo
07 [0:30:55] On The Way To Lucia's - Afternoons In Stereo
08 [0:36:28] Esquema da Sophia Pt II - Afternoons In Stereo
09 [0:40:35] Architexture - Afternoons In Stereo
10 [0:48:26] Metrosexual - Afternoons In Stereo
11 [0:54:09] Esquema da Sophia Pt III - Afternoons In Stereo
12 [0:58:42] Sao Paulo - Afternoons In Stereo
13 [1:03:16] Modernist Abode - Afternoons In Stereo
Armed with one of the coolest band names ever, Afternoons in Stereo is the brainchild of Toronto-based musician/DJ Greg Vickers. In addition to his music project, Vickers/Afternoons in Stereo hosts a weekly radio cast called Urban Modernists, featuring hip, groovy music aimed at, well, urban modernists. As befitting such a moniker, it’s no surprise that Afternoons in Stereo make hip, groovy music that lands somewhere between laid-back chill out and acid jazz.
Other than Vickers, not much information is available about the band, leading us to believe that either Vickers is playing everything himself, or is using a lot of electronic samples. Either way, it’s good stuff, as evidenced by his 2004 debut, Aural Pleasure. The title is apt, as the album is chock-full of relaxing, entrancing grooves, perfect for chilling out with a martini and a cigar, for this is the stuff you’d hear in your local martini bar.
“Sunrais,” for instance, would’ve fit in nicely on any of the old This is Acid Jazz compilations that the Acid Jazz/Instinct label put out during that genre’s heyday: a seductive saxophone mixed in with acoustic guitar strumming and occasional funk guitar riffs over a groovy, subtle dance beat. Hell, Vickers even throws in some jazz flute for good measure. This is good stuff, a track worthy of repeated listens. Likewise with “Turtleneck,” where Vickers brings the flute to the forefront and moves the sax back to a secondary instrument, all over a bit of Latin-style percussion, resulting in a jazzy experience that should have your head nodding as you imbibe (unless, of course, you’re too hip to nod your head.) “A New Dawn, A New Day,” on the other hand, is an exercise in jazz/funk, albeit with some tasty conga percussion. It does feature a very soulful vocalist, however, and is probably the most upbeat number on the album, at least until it ventures into dub reggae territory, which is a totally welcome change of pace.
“Manihi,” though, is pure electronic chill-out, except that you can actually dance to it if you’re so inclined: a neat danceable beat under (or, rather, sometimes, over) airy, atmospheric keyboards and distant beach sounds. “On the Way to Lucia’s” is also quite relaxing, and without the dance beats. Instead, Vickers treats us to some somber trumpet and stream of consciousness spoken word, mixed in with a bit of Spanish guitar. Conversely, “Metrosexual” is an upbeat track full of nifty percussion and funky guitar riffs. And “Modernist Abode” is a cinematic piece of urban/acid jazz with its busy dance beats and nice jazz guitar riffs (and the jazz flute ain’t none too bad, either.) “Esquema da Sophia Pt II,” meanwhile, is a funky four-minute, trumpet-filled workout in which we’re treated to a chuckle-inducing sample of the two jive brothers from the movie Airplane! that makes it a fun listen.
Seriously, I’ve listened to Aural Pleasure over 40 times in the last few days, and have yet to tire of it. It is a relaxing, groovy, jazzy release that should sooth you as you listen. And while Afternoons in Stereo have released a couple of actual CD’s, unfortunately, Aural Pleasure is only available through electronic download. Fortunately, there’s more than one avenue to purchase from: it’s available on iTunes, eMusic, and through the band’s website, afternoonsinstereo.com. It is, however, well worth the time spent downloading, and well worth your listening time.