In May, the music world lost Michel Baumann. You will know him as Jackmate or even more likely as Soulphiction. Highly respected producer, musician and DJ. At the heartbreakingly early age of 49, fighting the vicious C. And I absolutely hate that, for lots of reasons.
His work is represented fifteen times among the 8000 and at first I thought that I should just pull my favorite Jackmate or Soulphiction release from the shelf to listen and write – but then I thought it would be much more appropriate to go online and buy some of his work and write about that. This EP is among them and I got it from Fatplastics, the online vinyl shop of the Freude am Tanzen and Musik Krause labels in Jena, Germany.
One of the reasons I picked this one is that his contribution is simply heavenly. The second one is that he is among friends, sharing the EP with Matt Karmil, Neil McDonald a.k.a. Lord of the Isles and Ripperton who is the initiator and presenter of this project. Which leads to the third reason – the positivity that is behind the idea of Zendama, a Japanese word that stands for “a good person”.
That’s really all it takes. Good people. This is what Ripperton says on Bandcamp: “The common point between all these pieces is that the people who make them are wonderful humans, very involved in making good music and keeping a positive spirit.” Exactly what is needed when one of these wonderful humans leaves us forever.
The original plan seems to have been a double album – but for some undisclosed reason things got difficult on the way and the only way “Zendama” could be published was as two separate EPs. The project would have deserved a proper gatefold and nice artwork – but I guess we still should thank Raphaël Ripperton for pulling this through.
Four tracks, four artists, four ways to amaze. Matt Karmil with a big fat kick drum, Lord of the Isles with just the opposite and plenty of sparsely inhabited space, Ripperton with plenty of synth euphoria and Jackmate with open arms, plenty of swooning strings, a playful little beat and a healthy dose of harps.
The bumpy house of Matt Karmil with its lazy shakers and pompous kick reminds me of some of the more playful releases on Areal. “Just For Me” is like a big and heavy animal with an entirely gentle soul, always that cool fraction behind the beat when it moves to the groove. Lord of the Isles’ “Luminous Black & Emerald” doesn’t apply the size to the instruments but rather to the space surrounding them, creating a huge cave with plenty of sound creatures bouncing off the walls, entering and leaving in seemingly random patterns. The result is a track that keeps swaying back and forth between deep driving minimal and ambient moments.
Maybe I am interpreting a little too much here but it seems to me that Ripperton not only recruited some wonderful humans for his collection – they actually seem to express their deep connection to our friend from Lausanne with the tracks they supply. They sound the way he talks about them.
Michel Baumann (supported by his friend and Manmade Science partner Nik Reiff) gives us “Rerun (Jackmates Special Interest Dub)” – and probably the deepest and most elegiac piece of music ever published under the Jackmate label. Even as Soulphiction this would have been on the romantic side of the spectrum. Whoever was in charge of mastering did an exceptional job on the bass drum – again, it’s super warm and deep and as soft as it is kicking. Not to speak of the great programming for this tricky little pattern. Add big yearning sets of strings, dreamy sweeps, a tiny clarinet-sounding theme and a bouncy note from the bass station – this is lovely, all the way to the long silent fade-out.
Naturally, it is up to Ripperton himself to close the first round of tracks for “Zendama”. On “Indian Tree” he does it in style, building a synth happy excursion as if closing a long and beautiful night with friends at a club in a peaceful place with lots of music and drinks and hugs and smiles, and the sun is announcing its rise already at the horizon while Ripperton keeps piling up the synths to welcome to the first rays of daylight in spectacular fashion.
I read a lot of posts about the death of Michel Baumann. It seems to me that he was a just the wonderful human Raphaël Ripperton is talking about.
Release for review:
V.A. – RIPPTERTON PRESENTS ZENDAMA (PART ONE) – TAMED MUSIQ – TMZ01