While his name is perhaps lesser known outside his home country today, from the period spanning from 1974 through to 1984, Venezuelan multi-instrumentalist / producer Daniel Grau experienced a huge burst of success and creative energy, releasing nine albums over a decade before seeming to vanish completely.
While he’s been absent from the musical scene though, it turns out that he’s never stopped recording, and this new album ‘El Magico Mundo De Daniel Grau’, the first release on new Barcelona label El Palmas offers up his first new music for more than 30 years. As with Grau’s previous work, there’s a firm emphasis on space disco and smooth jazz sounds on the ten tracks collected here, which call to mind the likes of Giorgio Moroder as much as they do the likes of Meco or Tomita.
Opening track ‘Dance With Me’ sounds like it could easily act as inoffensive background music for an upscale wine bar or provide the opening theme for an eighties TV series, as jangling pianos and noodling analogue synth solos provide a colourful accompaniment to feathery sampled guitar notes and pneumatic programmed disco kickdrums, and indeed manages to evoke associations with Lindstrom’s more contemporary space disco as well as M83’s more recent forays into retroid eighties pop.
‘Andromeda’ meanwhile throws a bit more weight into the programmed electro kicks as digitally processed guitar solos howl against synth-horns and arpeggiated bass sequences, calling to mind a Harold Faltermeyer chase sequence, before ‘Magico’ brings the interplay of guitar elements to the forefront, dropping the tempo down to let feathery acoustic guitar samples trail against propulsive synth sequences, before spiralling guitar solos start ascending towards the stratosphere against smooth jazz synth horns. While it’s initially easy to file a lot of this album as eighties retro-disco cheese, closer inspection soon reveals a master craftsmen’s touch at work here.