Featuring music McLewin found on his worldwide hunts for used records, Ritual Chants is divided into three discs: Love, Beach and Dance. Love is the most serene, emphasizing atmosphere over propulsion. Beginning with the pastoral ambience of "Water Sports," an out-of-character cut from Man Parrish (of "Hip Hop, Be Bop" fame), the set moves from the spectral grandeur of John J. Francis's "God's Garden" to the French pop sensuality of Jeanette's "L'Amour Joue Au Violon," and from the Latin-tinged jazz-rock of G.R.C. Five's "Saga Of A Secluded Swamp Monster" to the whispers of "What Is Love Today?" by FG's Romance. The luxurious moods are broken at times, notably by Free Fantasy Formation's "Caroline," which comes off like a Seals & Crofts outtake with some Kraftwerkian synths tossed into the mix. It's an interesting curio, but not much more.
Beach serves up little in the way of surf rock or sunny pop, favoring idiosyncratic cuts like the sinewy psyche-drama of Tony Wilson's "Hangin' Out In Space," Zru Vogue's krautrocky groover "Do The Zru" and Adrian Gurvitz's uplifting gem "New World." There's nothing really wrong with Electric Machine's acid-jazzy "Fancy Good," the goofy Gallic funk of Chagrin D'Amour's "Ciao Katmandou" or Hitomi Tohyama's Chic-esque "Wanna Kiss," but they feel mundane compared to the others.
The disco- and house-heavy Dance kicks off with La P'tite Fred's "Stormy Love Affair," a swirling 6/8 tune that brims with rich horns, swelling synths and an endearing French singer. It's a sumptuous start to Ritual Chants' most consistently enjoyable section. Ennio Morricone's "Dance On" (from the 1978 "erotic drama" Stay As You Are) is a frothy piece of space-boogie, while Mansour Sallama's "Love And Happiness" could almost pass for a long-lost Brass Connection nugget. Dionne's "Come Get My Lovin'," almost three decades after its release, still shows how a drum machine, a few keyboard presets and an unadorned vocal are all you need to generate a heat wave.
As with the other discs, Dance has a few wild cards. Sharpio's "Dance Drome (We Can Make Your Body Move)" is plenty bumping, but its electro-funk strut might skew too close to '80s-era Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis for some. Essentially a note-for-note Swedish cover of America's "Horse With No Name," Family Four's "En Häst Utan Namn" has its oddball charms, but it's a strange choice for a closer. Yet those kinds of eccentricities are what help keep Ritual Chants engaging for all three hours.
Sat / 17 Dec 2016
01. Man Parrish - Water Sports
02. The Rias Orchestra - Amram
03. John J. Francis - God's Garden
04. Chac Mool - Ofrenda
05. Kraan - Silky Way
06. G.R.C. Five - Saga Of A Secluded Swamp Monster
07. Free Fantasy Formation - Caroline
08. Jeanette - L'Amour Joue Au Violon
09. Wavemaker - Tunnel Of Love
10. Bobby Lyle - Making Love
11. Babla & Kanchan - Aay Mere Dil
12. FG's Romance - What Is Love Today?
13. Etienne Vermoessen & Guido Delo - Easy Morning
14. Musyl & Joseppa - Follow Me
15. Karat - Auf Den Meeren
01. El Sueño De Hyparco - Rhodas
02. Tony Wilson - Hangin' Out In Space
03. Zru Vogue - Do The Zru
04. Golden Hands - Take Me Back
05. Minako Yoshida - Black Moon
06. Adrian Gurvitz - New World
07. Hitomi Tohyama - Wanna Kiss
08. Chagrin D'Amour - Ciao Katmandou
09. Amini - Habibi
10. Electric Machine - Fancy Good
11. Jean Guy Ruff - Cover Girl
12. J.M. Black - Lipstick (Shout!)
13. Danny Boy - Discomix
01. La P'tite Fred - Stormy Love Affair
02. Ennio Morricone - Dance On
03. The Right Combination - I'm Still In Love With You
04. Sharpio - Dance Drome (We Can Make Your Body Move) (Instrumental)
05. Mansour Sallama - Love And Happiness
06. Grant Santino - Try Love
07. Dionne - Come Get My Lovin'
08. Will To Power - Say It's Gonna Rain (Acid Rain Dub)
09. Raoul Denis Jr - Ti Gason (Fe Respew')
10. Dan Lacksman - Love You Every Day
11. Pop Corn Makers - Nothing
12. Family Four - En Häst Utan Namn