5 Years of Cosmo records – Review by Oli Warwick

Various Artists

5 Years Of Cosmo 2009-2014

Few labels could claim to share the creative purpose and pool of talent that Cosmo Records does. Operating out of CasablancaMorocco, the imprint has made its purpose clear; to fuse experimental house and techno with traditional African musicianship in a cultural dialogue that spans generations and continents in search of thrilling new musical forms.

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Over the past five years, Cosmo has called upon some of the finest producers in the most adventurous corners of 4/4 dance music to collaborate with players of the koraguembrilute and many more forms of percussion and melodic instrumentation. The chosen artists congregate at the Cosmo recording studios in Casablanca, which acts as a hub for these disparate musical energies to come together in a fusion of seasoned, learned performances and hyper-modern electronic processes. Amongst the most notorious artists that have contributed to the label so far are MasomenosRadiqArgenis Brito and Ricardo Villalobos, while Moroccan producer Adil Hiani provides a local focus to the electronic side of the creative process, as well as conducting the A&R for the label.

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After two years of preparation, recording and compiling, Cosmo Records is ready to present its most ambitious project to date. 5 Years Of Cosmo gathers together thirteen tracks from more than twenty artists, resulting in the most diverse and accomplished collection of globe-trotting sounds the label has compiled to date. The calibre of the producers speaks for itself, from Yapacc to Dandy JackMasomenos to San ProperTolga Fidan to Radiq and beyond. In their respective work with musicians such as SanhajiKhansa Batma and Saad El Bouaamri, a vibrant cocktail of real-world grooves has been cultivated that positively bursts out of the speakers with all the imagination and urgency of artists at the peak of inspiration.

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From the restrained guitar-laced funk of San Proper’s “Blue DeceptiveCember” to the playful trickery of Dandy Jack & The Twin Pigs collaborating with vocalist Khansa Batma, the ideas come flowing thick and fast across 5 Years Of Cosmo. There are deeper strains emerging from Masomenos & Vadim Svoboda as they work a dubby framework around Abdessamad’s treated violin work. Adil Hiani reacts smoothly to Adam Hadni’s lingering piano work to create a thoughtful and infectious concoction on “La Recontre“, while Radiqwhips up a free-flowing atmosphere peppered with psychedelic sounds.

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Pier Bucci works with Washington Miranda and Saad El Bouaamri to create a melancholic reflection on “Dias”, while Bouaamri’s violin playing also appears on the haunting “We Come In Peace” with Yes’in. In contrast to these restrained minimalisms, Yapacc and Sanhaji bring a lively, 80s studio gloss to “Rue De R” while D. and Dr. Proper bring the focus back to fine slithers of percussion and stalking bass. Tolga Fidan’s dense and finely sculpted sound is unmistakable as he works with Greg Brockmann on “Umut”, while Argenis Brito brings a more noticeably techno-oriented sound to the forefront on “Caminante Cosmico”.

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As well as this core body of music, there are two bonus tracks exclusive to the digital release, where Adil Hiani links up with Jerome Vicoletto and Reda Cherif for thought-provoking broken beat track “LaVoixDSansVoix”. In addition, Dandy Jack and Khansa Batma present a longer version of “Twin Pigs”.

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In the art of matching these disparate musical forms together, Cosmo Records has successfully created a unique offering that transcends the origins of the artists to become something greater than the sum of its parts. For the producers, the project brings out the best their years of experience have to offer, while for the guest musicians it gives their own finely honed skills a chance to breathe in an entirely new context.

words / Oli Warwick

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