Track By Track: Pharaohs – In Oeland
In the last few years International Feel has become an incubator of sorts for some truly fabulous musical talent. The record label, run by Mark Barrott, has released some splendid material from the likes of Talamanca System, Jose Padilla, Private Agenda, Len Leise, Wolf Muller and many others. This month marks the release of a new album from LA based group Pharoahs. Titled 'In Oeland' the album is a sun kissed journey through baleric influences and sounds from the open sea. A beautiful assortment of tracks which are a throwback to the early days of summer when life was full of promise and prosperity.
We invited thr group to try and help us banish the incoming cold as they guide us through their new release…
Muddy Middle of Nowhere:
At first this album was coming out darker than where it ended up at. We had a collection of song sketches and we were trying to figure out how it was going to work for a label like International Feel. Definitely a “Trouble in Paradise” vibe. We’ve had songs in the past in this vein (Manhunter). This was one of those tracks from that original batch. The album ended up going in a different direction – much more positive! Also, one of the last jams we had with Diego (Suzanne Kraft) before he moved to Europe. The setting would definitely be stuck in the mud somewhere in monsoon season.
Casey: Africa calling – the connection of group dancing. Love cries. The groove escalates to the end with rhythms getting more and more intricate and evident.
Full on sunshine listening for this one – and again traveling through some remote unknown areas. Maybe by boat through an archipelago? Or a savannah somewhere in Africa? We think this one expresses its mood without much question.
Sam: I’ve listened to it in Baja and it works pretty well there too. Late Summer seems right. A little more reflective than Spring or Summer.
Casey: This song could also be called Jupiter. Either for the keyboard or the planet. The long, cascading synth melody emanated from exploring Jupiter you could say, and it falls in line with some of the astrological elements that are character of Jupiter. The fretless bass reminds me of all the tinkering that brought this song about. This was one of the songs we began to incorporate after being asked to deliver an LP as opposed to an EP.
This is more winter for us. It was written around Christmas last year. Very still and mellow. Inspiration was a drive to the Malibu coast with all the tall Californian grass hillsides that flow down to the ocean. Some of the best sunsets in California happen around this time. So all that flows through this song – driving and day dreaming.
Ale: To me the ending of this song makes me think of a border town, somewhere remote in Mexico or Spain, where you could easily stumble upon a small empty bar.
Full on South Pacific tribal rhythm and song. Headhunters and Cargo cults. But up in vibes. Even sad songs can have uplifting melodies. Air Kiribati is mentioned in a couple essays by Michael Kew. A raggedy small airline that is super sketchy and hardly ever arrives on time. All the rattling might be frightening for a first-time traveler, but the locals seem to be unfazed and carrying on everyday conversations.
Sam: Also one of the final songs to be written for the release. There were many arrangements for the order of the vocals but this one seemed best. Then Casey matched the harmony with sax and that tied it all together. The string pluck harmony is my Serge modular – always amazed with the flexibility of that instrument. In fact its all over this record..
Another old song from the archives that finally found a home. We’ve been playing this one for a while in our live sets – hence the four on the floor beat. We spruced it up with more melodies and sounds. With this version we definitely see a more underwater landscape. Tropical fish and colorful coral. Snorkeling or just floating through in a dream. The name is a play on the Choral vocals and Coral reef.
Cadejé is a small village in remote Baja Sur. Out amongst the dust and cattle this sleepy village sits quietly next to a river that flexes in the rainy season. Only accessible by dirt road, it is hardly seen by outsiders unless you happen to pass buy. Most of the people here are fisherman and are gone during the day so you could drive through and easily not see a soul. You can hear the alien birds in the background. This region is very primitive and magical.
Sam: This and another song of ours “El Datil” are kind of part of a series as my ode to Baja. It’s a beautiful and wonderful place.
This song was even simpler before this version for International Feel. But love the way it turned out. We’ve always imagined hearing it on a countryside at first light with the sun rising over green rolling hills. Kind of a KLF Chillout vibe maybe? But it also could be heard on a boat cruising the South Pacific. Maybe a past echo from Easter Island. There are whale songs in there too somewhere.
Casey: Such a cool bounce to this track. It was one of those that you know just what to do with. I like to find particular samples that are sitting in a track already that have the potential to blossom with the addition of an acoustic instrument – the orchestral/flute line is one of those. It’s like playing with cooking recipes. The saxophone line at the end is a recurring theme that I’ve used in many settings. It’s a melody that can be placed in different spaces in different modes and has a pensive, spiritual stateliness.
Ale: The constant dreamy rhythm and sparse melodies also connect to that dream state of The Beach Boys “I Went To Sleep”: manicured lawns of Bel Air being watered and palm trees lining up perfectly along the road.
Buy the release HERE.