Release Date: Jun 21, 2011
Record label: Cascine
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It's little surprise that Jonquil's Hugo Manuel, working under the Chad Valley name for his solo efforts, found himself opening for Active Child around the time of Equatorial Ultravox's release -- like that act and various others around the world in the early 2010s, there's a strong sense that Valley aims to reinterpret a kind of never-never land of angelic male singing and electronic-driven arrangements that seems to recombine a variety of impulses from the '80s into a combination that never could have existed until a later moment. Thus "Acker Bilk" finds Valley singing with a stateliness and ease that could almost be Joe Cassidy of Butterfly Child but with a calm focus that well matches the elegant music. "I Want Your Love" skates around the lush neo-Balearic/beardo disco of recent years with Valley's angelic yet very male energy -- a sense of falsetto as siren call to whoever might respond --- driving the whole.
Those of you familiar with the summer of chill wave 2010 will recall that Oxford’s Chad Valley received attention quite late in the game, releasing his debut self-titled EP in November 2010. It was an above average collection of sun-squinting Balearic ditties that stood out from the crowd on the saturated chill wave scene. However, from the moment the chiming organs and whip cracking lead synth of opener “Now That I’m Real” kick in, you can hear Hugo silently ushering in a new movement of chill wave, an altogether more dance floor oriented sound, where syncopated rhythms and catchy hooks are just as important as reverb-heavy vocals and tsunami sized pads.
Given the frequency with which warm electro pop is labelled 'tropical' this album's suggested relocation to zero degree latitude is almost refreshing, but nonetheless the lush textures and bittersweet summer vibes of Equatorial Ultravox are much more suited to climes between latitudes 35 and 45 N (that's guesswork, I'm no geography teacher). Chillwave, Balearica, tropicalia. .
If you’ve got time to come up with such admirable puns as that title, you’ve probably got a little too much of it on your hands. Perhaps if Hugo Manuel had tarried longer making the seven tracks on his second EP stand out from the lightweight euphoric dance-pop haze that surrounds cyberspace like a halo, and less coming up with zingers like [b]‘Shell Suite’[/b], we might be able to remember some of these songs for more than five minutes. But let’s be fair, hooks aren’t the point; immersive, incandescent and lightly trippy, [b]‘Equatorial Ultravox’[/b] is undeniably lovely, and the title describes the vaguely early ’80s Mediterranean synth vibe pretty well.
Chillwave comes to Oxford on this EP-sized slice of Polaroid pop. Alex Denney 2011 A leading light of Oxford’s Blessing Force collective (which also numbers Fixers, Trophy Wife and Solid Gold Dragons in its ranks), it’s transatlantic climes you’ll be dreaming of when you listen to Chad Valley, the solo project of Hugo Manuel. With debut EP Equatorial Ultravox, the Jonquil mainman sounds completely immersed in the US blog culture’s obsession with all things Animal Collective, RnB and Balearic chill.