Italian duo Almunia combine to make one of 2013's finest records, Pulsar, a progressive galactic epic where groove is in the heart.
It's a rare gift to make music which has the power to make a warehouse full of people groove until their bodies transform to liquid.
It's an even rarer gift to make music which can transport the mind into a state of euphoria while remaining rooted to the spot; blissed into an outer body experience beyond the physical state of being. But that's the true power of the space-disco captain. A sonic pilot that can guide the body, mind and spirit into a far off world whatever the situation.
Leonardo Ceccanti and Gianluca Salvadori are two such captains - and their vehicle, Almunia, magnificently captures the magic of dance music aligning it to the progressive elements of cosmiche musik and the guitar prowess of Michael Rother and Manuel Göttsching. And in latest record, Pulsar, their second via Claremont 56 and follow up to 2011's debut, New Moon, they've constructed a masterclass in pure audio escapism.
The Balearic space-disco template is best exemplified in the seven-minute opus The Magician, a fret-stroking feast of trembling clean guitar married to rivers of undulating Hans-Joachim Roedelius-powered beats which slowly burst into kaleidoscopic rays of electrical brilliance. It's akin to paddling into beautiful shallow water, becoming fascinated by the strands of ripples and affixed to the momentum and before you realise you're waist deep in a force of nature which is consuming and out of your control.
Ode To Mom comes on like Frankie's Relax flecked with harmonica, organ wiggles and a Lindsey Buckingham arpeggiated guitar line before threatening to break out into Wish You Were Here - like Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas and fellow space cowboys, Almunia borrow from past masters while taking listeners on a galactic trip into new audio odysseys.
Opener The Awakening is exactly that, a languid procession of picked riffs wrapped around a lolloping bass groove before blossoming into a full blown funk of baggy rhythms and subtle gospel harmonies setting the tone for a record which is positively horizontal in its attitude yet exuding a life-affirming spirit.
Secret Marriage is perhaps the most contemplative track on Pulsar; a warm wash of sea foam textures and fret virtuosity - and ideal accompaniment to the sun coming down and the close of day. Elsewhere Wrapped In Tour Hair finds a cool breeze of looped guitars lapping over one of the record's few vocal lines as Ceccanti wakes from a dream while Follow What You Are continues the escapism theme drifting off into a chorus of six string sensuousness.
Bass and guitar collide most memorably on View From A Blue Train, an echo-laden synth epic which has as much in common with disco as it does with Pink Floyd. Dancing discombobulation and deep rumbles are threaded together by a searing guitar blues funk stew.
The closing title track is delivered straight from the Dave Gilmour handbook as deadened notes trade with soaring clean riffs lazer-beamed across a terrain of luxurious gurgling Salvadori atmospherics. It's stunning stuff.
This transportive form of music, which Almunia produce so successfully, is central as to why space disco is such an addictive drug - its simplistic repetitive nature is relaxing and joyous yet contrastingly tailor-made for the dancefloor - a world to lose yourself within and become completely enveloped by the vast oceanic mystical vortex.
To listen to Almunia's Pulsar visit Tycho's blog here.