Album of the Week // 21–25 September

TenderloniousQuarantena (22a)

“Some people collect stamps, some of us collect records, Tender collects synths and drum machines. The lockdown period offered up the opportunity of more time in his home studio, brimming with hardware, that due to his busy schedule, had yet to be exhausted.”

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Tenderlonious returns to his own 22a imprint with a brand new collection of lo-fi beats and soundscapes courtesy of the lockdown studio sessions from his home in South London. Lockdown allowed Tender to escape from his busy lifestyle and touring schedule, finally giving him the time to properly explore and experiment with the vast collection of synths, drum machines and instruments he’s built up over the past twenty years. Armed with an arsenal of hardware and inspired by sci-fi & fantasy movies, he has delivered an expansive opus of varying tempos that glide across imaginative synth sculptures and meditative soundscapes: the soundtrack to his quarantine, Quarantena.

When COVID-19 hit the UK back in March this year the music game changed almost overnight. No more gigs, no more studio sessions with the band and many music stores and outlets shutting up shop. This drastic change offered plenty of time for reflection, opening up a new portal of exploration for Tender. He purchased his first piece of studio equipment at the age of 16 and has since then amassed a serious arsenal of studio hardware. Some people collect stamps, some of us collect records, Tender collects synths and drum machines. The lockdown period offered up the opportunity of more time in his home studio, brimming with hardware, that due to his busy schedule, had yet to be exhausted.

The album begins with ‘1984 (Chapter One)’, a tribute to the novel by George Orwell that depicts a dystopian society, which Tender captures perfectly with this moody intro. ‘Rococo’s Raga’ is a nod to Tender’s recent project, ‘Tender in Lahore.’ Based around the harmonic minor scale this raga is a conversation between the flute and marimba backed by an infectious swing groove. The title track ‘Quarantena’ has an epic, soundtrack feel with luscious pads, soaring strings and orchestral horn lines, backed by solos from Tender on flute and Nick Walters on trumpet.

Continuing with the soundtrack theme, ‘Falkor’s Flight’ is a dedication to one of Tender’s favourite childhood fantasy films ‘The NeverEnding Story.’ ‘Lockdown Boogie’ picks up the pace as we enter into one of Tenders more familiar sounds, a fusion of broken beat and jazz complete with flute and synth solos (reminiscent of earlier 22a releases like ‘On Flute’ or ‘After The Storm.’) Side A finishes with ‘Covid Blues’, which, as the title suggests, is a reflection of the current global pandemic. It features Tender on soprano sax (something of a rarity these days) and has added atmosphere with the inclusion of storm swells in the background.

‘Total Recall’ is another tribute to one of Tender’s favourite films from childhood. Made purely from the sounds of the Yamaha SY85, the ghostly choir transports listeners to an eerie space, reminiscent of scenes from the film. ‘Moments Notice’ has a distinct future funk flavour, merging spaced out pads and leads with 80s synth bells. ‘Birds of Paradise’ would make a fitting accompaniment to any modern film soundtrack. Sounds of the jungle sweep in and out, whilst Tender adds flute and synth flurries alongside a sparse, head nodding groove — this is downtempo at its finest.

‘MaskUp/GloveUp’ picks up the pace again with a popping synth bass line accompanied by a classic drum machine break and features another classic flute and synth solo from Tender. ‘Utopia’ is the penultimate song on the album and is another luscious soundscape that takes the listener on a trip through space and beyond. ‘Forty Nights’ completes the album. Written in 3/4 time signature, this deep house cut keeps the listener engaged as the song journeys through visions of 4am city drives.

Quarantena is Tenderlonious’ most confident, slick and accomplished work to date, smoothly mixing up genres and styles with ease, from house to boogie, through to more meditative soundscapes with his signature jazz instrumentation — a future classic! Tune in to Morning Mari* every weekday to find out more about this release, and hear tracks from the album.

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