What happens when Australian Yacht Soulman No.1 Joel Sarakula and Dutch musician Phil Martin, who most recently made the hearts of West Coast AOR lovers beat faster with Dawn Patrol, join forces? They form the duo New Visionaries and record an album full of mostly instrumental treasures that oscillate between library music nostalgia, jazzy blaxploitation and French space elegance. Fans of Khruangbin, El Michels Affair, Shawn Lee or Air should definitely give their debut “Roadmaps” a listen. It’s worth it!
The story of the New Visionaries begins with an unexpected meeting in the summer of 2019, when Phil Martin (Dawn Patrol) stepped in at the last minute as a conga player for one of Joel Sarakula’s shows. From that point on, spontaneity becomes the cornerstone of their musical relationship. Fast forward a year – to July 2020 – and we’re already in the middle of the New Visionaries’ story, as Joel Sarakula finds himself stranded in the Netherlands after playing a few club shows in Amsterdam, his first gigs after the first pandemic shutdowns. He was waiting for the UK’s borders to reopen to travellers from the Netherlands so he could return home. As he had some time to spare and got on well with Phil Martin, he set up camp in Dordrecht.
Both musicians discovered that they shared a passion for instrumental music from the 70s such as the KPM Library series and a fondness for contemporary instrumental bands such as Khruangbin and El Michels Affair. The idea for a joint instrumental project was born.
The tracks for their debut album “Roadmaps”, which in many ways sounds like a classic library album as it focuses on a broad spectrum of moods and different musical cultures without respecting genre boundaries, emerged from this shared preference.
For instance, the dreamy and spacey “Interstellar Bachelor Pad” is reminiscent of the early Air. “Desert Disco Nights” would also cut a fine figure on the upcoming Khruangbin album. And the jazzy, groovy “The Sunshine” would have enriched any blaxploitation soundtrack from the 70s.
Phil Martin played drums, percussion, keys, bass and guitar on the album, while Joel Sarakula contributed keys, bass and guitar. Most of the arrangements were done in Phil’s studio, which is equipped with vintage instruments, including old Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, synthesisers, Hammond organs and iconic Gibson guitars.
The duo also brought in guest musicians to enrich the compositions with their contributions, as the album’s soulful lead single, “Summer Rain”, impressively demonstrates. A collaboration with the celebrated British singer Hannah Williams, whose gentle vocals make this emotional composition a contemporary gem.
Peter Broekhuizen played flute on “Firecracker” and “Spiritual World”, Cees Trappenburg contributed wind instruments to “Scandinavian Railways“ and “Interstellar Bachelor Pad” and Yolande Kalb and Margriet Groenhof sang backing vocals on several tracks.
“Roadmaps” is an excellent album that flows along groovily and takes the listener on a sonic journey – the duo have definitely succeeded in creating music to dream to.