12 O'Clock Track: Wally Badarou's childlike, symphonic synth jam "Voices"

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Wally Badarous Echoes
  • Wally Badarou's Echoes
For the past week or so, I've been intermittently listening to the outstanding mix that Norwegian producer/DJ Todd Terje created for BBC's Essential Mix series. Though it covers everything from disco to house to jazz fusion to a dub version of Men at Work's "Down Under," I find myself listening to the mix's opening chunk the most, which includes Jim Morrison's discofied "Ghost Song" and Herb Alpert's slow-burning "Rotation." But my favorite part is the opener, Wally Badarou's "Voices," a song I knew immediately because I own and play out the keyboardist's 1984 LP Echoes. Badarou was heavily involved in British pop group Level 42, but he's perhaps most famous for being one of the Compass Point All Stars, a group of session musicians who worked out of Chris Blackwell's Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas. Badarou's Echoes is a series of synthesizer-based miniatures that features dashes of pop, reggae, boogie, disco, and jazz, but "Voices" sounds almost like classical or library music. In fact, it reminds me most of the kind of film music you'd hear in John Hughes movies: busily moving synth patterns that are as notable for the shape and texture of the sounds as they are for the melodies being played. There's a slight weirdness to "Voices," particularly the world-music-sounding drums and the weird, offset synthesizer voices singing the central melody. The song's otherworldly blend of exotic instrumentation and affecting melody make it a cool off-kilter mixtape cut, at least until Terje put his own stamp on it. Check it out below the jump.

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