Brazilian based record label Yellow Island Records has recently launched their Astral Therapy project, a series of new releases which aim to evoke Yellow Islands’ ‘state of mind’ motto without being straight-up 4×4 club tracks. In the autumn of last year, they put out a collaborative volume that collected graceful tracks from some heavy hitters on the lo-fi house scene (Nørus, DJ WHIPR SNIPR etc.).
Now Astral Therapy has its first EP release, a joint project from the veterans of moody house Metropolitan Soul Museum (MSM) and new-kids-on-the-block Alt.Aire. The 4-track offering, aptly titled A Family Affair, marks the first collaboration between Nick Woolfson (one half of MSM) and his sons Fin and Daniel (Alt.Aire). I spoke to the Woolfsons, plus Filippo Rocco, Nick’s co-producer, about dog walking, having a musical family, and working with Yellow Island records.
When asked about what music they like to listen to in their ‘off’ time, Nick told me that he “tend[s] to be lazy and listen to mixes posted on Soundcloud or Spotify etc.” Surprisingly, he has “never been a massive music listener”, which he puts down to “after spending all my time working in a studio… the last thing I wanted to hear was more music.” However, he does like to unwind on a daily walk with Princess, the family whippet, a hobby that he shares with Filippo, who believes that their two dogs are “probably in the top three for most spoilt dogs in the UK.”
Surprisingly, he has “never been a massive music listener”, which he puts down to “after spending all my time working in a studio… the last thing I wanted to hear was more music.”
Filippo is originally from Italy but has been living in the UK for nearly 10 years. As well as putting out tracks with Nick as MSM, he also runs Improove PR, where he represents other electronic artists like Nørus, Slim Steve, and Timo Deeprhythms. It was through Nørus that he found out about Yellow Island Records’ Astral Therapy project. Nørus, aka Felipe Bortoloti, was co-founder and, until recently, the co-manager of Yellow Island Records. Filipe put MSM in contact with the other co-founder, Albin, aka Flavio Albino, and the three got to talking about putting out an EP. Filippo explains “we all believed and agreed that the Family Affair EP would be a perfect fit [for Astral Therapy]. It feels and sounds different from what we’ve done before, and we are happy that it is coming out when it is as it’s not 100% club music. We are incredibly happy to be the first artist to have an actual EP out on the series!”
A Family Affair contains two original tracks, one by MSM and the other by Alt.Aire. The other two tracks on the record are remixes of these originals, an MSM remix of Alt.Aire and vice versa. I asked Daniel, one half of Alt.Aire, if he found it intimidating remixing his dad’s music, “Not at all… luckily for us, [the track] has a lot of really strong elements that we could pick and choose from, which made the remix come to life.” The guys behind Alt.Aire are pretty confident with their style, a fact that Nick reinforced, “They never listen to my advice generally so there was no point in offering it, but they don’t need my advice – they know what they want and know how to get it!”
Fin and Daniel grew up in a highly musical environment. Nick explained that “My wife is a cellist, so music is a big part of our home life, and the boys were immersed in music from a very early age. They both wanted to be drummers when they were little and there was a lot of extracurricular music activities and lessons offered so I would say there was a lot of influences including jazz, classical, big band, easy listening as well as my club and electronic musical world.”
“The original tracks differ in genre but it’s a look at how music is passed down through the generations which I think has nice sentimental value.”
Both studied at musical colleges, and Daniel now works on feature film scores. He claims that his dad was a “massive influence” on his musical taste, but “on a subconscious level… quite often when exploring music I will come across a track that I really love and recognise it from the long car journeys we used to take as kids.” It’s this familial influence that Daniel thinks ties the tracks on the EP together: “I think it’s all in the name of the EP, A Family Affair. The original tracks differ in genre but it’s a look at how music is passed down through the generations which I think has nice sentimental value.”
The first track is Alt.Aire’s debut, ‘Origin’. It is slow in tempo and full of headroom and open space. Daniel’s experience scoring films collides with Fin’s interest in crafting hip hop beats, creating a song that could be found overlaying a contemplative moment on the screen if not for the stylish drums that give it just the right amount of pace. MSM’s remix develops the drums even further to give the track a dustier, more industrial feel.
On the B side, we have MSM’s ‘Never Accept Strangers From Candies’, originally composed back in 2019 but pulled off the shelf for this release. Nick told me how “Originally it was a project we did inspired by ‘Can’t Do Without You’ by Caribou back in 2014 that we have re-worked and completely re-invented.” That’s a mighty shadow to place one’s self under, but he is right in saying it’s a complete re-work. There is almost nothing of ‘Cant Do With Out You’ left in the track, instead being replaced with something more like a complex version of Aphex Twin’s ‘Tha’. Alt.Aire’s remix replaces MSM’s drums with a breakbeat that makes the entire track feel a lot more introspective.