After the duo of Acoustic Alchemy released AArt
, a studio album that received high accolades, including a third Grammy nomination, guitarists Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale decided to get back into the studio and get back to basics. Their newest release, Radio Contact
helps to get back the synergy that Carmichael and Gilderdale are known for on stage. That synergy is the same that prevailed when Carmichael was paired with late co-founder Nick Webb. Carmichael says, "I still feel his spirit often because I kept Acoustic Alchemy alive. I think he would be very pleased with what's happening now. He would be very pleased with the band, he would be very pleased with Miles."
They decided to record Radio Contact
at Hansa Haus Studios in Bonn, Germany, where they recorded many of the group's best tracks. Carmichael says, "Being at Hansa Haus again also help recapture some of the early spirit I had there with Carmichael's former partner and Acoustic Alchemy's founder Nick Webb." They worked once again with engineer Klaus Genuit, who Carmichael likes to work with because "I like the way he records guitars." This time, they wanted to record the entire group there because the studio was big enough to get all of the musicians in the studio.
Helping out Carmichael and Gilderdale on Radio Contact
is fellow guitarist and producer Chuck Loeb. Loeb produced four tracks on the CD, including the first single release No Messin'
. Carmichael says, "It was a real good experience. You got to trust the producer because they can come in and change things and you might not feel comfortable with that. We wanted to have someone who had an American ear. And he's also a great guitarist." Loeb also plays guitar solos on two of the tracks and previously recorded saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa's last CD Simple Truth
at the same German studio. Carmichael says, "He comes in, he knows how to get the best out of musicians."
One thing that was different on Acoustic Alchemy's last studio CD AArt
was that it featured a greater use of brass. Carmichael says on Radio Contact
, there is very little brass used because "a greater emphasis on our guitars and a simpler production just made sense with the songs we wrote here." He says it didn't start that way, but "when we started writing it, it just kind of took that direction. The songs didn't seem to need saxophone. The guitars kind of carried out everything."
Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale did not just want to get back to the core sound of Acoustic Alchemy. They still wanted to try something new on Radio Contact
. So they came up with the duo's first ever vocal track, Little Laughter
. The track features vocalist Jo Harrop, who Gilderdale says, "This girl, I think, has the right sort of sounding voice for working with Acoustic Alchemy." She worked with Gilderdale on a session with Enrique Iglasius. "It's very new for us," said Carmichael. It's something that Nick Webb and I used to talk about. We like songs as well, not just instrumental music."
One of the things that was important in Radio Contact
was for Carmichael and Gilderdale to have the CD sound like what the group sounds like in concert. So they decided to feature the backup musicians they use in concert on the CD. Carmichael says, "Having a great player like Greg Grainger on drums makes using loops or drum machines absolutely obsolete. The session was all about presenting where we are in the present."
Acoustic Alchemy's Radio Contact
is a CD that helps to remember what they were in the years when Carmichael and Webb were together to make a distinctively different sound which brought about a change in what smooth jazz can and must be. It shows you can mix different influences in music, such as Latin, soul, jazz and pop, and make the music your own. Carmichael and Gilderdale continue that legacy to not only embrace the difference, but to continue to define it. Radio Contact
is the past, present and future wave of Acoustic Alchemy in its rare form.