Steve Moore's Lovelock is back with Washington Park, a gorgeous suite of instrumental lounge music that can only be described as synth exotica. A real departure for Steve, this is a more mellow, soothing sound and can be regarded as Lovelock's response to these dystopian times.
New York-based multi-instrumentalist/producer/film composer Steve Moore is probably best known for his synthesizer and bass guitar work as Zombi, together with Anthony Paterra. Yet his Lovelock alias has been quietly blowing minds and warming hearts for a decade plus now. His latest effort, Washington Park, was not initially meant to be a Lovelock album. But Steve was posting little snippets of his work on Instagram and people started asking him: "is this new Lovelock?" It was at this point that Steve had an epiphany, of sorts. "It occurred to me that Lovelock can be whatever I want it to be. So yeah, maybe this new lounge/exotica record is, in fact, Lovelock."
Washington Park creeped out in a very low-key, early lockdown fashion and there wasn't much of a reaction. Says Steve, "I just self-released it and all my usual suspects were down with it, but it didn't really make it outside of my own circle." Yet many of the Balearic heads in Europe were indeed on it and Be With were most certainly listening. So, when we struck a deal to do the vinyl version of Burning Feeling, we couldn't resist asking about Washington Park.
Gentle opener "It Means Love" grooves along in the laconic style, conjuring carousel innocence and complimented by dreamy, spiritual sax and syrupy synth strings over a digi-soul beats. Title-track "Washington Park" glides smoothly in much the same vein, almost like a slightly more acidic, squelchier version of the preceding track with more insistent organ. Swoon. Closing out Side A, steady ambient gem "We'll See" is all gorgeous, soft pads with plaintive guitar and organ giving way to soaring digital strings over that metronomic drum machine soul.
Flip for the eerily brilliant "Seduction", a track which starts like a minimalist slice of Tommy Guerrero-esque guitar and drum machine soul but soon takes on a more menacing bent as Steve leans into his long-held predilection for horror by creating a slow-mo haunted house jam. The tempo (and temperature) rises with "Center Square", a Latin rhythm section and a sensual sax rubbing up against hot and heavy organ and string action. Steamy! To round things off, the ominous creeping groove of "Rhythm 77" feels like exotica-in-excelsis.
Washington Park was recorded over the first few months of the pandemic, during the spring of 2020, against the backdrop of his kids being out of school which meant daily walks and bike rides through Washington Park in Albany. It was during these moments of family activity and gentle movements, trying to make sense of the chaos engulfing his world, that Steve formed the ideas that led to this album. To make it manifest, he used all his old Roland beat boxes (CR-78, Rhythm 77 and Rhythm 330, Rhythm Arranger) plus a Chamberlin Rhythmate for all the percussion. Basslines were usually performed with his Moog Source or Minitaur and for pads and brass he used his Sequential Prophet 600 and Roland Juno 60. Strings came via a variety of old stringers - Korg Polysix, Elka Rhapsody, Crumar Orchestrator and Solina String Ensemble - and he also used his Fender Strat and Yamaha Custom saxophone.
Steve is a huge fan of exotica and that's clearly where this album is coming from. The likes of Martin Denny, Les Baxter and Henry Mancini can all be discerned here. As Steve explained, "I spent a lot of time listening to that stuff in the 90s and I figured it was time to let those influences show." You're going to be glad he did.
Mastering for the Washington Park vinyl edition was overseen by Be With regular Simon Francis before being cut by Cicely Blaston of Alchemy Mastering at AIR Studios and pressed in the Netherlands by Record Industry.