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Rare Pleasure Ed Power , June 14th, 2021 08:22

New Jersey's Ringgo Ancheta gets all smooth and woozy on this ladback trip through a blissed-out mid-70s dreamworld

Euphoria is a universal emotion, but one that can be challenging to capture in music. Yet that is what New Jersey-born, LA-based jazz-funk polymath Ringgo Ancheta, aka Mndsgn, attempts on his remarkable new album. Splashed in balmy RnB, spliced with the sepia textures of 70s movie soundtracks, and powered by Ancheta’s disembodied falsetto, Rare Pleasure is a feel-good record vibrating with positivity at an almost atomic level. Fully unleashed, it’s irresistible.

Spending time with Rare Pleasure, Ancheta’s first full length release in five years, is akin to being carried aloft on candyfloss clouds. The world turns woozy. It isn’t always clear where you are going. You’ve never felt better. It’s a happy-go-lucky and free-floating album. But the project is aware of its roots and of the debts it owes. It carries the ecstatic ache of religious music – something with which Ancheta will have been intimately familiar, going back to the gospel songs he heard in church every Sunday through his childhood.

The 70s are another key reference. Or, at least, a half-remembered fantasy 70s, where the disco balls are always sparkling, the sax solos go on forever, and jazz and pop are entwined like the charcoal-etched lovers in The Joy Of Sex. Rare Pleasure is also infused with a spirit of collaboration as Ancheta – a founder of the LA-based Klipmode collective and sometime collaborator with Danny Brown – is joined by Kiefer Shackelford on piano, producer Swarvy on guitar and bass, and Carlos Niño on percussion.

Their musicianship is empathic and big-hearted. As are Ancheta’s lyrics. ‘Hope You’re Doin' Better’, for instance, the catchiest track here, is a declaration of support to a loved one coming through mental health difficulties. “You know you got a friend whenever you need one,” he croons. In the very best sense, it’s the Friends theme funnelled into shoe-gaze and lo-fi samba.

There’s melancholy mixed in, too, if you search hard enough. It’s folded into tracks such as ‘Slow Dance’. “If you slow dance,” Ancheta sings, “I could really take time to get to know you better”. The effect is jubilant yet fraught at the edges. What if the object of his affections doesn’t want to slow dance? Will that rip asunder the funk-streaked Narnia that Mndsgn has willed into existence?

Those little pin-pricks of darkness are what give Rare Pleasure its strength. The album drifts on featherbeds of dreamy bliss. But it is, you suspect, the work of an artist who has endured their share of nightmares in order to reach their happy place.