Acapulco Space Station
Acapulco Space Station takes its name from the holiday destination of choice for most Mexico City residents. At least this was the case when a young Panther Panther lived there. As a child we would often go there with his family to run about on the beaches of Hornitos, Caletilla, El Revolcadero and Puerto Marquez, only just avoiding the hot sand, on his way to the foamy surf. Now as an immigrant in the UK, these memories have become a safe-haven for those innocent times, yet have slowly begun to merge with memories from colder but still joyful adventures at Three Cliffs, Llangenith or Brighton Beach.
Acapulco Space Station is an exploration of merging identities and utopian dreams. It is a fictional place where all the people of the Earth could go to and explore the cosmos together, leaving behind divisive national allegiances in favour of our human state within an endless inter-galactic summer.
The album, released on Argentina-based net label, Le Ronca Records in 2015, reimagines Acapulco in space through a retro-futuristic tropical electronica, filled with delightful, exciting and sometimes melancholic, rhythms and sounds.
During the winter of 2013-2014 I became enamoured with the album Rio Arriba by Chancha via Circuito. It is abeautiful album that balances with great skill a futuristic outlook whilst maintaining a rooted spirituality that is reminiscent of pre-hispanic rituals, the mountains and the mysterious countryside, as is felt in the places where I come from. That winter my first child was born, and I spent many evenings dancing with her whilst mummy slept, listening and grooving to Rio Arriba.
In previous occasions, when listening to the album I’d thought that it was too slow. My ears had attuned to the tempos that are popular in the UK, therefore, these beats that are between 78-100 BPM seemed just too slow. But in the context of a winter’s evening, holding a newborn in candlelight, this kind of music, mixing a lush palette of sounds, both electronic and acoustic, with cumbia and dub rhythms, was just perfect for entering a quasi trance-like state that in may memory seems timeless.
Tracks like Cumbion de las Aves, Puente, and Rio Arriba gave me a veritable education into the best ways of combining folk rhythms with 21st century electronica. I particularly enjoyed the hybrid cumbia-hip hop beat that maintains that rolling rhythm throughout.
With this in mind, I set out to create my own version of this kind of music. I wrote Pantera del Espacio, Mothership, Sueños Profundos, Like a Ruby and Orejas de Pescado all around the same time, in preparation for the launch of the Space Shuttle installation that I would build in April 2014. I used some of my own techniques, such as introducing sound design tools such as Sound Hack and the GRM plugins to create unique textures that gave my sound an individual voice. But nevertheless, the main structure I used was the cumbia beat within the context of a club-style track, which created the appropriate parameters for the rest of the album.
Later on in the year I was commissioned to do an installation which I called Transported Futures, about ideas around the future of transport. Because much of the imagery I used for this installation was retro-futuristic, the soundtrack I composed for it was also quite retro, using arppegiators and simple synth textures reminiscent of early electronica and sci-fi music.
There were two tracks which particularly stood out for me and I decided to turn them into songs for my album, by changing the structure so that they fit a dance-music context and adding the tropical beats that I’d been listening. I’d been mainly listening to ZZK Records releases, therefore this album has a bit of that vibe. From this I wrote Voices in Me and Galactico, which infused the album with that retro-futuristic feel that gave it it’s specific vibe.
During the winter of 2014 I was contacted by Le Ronca Records in Argentina and invited to release my album with them. We aimed to release the LP towards the end of April therefore I wrote a couple more tunes to complete the album. Chicos Cosmicos was a overhaul from a tune that I’d written in that initial bout of songs, but at the time it had come out very melancholic and it didn’t fit with the album. I therefore made it more energetic and it more or less fit, although I was never 100% happy with the finished version. Finally I composed Outside in collaboration with Bristol-based singer Nuala Honan, for my first track with a female lead as Panther Panther! The result was very pleasing and the track was chosen as part of the label’s first compilation.
The album received very high praise from the Tropical Bass community, with very positive reviews from renowned blogs Cassette Blog from Mexico and Generation Bass.