Far Out Recordings are proud to announce the release of the debut album from Zeep, the new band from Nina Miranda & Chris Franck.
Nina and Chris were involved in two of the biggest selling and critically acclaimed Brazilian-influenced acts of the past decade – Smoke City (still remembered for their seminal ‘Underwater Love’ track that was the soundtrack to a Levi’s advert) - and Da Lata, signed to Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures label.
Imagine Led Zep, The Meters, Joni Mitchell and The Beatles jamming in Brazil with Tropicalistas such as Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil & Os Mutantes - where rock ‘n’ roll, funk and classic pop get spiced up with a little samba magic - and you’re on the Zeep trail. From cosmopolitan London to inspirational Brazil, Zeep bring you an album inspired by the attitude of the 70s when music was live, urgent, right-on, scruffy, funky and folksy.
Whilst Zeep echoes the quirkiness of their previous work as Smoke City, Chris adds that “Zeep is a more folky, more organic album than anything else we’ve done before”. The songs were mostly dreamt up in their home in North London from jam sessions over the last few years and Chris feels that being partners in life, as well as music, has influenced the vibe: “On this album Nina and I have just been true to ourselves, we are a family and this has influenced how we make music. The band is made up of our close friends, people we’ve known for years who are like family to us, and I think this is why the sound and the vibe is so good”. As the songs on the album took shape, Nina & Chris thought about their friends from Brazil who could help them realise their tales of love, life and the universe with the necessary sub-equatorial tropical heat, and so last summer they jetted off to Brazil to recruit their fellow Zeepistas.
Alongside Nina on vocals & Chris on guitars are some of Brazil’s finest musicians: Mauro Berman (bassist for Marcelo D2 and member of Democustico), Marcelo Jeneci Da Silva (keyboardist with Vanessa Da Mata & Chico Cesar) and Marcalzinho (percussionist with Joao Bosco & Pat Metheney). UK based Italian drummer Davide Giovannini (drummer with Marcos Valle & Steve Winwood) came along on the trip with them and back in Blighty they recorded the second half of the album with Mike Lindup (Level 42, Da Lata) on keys, Tristan Banks on drums (Terry Callier, Dave Valentin) plus Diabel Cissokho with guest vocals and Momadou Sarr on djembe. The album also features the voice of UK jazz and TV legend Kenny Lynch and the sax of the superb Jason Yarde (Hugh Masekela, Roy Ayres, Hermeto Pascoal).
Whilst Zeep was mainly dreamt up in London, the beat of Brazil gives the music it’s swing, as electric guitars, funky drumming and samba percussion all combine with shouts, whispers and random bursts of ‘collective conscience’ to produce one of the freshest albums we’ve heard in a long time. “We made this record without having a record deal in place as we wanted to let the music dictate where it was going”, says Chris, “this is music for music’s sake, recorded with everyone playing together”. “This” finishes Nina, “is why we christened it ‘Zeep’, because we wanted a name that was born the same time as the music".
Opening track ‘Funny Old Song’ sets the tone of the album - a snappy, uplifting, folky bossa where spoken interjections from various Zeepistas give the track a film-like quality, whilst second track ‘Super’ is a blast of psychedelic folk-funk where our ‘super-hero powers can take us high’. ‘Come with me’ features the velvety voice of Kenny Lynch - London’s answer to Nat-king-Cole – and is a tale of two people down on their luck who find solace in each other. Lyrically it’s classic samba and with the shuffling percussive groove and sing-a-long chorus it’s undoubtedly one of the albums highlights. ‘Zeep Dreams’ is a pacey baião featuring Senegalese djembe player Mamadou Sarr and vocalist Diabel Cissoko that connects Brazil to mother Africa.
Other obvious highlights are ‘Baby’, that featuring Courtney Dennie on backing vocals, is a romantic bossa with a reggae soul vibe. ‘Agua’, the first ever Nina & Chris song, is a punchy baião inspired by the spirits of those passed away and the essential life-giving property of water. ‘Sem Pensar’ is sung in Portuguese conjuring up the contrasting physical and socio-economic landscape of Brazil to a lilting rhythm in ¾ time and ‘Keep an Eye on Love’, is a feel-good R ’n’ B samba begging for daytime radio airplay.