After a huge year of travelling in 2022, playing DJ sets in more than 30 cities across 10 countries, Captain Planet dove back into the studio to create his 5th and most ambitious album to date- Sounds Like Home. Taking a turn toward the more organic, retro sounds of artists who originally inspired him as a young musician, Charlie Wilder (aka Captain Planet) flexed his composer and bandleader muscles- incorporating horn sections, strings and acoustic drums more than the big club focussed electronic sounds he has often come to be known for. “The basic concept was to make a record like the ones I constantly pull off my shelves at home and play on the weekends. The records that turn into living room dance parties with my family, the soundtracks while I’m cooking, the music that fills the backyard for lazy hang outs.” An avid vinyl record collector and musicologist since his teens, the Captain has a near encyclopedic knowledge of music from around the world, particularly artists from the 60’s and 70’s, which is the era that inspired much of the sonic texture on this new album.
In classic Captain Planet style, a kaleidoscopic array of genres from around the world find their way into the mix- Brazilian disco, Latin funk, Jamaican dub, Middle Eastern psychedelia, and American soul music. While this diversity may sound more like a mixtape, the Captain’s trademark uplifting vibe and impeccable knack for building a great groove, provide the special ingredients that pull it all together and makes the sauce work. The Fader wrote “the Captain is a walking ‘recommended vinyl’ section from the best record store you’ve ever been to”, because all his deep love and appreciation for classic music comes right through him in his original songs. Throughout this album you’ll hear echoes of timeless artists like Cymande, Gilberto Gil, Ray Barretto, Curtis Mayfield, Mulatu Astatke, and Gabor Szabo, all funneled through the Captain’s modern musical sensibility, shaped by nearly 2 decades of being a professional world-traveling DJ.
The past year also brought some major challenges for Charlie Wilder, most central of which was losing a close friend and collaborator, the fellow LA-based DJ/producer Sumohair (1⁄2 of the band Reyna Tropical). The album starts off with a brief tropical tribute to his friend, followed by the strong message “Music Is Medicine” sung by another regular collaborator, the Zimbabwean-American (Grammy winning) singer Shungudzo. With the true value of friendship front and center on his mind, Captain Planet made a strong conscious effort to include many of his oldest friends and musical partners throughout the album, including Grammy winning pianist Sam Barsh, Chico Mann, Zuzuka Poderosa (who bartended at one of the Captain’s earliest DJ residencies in Brooklyn), David Walters (whose new album “Soul Tropical” was co-written & co-produced by the Captain), Todd Simon, Leo Mintek (who has played guitar with Wilder since their teens), and Wilder’s youngest brother Taj Bethel who co-wrote 2 of the songs on the album. The warm light of friendship and family shines throughout the album, and while the influences reach far across the globe, the music clearly shows that Captain Planet has found his musical home.