Looking For The Balearic Beat / December 2018

Paraphrasing the Soul Sonic Force and sorting through today`s releases for tunes that could have graced Alfie & Leo`s Amnesia dance floor.

Henri Texier Varech

JMS have reissued Henri Texier`s first two LPs. Amir from 1976, and Varech from 1977. The cover of the latter will be familiar to anyone who`s visited the Growing Bin, since Basso has been championing the music of the Parisian double-bassist for as long as I can remember. The records are an organic Fusion. Think a more Folk ECM. A mixture of Brazilian harmonies, percussion breakdowns, string drones, and Stephan Micus-like woodwinds. And of course, funky bass-lines. The one on Les La Bas – which was remixed by Bonobo for Ninja Tune a few years ago – reminds me of Paul Simon`s Late In The Evening. 

Ronald Langestraat searching

Red Light Records-affiliated South Of North have rescued Ronald Langestraat`s 4-track recordings. Committed to tape in Ronald`s Amsterdam bedroom, back in 1984, his songs are a Jazz of flatulently phat b-lines, classy piano, and squelchy, raspberry-blowing synths. I’m Ready For Dancing has a Moodymann-esque groove, while Girl Where Are You? gets Matthew Larkin Cassell doing a Samba with Daniel Johnston.

Furniture when the boom was onFurniture On Broken Glass

Also on a kind of Jazz tip, all be it a Post-Punk one of Weekend and Kalima, Emotional Rescue have two E.P.s coming from 80s band Furniture. The first a reproduction of 1983`s When The Boom Was On, the second, On Broken Glass, a compilation of underground hits. The band probably best known for UK chart topper Brilliant Mind (which, by the way, was a regular play for Weatherall and Farley upstairs at Shoom). The group`s left-leaning politics and smart lyrics placing them alongside contemporaries such as Its Immaterial. When The Boom Was On features Why Are We In Love? A cut of slinky melancholy that seems to have become sought after over the last few years (I`m guessing someone famous dropped it). A damaged love song set to gentle, Latin rhythms. A doomed Noir of lust and obsession that`d sit well next to Pete Brandt`s Method`s What You Are. I Can`t Crack, from the second E.P., is a seminal “alternative” dancer. A favourite of David Mancuso, it was something I cribbed from the Loft 100 list in the back of Bill Brewster and Frank Tope`s Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Great Rumba bass-line, percussion workout, and fantastic piano finale. Plus words that I take to be a frustrated call for revolution, in the face of apathy.  Kicking out all the windows. Breaking down all the doors. Both tracks owing something to the “anti-punk” Punk of Vic Godard`s Subway Sect. An influence currently echoed in the music of King Krule and Puma Blue. 

The 12 also includes an unreleased, unedited mix of Bullet (from 1986`s Lovemongers LP). A more experimental moment, its looped synths, organ and violin drone, and live syncopation create a prophetic, Post-Rock, haze. Like a forerunner to the ambience found on Terre Thaemlitz` Comatonse, giving way to an extended piano improvisation. Lyrically it`s a post-coital poem, a one-sided conversation from that last time which should never have happened. The drunken clinch that proved to be a final goodbye. One hanging on, the other having already let go. 

ivan conti cover

Still Jazz, still Latin, in January, veteran Azymuth drummer, Ivan “Mamao” Conti releases his first solo LP in twenty years, on Far Out Recordings. Poison Fruit was produced by Daniel Maunick, the son of Incognito main man, Jean-Paul, and the four teasers I`ve heard so far demonstrate a variety of styles. Encontro could pass for the percussive Fusion of Azymuth, or Airto, while the title track is basically House. 4 / 4 kick, cymbal shimmer, Rave bass and bleeps. Ilha De Luz is head-nodding Exotica. Its banging bass drum bumping samples of birdsong, and running water. Bacurau is a Balearic march of tumbling percussion and chants. Titanic`s Sultana in Boris Blank and Dieter Meier`s imagined Havana.


Also mutating the music of South America, Italian DJ & producer Giovanni Damico chops out his third E.P. for Marcel Vogel`s Lumberjacks In Hell. The White Rabbit Recordings founder priding himself on playing everything and sampling nothing on The Sound of Revolution. La Samba E Il Mare is Acidic Electro-Latino. A Rio street carnival set to Giorgio Morroder-like machines. Cuica barks, shaker shuffles, strummed strings, and celebratory whistles, vying with sunshine synths and traffic jam horns. Circuits clicking like castanets.


Sticking with the slightly Acidic, Eclectics head straight for the playlists of Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston`s A Love From Outer Space with some new New Beat in the shape of Adab i Raki. An Eastern mystery from Turkish producer Kaan. Where melodies drift between gypsy strings and snake charmer reeds. Remixes come from Alfresco Festival’s Ed Mahon, Clandestino`s Project Spectre, and Al Mackenzie and Chris Kentish`s Field Of Dreams. Mr. Mahon bouncing bell-like sonorities, and undercutting everything with 303 rumbling and belches. While Project Spectre hark after the days when Kiss FM was still a pirate, the good good vibes of “Rampling On Your Radio”, and create an 80s Euro-House homaging Balearic bellydance. Standout for me though is the Field Of Dreams rework which subtly transforms the suggestive chug of the OG into a command to trance-dance. Long, stripped back, massively hypnotic, and with a bass so big it’ll shake the room, and force you to shake  with it whether you want to or not.


Attillio`s Protect Me, reissued by Musique Plastique, is an art of noises. A Wally Badarou-like interlude of handclaps, sampled rainfall, cars, and motorbikes, synthesised flute and voices.

Sir Shina Peter

Strut reissue Sewele, by Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars. The track Yabis – a vamp perhaps on The Wailers` Get Up Stand Up – featured on the label`s seminal Nigeria 70 comp back in 2008, but now they’ve got the entire 1986 LP. The set a showcase for Peters` “progessive Juju”, or “Afro-Juju” music. His Highlife guitar playing assisted by emerging technology and studio trickery – Rhythm Boxes and Echoplex Dubwise drops – in a fashion similar to that of countryman King Sunny Ade. 

Feeling Kreyol - Las Pale

Strut have also reissued Las Pale by Feeling Kréyol. A girl-group masterminded by Guadeloupe producer Darius Denom, in 1988, to cash in on the then Zouk “craze”. The title track`s a charging, but cute, Calypso of accordion tones, electric guitar, and bright Bubblegum keys. Sweet harmonies that recall those of the Lidjau Sisters. 

Universal Cave - Lambada

Philadelphia`s Universal Cave have two new records in shops. Both split between their own edits, and those of duo, Superprince, who are also natives of The City Of Brotherly Love. Highlights, for me, are the big-bass-ed 80s Soul seduction of Superprince`s Rose, and the horny fiesta of UC`s timbale-smashing, Carino piano-pounding, Lambada.

ESB Echovolt

The New Era Housing Project E.P. is Vancouver-based ESB`s second House / Techno 12 for Greece`s Echovolt. The highlight for me being Going Away. A sueno of upbeat, alien frequencies, surfing stuttering Roto-toms, and snare snaps. Resembling such Transmat icons as R-Tyme`s R-Theme. The B-line a ringer for Supermax` Love Machine.  


I`ve included more from Judith Ravitz` tribute to the music of Jorge Ben, Bolerio = בוא לריו, on Be With Records. Boiadeiro`s the one that reminds me of Elli Medeiros and Ramuntcho Matta. Scorching, scratchy Funk, with party-starting electric solos, Superstitious clavs, and chanted group choruses. Since December`s ended up kinda Zouk-y, you could throw in La Cie Creole as an additional reference.

Angelique Kidjo - Born Under Punches

From one set of amazing covers to another, and Angelique Kidjo does the whole of Talking Heads` Remain In Light, for Kravenworks. The West African singer`s mix of tongues transporting the songs into Amos Tutuola`s Bush Of Ghosts. The angular Pop `n` Lock of Cross-eyed And Painless now Krumping with an Ndaga griot. Segueing into Fela Kuti`s Lady, and acknowledging the debt the original recording owes to the King of Afrobeat (Tony Allen also guests on Houses In Motion). 

Listening Wind is a sparse arrangement of synth and psychedelic sanza. Its existential questioning unchanged, but made more universal by switching language, and the gender of its protagonist. Born Under Punches is just brilliant. So angry. So strong. While Once In A Lifetime is no longer neurotic. Instead a celebration, with a climax of joyful brass. Happy to let the days go by. Giving thanks for the miracle of it. The whole album blew me away. Essential.


Henri Texier – Les La Bas – JMS

Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars – Yabis – Strut

Ronald Langestraat – Ready For Dancing – South Of North

Kaan – Adab i Raki (Field Of Dreams Remix) – Eclectics

Giovanni Damico – La Samba E Il Mare – Lumberjacks In Hell

Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches – Kravenworks

Ivan Conti – Bacurau – Far Out Recordings

Furniture – I Cant Crack – Emotional Rescue

ESB – Going Away – Into The Light

Universal Cave – Lambada – Universal Cave

Judith Ravitz – Boiadeiro – Be With Records

Attillio – Protect Me – Musique Plastique

Feeling Kreyol – Las Pale – Strut

Reference Links

Stephan Micus

Late In The Evening


Matthew Larkin Cassell

Daniel Johnston



Brilliant Mind

Its Immaterial

Pete Brandt`s Method

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

Vic Godard

King Krule

Puma Blue






Get Up Stand Up

King Sunny Ade

Lidjau Sisters

Eastern Mystery




Eli Medeiros


La Cie Creole



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