Looking For The Balearic Beat / September 2019

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

magic bird logo

Two balearic beats proper – in that you would have heard their like at Future or Spectrum – come in the form of Golden Fleece`s I Love U2, on Magic Bird, and Durul Gence`s Black Cat on Finders Keepers. Both hark back to the rock-ier 88 / 89 sets of Nancy Noise and Roger “The Hippie” Beard. The Golden Fleece track – nothing to do with Bono or The Edge – invoking The Stone Roses, say Waterfall, and The Trogs. A wild thing of garage rock riffing. Like 60s psychedelia meets Happy Mondays` x-dealing street urchins. While Turkish percussionist Durul Gence bangs out some electric Bo Diddley-isms a la Roger favourites, Chocolate Watch Band`s Gone And Passes By, Fleetwood Mac`s Oh Well, or Andwella`s Loft classic, Hold On To Your Mind. Paladin`s Third World rap. 

Moving on to the music of the early 90s – that which was balearic-by-design rather than by accident, Optima and Selva Discos` Brasingles reach volume 4 with Taciana`s Tudo Faz Sentido. Dating from 1995, this is my favourite from the series so far. Taciana Barros being a muse – “counselor supreme” – of Yugoslavian-relocated-to-Sao-Paolo producer, Mitar Subotić. Subotić recording under the aliases of Rex Illusivi, and in this case, Suba. His extended mix is kind of everything-including-the-kitchen-sink – featuring acidic squelches, funky piano, pedal steel slide, Ray Manzarek Vox Continental, trippy keyboard sequences, and a mid-tempo breakbeat.But its very classily done. Recalling William Orbit`s Strange Cargo, it’d go nicely with the recent Musique Pour La Danse reissue of Coil`s The Gay Man’s Guide To Safer Sex. 

Navigating a very similar temporal sonic terrain, although brand new is Lucas Croon`s remix of Calm`s Before Landing, for Hell Yeah! There`s digital, a CD, and a couple more vinyl samplers on the way, collecting revisions of the Japanese producer`s 2018 LP, By Your Side. Croon`s take is breakbeats and acid. Sampled shouts and explosions of emotive synths. An “Okey Dokey” replacing the much-loved old “Yeah Alright”. We previewed Mark Barrott`s remix of Space Is My Place a while back, but the package now includes versions by Yuri, Alex Vincent, Music For Dreams, Mind Fair, J Walk, Gallo, Cantoma, and Calm himself. Treating you to twilight chugs coupled to Laurel Canyon harmonies, 303-laced sunset house, spinning arpeggios – complex, overlapping, interacting – Red Zone swells and rave pianos, kicks and cowbells, jazz breaks, IDM beats, fluttering flutes, chimes and bubbling bleeps. Reference points might be Aphex`s Xtal and Kaoru Inoue`s remix of the Crue-l Grand Orchestra`s I`ete Palma. 

Islandman light out in a likeminded 90 to 100BPM landscape, on their Kaybola LP, released by Music For Dreams. Though swapping the 90s IDM references for heavy doses of dub. Where phrases of traditional sounding chants, horns, and stringed-things are twisted, phased and echoed. Campfire strum-a-long, sing-a-longs segue into stretches of dub calm, Hari Krishna mantras and belly-dancing b-lines. Serge Gainsbourg-like narration mixes with more ambient moments, washed by surf and politely picked guitar. On Sem Voce, a collaboration with label mates Copenema and DJ Pippi, the six strings ring somewhere between an Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western theme and a rock and roll rumble – blasted by brass fanfares. Most of the album features snaking, Middle-Eastern Psyche solos. Having you traveling / tripping between Cairo, Tehran, and Istanbul. 

Dennis Kane & Darshan Jesrani`s Siren remix of Cantoma`s Kasoto, on Phil Mison`s Highwood Recordings also seems to have been transported to a Turkish bazaar. Where the original`s West African, Gambian, strings have been fuzzed-up while crossing the Bosphorus. The bass coming on like The Clash rocking a Saudi Arabian qasaba. 

meo dualismo

Veteran afro-cosmic DJ Daniele Mei, in his Meo guise, provides Alturas. Typically chugging electronics topped with Spanish guitar, whistling synths and rolling piano – lifted from Jose Manuel`s Magic Carpet compilation on Harmonie Exotic, but also about to be reissued as part of a 3-track 12 on Dualismo Sound. Mei must surely have been an influence on the Early Sounds / Periodica posse, and from their forthcoming hook-up  with Best Records Italy I’ve also included Afrodesia`s Deep Down In Zanzibar. Where classic italo riffs are adapted – instruments switched – and replayed as Naples pays tribute to East Africa. 

Leo Young is the man responsible for introducing Bepe Loda `s afro and Daniele Baldelli`s cosmic to DJ Harvey. Another veteran Italian DJ Leo was also the man behind Rome’s first rave. New Interplanetary Melodies have raided the archives of his Pronto Recordings imprint for an E.P. of previously unreleased material. The 14-minute Frascati Project is built from looped up snippets of afro-rock b-line, axe solo, brass band bugle, clipped wah-wah, free jazz sax flight, and feedback arc. Its tribal dance falling into a final 2 minutes of treated guitar ambience. The Emperor is also tribal. A reinforced drum ritual. Imagine if Guem et Zaka Percussion got souped-up for Second Circle. While Daniele “Feel Fly” Tomassini gives the track a cinematically-strung house rework. 

tom blip and swordsman

Certainly afro but not really cosmic is Tom Blip`s team-up with Ugandan vocalist Swordman Kitala. Following up everyone`s favourite, Wrong Guanco, with the stop / start rhythm of Kitala Beat. With lyrics half English, half Luganda the result is a bit like a Jamaican DJ riding a machined grounation, all set with deadly subs. 

Not afro but definitely cosmic, at least in its intentions is Andy Rantzen`s Harmonic Eye. One of two antipodean rave relics unearthed by Efficient Space. Rantzen`s tune is taken from his 1999 CD, The Blue Hour, and is a stomp of speak & spell touch tones – somewhere between Richard Norris and Dave Ball covering Lime`s On The Grid, and LFO`s LFO. On the flip of the 12, FSOM – Future Sound Of Melbourne – turn in Track 6. A techno charge of industrial clank, big twisted Basic Channel / Phylyps Track chords and a tumbling, filtered breakbeat – this time from 1993. 

DMX Krew have 4 Motor City homages / retreads forthcoming on Peggy Gou`s GUDU imprint. House / techno with an electro edge, DXIOO, is reminiscent of R-Tyme`s R-Theme. A little Art Of Stalking clinging to the shadows of its classic Mayday / Transmat Rhythim (Is Rhythim). 


Tenderlonious also pays tribute to the innovators and pioneers of Chicago and Detroit, on his Think Twice E.P. on 22a. While Shinichiro Yokota swaps Ed’s damn fine flute for a shakuhachi, and shamisen on his remix of Manabu Nagayama & Masakazu Uehata`s Sora Sky Magic – from Sound Of Vast`s Ultimate Yokota.  

Writing this now I can’t help but wonder if all house / techno is at least in part homage. Building on, but still referencing, its influences. Furious Frank, for Butter Sessions, focuses on the sounds of 1990s Italy. The pace-y original of Ahora Si! marries husky Mediterranean whispers to a tribal timpani, a TB-303 gurgling, clearing its throat – progressively more aggressively. Before the big piano goes off, and the synthetic strings hit. A Sunrise mix loses the 303 to concentrate on the piano. Barcelona-based IVAN adds bongos for something slightly less banging, but warmer. While the most radical remix comes from Vancouver`s D.Tiffany. Those whispers now above an electro break, a Miami bass bottom-end drop, and mixed with ambient rainforest chatter. No piano, but rejoined by the 303. 


Meo – Alturas – Harmonie Exotic

Cantoma – Kasoto (Siren Remix) – Highwood Recordings

Golden Fleece – I Love U2 – Magic Bird

Islandman – Sem Voce – Music For Dreams

Taciana – Tudo Faz Sentido (Suba Extended Mix) – Optimo Selva Discos

Afrodesia – Deep Down In Zanzibar – Best Records Italy

Calm – Before Landing (Lucas Croon Remix) – Hell Yeah!

Durul Gence – Black Cat – Finders Keepers

Leo Young – The Emperor  – New Interplanetary Melodies

Andy Rantzen – Harmonic Eye – Efficient Space

Manabu Nagayama & Masakazu Uehata – Sora Sky Magic (Shinichiro Yokota Remix) – Sound Of Vast

Furious Frank – Ahora Si (Ivan Remix)- Butter Sessions

Tenderlonious – Tru Blu – 22a


Tom Blip & Swordsman – Kitala Beat – Blip Discs

Reference Links

Stone Roses

The Trogs

Happy Mondays

Chocolate Watch Band

Fleetwood Mac



Strange Cargo



L`ete Palma

Guem Et Zaka Percussion

On The Grid


Phylyps Trak


Art Of Stalking

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