Looking For The Balearic Beat / December 2019

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

The last one of these of the year. The last one of these of the decade. New music is obviously a bit thin on the ground, but I wanted to highlight a few recent and forthcoming releases before going totally retroactive. 

Sitis Of Unguja

Starting off with a  teaser from Siti Muharam`s Siti`s Of Unguja, not due for a little while yet care of On The Corner. Mixing the music of Zanzibar – traditional strings, percussion, swahili street culture and Muharam`s incredible voice – with sophisticated electronics. A dread boom underpinning the Taarab. If you dug Time Capsule’s reissue of Gigi`s Illuminated Audio – which is already heading of a lot of end of year polls – then you do need to check this out. It`s not released until March, but I`d get your order in now, since it`s likely to disappear quick on the strength of Victoria Topping`s artwork alone. 

Adhering to the afro aceness Onipa release two digital teasers, from an album due early 2020 on Strut. The eponymous Onipa – which means “human” in Ghanian Akan – is a solid guitar groove. Gyrating in 3 /4 time, like Sinkane`s Jeeper Creeper. The second track, Makoma, is breakneck burger highlife sunshine – a little bit Zouk-y. 

Strut have also commissioned Detroit Swindle, to rework  the Ghanian “Golden Voice of Africa”, Pat Thomas. The Dutch duo giving Yamona – originally recorded in 1980 but revisited for Thomas` recent Obiaa! LP – a house shoe-in. Modern, but 80s-referencing – with a great big old school b-line. A lot like the work of Esa Williams. 

Less authentically afro but definitely more cosmic is The New Morning`s Riddims Of Culture on Emotional Rescue. Six tracks restored from the 90s archives of Munich-based DJs Otti and Jay Pee. All chugging percussive between 90 and 110 BPM. Juddering electronic, like Zazou / Bikaye / CY1, in a balearic militant march. There are borrowed chants throughout. Capueira samples the showers from The Doors` Riders On The Storm, and a familiar bass-line (Flora Purim’s Open Your Eyes You Can Fly?) rumbles almost subliminal in the background. It also features a “proto-Wolf Muller” juice harp breakdown. Jay`s Rhama could have been lifted from one of Jonny Rock`s Hamam House E.P.s. If pushed I`d plump for In Harmony. Where the squeeze box loops recall the Argentinian folk of Daniel Melingo or Chancha Via Circuito. There are two further volumes of Riddims Of Culture on the way, so expect a bigger post when the dust settles in the new year.

*Can anyone remind me where this vocal sample is from or has been used before? I can’t remember and it`s really bugging me.

Describing itself as inspired by “ethnocore”, but it sounds afro / cosmic to me, is Jonquera`s Formative Dubs E.P. on Brothers From A Different Mother. A solo musical missive from Guillaume Lespinasse, one half of Pilotwings. My favourite moments from which have a definite electro / industrial edge. Ticking Time Bombs. Very ON-U. The BPMs ranging from 75 to 102. The pace-ier, Esgrog Voice In My Head, metal-dances with Ministry and Front 242. While Umamami plays with the buzzing bass noise from Tackhead`s Class Rock. Its ten minute duration peppered with fragmented rock riffs, Middle-Eastern Stylophone melodies, occult whispers, and zither strings

Dub Dub Dub Dub Dub on Growing Bin is five reworks built from the sessions that took place around the recording of Wolf Muller & Niklas Wandt’s Instrumentalmusik Von Der Mitte Der World long-player. The pair themselves turning in the prettily scatted Fun Dub of the previously unreleased Dub Dub. River Yarra adds a bubbling bass sequence to Weltraumsandalen (think Clive Stevens` Mystery Man). In Philipp Otterbach`s hands, Expedition becomes a fractured funk of fragmented steel pans. Suzanne Kraft’s take on Auflosung is slo-mo cold-wave pop. The most radical rework though is The Phazer Boys` Lazer Dub of Ahu. Ramping up the original’s ON-Uisms to 130 BPM. Creating an ethno-techno banger replete with digidub bass-line and didgeridoo effects. Since I’ve been thinking a fair bit recently about the nights I spent trance-dancing at clubs such as Lost and Sabresonic, I`ll throw in Fabi Paras` Shiva Shanti as a possible musical comparison. 

Released back in September but escaping my radar until Hell Yeah!`s Marco Gallerani handed me a copy last week is Rumore`s Della Natura E.P. on Discomaths. Possibly more suited to a “Chocolate Milk & Brandy” selection, it`s too good for me to let it go unmentioned. The A-side, Tucano, is house, that reminds me of Swimming Not Skimming-era Two Lone Swordsmen, while on the flip is the beautiful, Boreale. Proto-drum-and-bass “ambience”. Where the crash of sampled tides rocks to a break cut about by an ecstatic cross-fader. Where the big bass drops and sighing synths summon a soundscape part 808 State, part Aphex Twin. 

Changing direction a tad there`s the Italo-esque concept LP, Extra Twist, from Parisian three-piece Flegon, released on their own Disques Flegon. The five tracks telling the story of a search for an unknown femme fatale. Pulling in references to the music of Compass Point, Flash & The Pan, the exotic Sade-esque swing of Victor Lazlo and the pop disco of Gaz Nevada`s Special Agent Man. Vocoder choruses, bright synths, live bass and drums. The standout for me, Intruder On The Loose, is more the AB Musique of Fingerprintz` Wet Job, or the new beat of Acts Of Madmen`s A Whole New Era. Machines snapping like angry pac-men at shards of sharp new wave guitar. 

Further Italo-not-Italo comes from Harry Thumann. Best Records Italy have a four-track E.P., Experiments, from the Munich-based MIDI pioneer. Underwater, from 1979, is crazy, camp, opulent with over the top orchestration. Full strings, space age SFX, fierce brass fanfares and an axe solo. It was a favourite at London’s late 80s balearic / acid house shindigs. One of those old disco tunes – like Willie Hutch`s Brother`s Gonna Work It Out – that became a staple in amongst all the new stuff. The E.P. also features Sphinx, from 1982. A slightly more pensive, but propulsive builder nonetheless. Driven by flamenco-like virtuosity on bass and electric lead. A tune that blew my mind when I first heard it on Moonboots` Whirlpool mix, in the early 2000s. A Daniele Baldelli**-influenced set put together to promote the parties of the same name, hosted by Steve Terry at Islington`s Salmon & Compass. Moon and Balearic Mike jokingly called their then sound, Bal-Electro. 

**Baldelli famously span Underwater at 33, not 45, rpm. 

The Galleria deliver alt. disco of the US kind. Stop & Go, on Environ, is a collaboration between Morgan Geist and Jessy Lanza. The super tight, punchy production puts police sirens over catchy synth hooks. Pays tribute to Manhattan’s Funhouse, Danceteria on 37th Street, DJs Jellybean Benitez and Mark Kamins. A love tempo`d hit of latin freestyle-lite that has sidewalk-talking 80s Madonna translated into modern R&B. The tune and Jessy`s breathless vocals getting a thumbs up from my 13-year-old K-Pop loving son. For an accurate list of musical references, have a listen to The Galleria’s own Mall Mix. 

galleria mall mix


Siti Muharam – Siti`s Of Unguja – On The Corner

Jonquera – Umamami – Brothers From A Different Mother

The New Morning – In Harmony – Emotional Rescue 

Flegon – Intruder On The Loose – Disques Flegon

Onipa – Onipa – Strut

Parkwerks – Tranquility Dub – Parkway

Jacky Ferreira – 69 Bingo (Anti Piano Edit) – Thank You

The Galleria – Stop & Go (Up The Wall Dub) – Environ

Pat Thomas – Yamona (Detroit Swindle Remix) – Strut

Harry Thumann – Underwater – Best Records Italy

Wolf Muller & Niklas Wandt- Ahu (Phazer Boys Lazer Dub) – Growing Bin

Rumore – Della Natura – Discomaths

Reference Links

Jeeper Creeper


Zazou / Bikaye / CY1

Hamam House

Daniel Melingo

Chancha Via Circuito


Ticking Time Bomb

Class Rock

Shiva Shanti 

Swimming Not Skimming

808 State

Aphex Twin

Flash & The Pan

Victor Lazlo

Wet Job

Acts Of Madmen

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