Looking For The Balearic Beat 2020 / January

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

These things were always supposed to be a kind of editorial – a teaser – rather than in depth reviews – so this is a mix-up, a heads-up, of a few things I`ve already covered, a few 12s you might want to keep an eye out for, and a couple of bits that will get more scrutiny closer to their actual release date. 

James Bright - World So High - Eclectics

There’s a large pile of reissue 12s. In my mind at least, at lot of which are classics. Late last year Neppa put out Renee`s Change Your Style – a piece of Dutch disco pop from 1980 – that was a favourite of everybody from Moonboots to Kenneth Bager (I know because I gave Kenneth my copy). Unearthed from the Reach For The Sky LP and re-edited by Red Light Record`s Abel Nagengast for Lovefingers Blackdisco imprint in 2009, it`s now been done legit – the OG flipped with another fine extension from Prins Thomas. 

Also hitting shops during the Christmas / New Year holiday was Groovin Recordings repress of Love Quartet`s Kiss Me – containing all the original mixes, including the Ethos Mama Survives In Dub 1 – which was absent from the UK-licensed 12 in 1992. If you went to any Boys Own-related party back then, you’ll know this slice of Italian proto-prog-house. You’d couldn’t escape it. That and Pleasure Inc.`s Sexy Dancer. 

There’s more classic house from Germany`s DBH – who’ve signed up Duanne & Co.`s Hardcore Jazz. Originally on Jesse Saunders` Dance Mania, and released in 1986, I bought my copy from FatCat in the mid-90s. The guys had turned up warehouse finds of stacks of mint Chicago releases – at a time when OGs were being shifted by stores for dollars. There’s a funny story about Soho`s established dealers popping round to have a word when the young cats started selling these things for 5.99. 

There’s techno from IAO on Left Ear, and Sandoz on Music From Memory – both of which I`ve “waxed” about in some length already. These 2 releases had me back in the mess that is my “record room” pulling memories from shelves – planning themed radio shows – reminding me why I own so much vinyl. There isn’t really anything like playing an actual record. I`d like to thank both labels for prompting me to do that. 

cross island east of the apple

On the disco front Kalita have Cross Island`s East Of The Apple up for pre-order. The Just A Little Bit Different mix is a leftfield builder constructed from kick, conga, handclaps and chants. This is partnered with 2 edits from the maestro, Al Kent. He totally transforms East Of The Apple into a piece of Studio 54 soft-porn. Hypnotically looped guitar driving the dance floor ecstasy. Dropping to spaced out breaks of bass, clavinet, vibes and wah wah. While the second track, Wave, is Loft-worthy jazz-funk. A Philly International-esque arrangement of brass, staccato keys, and spiraling strings. 

From the Caribbean via Paris there’s Spaziale`s repress of 2 tracks by Tumblack. Back in the day, the percussive, sax honking, piano rolling Caraiba was a London balearic crossover. You even heard it at the cathedral of pop and rock that was the Downham Tavern All-dayer. This has been bootlegged and edited (Ashley Beedle, Nelson Gomes,…) a number of times, but I think that this is legit. That said Spaziale have also reissued Nyra Bakiga`s highly sought-after Cor Corora – originally a Daniele Baldelli discovery – and at the minute that’s blocked on Discogs. 

mystery kindaichi band cover

While on the balearics, Emotional Rescue have Man Jumping`s Jump Cut long-player, from 1985, plus a couple E.P.s worth of remixes – from William Doyle, Bullion, Gengahr, Khidja, and Reckonwrong. The whole LP is fantastic, a bit like a more electric Penguin Cafe Orchestra – reframing classical minimalism, while the tune Aerotropics – with its mix of military snares and a Jesus On The Payroll piano – was another dance floor favourite / secret in 88 / 89 / 90. I`ll bang  – ban! ban! ton! ton! – on more about Man Jumping next week – as I’m currently editing a great interview with Charlie Seaward from the band.

Emotional Rescue also have the second 12, in a series of 3, from The New Morning. Riddims Of Culture 2 capturing the sample-heavy tribal chuggers produced by the Munich-based afro / cosmic collective.

The New Morning 2

Cosmic and disco cohabit on The Mystery Kindaichi Band`s The Adventures Of Kindaichi Kosuke, due sometime soon on Wewantsounds. An LP conceived in 1977 as the soundtrack to an imaginary movie based on the mystery / horror novels of author Seishi Yokomizo. Stories that feature the titular detective, Kosuke Kindaichi. With composer / arranger Kentaro Haneda leading a team of 10 seasoned session singers and players in an homage to the US TV cop shows and Blaxploitation flicks of the time. Creating pieces of symphonic jazz-funk full of big band brass fanfares and wah-wah guitar. Romance-packed strings worthy of Paul Mauriat, or Barry Whites Love Unlimited Orchestra. B-lines borrowed from The O`Jays backing haunted wails, shrieks and screams. Shinto shouts and axe solos. Synths set to eerie theremin pitch. Xylophones like skeleton bones. Psycho stabs. Barbarella-esque scores for soft-core sex in zero gravity. All given an extra twist by the use of traditional Japanese instruments – the koto,  shakuhachi, and shamisen. I can remember the cover of the record being posted on DJHistory.com – it`s pretty hard to forget – Manga artist Ichibun Sugimoto`s rendering of the vampiric Viscount Tsubaki – and one of the tracks was edited by Psychemagik for History Clock back in 2010. Veteran listeners to my radio show, The Remedy, will recognize it as something I used as an intro for a good while. This must surely have been an influence on the Nu Guinea / Periodica crew. 

oto no wa front cover

The last of the reissues is a teaser for the Oto No Wa comp – put together by Ken Hidaka, Max Essa, and myself – scheduled for a spring release on Music For Dreams. The selections span 30 years of Japanese music – from ambient shores to mid-tempo shufflers. Electronic, organic, timeless sounds. 

Top of the edits is Ruffy`s Zouky Banger – imminent on Ruf Kutz. A sweet vocal duet set to tumbling tropical idiophone and sax-y bounce, paired on a 12 with Ruffy`s Slow Easy – a chopped and screwed slice of electro-soul. Like, to paraphrase Ruffy himself, Tony Lee wading through treacle. 

man jumping jumpcut

There’s a new E.P. from James Bright on Eclectics – James being the man behind that winning remix of Max Manetti – offering 4 modern grooves that reference 80s US disco dubs and European maxi singles – version longues. 90s bongo-led balearic chugs. Jazz made for a fantasy island of Sade-esque tropics. Reminiscent in places of Robin Lee`s Rudy’s Midnight Machine, and on the twilight shuffle of Transmission Station, another Max, Essa. The bass-driven and acoustically-strummed title cut, World So High, has a similar vibe to the Plastic Dance Band`s classic New Order sampling Talking Drum.

sandoz second circle

The Peruvian by The Simonsound is a fine example of some more wayward electronics. Their mad, modular cover of Babe Ruth`s The Mexican only rivaled by The Emperor Machine`s Buchla re-bump of Harks & Mudd`s Susta, on Leng. Not due until March – but the pre-order`s up – the original`s set to be one of the songs of summer. Sophisticated dance floor pop that smoothly rides a b-line, which sounds like an italo vamp on Rufus` Ain`t Nobody, in a slow sexy boogie grind. Pulling in comparisons to Ron Basejam, Diane Birch`s In It For The Race, Rampi`s Feel It Burn, and Jessie Ware’s Running. The Emperor Machine gives it a predictably more mechanical shake to create a piston-powered chugganaut. In there with his Arp and things. Dubbing it out to twice the length.

Also due in March is the new LP from The Orb. The title, Abolition Of The Royal Familia suggests Alex Paterson has been hanging with Harry and Meghan, while the music finds him working with a host of old collaborators – moving between ambient, soulful house, and dub. Nothing too metallic, nothing too techno. I`ve travelled quite a distance with The Orb so I will come back to this, but the tune I`ve selected here, Ital Orb, reminds me of the heavily JA-influenced, “ecstatic” stuff LX used to produce in cahoots with Kris Thrash Weston and Andrew Weatherall.

cover The Orb - Abolition of The Royal Familia

Skatebard & Lauer team-up for Live At Robert Johnson for a trio of tracks. All complexly sequenced, and 80s referencing, though its Volpi Polari that`s the standout for me. Copping Fashion`s mutant moves with Shriekback`s slapped post-punk bass-line for a spine. I`ve also squeezed in a moment from Phantom Island`s next missive – Lexx` award-winning Cosmic Shift – Remixed. Just like the aforementioned Susta Kejeblos` take on Wave has got summer written all over it. 

Reference Links

Pleasure Inc.

Philly International

Jesus On The Payroll

Paul Mauriat

Love Unlimited Orchestra

The O`Jays


Nu Guinea


Rudys Midnight Machine

Max Essa

Ron Basejam

Diane Birch


Jesse Ware




The Orb – Ital Orb (Too Blessed To be Stressed Mix) – Cooking Vinyl

James Bright – World So High – Eclectics

Harks & Mudd – Susta – Leng

Renee – Change Your Style (Prins Thomas Edit) – Neepa

The Mystery Kindaichi Band – Mitstukubitou – Wewantsounds

Scha Dara Parr – Nice Guy (Major Force Dub) – Music For Dreams

Mi C`Yann – Emotional Rescue

IAO – Love (Instrumental) – Left Ear Records

Man Jumping – Aerotropics – Emotional Rescue

The Simonsound – The Peruvian – Simonsound

Skatebard & Lauer – Volpi Polari – Live At Robert Johnson

Ruf Dug – Ruffys Zouky Banger – Ruf Cutz

Duanne & Co – Hardcore Jazz – DBH

Lexx – Wave (Kejeblos Remix) – Phantom Island

Love Quartet  -Ethos Mama Survives In Dub – Grooving

Sandoz – Human Spirit – Second Circle

Cross Island – East Of The Apple – Kalita

Tumblack – Caraiba – Spaziale

Dhaima – Sweat Til Your Body’s Wet – Numero

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