Looking For The Balearic Beat / March 2020

Knocked for 6 by the passing of Andrew Weatherall on February 17th, I didnt manage to do one of these last month. Still reeling, our shock has now been compacted by a worldwide viral pandemic. My kids have been off school and largely indoors for so long that none of us know what day of the week it is. Everyone has bigger things on their minds than the age old “is it balearic?” conundrum. Still, attempting to pull things back together there`s actually a host of new stuff, and a fair few reissues, that hold up to b-word scrutiny – when cherry-picked and put into context. Andrew`s posthumous single for Byrd Out for starters. Dubbed-out post-post-punk that updates the sound of influential avant-funkers such as 400 Blows and stirs in the stylings of ACR`s Sir Horatio alter ego. 

Then, on Kinfolk, there’s the epic psychedelic soul remix of Ess O Ess` Totem, care of Andrew`s A Love From Outer Space co-pilot Sean Johnston. Who takes the original Native American-themed chugger, a collaboration between Saul Richards and Not An Animal’s Jamie Blanco & Chris Stoker, and frees its mind, taking it higher than The Orb, as if bashing Screamadelica with a Ball Of Confusion. 

Keeping it psyche, Israel’s Kutiman has a new 45 out on Siyal. Both sides mix organ buzz and fuzz with Tuareg guitars. Spiraling keys bombarded by big brass punches, with dervishes on handclaps. Badawee hammers out a tougher break on Eddie Warner’s Devil`s Anvil. Its synths singing in at least 3 different voices, and occasionally spinning into new age glissando. 

Less the wired vision of a psychedelic Africa of their earlier work, and more a global good vibes grounation, were the 5 vinyl hits from African Head Charge. Remastered reissues and archival gems from 1990 to 2011 that can be found on ON U Sound. Everything from the 6 hours or so of music included on Drumming Is A Language, in my opinion, could be slotted into a set. 

Far more Mediterranean is Rune Lindbæk `s Hierbas E.P. on his own Drum Island label. Knocking back White Isle rocket fuel and transforming dance floors into Ibicenco shrines with the mix of Euro-house and cool and breezy guitar that is Mina Musica. 

rune lindbaeck hierbas

Ruf Dug makes love to his Casio CZ-5000 on the ECZtasy E.P. Inspired by fellow synthesizer suitors, Satoshi & Makoto, and following in the footsteps of Fumio Miyashita, and Jean-Michelle Jarre, he turns back the clubland clock with the polyphonic, phase distorted, proto-house of Inward Conversion Process. 

Max Essa`s new E.P., The Great Adventure is a fresh suite of 3 tracks – 2 of a more uptempo nature than Max` recent output. Employing crowd noise and, care of brother Barney, cowbells and congas. House pianos, and fusion-esque synths. Tombolo, appropriately, tumbles to a busy drum machine break, and is centered around an almost folk reel, played on guitar and echoed on synth. The title track adds keys that recall Sakamoto`s 1000 Knives. While the closer, Fool In The Pool is a short of tabla-tastic calm. The record`s due any minute now on Italy’s Hell Yeah!

Also from Italy there`s a reissue of Pacha`s One Kiss. A collaboration between Dave Lee and Blaze which was first released on Dave`s Z Records in 1991. Quickly snapped up by Italy’s Flying International it gained a couple of massive remixes from Fulvio Perniola and Gianni Bini, AKA Fathers Of Sound. A “game” very much of two halves, at the time their rework bridged a growing post-balearic beat / post acid house dance floor divide. Beginning as an epic progressive house trip, stomping – and rushing – gurning even – to mad siren-like synths, then re-emerging after the break as a sweetly sung NYC garage skip. Now licensed by Groovin, a new 12 features both the Joey Negro and one of those Fathers Of Sound mixes.

Groovin also have The Chaplin Band`s Aficionado favourite, Il Veliero, dusted off and in the shops. Dating from 1982 it`s a 12 minute Dutch disco cover of the classic Lucio Battisti song.  

From Italy by way of Berlin and the UK`s Claremont 56 is Deep88`s remix of DJ Rocca & Leo Almunia`s Ever Changing Bubbles – a track lifted from the duo’s 2018 Really Swing E.P., Rhythm Collision. Deep88 might be better know for his MPC mastery and quality house productions, but here he restricts the BPMs to around 100 and uses the flutes, guitars – acoustic and electric, and sing-along melody to produce a groove similar to Pino Danielle’s Yes I Know My Way – all the while giving a nod and wink to Izit`s cover of Chakachas Stories – by using the same Jackanory and (I think) Jimmy Castor samples. 

From Claremont’s new label sampler, Claremont Editions 001, I’ve included the fine lovers rock lilt of Kaoru Inoue`s Disco Dub of HF International’s update of Hall & Oates 80s hit, I Can`t Go For That.

Then from Les Disques Bongo Joe`s INTENTA – a collection of Swiss avant-pop obscurities in the vein of Music From Memory’s Uneven Paths – there`s the sleazy synth pop of Jean-Pierre Huser`s Chinatown.

An Antipodean 80s “unclassic” arrives in the shape of The Venetians Son Sur Son on White White. I described the Andrew Weatherall remix as a “chuggernaut”a little while ago, but it`s the version by Bali’s Sun Down Circle crew, Dea Barandana and Harsya Wahono, AKA Zatua, that takes the balearic biscuit. 

Track-list

Ess O Ess – Totem (Hardway Brothers Remix) – Kinfolk

Kutiman – Badawee – Siyal

African Head Charge – Pitched Fever – ON U Sound

Jean Pierre Huser – Chinatown – Les Disques Bongo Joe

DJ Rocca & Leo Almunia – Ever Changing Bubbles (Deep88 Balearic Mix) – Is It Balearic

HF Frequency – I Cant Go For That (Kaoru Inoue Disco Dub) – Claremont 56

Venetians – Son Sur Son (Zatua Remix) – White White 

Max Essa – The Great Adventure – Hell Yeah!

Rune Lindbaek – Mina Musica – Drum Island

Andrew Weatherall – Unknown Plunderer – Byrd Out

Ruf Dug – Inward Conversion Process – Ruf Cutz

Pacha – One Kiss (Fathers Of Sound Remix) – Groovin

Reference Links 

400 Blows

Sir Horatio

Screamadelica

Ball Of Confusion

Devils Anvil

1000 Knives

Pino Daniele

Izit

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