Looking For The Balearic Beat / May 2020

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

jura soundsystem with you art

Mothers Love, a taste of Greg Foat`s stunning Symphonie Pacifique, due on Strut, creates an opening calm. A head-nodding summer heat haze of spiritual sax and Hawaiian steel. More Chocolate Milk and Brandy than a balearic beat, and I`ll be honest, May`s selection is a tad mellower than usual – but there are a few full-on dancers in here. Many of the tunes could be broadly described as chunky, dubby, electronic… I guess that should have made them easier to mix. Jura Soundsystem`s Karahi King, from the With You E.P. on Isle Of Jura being a damn fine example. A synthetic swirl, of beatific bleep, ringing with reggae soundclash sound-effects and chiming reverb-ed post-punk guitar. 

Similiarly, James Bright`s Shimmer is a slice of slo-mo house that saunters to simulated birdsong and a Mr Fingers` Juno-60 b-line – a tropic where the loved-up vibes of 90s Italian dance meets the jack of Chicago`s Jungle Wonz. Full of spinning fractal detail, it`s a quality piece of retro-not-retro – and on a big system it`ll bang like Les Crocodiles La Nuit Des Tropiques. Taken from the Sol d’en Serra E.P. on Brighton`s Balearic Ultra`s Higher Love Recordings imprint, Shimmer shimmies shoulder-to-shoulder with 2 further cuts. Oslo’s Plastic Fantastic turn Audiocluster`s Transparent Interface into a highly-strung seduction of echoed congas, life-support machine blips, and slow squelchy funk, while Faint Waves` Dancing Flame is a soft-focus hush of skanking keys and Spanish guitar.  

The prolific My Friend Dario has 2 fresh musical forays out on Italy’s Hell Yeah! Tora establishes a looped 100 bpm groove before bringing the bass-line to the boil – countering its bubbling with a nagging 6-string refrain. Chord shapes are super chilled, until the track falls to a muted breakdown – after which the synths and sunshine are switched – decidedly – on. Effecting an anti-rain-dance. Breaking cloud. Illuminating the way for better days. Kiki features perfectly picked guitar partnered with a sunset / sunrise arpeggio. 

joe morris new dawn art

Leeds` Joe Morris, recovering in lockdown, has built A Brighter Future from bongos, bit-mapped arcs of sound, and gated party whistles. The piece`s plaintive piano playing, positive, above playful 303 frequencies. The Clandestino mainman’s The New Dawn Will Come tonally comes from the same place as Carl Craig`s classic As Time Goes By, and Larry Heard`s Alien Landscapes. A deep space of keyboard fragments and gargantuan bass. 

february montaine art

Peaking Lights drag synth-pop auteur February Montaine out of his bedroom and off to a balmy Mediterranean club for Be With Records. Polishing the lo-fi melancholy of FM`s Mount Nod into a shining mirror-ball dub. Buoyed in its dizzy dream-like float by wonky bells, big bottom-end, and melodica moments. 

Dub Mentor`s Guava, on EnT-T, is song to twilight and the night – cooed to cool blue brass and a hand-clapping rhythm balanced between cumbia and flamenco.

More human touches can be heard on Cantoma`s Closer – a standout from the outfit`s fourth long-player, Into Daylight, on Highwood Recordings. In particular the clarinet, which like an Ibicenco pied piper leads you home through a maze of white stucco walls, framing serene, azure seas, the morning after a long, long night before. 

True “organics” come in the shape of reissues. Best Records Italy have the slapped-bass boogie of Dr Togo`s Be Free. An early `80s jam licensed from Derby. Jazz-funk whose congas and chorus call for sun, fun, and freedom – something we all could do with, something we are all looking forward to.

Then there are 2 AA-sided sevens. Club Internacional delivering another dynamic duo from the catalogue of Rio`s Top Tape label, while new imprint Re:Warm head to the Antipodes. Octavio Burnier`s Que Nem Sol dates from 1980, and is a bumping bit of fusion. Its bass-line snaking around strings, sax and Brazilian harmonies – climaxing as a whole load of locked horns do battle with an electric axe. Band Azul`s Melo Do Fricote – from `82 – is a less eccentric bit of brassy boogie. 

New Zealanders Golden Harvest`s I Need Your Love is the sort of soft rock that has the potential to be a summer festival anthem – provided we are allowed back outdoors, all at once, by then. A definite sing-along, its blue-eyed bop could easily join a canon that includes Stretch`s Why Did You Do It?, Rudy Norman`s Back To The Streets, and Exile`s Kiss You All Over. It`s flipped by fellow countryman Dalvanius, and his Fascinations, who`ll have you bewitched by the Down-Under disco – wrought from wah wah, flute, and electric keys – of the racy, Voodoo Lady. Maui Dalvanius Prime was actually a central figure in the revitalisation of Maori music in the 20th Century, and under the alias Patea Maori Club produced the Electro-Boogie hit – Poi-E.*

Jazz and house mix on Tenderlonious` D-Low, a tune taken from the acclaimed saxophonist / flautist`s recent 22a E.P., After The Storm. A novo Nu Groove nod to after-hours New York, where he holds his breath and instead demonstrates some considerable synthesizer skills.

This month`s remaining room-shaking recommendations either come from, or pay homage to, Italy. Rome’s Glass Coffee constructing his house from customized vibraphone chimes. Adding Indian strings and song to the uplifting Rising Love – another digital release on Brighton`s Higher Love Recordings. 

Fabrizio Esposito hails from Naples but could recently be found DJing alongside Pete Gooding and DJ Harvey at Ibiza`s Hostal La Torre. So it`s no surprise that his debut 12 – on Parlesia Records and co-produced by International Feel`s Mark Barrott – features 2 tracks of chotto cheesy, feel-good modern Euro-disco that’d slot right into a Harvey set at Pike`s Mercury Rising. This Way travels triumphantly like a catwalk model ruling a runway. Beginning with filtered instrumentation – its opulence ever so slowly revealing itself – sexily sashaying into full opulent view. With a buoyantly boogie-ing piano performance, tonking timbales and cowbell. Si Si Si is slightly rock-ier. A big orchestral psychedelic soul arrangement – think The Undisputed Truth – with a Brazilian cuica breakdown. 

fabrizio esposito Parlesia Records

Harking after the Italian sound, of say 1991 / 92, is a 4-track E.P. from Joe Morris` Clandestino compadre, Nick J. Smith. Taking its cues from the point in time when the rough and ready sample-heavy scream-ups evolved to something more sophisticated. Where the keys were jazz, via Detroit techno, and snippets of sax circled in the mix. Saying “Chapeau” to the dance-floor hits on Heartbeat and Mighty Quinn Records, these are Adriatic appropriations of New York garage, via West Yorkshire. A disco`s revenge of wailing divas, swirling synths, rave-banging riffs – very Sasha at Shelley`s. Where arms-in-the-air keys share the room with dubby, druggy, peak-time trance-outs. The remix of Gets Me High, for example, is tougher and darker, with a sinister snarl of a b-line and 303 spikes. Conversely, Jim Breese sends You Make Me Feel`s loon birds and Mikey Dread jingles out into bluer skies. The press release cites Frankie Knuckles, and it does indeed move at a Where Love Lives-esque clip. 

*Big thank you to Martyn Pepperell for the info. 


Greg Foat – Mothers Love – Strut

Jura Soundsystem – Karahi King – Isle Of Jura

James Bright – Shimmer – Higher Love Recordings

My Friend Dario – Tora – Hell Yeah!

Cantoma – Closer – Highwood Recordings

Joe Morris – A Brighter Future – Clandestino

Dub Mentor – Guava – EnT-T

Dr Togo – Be Free – Best Records Italy

Octavio Burnier – Que Nem Sol – Club Internacional

Band Azul – Melo Do Fricote – Club Internacional

Golden Harvest – I Need Your Love – Re:Warm

February Montaine – Mount Nod (Peaking Lights Dub) – Be With Records

Glass Coffee – Rising Love – Higher Love Recordings

Nick J. Smith – You Make Me Feel (Breese Mix) – Clandestino

Tenderlonious – DLow – 22a

Dalvanius & The Fascinations – Voodoo Lady – Re:Warm

Fabrizio Esposito – This Way – Parlesia Records

Cantoma – Verbana – Highwood Recordings

Reference Links

Mr Fingers

Jungle Wonz

Les Crocodiles

Carl Craig

Larry Heard


Rudy Norman


Nu Groove

Undisputed Truth


Mighty Quinn Records

Where Love Lives

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