Looking For The Balearic Beat / June 2020

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

There are a few things here that I’ve covered previously: Fabrizio Esposito`s Mark Barrott co-produced Si Si Si on Parlesia Records; Man Power`s dynamite dance-floor Statements for the NHS via Me Me Me; James Bright`s chart-topping downtempo 6-tracker, Betamax, for Quattro Music; Cantoma`s sophisticated Into Daylight on Phil Mison`s Highwood Recordings; Bruise`s Detroit via London house care of Meda Fury; DJ Pippi and Wille Graff`s groovy get-together on Leng. All of which deserve a further plug.

Two of the new picks are Wille Graff recommendations and, since he’s a true-born Eivissenc, I guess that by default that makes them balearic beats. Spanish producer Antonio Chavez AKA Anthonius` debut LP – Itoigawa – on new Madrid-based label, Tokonoma Records. Itoigawa is collaboration between Chavez and Guinea musicians Aboubakar Syla and Tidiane Camara – who provide vocals and percussion. 

A Separate Reality are NYC`s Nick Chacona and Tim Wagner. Their first official release – on Our Starry Universe – is the tongue-in-cheek titled Heuristic Programs For Cognitive Centering. 6 tracks of mid-to-down tempo fusions of organic and electronic. Acoustic guitars, cicadas, melodica, pedal steel, sampled songbirds intertwine with solar flare synths on wah-wah-ed glam mantras, twilight boogie, heatwave-hazed jazz-funk, and stoned outer space skanks. Willie`s tip was the flickering, filtered percussion propelled, hooky Hairy Dancer.  

Sometime Nick Chacona collaborator, San Franciscan Cole Odin, has two tunes queued for a Qrates project with Eclectics. There’s the kosmische meets country This Kitchen Is For Dancing, which puts pedal steel over arpeggiated sequences and gently skipping house drums. Rattlesnake shakers and gospel handclaps. Gradually morphing into something less wild west and more west African. Juju hillbilly? Bristolian Jack Priest giving it an authentic `80s overhaul. Warmth Of The Sun in contrast is sleepily psychedelic. Like Nick Nicely chopped and screwed at a Tamezpam party. A slightly distorted shimmering wall of rimshots and treated guitar. Whiskey Pickle`s Adam Warped pitches the track up, into bit-mapped brass parping proto-house, packing it full of bird calls, crashing surf and stretching those strings into whale song. 

A similar mix of new age and house can be found on Joe Morris` Love Waves E.P. The title track floats celestial synths and gated angels over breaks and Kraftwerk-like beats. Shouts from ravers, homeboys, hippies and funki dreds off over somewhere in its distance. Mirador is a tribal-tinged jungle rumble of bongos and elastic, acidic bass, and Dance Mentality’s 303 further works that floor. Synthesized swells, aping ecstasy’s rush, flutes, soaring strings and party whistles. The Orange Test, on the other hand, collapses, blissed-out, beatific. 

joe morris love waves

More balearic beach house comes from Okinawa Delays, who team up with Max Essa, to launch new label Archipelago. Their lusty up-all-night Can`t Get No Sleep slipping between the sheets in both English and Japanese – bumping to `89 pianos – urged on by handclaps, bongos, and cowbell fills. A rhythm guitar on the off-beat like Chic doing reggae. Leo Mas and Fabrice`s Sol Levante remix backs a hypnotic singing ringing noise with rising and falling, constantly peaking, swells – reminding me a little of Mark Moore and William Orbit`s rework of Malcolm McLaren`s Deep In Vogue. A high-hat shuffling mid-tempo house express with pixelated pan-pipes for a whistle. Pete Herbert transforms the tune into popping, locking, timbale-rocking bal-electro. Synths ping-ponging between a buzzing bottom-end, razor sharp axe riff and puckered wah-wah keys. 

If you’re of a more cosmic bent, well Chicken Lips have partially reunited. Rogue Cat Dean Meredith and Emperor Machine Andrew Meecham conspiring to conceive the chunky kosmische khug of Goldenlips for Erol Alkan`s Phantasy Sound. The duo driving their bubbling bionic Buchla b-lined funky train in modular A Love From Outer Space mode and managing to reference disco, giallo scores, library music and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop along the way. DJ Sotofett turns in a snappier refix. 6 minutes of lo-fi freak funk. Atonal synths and broken beats – dancing to a hybrid of Prince`s Future and Andrew Ashong`s Flowers. Since I’ve mentioned ALFOS I should give a shout here to Craig Bratley – whose Magic Feet have repressed Liza Richardson`s remix of Femi Kuti’s Eh Oh – a top top tune that I first heard during Sean and Andrew`s Electric Elephant boat party in 2011. Wait for the horns.

On the reissue front the big comp this month is Strangelove`s Kiwi Animals:- Future/Primitive Aotearoa. A collection of 80s post-punk produced in label founder, Ben Stevens, homeland, New Zealand. It`s a varied selection of “avant pop” in the vein of Music From Memory`s Uneven Paths. Sampling wares from Auckland and Wellington in the north, and Christchurch, Dunedin, in the south. Rescuing songs released on labels such as Empty Heads, Fetus Productions, Flying Nun, Industrial Tapes, Propeller Records, and Xpressway. All the product of a freedom found in punk`s zeal and DIY ethic. 

Strangelove Kiwi Animals

Kim Blackburn sounds a little bit Nico, a little bit Deborah Evans-Stickland, reciting poetry to a backing of tropical wildlife and tribal kodo-like drumming. Both The Kiwi Animal and Headless Chickens employ Brion Gysin and William Burroughs cut-up technique of composition. Man & Woman Have Balance could be a Bontempi Richard Bone, while Throwback mixes buzzsaw axe with marimba. There are tone poems, electrified folk, barmy barber shop harmonies, and political slogans. Funk made of slapped bass, brass blasts and gyrating guitars. Piano-led slow numbers for stamping, stomping feet. Ballare`s Dancing could be Chris & Cosey do house. As a set it`s really more of a funky alternative than a balearic beat, but the exception might be Ludvigsson & Gash`s Thomas Dolby meets Man Jumping Uallang Jr. 

A smaller reissue is Peter & Patrick Jahn`s Abenteuer Überm Schrank on Growing Bin Records. An archival find made by Peter in `87 and remixed by his son, Patrick last year. Blowing a melodica-like melody, harmonica-like harmony, while boogie-ing through treacle. 

To close there are a couple of cool edit packages. The anonymous Jazz N Palms stirs up 6 tracks – the steel pans and fretless bass of Coastal Highway; the slide guitar and aquatic b-line of Chica; 1492, a tough latino scorcher; St. Martin’s galloping acoustic guitar acrobatics – Spanish shapes and flamenco frills. Strings Of Spring is Azimuth, if they had a violin player. Going East is a fair-shifting Hammond B3 mod-dancer, featuring what could well be – given the title – an electric shamisen. 

Nantes Abstracks crew – Vidock, Sophie and Julien – have been throwing parties for close to a decade. From intimate, private events to the 4-day Residanse Festival (the next one of these – everything crossed – is scheduled for September). Close associates of London’s Beauty & The Beat – Vidock`s Balek Band had a release on their label a little while back – they launched a vinyl off-shoot in 2018, and their third missive holds 4 edits. Assez` zouk-y, tropical meets latin boogaloo, Sahel`s emotive middle eastern reeds, rai vocal and guitar atmospherics, and Noz Tal`s afro-electro, are all perhaps topped by Touba. An uplifting mix of acoustic strum, African choir, bass rumble and woodwinds that truly gets its tribal thang on about mid-way through. 


Patrick Jahn – Abenteuer Überm Schrank – Growing Bin Records
Jazz N Palms – Strings Of Spring – Jazz N Palms
Abstrack – Assez (Vidock Edit) – Abstract
Femi Kuti – Eh Oh (Liza Richardson Remix) – Magic Feet
DJ Pippi & Willie Graff – Lunares – Leng
A Separate Reality – Hairy Dancer – Our Starry Universe
James Bright – Groves – Quattro Music
Anthonius – Manteca – Tokonoma Records
Abstrack – Touba (Vidock Edit) – Abstrack
Chicken Lips – Goldenlips (DJ Sotofett`s Golden Funk Mix) – Phantasy Sound
Okinawa Delays & Max Essa – I Can`t Sleep (Leo Mas & Fabrice Sol Levante Mix) – Archipelago 
Cole Odin – This Kitchen Is For Dancing (Jack Priest Remix) – Eclectics 
Fabrizio Esposito – Si Si Si – Parlesia Records
Ludvigsson & Gash – Uallang Jr – Strangelove Records
Joe Morris – Dance Mentality – Clandestino
Bruise – Grand Hi – Meda Fury
Man Power – Ravehawk! – Me Me Me
Anthonius – Tidiane – Tokonoma Records
Cantoma – Another Place – Highwood Recordings 

Reference Links

Nick Nicely
Chic doing Reggae
Deep In Vogue
Deborah Evans-Stickland
Richard Bone
Chris & Cosey
Thomas Dolby
Man Jumping
Electric Shamisen

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