Looking For The Balearic Beat / December 2020

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

Ten balearic beats to round off this f#$!?ing year. Times continue to be testing, but the music remains strong. December’s selection beginning with a suitably moody slice of mid-90s Mancunian Balearia, revived by Piers Harrison’s London imprint, Mysticisms. Self-released in 1993 on a now super sought-after white-label B:Dum B:Dum Sound`s Istanbul starts with dialogue sampled from Alan Parker`s Midnight Express. The perils of being a drug mule perhaps not the first choice for a dance floor “anthem” if off your face, but the tune was championed by the likes of Aficionado gurus, Moonboots, and Balearic Mike – who put it on their equally in-demand 2008 Originals Claremont 56 compilation. The Buzzcocks-referencing production trio of Jamie Crossley, Steve Gears, and Karl McGinley set zither and electric Tuareg psyche / blues to a digital steppers skank, while the soaring string motif recalls Jhalib`s Mysteries Of The East or Fabi Paras` Soundclash Republic remake (a tune I coincidently heard Piers and fellow Soft Rock-er Chris Galloway play at Club Air, the last time they were in Tokyo). The new limited dubplate also features a quartet of unreleased tracks, the available taster of which – Stateless – is a quality dose of big room dub techno. 

Another recent, and essential, reissue featuring Anatolian / Arabic strings comes from Corporation Of One – an alias of the legendary many-monikered Bronx DJ, Freddy Bastone. Learning his trade at Danceteria, alongside Mark Kamins – the man responsible for not only Madonna but also remixing / reinventing Ofra Haza and signing the Rai of N`Sel Fik to Factory, not to mention the ambitious Sheik Fawaz / United House Nations project. It`s perhaps no surprise then that there`s an “Eastern” edge to the Hashish Dub of Bastone`s So Where Are You? Originally released in 1989 on Smokin` – the house off-shoot of Aaron Fuch`s old school hip-hop institution, Tuff City, in amongst the slamming snares and rave riffs it boasts edits by Omar Santana and b-boy Kool Herc “merry-go-round” breaks that double for furious freestyle timbales, plus the additional bonus of Freddy cutting up E2-E4 like the Latin Rascals on MDMA. 

Also leaning toward the East is Leonidas & Hobbes` Aranath. The tune`s title a reference to the ancient Indian religion of Jain Dharma – taking its name from a spiritual teacher – and the melody supplied by the sitar-like strains of multi-instrumentalist Riad Abji`s tanpura. 

Jumping continents to South America, Leo Mas & Farbice`s remix of Brazilian Trip by Federico Grazziottin, aka Torino`s DJ Fede, is a real rumble in the jungle. Out digitally on Irma, its boisterous live bass-line cutting a path for cowbell, clipped guitar shards and spiraling introspective synth swells. Singer Silvia Donati`s seductive shouts and cries accompanied by a haunting, half-heard, woodwind-like refrain. 

Brazil of course owes her rhythms to Africa, and the influence of “the centre of the world” is also evident on Ron Trent`s epic rework of The Robinson`s Burnout, featured on a 4-track 12 for Bristol`s Futureboogie. In addition, Kenny Dope`s remix of Sun Palace`s Rude Movements – on a limited BBE 7 – transforms the original`s ultra-fluid Loft / Balearic drum-machined  sound by shoring it to a super afrobeat shuffle. On the flip of that 45 you’ll find Moodymann`s answer – lush with added woodwind, sax and piano – which if pitched down a little makes the perfect soundtrack for a sunset chocolate milk & brandy. 

From an idealised end-of-the-day landscape to Babylonian Beaches – where the Nordic Michael Son Of Michael is remixed by Rude Audio. Tethering seabirds to a tight electro beat – its forceful machined nature balanced by pretty Kraftwerk-ian pop chimes. A sheen of enchanted sirens` whispers offsetting the assembled arpeggios. The results far less “klarting” than Rude Audio`s usual output – the project more commonly found mixing up breaks and trance lasers, and transporting 40+ persons of a particular persuasion back to Sabresonic and Happy Jax.

Also dancing `midst alternative waves and breakers are Phantom Island`s Windsurfer – who’s 4 downtempo originals – plus one Kejeblos remix – all ride on 808 boom and rattle. Pairing the “pop” sensibility of 4AD – the Cocteau`s glacial guitars, AR Kane`s shoegaze shimmer – with a Miami Bass bang, crash, ping and pop. That remix is the most propulsive moment – bolstered by garage / jazz chords, while It`s A Sony is a slo-mo moonwalk. A wonky, romantic, off-centre lop-sided love theme. We Dream As We Live is a slice of subdued, tabla-touched, fragile clockwork kosmische. 

Windsurfer - The Gone Village

Steve Miller’s new Afterlife E.P., Resistance, on Subatomic turns up twice. The alien organ grind of Antifearance chugging near the beginning, and the Hardway Bros Transmat Dub wiggin` away – authentically – toward the close. 

For a finale I’m cheating a little  because Mind Fair`s cover of 1977 Cosmic “hit”, That Thing isn’t in the shops. The first time I heard the OG of this, was when Mark Seven had it sequenced between Mon Dino and Nacht Und Nebel, on his own seminal Baldelli tribute, a mix entitled, Slow Blow. That was in 2004, when its funky, chunky chug of bongos, whistles, sleigh bells and sound-effects, made it a synch for a balearic beat crossover. The updated package, for Rogue Cat Sounds – including remixes by Eric Duncan and Fabrizio Mammerella – is all ready to go – but the release date as yet unconfirmed. Every one`s a winner, baby…. 

Mix to follow care of my friends at Hamon Radio…..

Track-list
B:Dum B:Dum Sound – Istanbul – Mysticisms
Michael Son Of Michael – Babylonian Beaches (Rude Audio Remix) – The Fearless Few
Mind Fair – That Thing (Fabrizio`s Dub Mix) – Rogue Cat Sound
Afterlife – Antifearance – Subatomic
Windsurfer – The Waves (Kejeblos Remix) – Phantom Island
Corporation Of One – So Where Are You (Hashish Dub) – Smokin
Afterlife – Resistance (Hardway Bros Transmat Dub) – Subatomic
DJ Fede & Silvia Donati – Brazilian Trip (Leo Mas & Fabrice Remix) – Irma
The Robinson – Burnout (Ron Trent Remix) – Futureboogie
Leonidas & Hobbes – Aranath – Hobbes Music
Sun Palace – Rude Movements (Kenny Dope Remix) – BBE

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