Looking For The Balearic Beat / February 2021 / Part 1

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

To open there’s the cracking Kagabas – French producer Lion`s Drums collaboration with the indigenous people of Columbia’s Sierra Nevada. With logging corporations threatening their home and 5, 000 years of culture and tradition, the record aims to raise funds and awareness for their ecological plight. The album`s an ambient affair really, but Snake bumps along to an organic mutation of that infamous “balearic chug”. 

Lions Drums Kagabas

Willie Graff & Tuccillo have a 4 track E.P. released on Hell Yeah! – entitled New Dreams. Its rhythms ranging from the mid-tempo italo-disco of Crystal Ball to the sparse slo-mo electronics of Tic Tac – an analogue bubblebath, soft-synth hot spring, of echoed chants and funky guitar. A lot of people have already picked up on the house-ier, The moment – everyone I guess desperate for a dance. With a latin lick to its finger snap and click, its based around hypnotic hang drum-like patterns that cycle in and out of the near, middle and far distance. An aural illusion – seemingly unchanging, while at the same time seemingly constantly changing. At the other end of the sonic spectrum is Gliding, which Willie describes as “balearic street soul”. Suggestive of summer breezes it`s a winter warmer of Wally Badarou tropics woven about a totally Soul II Soul / Nellee Hooper-esque beat. 

Norway`s Third Attempt – part of Tromsø`s Beat Service Records family – promos his forthcoming long-player Beats From The Quarantine, with the single, Missing Feelings – a sexy, slinky groove built on a live bass-line. Funky organ flashes filter through dub-wise details while a sultry sax takes centre stage. Not so much Soul II Soul as Acid Jazz – sonically similar say to Coldcut remixing Izit, or Rose Windross` anthemic Living Life Your Own Way. 

Max Essa has a remix package out on his imprint, Jansen Jardin. The mysterious Minus Yogis overhaul Black Market Launderette (a Breaking Bad reference?) – extending the cosmic disco canon with a rework that’s part soft rock and part `80s Italian dance-floor pop. Its synthesized hush harboring an ace aching guitar. DJ Shikisai – of Tokyo`s Diesel Disco Club – has last summer’s Rembrandt Cowboy ride to a more uptempo, gallop. Less of the yacht and more house – bucking a classic late `80s / early `90s b-line.

Black Market Launderette - The Cowboy Rembrandt

I slotted in a couple of 45s from Two Tribes Brewery’s 7s Clash project. Humans is a poetry-packing piece of mid-tempo uplifting bleep, while Orange Chika is a pitched-down arms-in-the-air Italian house homage – both tuneful tickets to a well-earned summer holiday in your head. 

two tribes 7s Clash cover image


Richard Sen revived his Coma tag for Klasse Wrecks` Graffiti Tapes – unleashing a triad of dark disco-not-disco devils, where Night Train To Cairo sprinkles Indian and Middle Eastern spices over an electro Africa / Asia express. 

Olefonken`s Sun City, on Snorkel Records, gets one of many, many plays. Since reviewing this brilliant bite of balearic boogie I’ve received a load of emails, asking if I (?) can find wanting folks a copy. I’m not sure Snorkel if are into represses. I`ll have to ask. 

The first of a trio of releases touched by the hand of Faze Action`s Robin Lee comes from Bali-based Liverpudlian Joey Fitzgerald aka Gold Suite. Joey`s debut, Hideaway, is a 5-track E.P., where everything is graced by his great guitar playing. Whether that’s the folk picking of Heatstroke – where his 6-strings dodge tribal tom toms and then sync and synergise with laser blasts and 303 fractals – or the damn fine fuzzed shapes of the title track. A sympathetic strum accompanies the Compass Point vibes of Parasol. A clipped funk chopped out to the bass growl of Vanity. Keys conjure Wally Badarou`s Synclavier sunshine grooves – mixing marimba and steel pan tones – and Harrold Faltermyer`s Alex F theme. Robin was responsible for the marvelous mastering. 

Gold Suite Hideaway

Donning his Rudy’s Midnight Machine guise, Mr. Lee, delivers a duo of dynamite remixes for Cantoma and Residentes Balearicos. Robin turns the former`s A Night At Apres Midi into a Brazilian-flavoured Euro boogie – kinda Rio via Milan. With horns leading the charge, plus a cute keyboard solo. This is paired with a rework by Dune People – aka Richard Adlam – who builds a genius almost beatless take, layering brass and piano, and latin syncopation reduced to just rimshots. A big fusion influence ringing in its detail and backwards electric guitar arcs. For those Residentes Balearicos – Luca Averna and Ale Doretto – Robin drives La Musica in a more disco direction for Japanese label, Archipelago. The original mix is pitched somewhere between the classic UK bass / techno of Ability II`s Pressure and the FPI Project`s unbridled house euphoria – synths making a sitar-like buzz and the bottom-end a hypnotic snake-charming hum. Robin though adds a new, live, Bernard Edwards-esque bass-line, and there’s a sort of Spanish, flamenco feel to the counterpoint, the energy, between that and the keys. In the background he rocks some gnarly axe action. A second rework, this time from Chris Cocoputs more of swing on the drums, and leads the track`s femme fatale whispers through fancy Fairlight formations as he heads more toward a straight-forward Italian destination.

Apres_midi_web-01 (2)

Luca also teams up with Chris for an ear-catching E.P. out on Eclectics. Oh! is a piece of racing kosmische – rumbling arpeggios punctuated by exclamations that give the track its title. James Bright steps up and interrupts its race – dissecting the drama with a live sounding broken funk battery. There Is No Planet B is out in Orb-like orbit – with slowed down signals from Tranquility Base beamed in and over an insistent kick, high hat hiss and nagging skanking refrain. Remixes in this case coming care of The Veteran Delinquents (Craig Christon & Tim Hutton) and Poland`s Jazxing. Respectively transforming the tune into plaintive piano-led electro and a mid-tempo fretwork-flecked throb and chug. 

On the reissue front Groovin Recordings have kindly done another repress of stone cold classics – absolute must-haves – from Don Carlos and Linda DiFranco. Honestly everyone needs Alone, My Boss, and TV scene in their collections – all are era defining tunes – and if your OGs – like mine – are well battered now`s the chance to score some clean fresh 12s.

Far more obscure, archival gems come care of Mixed Signals` hook up with late 80s / early 90s New York label Thom / Tay. Plus Basso has raided his own personal shelf in the Growing Bin to bring you the label`s first compilation, Lucky Are Those Who Hear The Birds Sing – which contains, amongst other impossible to find elsewhere treasure, Hugh Mane`s outstanding, essential, Out In The Ether. 

Reference Links coming later….fingers crossed, tonight……

Lion`s Drums – Snake – Self-Released
Willie Graff & Tuccillo – Gliding – Hell Yeah!
Third Attempt – Missing Feeling – Beat Service
Shelly Pearse – If You Want My Love (House Mix) – Mixed Signals
Hugh Mane – Out In The Ether – Growing Bin
Max Essa – Black Market Launderette (Remix) – Jansen Jardin
Justin Deighton & Leo Zero – Humans – 7s Clash
Gold Suite – Heatstroke – Self-released
Luca Averna & Chris Coco – There Is No Planet B – Eclectics
Cantoma – A Night At Apres Midi (Rudy`s Midnight Machine Remix) – Highwood Recordings
Coma – Night Train To Cairo – Klasse Wrecks / Graffiti Tapes
Olefonken – Sun City – Snorkel
Residentes Balearicos – La Musica (Rudy`s Midnight Machine Remix) – Archipelago
Justin Deighton & Leo Zero – Orange Chika – 7s Clash
Don Carlos – Alone – Groovin Recordings

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