Looking For The Balearic Beat / May 2021

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

If you like your balearic beats dark and dubby there’s been a fair amount to choose from this month. Everyone I know has been quite rightly raving, for starters, about Craig Bratley`s collaboration with Amy Douglas. Their No In Between is a buzzing bit of downtempo electro sleaze that benefits from a bold, proper, lyric, and Amy`s beautifully, blues-y, delivery. A bleep-y piece of balearic soul that bears comparison to classics by Eve Gallagher, Fiona Franklyn, and Anna’s Systems Breaking Down. The Ashigaru Dub is perhaps even more ace, adding an enormous digi dancehall b-line. Bongos bashing while Craig expertly drenches every detail in echo and delay. Referencing Mad Professor big time, but also The Beloved gone ragga. The Qrates for this is unfortunately closed, but the files can be purchased from Magic Feet. 

James Bright`s Raise, forthcoming on Sveva Music, sticks with the bass-heavy street soul, again with an obsidian, almost gothic, edge. Squaring off with singer / songwriter Zoe Devlin Love, the results are like Portishead meets Bomb The Bass. The acid house of The Beatmasters & P.P. Arnold`s Burn It Up slowed to a crawl. Pete Herbert gives the song a firm shake, drags it out of the strobed shadows, and into disco mirror-balled lights. Zoe`s ethereal sighs now moving to a marimba, late `80s Italian keys, and just a touch of Taja Seville`s timbales. A dub from Pete further boosts the bass squelch. James` long-standing studio collaborator, Steve Miller, then assumes his Afterlife alias to supply a syncopated sunset shuffle, suffused with a laidback Acid Jazz vibe. 

james bright zoe Devlin Art

Nina Walsh`s Woodleigh Research Facility released a fresh 3-track E.P. earlier in the month, under the title, Vernal Invocation. Salacia – named after the Roman sea goddess, queen of the tides, Neptune’s bride – is a machined, slightly melancholic, late night dub – a meditation of boom, with industrial ricochets crashing and clanking as its theme is picked and plucked from low slung bass strings. The other 2 cuts, however were, for sure, created for dancing. The snares of Lex Talionis – latin for retaliation, “an eye for an eye” – snap out taut time on this piece of Chris & Cosey-esque synth pop – which also reminded me of Depeche Mode, `cept subverted by some sinister slithering. Alcyone – in this case a reference to the feted Greek goddess, transformed into a kingfisher, a “halcyon bird” – is a mid-tempo percussive work-out. The added congas softening the novo new beat a smidgen – with what sounds like elephants trumpeting in amongst the assorted soundsystem soundclash soundeffects. Toward the end, the tune hits a tight stop-start section that recalls Andrew Weatherall`s mighty The Moton 5. 

Margee`s In My Sleep, on London label, Other Goodness – the sometime home of Bawrut, is another dance-floor expedition into sub-worrying bass. The bottom-end bending beneath thunder crack drums, steely cinematic Sci-Fi synths, feedback squalls, and bursts of backwards melody. DJ Nature hangs the track on a handclap loop, and takes the tempo up a tad. Packing the piece with psychoactive subliminals. I can human harmonies in there somewhere, I swear. The muted keys converging in a 4 x 4`d kosmische climax. The more balearic Wrong Dream boasts bongos and live drums, temple bells and rumbling rave roars. Skillful keyboard squiggles topping off the strident stomp. Hardway Bros` Cosmic Intervention elevates the bass to all-encompassing levels – trapping elements of the OG, ringing, within. Banishing the bongos, in favour of bottled lightning. Clipped kalimba, distorted psychedelic sanza, riding a kick like a monstrous metronome tick. Washed by tides of trippy dystopian strings, with surviving Swordsman Keith Tenniswood marvelously mastering everything. 

My Friend Dario`s Desertico, coming care of Hell Yeah!, featured on Hardway Bros` Sean Johnston`s latest edition of the ALFOS Emergency Broadcast Service, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the tune was built with this specific transmission in mind. The drone-driven epic eschewing MFD`s usual sun-worshiping for occult oscillations and a broken breakbeat, tremolo`d twang and backward spinning bits. Fizzing with considerable trance tension and frisson. This is flipped, however, with Sunset Outro, which redresses the balance a little, since while it still marches with military precision, it does so submerged in soft-focus synths. Distress signal detonations and feedback frequencies interrupting its arpeggiated chug. 

HYR7233 A_webinfocover

Leeds-based label, Paisley Dark Records, have recently recruited the significant skills of Swedish producer, Jesse Fahnestock – who works under the alias of 10:40. Jesse’s turned in stunning dub reworks of both The Beta Band and Spacemen 3. The latter, especially, is a gift of gated greatness. An extended ecstasy symphony. A super, hugely, hypnotic, Slowdive-like exploration of sedate dub, inner, space – balearic bongos giving it stoned, baggy, beat. Reminiscent of Kris “Thrash” Weston`s righteous requiem for a floating leaf as it reaches the sea. A big thank you to Darren Bell of Sunday Dub Club Hub for the heads up. 

Alterleo`s Jeirach, for Brighton`s Higher Love Recordings  is a dance of downtempo tribal trance. Inspired the Caucasus Mountains that run from “Leo`s” homeland of Russia to Azerbaijan, between the Black and Caspian Seas, the track taps into the range`s rich history as part of the ancient Silk Road trading route – musing on the Middle Eastern promises of Turkey – to the west, and Iran – to the south. Sampled, stuttered sirens leading the way through a musical maze of marauding bass menace and 303 threat. The main mix is coupled with the considerably more chilled The Call Dub – which summons and centres its chakra around the percussion and some plaintive reed playing – inhabiting an afro / balearic / cosmic interface. Imprint owners, Balearic Ultras, then step in for a euphoric breakbeat take. 

Alterleo Jeirach

If you do like it dubbed out and chunky then you should also check Danish producer Dub Across Borders` Spirit Dimension E.P. on musical boundary bending German reggae and dub imprint, Basscomesaveme. His See That Spirit in particular frugs with an asymmetric funk. Random reverb outbursts rocking its mutant, mutating groove, in a manner that had me pitching down that Leisure Connection track that Peaking Lights` Aaron Coyes put out a while back. Whatever the OG was, it`s thoroughly fragmented. Heavy, like something off of Leeds` old Soundclash label, with legendary Leipzig institution Alphacut looking after the mastering and sizable sub pressure levels. 

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

Track-list
Craig Bratley & Amy Douglas – No In Between – Magic Feet
James Bright & Zoe Devlin Love – Raise – Sveva Music
Good Block – Mondo – Orange Tree Edits
Beta Band – Inner Meet Me (Jesse Fahnestock 10:40 Dub) – Paisley Dark
Margee – Wrong Dream (Hardway Bros Cosmic Intervention Dub) – Other Goodness
Alterleo – Jeirach – Higher Love Recordings
Statues – Rotunda (Gold Suite Remix) – Eclectics
Expositions – Pour Yourself A Drink – Balearic Social
Andres Vegas & Rai Guta – La Isla Blanca – Apersonal
Tempo Feliz – Respirar (Sibson Remix) – HBPC
El Turronero – Las Penas – NuNorthern Soul
Faze Action – Rewendo – Faze Action Records
Trujillo – Brothers Groove – Apersonal
Parkwerks – Hope Dub – Parkway Records
Vendetta Suite – Purple Haze, Yellow Sunrise – Hell Yeah!
Joe Morris – Mind Pallette – Shades Of Sound
Sasha – Key To Heaven – Re:Birth
Parkwerks – Freedom Dub – Parkway Records

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