To be honest, as the holiday season approaches, the brand new balearic beats appear to be a little thin on the ground. Pulling together the bits that I’ve found, there`s not quite enough to warrant a mix, but definitely some bonus belters you should be aware of….
Recorded on a field trip to Korea, specifically the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides North and South, Auntie Flo`s new E.P. contains two compositions, which both build upon a buddhist calm. Each employing the skills of local musicians and traditional instruments. Intertwining these with electronic dance-floor dynamics. On Peace Bells, a wistful woodwind, the daegeum – played by Seungmin Cha – weaves around the titular temple chimes. Intro-ing, leading the way for a leviathan bass-line – like a rumble from the bowels of our mistreated Mother Earth herself. In places the edges of the ancient bamboo flute blowing, clipped, like free-jazz reeds. Details dart around, trapping the listener inside the track. When I partook, my state was a little altered. Having been up all night and in dire need of sleep, my attention and imagination was ping-ponging everywhere. Flo then remixes Akimbo`s High Flight, which showcases Oh Yeon Gyeong, on gayageum – a 12 string zither. Picked, plucked and harp-like, Auntie blends its heavenly zing with bleeps and bongos.
Auntie Flo can also be found remixing JKriv & Peter Matson`s Ewesse Ye, taken from the pair’s Bigtime E.P. on Heist Recordings. With Cameroonian Samy Love on vocals, the original is acid house meets Africa, a full-on, unashamed Yeke Yeke Second Summer Of Love flashback. Its intent to transport you to 1988, and Nicky Holloway`s Trip, underlined by Dance With The Devil / De Testimony chimes. Just like Mory Kante`s anthem, it’ll have you arms loft, on a table top, singing along with diverse, ecstatic faces, in a language that you don’t understand. Auntie adds these weird, reverb-ed, congas, splashing, submerged, and kinda aquatic, a ringer for the percussion that powers Weatherall & Tenniswood`s Two Lone Swordsmen / Lino Squares house-ier sounds. While techno-tinged, his take actually introduces more of the song, and backing singers.
Italian quintet, Aura Safari, who in 2019 were responsible for a super in-demand eponymous LP, here team-up with Nigeria vocalist, Villy, to strut their afro-funk-y stuff. Hailing from Perugia, the music that they make takes influence from both the annual Umbria Jazz Festival and the legendary Red Zone nightclub. Lagos Connect is boogie, basically – harking after an `80s suburban soul boy / girl sound, at the more popular, danceable, end of fusion. Packing purple Prince-like guitar licks, and Vince Montana vibes runs. Villy, however, lends the track a much more balearic bent. With his input the results recall, say, Third World, Monyaka, Balearic Mike favourites, Willie Colon and Guy Cuevas. There’s a Reprise that comes on like an old Idjut Boys homage to FK`s disco dubs, with drums like Arthur Baker on the board for Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Big Love, and Too Much Blood. Another musical touchstone might be Rhythm Doctor Christopher Long’s marvelous deconstruction of Kabbala`s Ashewo Ara. The actual Dub Mix focuses on the b-line, of course, but also on the Wally Badarou-esque synths, while the vibraphone now steals the spotlight. Moving Rivers concludes the E.P. with more jazz-funk moves. Clean, and crisp, but also outer-spaced-out. Like Shep Pettibone, or Larry Levan, remixing Atmosfear.
Italy meets Brazil on Sony’s latin label, Orianna. Producer Ayala bonding with Sao Paulo-born singer, Abrão, for the imprint co-founded by Def Mix`s Hector Romero. A single, O Mestre Canoeiro, proceeds an E.P. now due next year. Its lyric telling the fable-like tale of a master canoeist, his trails navigating life’s treacherous tributaries. The music reminds me a little of that Matt Edwards remix of Argentinian saxophonist Daniel Melingo`s Narigon, that was a big balearic dance-floor hit a few years back. A drama evolving from looped acoustic strum, where bongos and congas shadow a forceful 4 / 4. Electric percussion shaking like thunder, a storm approaching. Joined by carnival whistles, cuica squeaking, with Abrão`s vocals try to imagine Jose Gonzales gone house.
London-based Rhythm Section International alumni, Co-Select resident, and Third Place imprint founder, Will Hofbauer serves up the 5-track Softsssss E.P. for French label, Turbo Guidance. Be More hangs handclaps and bleeps on a choppy 4 / 4. Boasts bass like a big sucker punch, straight to the gut. Congas, clipped and trippy. Also, Sponge is a rave ritual of hand drum percussion. A late night / early morning meditative tribal mover. Morning Dip also percolates. As Cal is apt to say, “It`s a deep dive”, through sampled surf, birds, and a whistling pan-pipe-like melody. Exuding a warmth that’d lend itself to a sundown / twilight set. A rumble in a tropical jungle. Spacehopper Dub skanks, suitably stripped back. Within it, tiny twists of sound are made explosive, captured in cavernous echo. The digital bonus, Tumble, is the same, only more so. Brilliant “dub house disco”, a super stoned mix of JA Nyabinghi and Chicago jack, like that pioneered by Brum`s Groove Corporation and Original Rockers.
Much like Hell Yeah! Florence-based Archeo Recordings is becoming something of a bastion for homegrown balearic heroes. Nurturing a roster of Italian talent, names such as Hear & Now and Leo Mas & Fabrice, calling on this pool to remix the dusty cosmic treasures that they uncover – themselves, again, more often than not, homegrown. Following on from the recent reissue of Tonica & Dominante`s two late `70s singles, Archeo now go with what I think for the label may be a first – a 12 of brand new music. Mushrooms Project team up with singer / songwriter Sara Loreni, for three reworks of her track, Neve A Maggio. Their Disco Maxi Mix opens with Sara`s echoed ethereal exclamations, before the duo construct a boogie-tempo`d balearic chugger from tumbling tribal drums and nagging, jagged synths. The Rave Mix is more pumped, and magnificently moody – an irresistible, trance-y instrumental / dub translation, that never completely loses sight of its pop roots. The Balearic Version then swaps the synthesizers for Leo Almunia`s ace acoustic and electric guitars, the electronics for bongos and a harmonica, the hooligans on ecstasy “Monkey Drum mooch” for an introspective sunset shuffle. Far, far mellower, it peaks with bursts of Steve Hillage-esque 6-string “whale song”. A fourth, 4 / 4-ed re-jig comes care of my old amigo, Ale Pasini, aka Deep88, who delivers a stripped back take that relies on deceptively tricky drum programming. Ticking, tocking, clicking, popping, stopping and starting, without ever sacrificing its smooth late night groove. Teasing with just a touch of vibes.
Melbourne-based Mike Katz, aka Harvey Sutherland, has a new single out, Jouissance. Its title, cribbed from his psychotherapy sessions, translates as a kind of “obsessional energy”. The music is something he describes as ‘neurotic funk’ – a rude, raw, wah-wahed riff on motorik. Think punk-jazzers Red Snapper / Number revving up at a drum and bass tempo, carrying on at quite a rhythmic clip. Propulsive and grungy, but countered by sweet West Coast harmonies. Effectively a showcase for a multitude of analogue and modular machine voices, these competing keys constantly climbing toward a kosmische peak. Adrian Sherwood steps in for the remix and slows things right down, switching the dance, alternating back and forth, between half and double time. Turning in a typically brain-shredding sequence of big, big, bass-line wobble, rimshot ricochet, racing high-hats, and purring percolations – topped off with spiritual, shakuhachi-like, woodwind sighs. On the way, Sutherland`s synths get locked in delay. Forming a feedback loop that ultimately results in a full (nervous) breakdown, a psychedelic episode, before the ON-U main man launches an all out, attack and drum finale.
UNKLE`s If We Don’t Make It is a hedonistic head-fuck of the first order, a beefed-up bump `n` hustle forged from filtered, soaring, Philly, string loops, and an impassioned soulful vocal. Strutting its super high, funky, Blaxploitation stuff across 110th Street in what amounts to a relentless, unabashed, ecstatic rush – a sing along, nay, scream along, love song. DJ Nature comes in and discreetly calms the cathartic chaos to a cool, chunky, 105 BPM, chug. Using gospel handclaps to ground would be rave bleeps, and other added electronic attributes (A Guy Called Gerald`s “woodblocks”?), more usually associated with straight up house – which this ain`t. While the OG was / is an admittedly satisfying fully clothed “quickie”, Nature’s all about the foreplay. Extending the mating “ceremony” into a sweaty, slo-mo, sinewy, sensual, tantric workout.