Paraphrasing the Soul Sonic Force and sorting through today`s releases for tunes that could have graced Alfie & Leo`s Amnesia dance-floor…
During 2021, despite hold-ups, delays and on-going general uncertainty, so many new Balearic Beats got released that it`s really hard to know where to start a round up. Over the 12 months I ranted and raved about something like 160 tunes, so for a more comprehensive run down, please check those posts.
What I did here was pick a “few” favourites and tried to bash them together to make an end of year mix. There was so much good stuff knocking about that I actually ended up with two. Below are the hyperlinked track-lists, and a few words on a “handful” of personal highlights, knocked out while I polish off what’s left of the egg-nog.
Track-list / Take 1
Time Capsule tore off another terrific year, everything they do remains essential. Two tracks in particular I think will prove to be priceless, Mario Rui Silva`s Kazum Zum Zum, and Kuniyuki Takahashi`s remix of Gratien Midonet`s Osana.
Saidera – Sinc Ronicicade – Rush Hour
Both sides of this Brazilian Rush Hour 7 are brilliant. I’m also a big fan of One On One Crew`s Give It Up / Bassin`, Bang The Party / Warriors Dance-like business unarchived from the late `80s by new off-shoot, Resound.
Lex – The Jamail Pass – Leng
Leng and sibling, Claremont 56, did a lot in 2021, putting out some super produced proper pop from Jpye – that deserved to crossover – but Lex (From Athens)`s The Jamail Pass, for me was the out and out dancer.
Rap made a serious balearic comeback, first in the shape of Revival Season`s Iron Warrior, on Heavenly recordings, quickly followed by two releases on Jo Wallace`s Ramrock Red that showcased the lyrical skills of the conscious Kameelah Waheed, and the party-hungry Active Ingredients.
Founder of Osaka’s Make Dub label and parties, Akio Nagase, took traditional samples from across South East Asia and set them jumping to both fast and slow TB-303 workouts.
As a friend on the fringes of the Mind Fair family and crew, I guess I’m biased, but there`s a quirky edge to everything they do. A little bit eccentric, and certainly for the “heads”, but always firmly rooted on the dance-floor – like these bonkers bouncing covers of cosmic collectable, That Thing`s That Thing. Watch out for the outstanding Orbs Of Light in 2022.
There were three remixes on this cracking Khruangbin collection, all of which are uber balearic in my book. My sombrero is duly doffed in the direction of Ron Trent, Ray Mang, Felix Dickinson, and Bill Brewster.
Heart Sphere – Emergency Relief (Piano Mix) – Basic Spirit
Totally authentic mid-tempo`d kinda introspective italo meets new beat meets balearic meets OG Goan “trance” – produced by the apparently perfect studio partnership of Tornado Wallace and Jamie Tiller. Every time this comes on, anonymously, on a “mixtape” while I’m “touring” in the car, I think “What the fuck is this?”, because it sounds old – classic like Piano Fantasia, Piano Now, or Andy On The Eve – but it ain`t, it`s brand new.
Top, top, tribute to Andrew Weatherall, from Manchester’s punk-funk survivors, A Certain Ratio, who might – over 40 years on – actually be at their creative peak. A shout also needs to go out to Number, whose remix of ACR`s Taxi Guy, is another damn fine tune.
Tempo Feliz – Respirar (Sibson Remix) – HBPC
Mover and shaker – I think he now fronts, sings with, a band – 45Turns / Elevator East’s Mikey Sibson transforms Leeds jazz collective Tempo Feliz into marvelous machine-assisted afrobeat. Last I heard there`s an album on the way. Can’t wait.
Fontaines DC – A Hero`s Death (Soulwax Remix) – White
Soulwax turn Fontaines DC`s dynamite indie-rock anti-The Man, anti-day-to-day grind, rap into a life-affirming anthem. Positive messages that call for inclusion and individuality are what Balearic`s always been all about. See also Turbotito`s wonderful rework of Woolfy`s Shooting Stars.
Sara Loreni / Neve A Maggio / Archeo Recordings
Italy’s Archeo Recordings were another imprint that had a stellar 2021. Enlisting assistance from fellow countrymen – Leo Almunia, Leo Mas, Fabrice, Hear & Now, and Mushrooms Project – to make sure that Sara Loreni`s Neve A Maggio and Tonica & Dominante`s Gennarino O`Sioux were bona fide balearic beats of the year.
Staying, for a second, in “the beautiful country”, il Bel Paese, the rebooted Nu Genea`s magnificent Marechia was a 7 so in demand that “even I” don’t have a copy, while Hell Yeah! dropped a definite balearic boogie bomb, from Aura Safari, in the shape of Lagos Connect.
James Bright was busy, releasing E.P.s on Sveva and Eclectics – moving away from his former chilled Cafe Del Mar-worthy moments, toward an acidic chug. Likewise Sean Johnston didn’t seem to stop. His collaboration with Cal Gibson`s Secret Soul Society, Yo, We’ve Landed, was something that I think most folks slept on, while working with Duncan “Monkton” Gray, his downtown disco dub of Psychederek`s Screamadereka – quite rightly – shot out of shops. One of my favourites from these balearic militant brothers in arms, though, was Sean`s brilliant “Breaks, Bleeps & The Beloved” rebuild of James` Suburbia.
Full Circle – Out Hear – Good Morning Tapes
I know this is old news, but it got a repress, and I finally scored a copy. Thank you Ranamusic.
Justin Deighton & Leo Zero – Time (Pete Herbert Remix) – 7s Clash
The Two Tribes Brewery chaps – Justin Deighton, Leo “Zero” Estlob, and Pete Herbert – need a special mention. Not only did they start a label – with a series of smart 7s, but also through conversations they turned me on to an eclectic range of tunes – from John Lennon, to The Brian Jones Town Massacre, to The Monkees` beautiful, Me & Magdelena, that I`d now find it hard to live without. They also shipped a crate of bespoke boutique ale all the way to Japan – which blew both mine and the postman’s minds.
The New Age Orchestra – La Llegada de Los Tambores (Pt. 2) – Music For Dreams
Kenneth Bager dusted off one of his earliest productions for a 2021 RSD release. Not only did the 12 contain the sought after paradiso porn house of Let`s Dream Together – but the track was expanded into a 5-piece suite, with the latin -edged La Llegada de Los Tambores (Pt. 2) being my pick of the bunch.
Other key “balearic” reissues for me were the DJ-Harvey-at-Pike`s-Hotel-hammered quality camp flamenco of El Turronero`s Las Penas, on NuNorthern Soul, Matsuna`s 45 pressing of Black Heat`s Wanaoh, and Mysticisms` AA-sided archival Afrobuddha 12. There was also Into The Deep Treasury`s excellent Riddim Poetry comp.
JKriv & Peter Matson – Ewesse Ye – Heist Recordings
Brooklynites Razor N Tape`s JKriv and Underground System`s Peter Maston, teamed up with singer Samy Love to channel the irresistible OG afro acid house vibes of Mory Kante`s Yeke Yeke for Dutch institution, Heist.
Hugo Nicolson made a bold / triumphant dance-floor return, stepping away from his soundtrack work to release both an E.P., Lost & Found, and remix Rude Audio`s Railton Road. Both were defiantly uptempo, and characteristically unique, sensory overload twists on rave.
One On One Crew – Give It Up (Piano Mix) – Resound
Track-list / Take 2
Black Heat – Wanaoh
Saidera – Deixa Tudo Fluir
El Turronero – Las Penas
Nu Genea – Marechia
Aura Safari – Lagos Connect
Active Ingredients – Blow The House Down
Khruangbin & Ron Trent – Shida (Bella Suite)
Ruf Dug partnered with Lovescene for a single on Wolf Music that straddled classic house, jazz, and soul. A proper song with lyrics, and drum machines popping, all latin, like T-Coy`s Carino reborn.
Dilip “Demus” Harris fed Str4ta`s already dynamite jazz funk through the echo chamber. The results, very, very much like Atmosfear well and truly ruffed up. Charging its way to a rendezvous with dance-floor in outer space like King Tubby shredding The Skatalites.
Ten-piece Melbourne soul-jazzers, 30/70, returned to Rhythm Section International with a smashing original, and package of pukka remixes. To be honest, I loved all of them, and am a big fan of Chaos In The CBD`s more electro-tinged outings, but Tornado Wallace`s take on loved-up 90s Italian house turned out to be the best fit here.