Looking For The Balearic Beat / November 2022

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

AMBIENT7 –  EXCERPTS FROM 1995-2000 – RE:DISCOVERY

Ambient 7 Art

Re:Discovery have cherry-picked Ambient7`s 3 CDs for a fine 5-track vinyl E.P. The work of saxophonist Chica Asamoto, together with keyboard players, Masayuki Momo and Shuichi Ikebuchi on synths, this is a set of super sunset grooves that shimmy somewhere between the chilled electronics of Software, and the mellow uber Balearic European pop of Mike Francis. With the chunky beats of an Orb / “ambient house” record and metallic marimba / hang drum chimes, Chica-san`s sax makes sure that everything has a great, warm, human feel. The beatless Epilogue could be an outtake from the score for an `80s arthouse flick, something by Eric Serra, or Gabriel Yared. 

BRUISE – BRASS TACKS / DASSY SLIDE – FOUNDATION MUSIC

bruise Brass Tacks

Christian Campbell brings his Bruise project back to the Foundation Music fold with a new track, Brass Tacks. Boasting a beat like a broken batucada, tied to a punchy, pounding 4 / 4, it`s a Latin-licked carnival, where the bashing is bolstered by the titular brass blasts. This might sound crazy, but when the tune breaks down its layers overlap in constantly climbing counterpoint that`s almost classical. The end results are a bit like the mid-90s dance-floor madness of Junior Boys Own and X-Press 2 beefed, jacked, up. Dassy Slide on the other hand is a steamy, sexy, downtempo bashment grind – driven by a Miami bass-esque, TR-808-like tick, and terrific boom – and seemingly tailoring, and taming, the wilder more inventive moments of UKG into R&B shapes. Slightly more sophisticated, perhaps, its on-the-surface simplicity is merely a cover. “Knocked together” from nagging guitar and vocal loops, even before the jazzy sax hits you know you’re onto something classy. Both, I`ll bet, are set to be huge.

CHUCK BYNUM – ITS YOU – NICE CHOICE RECORDS

CHUCK BYNUM

Chuck Bynum’s It’s You is a forgotten “unclassic”, and a big, big find from Stephen Chin, founder of L.A.`s Nice Choice Records. Originally released in 1980, and co-produced by Natalie Cole, the 45 was the first fruit of sessions for Chuck’s intended debut album. However, the LP was canned when his life took an abrupt downward turn, and Chuck, instead, spent the next 18 years in prison. Currently writing his story, the stuff that Chuck has shared so far is, in part, an indictment of a US penal system that by now everyone must know is severely flawed. Focusing on the music, presented in a previously unreleased extended edit, the song is a slice of glorious, uplifting soul – grooving on Stevie Wonder’s funky Superstition clavinet, while pushing positivity – love and friendship – like early Sly & The Family Stone. Packed with party whistles blowing. Strong enough to crossover to several discerning circles, it’s sure fire fuel for magical end-of-the-night moments and Balearic backroom group hugs.

CHIARA CIVELLO – SONO COME SONO – FOUR FLIES

CHIARA CIVELLO - SONO COME SONO - FOUR FLIES

While I associate Four Flies with quality reissues, here the Rome-based record label have something brand spanking new – an Italian cover of Brazilian song, Olhos Coloridos. A Balearic favourite, made famous by Sandra de Sa, now its a summery, strummed, feel-good, sing along, hymn to diversity, given a brilliant breezy, brassy arrangement by Neapolitan pianist Dario Bassolino. The 12 features mid and uptempo versions by Whodamanny, but its the OG for me. Rarely has protest been so pretty.

DJEUHDJOAH & LIEUTENANT NICHOLSON – CAIPIRINHA – HOT CASA

DJEUHDJOAH & LIEUTENANT NICHOLSON - CAIPIRINHA - HOT CASA

A buoyant modern bossa nova ballad to a very Brazilian blend of Cachaça and lime, on Caipirinha, gentle percussion and softly strummed guitar accompany catchy, comforting vocals, that daydream of tropical climes. The perfect soundtrack for a sunset cocktail.  

JEFF DREAD – OUT ON A LIMB – EFFICIENT SPACE

JEFF DREAD - OUT ON A LIMB - EFFICIENT SPACE

Here comes another essential from Efficient Space – a heavyweight 7” of dangerous digidub pressure produced over 20 years ago by Sydney’s Jeff Dread. A contemporary of folks such as Sheriff Lindo, Andy Rantzen, and Ali Omar, Dread delivers two broadsides of bowel moving bass. Dub The Farmer’s Daughter harbours a howling harmonica hook, and midway through drops a tab of acid. The flickering 303 fractals blurring the boundaries between dub reggae and house. The stripped back, synthetic skanking of Out On A Limb shocks with a staggering clarity in its separation of sound, even within the doses of deranged delay. 

HERE & NOW X CHRIS COCO – FOR YOU

Chris Coco`s collaboration with Italian duo Here & Now, titled For You, first appeared on the compilation, The Chill Out Tent Vol 1. It now gets treated to a trio of remixes. Two of `em come from Black Bones` Timmy Stewart. Timmy’s initial take is a wonky, psychedelic rework. With a much bolder b-line, while rising and falling, repeatedly peaking, it ever so slowly reveals itself to be a deft house dub. This is made plainer on Timmy’s second sortie, where layered, locked, loops harmonize in hypnotic repetition, around cool, live-sounding, congas and cowbell. Davin Varda then spots the pitched-down pop sample that was used to build the Here & Now original, and speeds it back up to its “intended” tempo. With just a little lysergic assistance, he then uses that as the base for a sort of “megamix” – or “Trainwreck” as he terms it. By spinning in the strings from the Trammps` The Night The Lights Went Out – the ones once very successfully borrowed by The Black Science Orchestra – he births something new, and beautiful, from a meeting of `80s and `90s Balearic beats. 

Chillout Tent Volume 1

LEONIE – CLOSER TO HEAVEN – BACKATCHA

Leonie closer to heaven

This is a very nice slice of poppy street soul, salvaged from a white label released by Short & Curly Records in 1991. Leaning more toward the stuff on Acid Jazz / Talkin` Loud, say Tammy Payne`s Take Me Now, than Jazzi B and his Funki Dreds, Leonie’s vocals flirt with a faux flute hook. There’s a remix which adds piano, rhythm guitar, and a slightly skanking bass-line, which sits the song alongside all those loved-up 98 BPM bits that used to find their way into the Boys Own fanzine charts – music by artists such as Ruth Joy and Moccasoul. The keys sounding now more like vibes and marimba. A bonus “Groovy” instrumental makes some space for the odd solo. 

MIRAGE – DUSK – GOLDEN FOREST RECORDS

Mirage is Oslo-based DJ / producer John Clements. A person well-connected within today’s Balearic Network, his previous releases, and remixes, have landed on labels such as Aficionado, Balearic Social, Higher Love Recordings, and NuNorthern Soul. Dusk is a new musical nugget, signed to Nantes imprint, Golden Forest Records. Co-composed with former studio partner, Eirik Wulff-Engh (the two until recently traded together under the moniker Plastic Fantastic) the track opens with birdsong and a low, kosmische, drone. Small pastoral synth flourishes recalling the cool Berlin school of Cluster, Harmonia, and Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Bass arpeggios drift in and out, and it isn’t until after almost three minutes that the intro finishes, and a beat begins. Following an elaborate breakdown, the duo then introduce a traditional sounding woodwinds. Broadly speaking it’s a piece of pitched-down trance. Music in the mode of Susumu Yokota`s slower sought-after Space Teddy gear. Stuff, that following Music From Memory’s monumental Virtual Dreams collection, seems to be very much back in vogue. If you’re old enough to remember this musical malarky from the first time around, it’s bound to have you flashing back to mid-90s chillout room moments, very likely rushing, and catching your breath. Rune Linbaek dives in with a Drum Island remix, which perks up the tune with pagan, tribal, pounding. Taking it dancing, travelling toward the dark eye of a climactic sonic storm.

MIRAGE - DUSK

THE PERSON – MAGIC $ – GROWING BIN RECORDS

Australian producer Minna Wight, aka The Person, follows 2021`s largely laidback album, Tide Life, with a 4-track E.P., Magic $, aimed more at the dance-floor. The titular tune is a shot of synth-y disco, sort of Italo, also sort of Cerrone`s Supernature, slowed from 45 to 33. Its breathless vocals surrounded by treated piano, and swirling cyborg sequences. Melbourne’s Hysteric adds tougher, sharp, snarling, EBM edges, and samples from Paul Verhoeven`s Robocop. The Person is a bit like the RAH Band given a dark electro makeover, while Go To Work is chugging cosmic pop, in the vein of classics such as Anna’s Systems Breaking Down. 

THE PERSON - MAGIC $ - GROWING BIN RECORDS

Track-list

Ambient7 – Epilogue – Re:Discovery

Jazz N Palms – Milano – Hell Yeah Records

DjeuhDjoah & Lieutenant Nicholson – Caipirinha – Hot Casa

Chira Civello – Sono Come Sono – Four Flies

Leonie – Closer To Heaven – Backatcha

Chuck Bynum – Its You – Nice Choice Records

More Amour – Don’t Look Down – Hi Quality Recordings

Matt Gunn – Disko Drohne (Tin Gun Mix) – Paisley Dark

Small – Make My Life – Re:Warm

Tigerbalm – Cocktail d`Amore – Ubiquity 

Strata Gemma – Complex TV Soul – New Interplanetary Melodies

Ivory Coasters – Mungaka Makossa – Emotional Rescue

Hear & Now X Chris Coco – For U (Davin Varda Trainwreck) – Chillout Tent

More Amour – Nightshift – Hi Quality Recordings

Bruise – Brass Tacks – Foundation Music

Marina Trench – L`orage – Sweet State

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