Super selections & wonderful words by Balearic Mike.
Here’s a handful of new acquisitions that have arrived at Balearic Towers…
Tonino Balsamo – Sta Guagliona Mo Ddà – Futuribile Records / Periodica Records (Bandcamp) – 1983/2023
OK, so not technically a new piece of music, but this record is so Balearic it’s insane! What makes it so upsetting is that I was completely unaware of its existence until this fantastic reissue 12”. Sta Guagliona Mo Ddà is right up there – and similar in parts – to another cosmic classic which had an Italian release, Clive Stevens & Brainchild’s Mystery Man, combining as it does, slo-mo funk with a pulsating electronic bassline. This all accompanies an almost spoken word lyric from Tonino on the verses, which is as sleazy as the female vocal singing the chorus is musical. It’s an absolutely stellar track!
The rather interesting write up on Bandcamp is all the information I have, but it sounds like quite a tale. Tonino is the nephew of master composer, saxophonist, and flautist, Antonio Balsamo, and he recorded Sta Guagliona Mo Ddà in Naples Rico Sound Studios in 1983. He and his bandmates then proceeded to blow the production budget for the LP they`d recorded on – and I quote – “Women, dinners, and nightclubs”… sounds like my kinda gang! As a result, the album seems to have never had a full release, with some promo copies without sleeve art in circulation, and rumours of cassettes. Discogs does list a 7” containing of a couple of the other tracks, which is where they have taken the artwork for this reissue.
Since the song is under 5 minutes in length, it sounds absolutely immense on this 12”, even though it’s pressed at 33rpm. On the flip we get an instrumental version for all those DJs to cowardly – or not Balearic enough – to love the vocal, as well as another version in a slightly more up-tempo style, described as “An unpublished variation on the original theme – “Voglie ‘E Mare” – written by keyboardist Enzo Anoldo in the early `90s”. Sterling work team! Track this down now! Wonderful stuff.
Another act that I was completely unaware of until I received a recommendation in an email from local record shop Mr Bongo…
Abracadabra – Shapes And Colors – Melodic 2023
Abracadabra are a duo from Oakland, California, just across the water from my favourite city, San Francisco, that consists of Hannah Skelton and Chris Niles. It was the cover that grabbed my attention, mainly because it’s lilac – who has a lilac LP? – with a rather odd painting of a massive Dalmatian on it. The write up sounded interesting too, so I clicked through to Bandcamp to give it a proper listen, and I’m very glad I did.
The band wear their influences on their sleeves, but since these are all pretty fabulous influences, and the songs, melodies and grooves they have conjured are also all ‘pretty fabulous’, this isn’t a case of style over substance. Album opener Talk Talk sets the tone beautifully, with a track that reminds me of Bush Tetras` Too Many Creeps, but if Tom Tom Club did a more ‘disco’ version of it. Instantly you get that this is a band influenced by Talking Heads, ZE Records, ESG, Prince, even. There are elements of post-punk dub like Augusts Pablo, particularly on the superb Swim.
The utterly wonderful In A Photo is another highlight, which showcases both Hannah’s superb vocals, and the entertainingly idiosyncratic nature of the band’s lyrics and song structures. It’s these two key elements, and not just the fact that they are drawing on a rich and varied record collection – of excellent taste – that makes abracadabra and their album a real joy. Hannah’s voice gives the whole LP an exotic, Mitteleuropean quality and at times reminds me of Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, which is no bad thing.
This is a great album, from an interesting band that I’ll be paying close attention to. It’s a beautiful object too, with Hannah also painting the sleeve designs. It comes with an art print, beautiful lyric inner, and is pressed on a weird ‘milky’ semi-clear vinyl (I know – the enemy of all DJs!). Go seek!
Akio Nagase – African Acid EP – [Emotional] Especial 2022
OK, so I’m not exactly up to the minute on this record. I know. This actually got a release last summer, but it was one of those records that I had in my wants list as a pre-sale for so long, that when it finally did become available it had slipped my mind. What’s even odder is that fact that I’d absolutely loved Akio Nagase’s previous venture into this fantastic territory, of fusing acid house with the sound of different global musical styles, his Global Acid E.P. from 2021, which I wrote a post about at the time.
If you were a fan of Global Acid, I think it’s fair to say that you are going to love this one as well. It might actually be even better! Moving on from the East Asian influences of that E.P., here Nagase is fusing his Roland 303 and 808 with varying African musical styles, and I have to say that it’s an absolutely floor shaking combination. On opener, Acid Maasai Collecthiv, we power along on a throbbing classic Chicago house bassline – circa Trax Records 1986/87 – with a little vocal snippet from Turntable Orchestra’s You’re Going To Miss Me, while the 303 slowly gurgles and twists around the groove. Then some additional percussion starts, and the fantastic tribal singing lifts the track into uncharted territory. This is a monster of a club track.
Next up Morisyen Acid is a slower, slightly more “Balearic” – hell, the whole E.P. is uber-Balearic! – with a gentle, percussive, plinking and nature sound-effects leading into a mid-tempo 303 chugger, with a chorus of beautiful Mauritian voices making this a total Croatian boat party staple.
On the flip we get Serengeti Summer, which fuses the sounds of Roland’s magical silver box with uplifting Bhundu Boys-esque African guitars. Again, it’s a total Balearic classic in the making. The record finishing off with Jua, another gentler, sunrise, beauty.
Packaged in the same fantastic ‘blotter acid’ style sleeve as the Akio`s previous Emotional Especial E.P., this is an essential purchase.
While we’re on the subject of the Emotional Rescue / Response / Especial stable of labels, lovingly curated by Stuart “Chuggy” Leath, let’s have a listen to this absolutely stunning new release from them….
Dambala – Revelations – Emotional Rescue 2023
Dambala were formed by a young Nigerian called Augustus “Gus” Anyia, who moved to London to join his parents, and grew up in the Maida Vale / Notting Hill areas of West London. The band were unique in that, although their sound was very much inspired by the roots reggae and dub music they were surrounded by, none of the band’s members had Jamaican heritage. They released their first record in 1978, the disco 12” Zimbabwe, a co-production with Dennis Bovell and Jimmy Lindsay, sadly not included here. What is included on this beautiful anthology, are an incredible series of singles that they recorded between 1978 and 1980 – both vocals and dubs – all pressed on double vinyl, so they sound great. All these records have been long out of print, and are now highly sought after, fetching serious money, so save yourself a small fortune and treat yourself to this.
It’s a cracking collection of roots music, which perfectly captures a place and time, both musically, and in terms of the multicultural melting pot of West London. You can hear the influence of this music in the post-punk and new-pop which would evolve throughout the 1980s. The entire collection is superb, but if I had to pick a favourite, I might plump for Me And My Dread, and its accompanying Revelation / Dubwise versions. It features the beautiful vocals of Pauline Catlin, of the band Brown Sugar, who also featured Caron Wheeler of later Soul II Soul fame – and the dubs are off-the-charts space music for cosmic travellers. A really wonderful selection of music.
If you read my posts and / or listen to my radio show, you`ll already be well aware that I’m a big fan of the Be With Records label. It’s not just the wonderful quality of the music they choose to re-release, but also the incredibly high standard of production. Just check out those metallic bronze effect sleeves on their recent Selected Sound reissues! Rob and the gang have been on something of a roll with regards to library music recently, so rarely a month goes by that I’m not ordering something from them, but I have to say, they’ve really out done themselves with this one…
Thomas Almqvist – Nyanser – Be With Records 2023
Nyanser was completely new to me and is absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful. Recorded in 1978 in the Mistlur Records mobile sound studio, in the commune in Sollentuna, just North of Stockholm where Thomas lived. The album was then released the following year on the Mistlur label in Sweden only, and has since become a cult classic. The LP is a totally unique combination of styles, encompassing folk, particularly the guitar playing of John Martyn, and Bert Jansch, jazz, and groundbreakingly for the time, a generous influence of what became known as ‘world music’, particularly African and Indian percussion and rhythms. Thomas plays almost everything on the record, including Rhodes, flute, synthesizers, and percussion, as well as guitar, and it’s totally beguiling from start to finish.
The diggers choice seems to be the completely sensational Coral Reef, with its incredible combination of synths, Indian tablas, and guitar. But my own personal favourite might be Mot Natten, with its hypnotic, African rhythms supporting a spellbinding 6-string performance. I’ve honestly never heard another album like this. It’s really very special. Beautifully presented, with a gatefold insert with photos and some informative sleeve notes from Andrew Allday – the source of most of this info if I’m honest, thanks amigo! Go and buy it!
For more from Balearic Mike you can find him on both Facebook and Instagram – @balearicmike.
Mike has a Mixcloud page packed with magnificent, magical, music, and you can catch him live on 1BTN, from 12 noon until 2 (UK time) every 1st and 3rd Friday.
You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print