Looking For The Balearic Beat / May 2023

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

Black Bones / All In Good Time / Optimo Music 

Belfast duo Black Bones make their debut on JD Twitch’s Optimo Music, with a couple of contrasting originals. All In Good Time sets out to invoke the cultural melting pot that was `80s downtown New York. Matching dancing drums with righteous, bleating reed. Smashing snare rolls, that mimic machine gun fire, with skronking, squawking mutant jazz. An experimental funk freakout, modernized with locked loops and echo eruptions, if The Rapture riffed on James Chance & The Contortions, well then this is Liquid Liquid jamming with Gray. Pressure Point on the other hand is an homage to Adrian Sherwood and On-U Sound. A slow, rumbling, room-shaking skank, that hits hard, like early African Head Charge. Shot through with speed and weed psychosis, cut up a la Burroughs & Gysin, and shocked by soundclash sirens. Reverb rocking its Rasta MC. 

black bones optimo

Fila Brazillia / Toro De Fuego / ReWarm

fila brazilla redux alt cover

Cal Gibson’s already ready subjected Fila Brazillia’s Retrospective Redux compilation to one of his super reviews, but I thought I’d give this previously unreleased tune another pump. A brilliant piece of percussive sunset / sunrise house, Toro De Fuego really deserves to be heard in the open air, loud, on a big system. Riding old school Chicago b-line and nagging rave riffs, for a while more considered keys attempt keep proceedings calm. However, just as its romantic strings start to soar, the acid also kicks in. Breaking down briefly before resuming its climbing and climbing, the track’s effectively a huge two-fingered salute to anyone who might have attempted to dump the duo in a “chillout” box. 

Coyote / Kate’s Bush (Nocturnal Edit) / Magic Wand

Coyote Kate Bush

This sellout release from 2020 that’s just received a limited repress / re-release finds the Is It Balearic? boys giving the wonderful Kate Bush a cheeky re-rub. Spinning the piano, strummed guitar, and what could be a zither, through filters, in and out of phase. Setting Kate’s beautiful, poetic lyrics to a bass-heavy Balearic hoedown. Listening, as she sings of secluded beaches, reaching out and touching the stars, the song makes me feel, for a moment, like I’m in love. While it plays I’m reminded of what it was to “become panoramic”, spooning, soul-partnered at the centre of the universe. Something that seems lost, and I fear now I’ll never get back.  

Cantoma / Way To The Sun (Calm’s Mellow Mellow Acid Remix) / Highwood Recordings

Cantoma way to the sun calm remix

Calm, in keeping with his name, chills Cantoma’s Way To The Sun right out. The track might now be tethered to a dance-floor 4 / 4 but this is deep, introspection-inducing house. Surfing on warm rising swells. The original instrumentation – accordion and muted kind-of-blue brass – is quickly lost to echo and replaced by playful TB-303 tickles and sublime Spanish leaning guitar. 

Faze Action / Fantasy / Faze Action Records

Faze Action : Fantasy

To be honest I was about to hang up my disco-dancing shoes for good when Faze Action’s Fantasy popped up in my inbox and persuaded me to give them a polish instead. With a definite nod to the Nuova Neapolitan funk of Nu Genea,  the Brothers Lee’s new song has that same irresistible collective, “real band”, energy. Combining frantic fretwork, cooing chorus girls, and countless keyboard solos (in places it sounds like someone getting busy with a Stylophone).  

Finn & Private Joy / What’s Coming Over You? / 2 B Real

Finn Private Joy

Fresh from last year’s multiple poll-topping rendezvous with Ruf Dug, Private Joy, aka Pops Roberts, now teams up with fellow Mancunian Finn McCorry for a summer house smash to rival Jayda G’s Both Of Us. Pops is one of those poets who can write real songs – keep it simple and catchy without ever sounding like cliche. This significant skill is also assisted by her emotionally pitch perfect vocal performances. Storytelling and soulful, acting as much as simply singing, here, she’s in love, but being pushed that little bit too far. You can almost count on it being sampled, pinched and rinsed on copious bootlegs and “unofficial remixes”. Finn’s light and airy production has the rhythm skipping, dropping to beatless, and back, without losing any momentum. Its big, buzzing bass cutting in and driving everything. His high-hats say mid-90s New York, while in the detail are tiny, intricate techno / IDM twists. Referencing different points in the past, while sounding totally modern, the track’s put together like a classic. 


Frank Harris & Maria Marquez / Loveroom E.P. / Strangelove

Love Room is a slice of gentle sophisticated, synth-y pop, somewhere between Kim Carnes’ Draw Of The Cards and something by Linda Di Franco. Topped off with a cool sax solo, it’s the sort of stuff that commonly crops up on Daniele Baldelii and Jose Padilla mixtapes. Seductively shuffling on that Cosmic / Balearic border. Down By The Rio is shaped from similar sonic cloth, but given its title, is unsurprisingly more Brazilian in flavour. Lots of Latin spice in its percussion and groove. Both tracks are present in recently reworked extended mixes, and the latter also picks up a couple of more electronic re-wirings. Effectively dubs that bump up the bass-line, the one from Frakas, spins Maria Marquez’s vocal backwards and suspends it in echo, while Julien Dyne also adds a slow but forceful 4 / 4. The song’s samba now just as much a skank. For reference points please check Victor Davis’ Brother, the Steely & Clevie remix of Barrington Levy’s Here I Come, and The Sabres Of Paradise’s Wilmot. Either cut could have easily found itself in one of Leo Mas` genre-defining mid-80s Amnesia warm-up sets. 

Frank Harris Love Room Remix EP

Holzer & Pure Love / Pure Love / Ximeno 

Holzer Pure Love

Fired by a frantic, frenzied electric guitar strum, Pure Love is lifted from the latest “dodgy” 45 on Discogs-blocked label, Ximeno. A wickedly wah-wah-ed, latin-flavoured (orange) sunshine-soaked rock freakout, originally released on Brooklyn-based label Nilkam in 1975, Holzer & Pure Love sound like The Willow Band jamming with Santana at Woodstock, while flying on sulphate and Sandoz. On the flip you’ll find the heavier psyche of Front Office – a fuzzed up pseudonym of San Francisco band, Sound 70, whose Wow first appeared on short-lived Californian imprint, Mijji, in 1968. 

James Rod / Arabiklan (Rude Audio Remix) / Paisley Dark

James Rod Synthetic Glory

Rude Audio’s remix of James Rod’s Middle Eastern-flavoured Arabiklan is chunky, chugging acidic novo new beat. Superior, sinister slithering, its rhythms and melodies are experimental and unpredictable yet still manage to amount to something most definitely dance-floor friendly. Its keyboard solo somewhere between a mad Moog and a rave Roland TB-303. 

Rude Audio also rework Perry Granville’s Sweet Spot, shedding their customary  electro and industrial influences to construct a slice of classic chillout. Subliminal sequences spinning backwards around a slow, sleepy siesta beat. Sampled chants singing, timbales rattling and ricocheting, while careful keys are gradually swapped for a gated riff. Far more sunstroked than their usual gear, there’s just a smidgen of shadowy reverb. 

perry granville sweet spot

Jo Sims / Bass The Final Frontier / Pamela Records 

Jo SimsBass, The Final Frontier, sonically speaking, is very Andrew Weatherall. A brilliant bit of buoyant Balearic electro – Balectro, as the Mancunian chaps once termed it – whose pretty arpeggios shimmy somewhere between Italo Disco and Chris & Cosey’s October Love Song – a tune that Weatherall once made a Shoom favourite. Fitting then, that the track’s signed to Pamela, the Moton Records spin-off that was launched by an E.P. co-produced by The Guv`nor and Nina Walsh, shortly after the iconic DJ’s untimely passing. David Holmes delivers a remix, which slows things right down, to perhaps half the OG’s speed. Simultaneously taking it out to 7 minutes. The bass becoming a growl. Those arpeggios twisting, turning acidic. A TB-303 gently bubbling as beats peak in pummeling rolls. Cymbal crashes punctuating this treacly march, while a chiming sort of ceremonial melody lends the track a triumphant air. Like the ALFOS equivalent of a 21 gun salute. 

The 12 also features two further tunes. Demons Of Dance is appropriately darker. Harder, heavier. A menacing machined number that, while only mid-tempo’d still packs serious power. Freakily filtered percussion softening its buzzing bionic bottom-end. Slightly. Mumbo Jumbo collages “found” / sampled spoken word sections concerning fairytales, sorcery, witchcraft, and magic, to pose theological / philosophical questions – I’m sure that Andrew would have approved – over a ringing motif, a strange theremin-like sound, and a funky, mellow, break. 

Jo Sims Pamela Records

Not due until early July the only pre-order and listening link that I can find is over at Banquet Records. 

Giuliano Sorgini / Oasi Nella Giungla / 45 Reloved

In 2018, Rome’s Four Flies Records curated a collection of previously unreleased music by Italian keyboardist / composer Giuliano Sorgini, under the title, Africa Oscura. From this set of marvelous mid-70s TV and film cues they’ve now lifted the track Oasi Nella Giungla, and let Peruvian pair, Dengue Dengue Dengue, get their paws on it. The original is percussive, tropical exotica, ringing with rainforest birdsong and animal calls. DDD more than double the tune’s length, adding a kick and a muted distant dancing melody to the hurried hand-drum ritual. Transforming it into intoxicating twilight tribal house.  

Oasi Nella Giungla (Dengue Dengue Dengue Remix)

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