Review: Robin Twelftree has been busy over the past year bringing back his particular take on peak time house with a disco edge. Prolific in the late 90s and early 00s, his 12Tree project went on an extended hiatus but now finds a new outlet with the Hot Piroski label. "In The Sun" is a sassy uptempo workout with funk and flamboyance to match the tougher edges of the track. "Magic Dust" slows things down to a supremely mellow strut, with heavy lashings of soul blissed out over the top of the drums. "Guitar Solaar" stays in the downtempo zone with a subtle cosmic lilt and gorgeous vocals unfurling over loose and lazy breaks.
Paul Valery At The Disco (Prins Thomas remix) (11:40)
Ou Pas (Carrot Green remix) (6:16)
Farmarama (A Man Called Adam Too Much dub) (10:54)
Review: While A Man Called Adam's recent "Farmarama" album did contain a few dancefloor-centric cuts, it was more geared towards sofa-bound listening rather than club play. Hence this tidy EP, which offers up a trio of dancefloor-focused revisions for Balearic-minded DJs. For us, the standout is undoubtedly Carrot Green's inventive revision of "Ou Pas", which re-casts the cut as a dubbed-out, acid-powered psychedelic house trip. That said, many will enjoy Prins Thomas' jazzy and surprisingly trippy take on "Paul Valery At The Disco", which contains tons of new Latin-tinged live percussion and a suitably wonky cosmic disco vibe. If that lot's not enough to set the pulse racing, A Man Called Adam's own "Too Much Dub" of "Farmarama" strikes just the right balance between chunky, bass-heavy rhythms and melodic dreaminess.
Review: Unpredictable Dublin label maintain their capacity to surprise here, digging into the vaults of Ethiopian funk mob to reissue their 1984 accidental houser "Kalatashew Waga". Originating from the sole Admas album, Sons of Ethiopia, "Kalatashew Waga" has grown into something of a cult player amongst the more considered selectors over the years and gets pressed up for 12" by Major Problems replete with a fresh remastering job from the master Thomas P. Heckmann. Fans of the gliding style of lo-fi boogie PPU specialise in will love this track. Complementing the original, Major Problems have scored a brand new remix from long term Admas fan Andras Fox that brushes the track with some soft-hued new age bliss.
Review: Alphonse has already dropped a pair of 12"s on Especial in the past, but he's on especially excellent form this time around. A veteran of the halcyon rave days of the 90s, he's got a lot to draw on to conjure his particular kind of machine jams. "Moan Up" is a truly dazzling track, all twinkling synth lines interweaving around a crisp old school groove. As well as the loved up peaks of the original, there's also a beatless mix of the track that lets the melodies shine on their own. "White Pepper" takes things moodier and lets some sultry sax wail over the top, while retaining some of that boxy drum machine energy. There's even space for some tasteful guitar wailing - excellent.
Review: New to Claremont but certainly not new to composing; Denis Leonvich has been writing for screen for over a decade and has amassed an impressive collection of heavier floor friendly cuts on the likes of National Techno. If these two rather warm and woozy Balearic debuts are anything to go by, his future cosmic output will be just as impressive; "Sunset Sparks" sways with a balmy mysticism with folk singing, an alluring hang drum and hazy pads while "Boma" takes a slightly darker route with psych sinewy arpeggios and a subtle but unforgettable brassy bass texture and sleazy guitar plucks. We look forward to Alterleo's next adventures...
Review: German imprint Pingipung has been doing a great job in re-introducing the world to the music of Umeko Ando, a Japanese folk singer who spent decades championing her native Ainu culture before passing away in 2004. Pingipung has already reissued her rare debut album, 2000's "Ihunke", and here gives a deserved first single release to that set's closing track, "Atuy So Kata". Her beautiful and haunting original version - all handclaps, traditional instrumentation and her sublime vocals - nestles on the A-side, with Patric Catani's remix on the flip. His version is drowsy, foreboding and fuzzy, with the remixer expertly mixing Ando's vocals and instrumentation with crunchy electronic drums, psych-rock guitars and all manner of out-there noises.
Review: Although Ludovic Llorca has released albums under his other production aliases (the most recent being 2017's jazz-funk set "The Garden" under his longest-running pseudonym, Llorca), "Unbalanced" marks his first full-length outing as Art of Tones - some 13 years. While it is available digitally as one expansive work, Local Talk has decided to split the vinyl version into two parts. This first volume contains six suitably warm and fuzzy tracks, most of which are gleeful dancefloor workouts that put fun and positivity front and centre. Highlights include the disco-fired "Keep On Having Fun", the Clavinet and organ-heavy stomper "Where One Is", suitably loopy "Have Fun For A Little While" and P-funk influenced "I Can" and "To The Limit". It's all up to the Frenchman's usual high standards.
Review: In some circles, Arvo's 1984 album Luna is considered something of a lost synth-pop classic. It was unarguably the high point of Arvo's career, with the album's two most lauded tracks - "Bikini" and "So Deep" - remaining popular with dusty-fingered Balearic beards. Here those two tracks are given the reissue treatment by New Zealand imprint Strangelove Music. You'll find the breezy, stylish and largely slo-mo original versions on the A-side, with fresh reworks on the flip. First, French producer Shelter does a brilliant job in extending "Bikini", wisely extending the dreamy first section and making more of the Brazilian-influenced synthesizer motifs, before Aussie Italo-disco digger Hysteric delivers a head-nodding instrumental take on "So Deep" that's worth the entrance price on its own.
Review: Despite not releasing all that much in 2018, Canadian nu-jazz combo BADBADNOTGOOD's reputation continued to rise. That was in no small part due to their eye-catching collaboration with Little Dragon, which resulted in the digital release of "Tried" back in September. Now the track has been given a deserved seven-inch single release by Ninja Tune. With LD lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano doing her best to channel the spirit of Minnie Riperton, "Tried" has a similarly languid, jazz/folk/soul fusion feel as some of the best works by Rotary Connection. BADBADNOTGOOD's admiration of the Charles Stepney-produced band comes through loud and clear through the choice of instruments and arrangements. For further proof, check the accompanying flipside instrumental mix.
Review: While floors still burn from "Mapping" on Cin Cin earlier this year, "I Can Still See You" sees Gacha return to his more ambient, introspective and eclectic pastures on this extensive show-stopping, sense-blurring five track EP. "River" glistens with gentle ebbs and flows, "Saysea" insists with a lush jazzy break while "Reflection" trembles with just the right tech tendencies without getting too heavy for itself. Elsewhere "Through The Glass" is a straight cinematic trip back to the world he forecast in Two Sunsets while "Advice" closes with a moment of broken beat poetry. As long as Gacha Bakradze can see us, we can hear him. This has to be a good thing.
Review: IIB next release comes from French duo Baptiste & Pierre. 2 tracks of warm tropical goodness. Virage is a deep mellow afro tinged tropical workout. Muted guitar hook and nature sounds conjuring up far flung deserted beaches. Ruf dug beefs it up a touch and moves it indoors giving it a more afterhours feel. The second track has the same evocative feel as Virage with added atmospheric pads and a bouncy melody. Like a closing track on an 80's road movie. Full of emotion. Italian maestro Deep 88 creates a truly authentic slice of early ninetoes deep dreamy house. Perfectly wrapping the original in warm analogue drums. Another quality release from IIB.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Especial is delighted to welcome Baris to the roster. Known for his edit series of obscure Turkish Psychedelic, Rock and Disco, here he takes the producer's chair to present "200". Working with musicians and singers to create a completely original production. The song's message for equality (of the sexes) highlights the bigotry and backward political and religious boundaries his country faces and acts as a siren to the current troubles. Handed to Emotional Recordings over 5 years ago but with no label to release it at that time, now we are delighted to be able to release 200's message. The original is backed with remixed from new production duo Khidja, as well as East London's finest, The Asphodells. Teaming up with guitarist Balabas, Romania's Khidja turn in a deep and introspective interpretation mixing their own heavy eastern influences, while the B-side sees Weatherall and Fairplay don their Asphodells mantle for two renditions that firmly lay it before the ALFOS alter. With artwork (by Jamie Paton) highlighting the struggle for fairness and freedom in his homeland, we hope the release can be seen as a support for their tribulations and highlight the talent that lays East.
Review: Said to have been created after a long period of writer's block, Mark Barrott wrote much of Sketches From A Distant Ocean when he returned to his former home of Uruguay for the first time in a long while. The long break is said to have taught him about the value of self-expression and connection, and he returned to work with an invigorated enthusiasm. This has certainly paid off, as Sketches From A Distant Ocean shines through musically. Our picks are the sun kissed balearica of "Galileo", bossa nova-inflected island dreams of "Low Lying Fruit" and the evocative trip-hop journey of "The Rowing Song", which calls to mind his earlier output from the '90s as Future Loop Foundation.
Review: International Feel main man Mark Barrott has been unfeasibly productive in the last couple of years, releasing a string of fine mini-albums, and 12" singles, which touch on a variety of styles. This latest outing is every bit as magical as some of those excursions, with A-side "Cascades" offering a life-affirming blend of undulating, Tangerine Dream style synthesizers, soft touch, D.K style beat patterns, and breathlessly sun-kissed atmospherics. It's ambient, kids, but not as you know it. The Ibiza-based producer moves further towards Jose Padilla territory on the hot and humid, tropical-tinged flipside "Tagomago", whose combination of live instrumentation and blissful electronics is near perfect.
Better Man (Craig Bratley instrumental remix) (4:44)
Review: Here's a question for you: What happens when you take a track by a British power trio heavily influenced by blues and psychedelia, and get a master of wayward, left-of-centre Balearica to remix it? You get the latest 12" missive from Claremont 56, which sees Bella Figura's "Better Man" reworked twice in impressive fashion by Magic Feet boss Craig Bratley. If you are familiar with Bratley's output for s It Balearic, Bird Scarer and Tsuba, you know the man breathes cosmic goodness and his work on Bella Figura's track offers a subtle new version that loses none of Justin Gartry's bluesy poignancy whilst adding a sparsely treated beat and plenty of low lying studio trickery.
Review: Tucked away in his Peak District hideaway, Jack Lever has been laying down sumptuous fusions of dusty ambience and lo-fi electronica for some time now. He first rose to prominence via a fine 12" on Apollo in 2013, before heading back to Derbyshire to self-release music from the archives on cassette and download. This return to wax is well worth a listen, if only for the drowsy, 6AM ambience of "Convair", which wraps shortwave radio crackle and yearning chord progressions around gentle acoustic guitars. "Torches" is a blissful and dusty outsider house shuffler, while lead cut "Roads" is a terrific, dancefloor-tempo trip-hop head-nodder rich in distorted guitars, cascading instrument solos and beefy dub disco bass.
Review: The Iceland-born, Norway-based producer, B. G. Baarregaard, channels the great tradition of Scandinavian electronic disco on this delectable four-tracker, maintaining a crisp and funky edge to his productions while making sure every inch of the wax is dripping with old-skool warmth. "Tokyo 1988" stands out with its perfect lashings of boogie rubbed into the joints, while "Kick The Burger" slows things right down for a cool and deadly cruise through electro funk of the highest order.
Review: Belfast pair Bicep are smart operators. Having previously doffed a cap to both Italian house and classic New Jersey garage, recent releases have seen them play around with a variety of rhythmic patterns and more advanced musical elements. They're at it again here on their latest outing for Aus. Opener "Just" is pleasingly cheery, with simple but addictive electronic melodies and sweeping chords nestling above a head-nodding, hip-hop influenced groove. "Celeste" is undeniably Balearic, with sun-kissed pianos, dreamy pads and drifting vocal samples stretching out over delay-laden, African-influenced percussion. Finally, they return to their rush-inducing best on "Back 2 U (Tranz Dub)", a loving fusion of vintage progressive house builds, winding melodies and mid '90s beats.
Review: New York's Quinn Luke aka Bing Ji Ling is always up to some crazy shit. Whether it's far-out strains of exotica, electronic folk, or even some straight-up hill-billie funk, the nomadic artist is always one to look out for. He's up on Spain's excellent Lovemonk label, perennial leaders in leftfield disco and balearica, with the raunchy, funk-tastic guitar riffs of "Twilight", a tune that is so cool and laid-back it could be enjoyed by pretty much all walks of life. There's three version, though, all by Jose Manuel; the main remix drops in a house beat and something of a Latino sound, the dub goes deeper into the bass elements of the mix, and the Voyage Voyage mix takes the listener on a more daring journey, backed by a progressive edge. We love it.
Review: Having previously impressed on Argot and Home Taping Is Killing Music with her blends of evocative deep house and floor-friendly Chicago rhythms, The Black Madonna tries a different approach on this debut for the recently launched Night Owl Diner label. You could certainly describe both tracks as "Balearic", and there's a real air of wide-eyed positivity about the tumbling melodies, swirling synth-strings and mid-80s pop production of head-nodding deep house cut "Stay". It's pretty darn tasty, all told. Almost as good is "Requiem", which appears to be built around a loop lifted from Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal's "Saturday Love" (with, of course, additional synths and tuneful electronics).
Review: Blue Feather were a truly blue-eyed funk outfit from the Netherlands who had a prolific run in the 80s with two albums and a string of club singles to their name. "Let's Funk Tonight" was surely one of their bigger hits, and it sounds resplendent with a fresh master and the full extended version spread out across the A side here. Offering something new for the modern market, Best call upon Faze Action to flesh out this reissue with a killer dub of the track that treads softly but funks deep, just like a good dub should.
Shadows From Nowhere (Danilo Braca ReVision) (9:04)
Review: In the previous reissues we talked so much about this fantastic piece and "Marie", a very cinematic and supportive song, that now it is appropriate to dwell on the re-visited version of Danilo Braca that extends beautifully on the AA side of this new remastered reprint. Danilo who lives in the big apple often frequents Ibiza, perhaps also for this he has been able to exalt the most rhythmic elements of "Shadows from Nowhere", putting the beautiful falsetto beats to excessive movements, just like the waves that wash themselves on the sandy beaches of the White Island. His teacher Mario Gentili from Layer Bows added a beautiful arrangement for the strings and his Italian-New York collaborator Alvise Marino spread some fragments of guitar powder on top. That's it. 9 minutes of pure bliss, but also of catchy rhythm!
Review: Bonnie & Klein can often be found cruising round labels like Music For Dreams and Leng, imparting tender touches of Balearic finery for those who like to cruise on the slinkiest of 80s flavoured jams. They're on cracking form for this return to Uber, kicking off with the sultry "Tones Of Ballad", which gets a subtle beefing up from Drifts Projects on the remix. "Pretty Lake" is the cut for those who want to achieve pure transcendental bliss by way of canned slap bass and sustained chords, and then "Snowdrifts" finishes the EP off with a thoughtful piece shaped out by sweet piano and stirring strings.
Review: Emotional Response reach out to another fine selection of sonic voyagers to take Brain Machine's excellent Peaks LP to task, leading in with the warm discoid undulations of Rollmottle who refigures "To The Stars" as a gentle, groovy warm-up joint. Die Wilde Jagd takes on "Mercury Ripples" and fashion a bombastic breaks jam out of it, and Merrick Adams pushes "Alpha Moon" into a curious but ultimately cosmic space somewhere beyond the titular lunar body. Cass takes the prize with the bittersweet synth tones that course through the two-part remix of "Nexus Vox".
Review: BAH040 is the first time out for Caissard DJ, not that you'd know on the basis of this plush, accomplished romp through 80s island boogie that chimes perfectly with the Bahnsteig 23 vibe. "Bright Dance" is a noirish smorgasbord of crystalline melodies and good, honest synth-pop thrust, while "Market Anthem" switches things up with a new wave twist. "La x5" is a wonderful curio, all stuttering, borderline baroque tones and Eastern string histrionics. The "Melange Dub" of "Arrakis" is a wild soul trying to be tamed by the machines, and then "Demo-cracy" dips into an almost minimal wave pulse before "The God Emperor" finishes the eclectic ride with ethnic chimes and percussion filtered through a grainy medium.
Review: "How To Be" EP is brought by Izhevsk based band, Cetranger. The band's name is a combination of french «c'etrange» and english «stranger». Two deep and emotional songs accompanied by two great remixes. Perfect for understanding yourself and strangers around better, or just some good night drive. The band members themselves call this music "a cinematic electronics", a motion picture about people and their feelings told in sounds.
The opening track sets the scene. Cetranger sound is freezed in the air somewhere over the North Sea, between Britain and Nordic Countries. The unique vocal is travelling by these foggy landscapes build up of the piano harmonies.
The remix by D-pulse turns original version into a laid-back dub version with a bit of a psychedelia, where electrified kraut-rock drumline is mingled with mellow funk elements.
The second track by Cetranger, "Spear-words", shows the true with Cetranger's style and some undeniable potential in slowed-down rhythms. "Spear-words" makes your subwoofer sing along with the track's hypnotic gritty low-end bass sequence.
Alex Neivel's remix gives a track some classy well treated deep house spin. Perfect building block for a late-night set.
Review: Surely the freakiest house party in town, Bahnsteig 23 is the gift that keeps on giving. The relentless release schedule keeps up right here with this unmissable missive from Cherrystones, a learned selector and all round sonic oracle who regularly rubs shoulders with Andy Votel and that ilk of muso's muso. As you'd expect there's a rich spread of vibes on offer here, from the Afro-disco rub down "Simba Dub" to the Eastern psych lilt of "Belly King". "ExOhSkeletons" brings out some gutter punk styles and loops them into a strangely hypnotic form, and "Topical Meat Wave" imparts some pan-seared drama onto a French disco-funk. "KonGkinG" is a shouty new wave funker, and then the record wobbles out on a suitably deep B3 cut for the weirdos, all Oizo-esque synth blurts and sloppy live drum grooves.