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: Deep and sensual balearica on offer here from The Balek Band, brought to you by Beauty & The Beat - the in-house music label of the 'freeform psychedelic dance party' hosted in various east London venues over the years by Cyril Cornet, Jeremy Gilbert & Cedric Woo since 2005. The Balek Band are a French outfit - the side project of Vidock (Abstrack), accompanied by Samuel Creach (bass) & Zeppo (percussion). Together they create soundtracks for your perfect island dream as heard on "Tometsi", the deep down polyrhythmic spiritual entrancement of "Diconiels" .....
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: 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.
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.
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: 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!
Turn Me Loose/My Design (extended version) (13:58)
Turn Me Loose (Sirs cut) (10:32)
Review: Best Records present another deep cover jam Balearic diggers will rejoice at being able to lay their hands on. Blue Night was the brainchild of Peter Miconi, who created "Turn Me Loose" in 1983. All the elements are present here, from the aching blue-eyed soul vocals to rich guitar solos and an irrepressible funk bedded down in the groove, here stretching out for a full 14 minutes of pure sunkissed bliss. On the flip, SIRS takes a careful run at the original that simply reframes the elements with a more pronounced rhythm section - this is someone who knows exactly what the track needs and declines to change anything for the sake of it. Classy stuff, as you would expect from a reissue on Best Records.
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: Emotional Response do a great service here to all lovers of braindance craving new fixes since Rephlex shut up shop. Brainwaltzera's debut EP Marzipan was a self-released concern that sold out quickly back in 2016, meeting with emotionally charged responses from those wanting to nab a copy. Now it's more widely available, the gorgeous lilt of bubbling 101 melodies and delicate drum machine patterns can spread their wings and bring some healing vibes to a broader audience of electronica devotees. Coming on with the sensitivity of Wisp and other contemporary braindancers, this is how comforting home listening beats should be done.
Rawmance - "Mondonotte, La Mattina Dopo" (Security re-drums) (3:30)
Review: La Beaute Du Negatif's fourth multi-artist EP arrives with little fanfare or fuss. Instead, the Rome-based label has decided to simply offer-up the EP and let us come to our own conclusions. For what it's worth, ours is that it's well worth checking - especially Monomorph's blissful, acid-flecked IDM opener "Rystal", which previously appeared on a hard-to-find CD way back in 1996. There are plenty of highlights elsewhere across the EP, though. Head first for the sparse, spacey cheeriness of Brainwaltzera's "Phos Harbinger", before getting your ears around the ambient jungle-techno brilliance of "Opener" by The Jaffa Kid. This is followed on side B by the shuffling, sun-kissed downtempo grooves of SSIEGE's "Sogno In BB" and a drowsy, mind-altering chunk of late 90s Warp Records style electronica by Rawmance.
Review: It was Memorial Day Weekend 2016, and the sun shined bright over the Detroit River. Pontchartrain stepped up to the decks at the Red Bull stage at Movement Electronic Music Festival donning his infamous "Detroit vs. Itself" t-shirt. His first song through the Rane rotary mixer was a dubplate made specifically for his set: "Afterlife". It's a brilliantly executed balearic daytime disco rework that warrants the praise of summer anthem that it's earning. On the flip is "Pool", an equally sunny slomo beatdown rework from Blair French. It's a delightful blend of cerebral and soulful, and is finally getting a release after being originally championed by Peter Croce on his Le Mellotron Paris set back in early 2018.
Review: Written, produced and recorded in Sheffield and Ibiza between 2016 and 2018, Nature Sounds Of The Balearics is Mark Barrott's third full length album following up two volumes in his Sketches From An Island series.. The International Fell boss described the musical outcome as a techno album of sorts, with influences harking back to the days of Warp's Artificial Intelligence compilations or SSR's Freezone series (as heard on the zeitgeist of '90s IDM like "TRIX/Ichimoku"), chill out ("Donchian Reprise") and Detroit's mellower moments like on the evocative "Point & Figure".
Review: Music For Dreams' latest must-have compilation of obscure Balearic treats comes courtesy of noted digger Basso, a DJ, producer and re-editor who has previously released some killer scalpel jobs on Joe's Bakery and People Must Jam. You'll find one of his edits tucked away towards the end of the EP - a tidy extension of Wolfsmond's sun-kissed, Chris Rea-esque German language number "Fuhl Dich Frei" - alongside stunning selections that variously touch on stoned West Coast jazz-rock, new age, ambient, drowsy 80s pop, kosmiche and loved-up late night AOR shufflers. An inspired collection of pretty much unknown gems; what's not to like?
Alex Simon - "Runnin' Out Of Time" (instrumental) (5:27)
Mark Goddard - "Tiny's First Journey" (4:26)
Foe - "Blow Up Girl" (Beautiful Swimmers Big Head Self mix) (4:26)
Nature Love - "You Turn Me Around" (Karu mix) (6:11)
KW Griff - "Be Ya Girl" (4:15)
The Horn - "Whiddon On Down" (4:29)
Hieroglyphic Being Presents Analogous Doom - "Living In A Zome" (4:35)
Spirit Garden - "Electra City" (6:44)
Review: Gatto Fritto set the bar high with his selections for last year's first "The Sound Of Love International" compilation, so it's a thrilling surprise to find that this follow-up - featuring cuts selected by Max D (Andrew Field-Pickering) and Ari Goldman AKA Beautiful Swimmers - boasts an even more inspired track list. The Washington DC-based duo evokes the spirit of the Croatian festival behind the series via the synth-heavy Afro-Balearic bliss of Plunky's "Africa Sunset", the new age dancefloor shuffle of Svend Undseth's "Aquilla Aquela", the vintage deep house dreaminess of Mark Goddard's "Tiny's First Journey", the pitched-up R&B vocals and hot-stepping B-more beats of KW Griff's "Be Ya Girl" and the sparkling piano riffs and smooth New Jersey house grooves of Spirit Garden's "Electra City".
Review: One of the deepest reaching projects from the multifaceted Vibraphone stable resurfaces for an extended trip through ambient sonics that marks possibly the most daring departure on the esteemed Italian label to date. The harmonious tones undulating throughout Sketches From Space are instant soothers, taking the odd cue from techno but defiantly beatless and meditative. It's a surprising addition to the long and winding Vibraphone story, but also feels like one of the strongest steps forward the resurgent label has taken since returning to the fray. Just try sinking into "Lagrangian Point L4" and you'll see exactly what we mean.