Review: Since debuting on the sadly departed Aficionado label six years ago, Mikhail Khvasko's A Vision Of Panorama project has become one of the more reliable sources of sun-kissed Balearic soundscapes. He's in a particularly cheery and positive mood on this first outing of 2020, confidently skipping between jazz-funk influenced Balearic boogie (tasty opener "Atlantic Dawn"), late-80s style deep breakbeat haziness (the swelling chords, toe-tapping beats and Nu Guinea style synthesizer flourishes of "Mediterranean Tribal"), languid sunrise warmth (standout "Sentimental Coast", whose twinkling piano solos are sublime) and bubbly, synth-propelled jazziness (the similarly awesome "Vibechos"). In other words, it's another must-have collection of cuts from a modern Balearic maestro.
Review: The Anything Goes "Rollover Edit Service" continues apace with this latest grip of four unique choices of forgotten disco treasure to get a 2020 spruce up. Ferraroni is on "Le Soleil Bateau", a sunkissed schooner by any measure with a Balearic tint in the easy tempo and cheery disposition. Jacques Renault brings equally slick vibes with "NYC Lights", which teeters between yacht rock and synth pop to perfection. Makossa's edit of "Dio Come Ti Amo" is a more reflective cut, subtly dubbed and revolving around an introspective guitar hook. Pasta brings the tempo back up with a version of "Di Di No" that will have party people young and old dancing in unison.
Review: Freshly-formed French trio BOA - aka Behzad, Ohes and Amarou - wrap themselves around the new decade and squeeze tightly. Joining forces with decorated French musician Mathieu Deranlot, they present four far-ranging deep electronic and ambient techno explorations that range from the dramatic-yet-beatless "Nitro" to the brooding, swampy slo-mo electrofunk of "Lumiere Electronique". Elsewhere "Merci Pierre" teases and squeezes even tighter with its trippy triplets and sudden dive into deep dream synths before "Bonne Nuit" closes on another ambient tip, this time switching the urgency for lullaby arpeggios. Sweet dreams.
Review: It was the best part of 10 years ago when Jorge Caiado was making some strong early steps on the mighty Balance, and here he is delivering a full-length for Groovement that's been seven years in the making. "Time & Space", as the name might suggest, look beyond the demands of the dance to explore a broader perspective of electronic music. Don't let the swooning ambient opener fool you though, there's plenty of Caiado's signature smooth as silk house to sip on too. "Nasha's Groove" is especially satisfying, while "Magic Carpet" brings a little salsa to the table. With soul, ambience, funk and freshness all rolled into one package, Caiado's long-winded album journey has been entirely worth it.
Review: Last year long time Flower Records associates Masanori Ikeda and Takumi Kanedo (best known for his work as part of Cro-Magnon) released their debut album as Coastlines, a stunningly sunny, laidback affair that touched on everything from nu-jazz and nu-disco to dub, Latin rhythms and Balearic beats. Here they offer up a fresh double-header on a must-check 7" single. A-side "East Coast" is particularly alluring, with the duo joining the dots between Nils Frahm piano pieces, gentle nu-jazz grooves and wide-eyed Balearic ambience. The synths come to the fore on flipside "West Coast", an arguably even sunnier affair with slo-mo Latin beats, mazy solos and glistening guitars to the fore.
Review: When it comes to hybrid blends of intoxicating world music sounds and contemporary dancefloor rhythms, few producers are quite as accomplished as Nicola Cruz. He's at it again on "Hybridism", the Equador-based Frenchman's first EP for Multi-Culti for almost three years. Opener "Aima" sets the tone, with Cruz wrapping lilting synth lines, weirdo electronics and chanted vocals around a bubbling electronic groove, while "Naeku" makes the most of echo-laden drums, what sounds like an African children's choir and faintly foreboding acid lines. "Drom Tradisie" is an exercise in trippy sounds and layered percussion, "Third Eye Dub" is a darker and moodier slab of techno-exotica and "Kawe's Dream" is a blissful blast of clarinet-sporting musical positivity.
Review: Produced primarily using an Eloquencer sequencer and partially mixed by Joakim, Michael David's first single for Cascine is an undeniably impressive affair. Opener "There In Spirit" is both breezy and dreamy, layering life-affirming chords and deep synth-pop melodies atop a Balearic-minded, new age influenced dancefloor groove. "Rain II" is, if anything, even more Balearic and new age in tone. The original version is very relaxed, but it seems positively jaunty in comparison to the languid brilliance of the flipside "Slow" version. If that isn't enough to set your pulse racing, Jex Opolis' jangling, life-affirming Balearic synth-pop version of "Rain II" should get you going.
Review: Escape From New York's 1984 cut "Fire In My Heart" has long been considered something of a Balearic classic. Original copies of the Rollerball Records release 12" are hard to come by, though, so this reissue is more than welcome. The original version - all slo-mo electro drums, rubbery dub bass, exotic melodies and intoxicating vocals - is joined by the now infamous Instrumental Dub version, which has been a staple in Balearic DJs' sets for more than 30 years. If that wasn't enough, there's also a chance to savour to woozy, dub-influenced synth-pop of original bonus cut "Won't Be Your Fool".
Review: It's been a while since we last heard from Kinfolk, but the broad-sweeping label with cosmic chuggery in its bones is back with this powerful dose from Ess O Ess and Saulrichards. "Totem" is an epic track that rolls around in the muck somewhere between shoegaze extravagance, post-rock heaviness and psyched-out electronics. The "Swamp Crawl" version of the track keeps the guitars bedded deep within the mix, but there's space for more expressive synth work. Hardway Brothers take the track on a similarly rockist journey, but take their time building up to a climax. Otologic wrap things up with a deadly dub that will have low tempo trippers rubbing their hands with delight.
Review: Max Essa made his name through swathes of releases for Bear Funk, but broke through once more with his essential "Lanterns" LP for Music For Dreams back in 2018. His appearances have been scattered since, but now he makes a welcome return on Hell Yeah with some of that plush, full frequency synth disco business. "Tombolo" is defined by its rich layers of lead chords and cascading electronic percussion, but it's also made even more seductive by subtle splashes of dubby processing. "The Great Adventure" is a cooler jam for more mellow moments, but it's still no slouch in the funk department. "Fool In The Pool" finishes the record off with a truly laid back combination of tabla drums, electric piano and dreamy pads. Blissful, beautifully composed music to let the mind drift to.
Review: Faze Action have been on a roll with their collaborative project with Zeke Manyika, which first started up in 2016 and now reaches its fourth installment with the infectiously uplifting "Sununguka". In its original form the Afro-house burner artfully blends Manyika's Zimbabwean roots with Faze Action's knack for '80s tinged proto-house. "Rwendo" is a more laid back affair compared to the lead track, but it's no less effervescent thanks to Manyika's vocals. On the B side, Alan Dixon drops a feisty Italo version of "Sununguka" that sounds purpose built for spine-tingling sundown moments, while there's also a pumped up "Special Extended Dub" version to appeal to headsy DJs looking to keep the floor running at full tilt.
Review: Green Gartside is the Welsh frontman of cult band Scritti Polltti, here in solo mode on Rough Trade His latest 7" finally gets a release after various delays and on it are two covers of songs originally recorded by Anne Briggs, who is often regarded as one of the great British folk singers. The originals came out in 1971 on Briggs album The Time Has Come (and has also been re-released this year). In the hands of the so-called brainiest man in pop they become fresh propositions with interesting new perspectives.
Review: Here's a record perfectly suited to the Emotional Rescue sphere. International Noise Orchestra was born out of a collaboration between Berliner Ulrich Homberg and Algerian drummer Jol Allouche, first embarked on in the 1980s when they sought to combine 'new technology with old'. The results are wonderfully vibrant, evocative of the era but also packed with open-ended experimentation that sounds fresh more than 30 years later. There's a push and pull between the collaborating parties, but the frisson between cultures and methods is where this record gets its unique groove from, all delivered with a slick 80s cool it's hard to resist.
Belle Dux On The Beach (William Doyle rework) (6:46)
Review: The second round of Man Jumping remixes on Emotional Rescue sees another strike force of big hitters tackling the illustrious material from an overlooked 80s curio. Bullion steps up first with a typically dynamic, many-sided version of "In The Jungle". Reckonwrong's take on "Sqeezi" channels his twee, off-kilter pop tendencies in brilliant fashion. Gengahr brings a touch of indie urgency to "Down The Locale", while Bullion returns for another fantastic remix on "Walk On, Bye". To close, William Doyle's angular guitar processing and surging, vibrant peaks bring a thrilling new slant to "Belle Dux On The Beach".
Review: Anders Midtgaard is one of the leading proponents of the Balearic vibe in Denmark, alongside the likes of Kenneth Bager and Mike Salta. He inaugurates the Fantastic label with this beautiful summer groover, leading in with a plush remix from Italian maestro Luca Moplen. It's a feistier affair than Midtgaard's ever-so-slightly hazy original version, but both retain the core chord sequence that makes this such a heart-rending beauty of a track. The B side opens up with said original mix before Salta is then drafted in for a remix that leaves the disco locomotion behind for a breezier samba groove over which to play some delightfully warbling keys.
Review: Napoli producer Enrico Fierro AKA Milord may not yet be quite as well known as fellow city dwellers New Guinea, but he shares the same love of cosmic synthesizer sounds, atmospheric electronics and lo-fi drum machines. "Meta/Music", his first EP for Pinchy & Friends, inhabits a similar sonic space to the Early Sounds Recordings regulars, too - or at least the synth-fuelled jazz-funk-meets-Balearic cuts "The Kemetist", "Infinite Balance" and the sparse, dubbed-out bliss of "Meta Music" do (incidentally, all three feature copious amounts of dub style delays on the drum hits, which is no bad thing). Best of all though is opener "Transcendental Experience", a slow-burning fusion of new age melodies, intergalactic electronics and minimalist drums that's worth the admission price on its own.
Listen To The Music (Apiento & Tepper remix) (7:08)
Review: Way back in 1988, Italian label Les Folies Art put out a dreamy chunk of Art Of Noise style ambient experimentalism by Quiet Force called "Listen To The Music". It's long been in-demand amongst Balearic collectors for its unique fusion of Fairlight-manipulated vocal samples, glistening guitars, sparse beats, snaking clarinet lines, jaunty fretless bass and new age synthesizers, so this licensed reissue on Rogue Cat Sounds is long overdue. This time round, the duo's original "For Love & Emotions" version comes backed by two fresh remixes. Justin Strauss and Max Pask turn it into a deliciously dreamy chunk of acid-fired early morning house, while Apiento & Tepper re-imagine it as a slick and seductive instrumental Sade B-side.
Review: The translated title of this record from The Architect is "beach on the moon" and is a perfect way of describing the otherworldly balearic music that defines it. It is a truly widescreen affair that takes in a myriad of styles. Gently tumbling comedown drums overlaid with spoken word snippets, dreamy pads that drift off to an infinite horizon, and even some spaced out trap on "Run" feat. Raverie all make it a journeying album right from the off. Then there's also some contemporary folk, golden era hip hop and darker trip hop styles with further gets who lend lyrical wit to the well produced tunes.
Review: Some seven years after delivering his debut single, The Architect (the production alias of sometime French hip-hop scene stalwart DJ Mongkut) has finally finished his debut album. Inspired by the twin attractions of lazy aftetnoons on the beach and the cosmic potential of space travel, "Une Plage Sur La Lune" (a beach on the moon for those not versed in French) is variously psychedelic, deep, drowsy, hazy and surprisingly funky. It draws on the producers various inspirations - jazz, hip-hop, funk, trip-hop and, to a lesser-extent, reggae - to deliver a suite of vocal and instrumental tracks that recall the classic downtempo works of DJ Cam, Aim, Rae & Christian and Guru's Jazzamatazz project.
Voyage De Charme - "Hotel Des Savanes" (instrumental)
Passion Theatre - "Vacation Day"
Claude Miss - "Paco Ye Adama" (12" extended mix)
Cecilia - "Chocolat"
Nathalie David - "Coup De Foudre" (instrumental)
Jade 4 U - "Rainbows" (Midnight mix)
L - "La Boite A Musique"
Jean-Claude Watrin - "Game City"
Marc Et Frank - "Cap'tain Coke"
De Dion - "Sexy Cola" (Glu Glu version)
Les 36'15 - "Zoulous!" (remix)
Week End Millionnaire - "Exit"
Review: A couple of years ago French crate digger Charles Bals invited us to "Club Meduse", an imaginary Riviera club where the music was always obscure, European and decidedly mid-80s. Here he opens the doors once more, delivering an open-air friendly soundtrack heavy on rare private press gems, overlooked beauties and the kind of cuts that most would consider Balearic (even if they may have been more popular in Italy and France). Highlights are plentiful, from the eccentric instrumental of Voyage De Charme's fretless bass-powered "Hotel Des Savanes" and the soft-focus, flamenco-tinged bliss of Claude Miss' "Paco Ye Adama", to the sun-kissed jazz-funk/synth-pop fusion of Marc Et Frank's "Cap'tain Coke" and the reggae-zouk quirkiness of Les 36 15's "Zoulous! (Remix)".