Review: Under the A Vision of Panorama alias, Mikhail Khavsko has released some of the most beguiling nu-Balearic music of the past few years. Aquafusion is his long-awaited debut album, and is sure to further enhance his already high reputation. Drawing on sun kissed synthesizer grooves, languid nu-disco and hazy pop for inspiration, the album boasts all manner of ear-pleasing highlights. These include the new age inspired ambient slinkiness of "Open Sequences", the Gigi Masin style bliss of "Seagulls", the mid-'80s synth-pop-goes-dancing bounce of "Barbados", and the baked, horizontal pop of "Duality" (which notably features the drowsy vocals of Krista Michaela).
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)".
Review: Emotional Rescue label boss Stuart Leath is particularly excited about this release, and it's not hard to see why. While Spanish singer/songwriter Javier Bergia is not widely known in the UK, his releases - either solo, or as part of the Finas Africae and Arium Musicae groups - are held in high regard by those of a Balearic persuasion. Eclipse is something of a treat, gathering together the best of Bergia's solo work from 1985 to the present day. Featuring Bergia's spoken and sung vocals atop a mix of gentle acoustics, atmospheric strings, delay-laden percussion and subtle global rhythms, Eclipse impresses from start to finish. It should be essential listening for anyone with even the tiniest interest in Balearica.
Review: Black Sands, the eagerly anticipated fourth album from Simon Green AKA Bonobo, is no revolutionary change from his signature sound but does come with perhaps even more subtlety and complexity than his previous offerings. Having constantly instilled a degree of integrity and value back into chill out music following the influx of Cafe Del Mar and Coffeeshop compilations, Green once again displays a musicianship that sets him apart as a true artist and producer amongst a sea of downtempo and chillout DJs. His undeniably clear understanding of composition and arrangement of live instruments has enabled Green to make an album that reaches out through diverse styles, taking influence and inspiration from wherever possible. On Black Sands, Green delves into electronic music and bass more than he did across Animal Magic, Dial "M" For Monkey or Days To Come but does so with enough subtlety and finesse to refrain from causing a radical shift in his product. Tracks like "Kiara," "We Could Forever" and "All In Forms" all utilise beats and bass in a more contemporary outlook than we are used to with Bonobo. Of course the instrumental feel is still there for all to see. Title track "Black Sands" takes this position for almost seven minutes of a horn infused waltz whereas "Kong" assumes the traditional soul-jazz Bonobo take and "Animals" lets delicate drum patterns guide us through pleasing tempo shifts. The instrumental vibe is highlighted further in the album's approach to vocals. Unlike his last album, Days To Come which was littered with vocals, Black Sands houses only three tracks that contain vocals. The breathy vocals of Andreya Triana complete tracks like "Stay the Same" and "The Keeper" turning them in more traditional songs. Black Sands is another loving crafted offering that uses orchestral arrangements but this time merged with more of a dance aesthetic. As he continues to make chillout more credible in his experimental way, it's no wonder that Bonobo is one of the biggest artists to come from the excellent Ninja Tune.
Earth Trax & Newborn Jr - "If You" (feat Annjet - club mix)
John Beltran - "Collage Of Dreams"
Review: For their first foray into the mix market following the conclusion of their original, 100-volume series, London superclub Fabric has decided to offer up a rare DJ mix from genre-defying producer Simon Green AKA Bonobo. It's his first mix of any sort since 2013 and it is really rather good. Beautiful, picturesque, melodious and fluid, the mix not only includes heaps of previously unheard material from the man himself, but also touches on a dizzying number of styles (most notably ambient, loved-up deep house, African and South American drum music, IDM, electronica, techno, electro-soul, broken beat and dreamy breaks). That it all hangs together brilliantly is testament to Green's impeccable DJing and production skills.
Review: Having released a quartet of albums in 2013, you'd think ambient adventurer Brock van Wey would fancy a rest. Not a bit of it. Here, he drops another full length, the decidedly Balearic and surprisingly touchy-feely I'll Only Break Your Heart. In 90s ambient fashion, the album's four tracks are decidedly long, allowing van Wey to develop themes without sticking to traditional song structures. For those who enjoy spine-tingling soundscapes and wide-eyed, evocative compositions, this is clearly a good thing. The intricate piano-and-vocal excursion "Feel, Unfeel" - pleasingly sparse and drenched in delay -and the epic ambient dub exploration "Appear, Disappear" are arguably the highlights, but as usual it's all of an impressively high standard.
Review: When it comes to soundscape-inspired ambient music - of which, it should be noted, there is plenty around at present - it can be hard to construct an album that's as interesting and enjoyable as it is soothing. Luckily, BVDub is an old hand at this kind of thing. Since 1999, he's released an astonishing 18 albums. This 19th full-length is one of his best. Gorgeous, bewitching and emotion-rich, with enough intricate detail to keep headphone listeners immersed in his calming world, it simply oozes class. There are odd forays into more beatsy territory - see the piano and hip-hop beats of the dreamy "Through The Lower Room, We Reach Higher" - but he really excels when keeping it beatless. The title track, in particular, is fantastic.
Review: On its initial vinyl and download release late last year, Cherry was proclaimed by critics as being one of Chromatics' strongest albums to date. Given that the Portland band have now released seven acclaimed sets, that's some claim. This first "deluxe" CD edition adds previously unheard cuts and alternative versions, but it's the core set - featured on the first half of the CD - that really sparkles. As you might expect, it's not only full of the atmospheric, slow motion synth-pop with which they made their name, but also a swathe of cuts heavily influenced by the cinematioc soundtrack work Jonny Jewel has been concentrating on since their previous full-length dropped back in 2012. In other words, it's quite possibly Chromatics' most evocative and rounded set to date.
Review: "Ma Fleur" is the first full studio album by Jason Swinscoe's Cinematic Orchestra since 2002's "Everyday". The record was written as the soundtrack to a specially commissioned screenplay for an imagined film (which may or may not be made). Shortly after finishing "Everyday", a piece of music which achieved great critical and commercial success, Jason Swinscoe relocated from East London to Paris. Here he began work on the instrumentals which would form the basis of his new record - more moods than finished tracks, a series of sketches or diagrams of directions to follow. Having completed a rough version by early 2005, he gave this to a friend who disappeared for three weeks and came back with short story scripts in which each scene represented a story of a different time in life, expressing the emotions which underpin the journey from birth to death. Jason then took this and worked some more on the tracks, and in turn gave this back to his scriptwriter, the two aspects of the project developing alongside one another. Gradually, Swinscoe recruited suitable vocalists for the atmospheres and themes he wanted to deal with. The remarkable Fontella Bass, who is now sadly in frail health, is the woman behind both legendary soul number "Rescue Me" as well as some of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's finest moments, had worked on "Everyday" and was an obvious choice to voice the parts of the elderly protagonist that Swinscoe envisaged. Mercury-nominated Lou Rhodes is not only a fantastic singer but a young mother and so perfect for the "mid-life" singer. The as-yet unheralded Patrick Watson, a remarkable vocalist from Montreal, became the youngest of the trio.
Review: Five years on from their last full-length excursion, Darkstar return with "Civic Jams", a socio-politically charged set that Warp says was influenced by two decidedly disparate musical inspirations: the opaque, slowly shfiting sonic density pf shoegaze, and 30 years of the British bass music continuum. In practice, that means a striking fusion of tactile vocals, drowsy electronics, wall-of-sound chords and crunchy, off-kilter rhythms that tip a wink to hip-hop, grime, dubstep, breakbeat and more, while never sounding specifically like any of them. It's not a club-focused set, but it an undeniably impactful one, primarily because its inherent bittersweet beauty and weary melancholia seems in tune with these unusual, claustrophobic times.
Review: Last year, long-serving "global pop" innovators Deep Forest (now a solo project by co-founder Eric Mouquet) returned to action with a collaborative album co-penned by fellow "Worldbeat" veteran Daniele Gaudi. Here Moquet presents the first solo Deep Forest set since 2015, a breezy and sun-kissed set inspired by the music of Brazil. What you get is a dreamy and effortlessly melodious blend of indigenous rhythms, electronic instrumentation, dreamy chords, heartfelt vocals (in this case largely in Portuguese), ambient atmospherics and slow-motion synth-pop sensibilities. There are few surprises, but then you wouldn't expect them: after all, Mouquet is a master at producing this kind of accessible pop. If you're a fan of Deep Forest, you'll love it.
Marta Acuna - "Dance, Dance, Dance" (Disco version)
System Olympia - "Close To My Nebula"
Mildlife - "Magnificent Moon"
Das Komplex - "Slap"
Nu Guinea - "Je Vulesse"
Forgotten Corner & Khidja - "Tatooine Moons"
Pamela Nivens - "It's You I Love" (instrumental)
Hugh Mane - "Real Sucker For Your Love"
Switchdance - "Arabian Ride"
Land Of Light - "A Stange Attractor" (Peaking Lights Rmx)
Mr Marvin - "Entity" (Jazzy mix)
Review: Almost two years on from the release of his brilliant "The Sound of Mercury Rising" compilation, DJ Harvey returns with another brilliant selection of tracks he's championed at Pikes in Ibiza. As with its predecessor, volume two offers a giddy skip through the dustier corners of his notoriously eclectic and off-kilter record selection. Along the way, he offers up chiming, synth-heavy Balearic classics (Mandy Smith, Hugh Mane), weirdo European disco (Marta Acuna), evocative electronic soundscapes (System Olympia), blue-eyed synth-pop (Pamela Nivens), drum machine-powered Middle Eastern madness (Switchdance's sublime "Arabian Ride") and a swathe of tasty contemporary cuts (the jaunty jazz-funk of Midlife, Das Komplex's ace "Slap", Nu Guinea's splendid "Je Vulesse" and Peaking Lights remix of Land of Light being the highlights).
Review: 'Fidelity' is the LTM release of virtuoso guitarist/composer, Vini Reilly and Co's 1996 full length. The expanded CD features one bonus track, 'My Only Love', originally
issued in 1995 as well as an attractive booklet including background notes, and the text of the original press release.
Review: LTM presents 'Circuses And Bread' the new album from The Durutti Column. An expanded release of VINI Reilly's 1983 release features ten bonus tracks, including the rare Japanese single For Noriko/Love Fading, comp. album tracks
Verbiers and The Aftermath, and 4 previously unreleased tracks from the cancelled 1983 album "Short Stories For Pauline". The bonus cuts also include the rarely heard 1983 single 'I Get Along Without You Very Well'(a Hoagy Carmichael cover).
Review: Three years on from his last acclaimed outing on Endless Flight, Berlin-based Canadian Eddie C returns to the Japanese label with another high quality full-length excursion. Those who've followed his career over the last six or seven years will feel at home straight away. Opener "Hello baby" is a quirky, break-driven head-nodder rich in dub disco bass and quirky samples, while the cut that follows, "Carbon Date", offers a deeper and more spacey take on the same heady blueprint. From then on its' a loved-up, saucer-eyed jaunt through laidback Balearic disco grooves ("In The Park"), spaced-out punk-funk ("Way Uptown"), percussion-packed Latin beats ("Batacuda"), bustling breakbeat house ("Berlina"), warped digital dub ("Dancin' Music") and spaced-out broken beat ("Listen"). In a word: superb.
Clandestino - "Crack In The Sky" (Beat Broker Dream dub)
Last Waltz - "Tribute" (Machete Savane remix)
DJ Rocca & Daniele Baldelli - "Sartana"
Daniel Wainwright - "Doing It"
The Saint Petersburg Disco Spin Club - "Neva Liv U"
Ilija Rudman - "Second Screen"
Felix Dickenson - "Ousana" (Coyote remix)
I-Boat Captain - "Poly Punk"
Coyote - "California Jam"
Craig Bratley - "Maverick Sound System Mix"
Max Essa - "Burning Palms"
Rompante - "How Low Can You Dance" (Ahiki remix)
Sorcerer - "Zulu Honda"
Coyote - "Sin Distracciones"
9DW - "Right On" (original mix)
Leo Mas & Fabrice - "Sunrise 87" (Balearic Militant mix)
Downtown Party Network - "The Returning" (Prins Thomas Diskomiks)
Max Essa - "Feel The Machine"
Baptiste & Pierre - "Virage" (Ruf Dug extension)
Joe Morris - "Mpondo Theme"
Review: 2016 sees Coyote arrive at a decade of posing the question Is It Balearic? Replicating the compilation shaped celebrations surrounding their fifth anniversary, the landmark is noted with this fine 2CD collection. The compiling skills of Balearic chieftain Max Essa are called on for the first disc selections, with Coyote taking care of business on the second for a fine horizontally-minded celebration of all things Balearic encompassing 22 tracks. Tempos nudge back and forth, different vibes coming to the fore along the way as a dash of steel drum is replaced by forthright synth glistens and upright basslines. Legends mingle alongside future heroes, Foolish Felix and Baldelli impressing as much as Last Waltz and Clandestino. As the end nears, up pops Prins Thomas's classic Diskomiks of Downtown Party Network. Here's to another ten years Is it Balearic?
Review: Since the release of his acclaimed 2016 album Animal, Fakear has rocketed towards the higher echelons of underground electronic music. It's a sign of his rapid rise that All Glows feels like one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year. Happily, we can report that it's another lucid and melodious gem, with the French producer once again prioritizing attractive synthesizer melodies, manipulated samples, imaginative beat programming and atmospheric chord sequences. As with previous excursions, he's opted for a balance of attractive, radio-friendly songs (think quirky, off-kilter synth-pop and drowsy electronic/acoustic fusion, featuring a range of guest vocalists), hazy interludes and inspired instrumentals.
Review: Brothers Simon and Robin Lee have long excelled at the album format, delivering occasional sets that ripple with impressive musicality, sinewy strings, cozy downtempo moods and upbeat dancefloor moments. Body of One, their fourth full length (their first dropped on Nuphonic back in 1997), continues this trend, offering a compelling trip through the pair's myriad influences. After opening with a sweaty post-punk thumper ("Prisoner of Your Love"), we're variously treated to Italo-influenced vintage house ("Magic Touch"), rubbery disco-funk ("Freak For Your Love"), Arthur Russell-influenced tropical downtempo pop ("Caruso's Monkey House"), dreamy Balearica ("Floating World") and string-laden gorgeousness. As for the title track, it sounds like So-era Peter Gabriel.
Review: ***B-STOCK: Box damaged, product unused & in perfect condition***
- Creasing to outer case + damage to plastic CD tray
Brothers Simon and Robin Lee have long excelled at the album format, delivering occasional sets that ripple with impressive musicality, sinewy strings, cozy downtempo moods and upbeat dancefloor moments. Body of One, their fourth full length (their first dropped on Nuphonic back in 1997), continues this trend, offering a compelling trip through the pair's myriad influences. After opening with a sweaty post-punk thumper ("Prisoner of Your Love"), we're variously treated to Italo-influenced vintage house ("Magic Touch"), rubbery disco-funk ("Freak For Your Love"), Arthur Russell-influenced tropical downtempo pop ("Caruso's Monkey House"), dreamy Balearica ("Floating World") and string-laden gorgeousness. As for the title track, it sounds like So-era Peter Gabriel.
Review: The latest missive from Trevor Jackson's label, Pre-, is another previously unreleased archive project from the man himself. Jackson recorded the material contained on the album between 1994 and 1997, when he was best known for producing dusty, sample-heavy hip-hop beats as the Underdog. Understandably, roughly half of You boasts the blazed, head-nodding swing of dope hip-hop drums, cleverly combined with textured samples of acoustic guitars and other vaguely Balearic instrumentation. The other half is more experimental in tone, with Jackson variously touching on post-rock, new age and folksy ambience. Most importantly, it's all hugely entertaining.
Review: As debut albums go, this sumptuous set from the previously unheralded Scott Gilmore is extremely impressive. It's made up of eight evocative and emotion-rich compositions layered in Jonny Nash style guitar, meandering analogue synthesizer motifs, swirling sonic textures and the sounds of dusty old instruments bought at yard sales in the producer's native California. While his influences - think Eno and Byrne, the Walker Brothers, quirky 1970s library music, easy listening and early Air, for starters - are obvious, none of the included tracks sound like heartfelt tributes. In fact, it's Gilmore's own musical voice - imaginative, atmospheric and quietly colourful, with a passion for lo-fi recording techniques - that makes Subtle Vertigo such a rewarding listen.