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musical investigations of psychedelic sunsets
It’s very easy to state amongst music aficionados that the Balearic revival most definitely is at an all-time high these days. In actuality though, Balearic a) never really left, mainly because b) it should be predominately considered an ideal about how music should be perceived rather than it being a specific genre, really. An obscure three minute long New Wave track can be as Balearic as an Ambient track which manifests itself through its twenty minute running time, the latest offerings from production heavyweights such as Nicolas Jaar or Kieran Hebden would feel very comfortable within the realms of this category and the same could be said about a world music oddity from the mid 60s. Add glimpses of (Italo) Disco, Shoegaze, (early) House, Indie, Soundtracks, Krautrock, Psych and the occasional quirky pop number to the mix and you’ll know why Balearic is impossible to define. The most common feature might be a sense of yearning, its rich melodies, the musical freedom and general openness - and maybe that’s exactly why the most impressive DJ sets, which adorned themselves with delivering a Balearic style, are skilfully breaking away from traditional song forms and worn-out patterns of conventional set-lists.
Lodown asked a few carefully selected DJs and producers very familiar with anything Balearic to go through their extensive record collection, in order to pick a personal game changer from this field. Gracias, amigos!
(International Feel / markbarrott.com)
ART OF NOISE - The Ambient Collection (1990)
For me, one of the most influential Balearic records is the Art of Noise ‘Ambient Collection’. It has all the ingredients that feed into what I play, listen to and make as a musician: nature sounds - to my ears, music sounds flat without ambient background noise, probably because I work in the Ibizan countryside and can always hear birdsong etc. when I’m working, so much so, that it becomes part of the music and I often stick a recorder outside and add it to the track - and a really strong sense of simple, lasting melody that is missing from the majority of today’s modern music, and finally a sense of nostalgia - that feeling of endless possibilities you have as a kid when you start the summer holidays, that sense of adventure when you leap into the unknown with an open heart, which is, in its vey essence, totally Balearic, as Ibiza makes that way of being more possible than just about anywhere else on the planet and then that becomes a state of mind that you can pack up and take with you anywhere.
- I’m actually taking a year off music, but somehow managed to come up with an album of slow 100bpm amateur Balearic techno and house music, with (of course) loads of nature sounds in the background, called (ironically) “Nature Sounds of the Balearics“. It’s coming out at some point on Running Back. Oh, and there’s the recent sunset-y remixes of Tears for Fears “Head Over Heels“ that I did recently. Anything I’m up to can usually be found at markbarrott.com
(ESP Institute / esp-institute.com)
WALLY BADAROU - Theme From Countryman (1982)
Is it Balearic? Cosmic? Afro? We're undecided, it's hard to categorize, probably the reason you never hear it on mixtapes or in clubs. In 1980s Sweden, the film “Countryman“, an almost unwatchable, low-budget action/adventure film, was mysteriously widely distributed on video. There was a fair amount of gold digging in the straight-to-video industry at the time, even ties to the criminal underground, so films nobody wanted to watch were sitting on the shelves in most video stores. Thunder and his shaman Pony come from humble backgrounds, hence watching a movie meant renting the actual VHS player (10 kilos) as well, and lugging it home (30 minute walk). Popping “Countryman“ into the machine was exciting, but the film is not an easy watch for 10-year-olds. The music was great though; The Wailers, of course, Aswad's Mosman Skank - incredible, but Badarou's music had that mystic allure of sunny, beachy places, far from our rainy hometowns, where people own their video players.
(Hell Yeah Recordings / hellyeahrec.bandcamp.com)
GALLO - Faron (Fabrizio Mammarella Ambient Remix) (2018)
I was lucky to play the sunset at Hostal La Torre last September - apparently, if you play sunset music on the island, it's all about the moment the sun disappears into the landscape, if the music stops exactly at that same time you win, you are the fucking balearic king. At 8.41 (sunset 8.47) I played my 2 cents for the crown on this little tune written by my brother Gallo and upgraded into an epic Balearic monster by the mighty Fabrizio Mammarella. Being his brother, I've always been sceptic about his music, but this was impossible to not be played. The track perfectly captured the moment for many souls, and everyone got mad for an ID... it was funny to see music lovers and deejays climbing rocks to come to the DJ booth... that rare nice, nice feeling. We have included this Balearic anthem into the “Remember to Forget" EP by Gallo on Hell Yeah Recordings.
(Music For Dreams / musicfordreams.dk)
EDEN AHBEZ - Eden’s Island (1960)
This album is way before the Balearic genre was born but I think it has lots of connections and it has a great influence on my own music. Usually labelled as ‘Exotica’; I can’t really compare it to any other great examples though, such as music from Martin Denny or Arthur Lyman. If you think of the time when it was recorded, it’s fascinating that the album can turn any room into its very own island atmosphere, with a great stereo image and sound palette. Eden Ahbez was born in 1908, had influenced the hippie movement with his lifestyle and passed away in a car accident in 1995. The biggest influence on the album for me was how he used different world instruments and created his own sonic spectrum. Listen to this album alone, right in the glistening sunlight, laying on the beach.
- Right now I am working on Islandman’s new album with Kenneth Bager from Music for Dreams. Exploring new ways of Anatolian melodies with Balearic beats and percussions.
(The Time and Space Machine / richardnorris.dj)
BRIAN ENO - By This River (1977)
One track that always reminds me of summer is Brian Eno's “By This River“. It has a timeless, endless quality. Very languid. As if summer goes on forever. Which I wish it would!
- Richard just started a new project called “The Long Now“ with Icelandic musician Finnur Bjarnason. Their first EP will be released at the end of July.
(Love International Recordings / loveinternationalrecordings.bandcamp.com)
Impossible to pick just one, so here you go:
SERGIO MENDES & BRASIL 66 - Stillness (1970)
I knew "For What It's Worth” from this LP when I found it in a secondhand shop in the early 90s. I taped it to listen to in my car and soon became obsessed with it from start to finish. It made me realize that there was another world of music from South America (even though it was a US production) that had all these beautiful elements. I’ve been journeying through Brazilian music ever since.
TONI ESPOSITO - Hands (1987)
I love that moment when you hear that holiday record go off on full blast. I like to call it Holiday Pop and I play this one a lot. A cheap charity shop find, in the sun this Italian gem is perfect... and it comes with a genius video, too.
PROGETTO TRIBALE - You Make Me So Hot (1995)
I heard this at Pacha in 1995 and went to buy the record the day after in Ibiza town. I left it in a car all day and it got warped in the heat. It's like a rollercoaster but somehow still plays. Look at this title!
U-N-I - don’t hold back that feeling (1992)
For a night time energy rush head for the ‘Key Trip Dub’. I made a quick cut’n’shut edit for deejaying with but those pianos ...
WHYTE HORSES - snowfalls (2014)
Just to turn it on its head, hear this perfect psychedelic indie pop 7”, which is a nugget of gold from my hometown.
(Gomma/Toy Tonics/Kryptox / www.gomma.de)
MARCOS VALLE - Não Tem Nada Não (1973)
So hard to chose only one summer song when you are a collector of Brasil & Latin music like I am, so here’s a rather classic pick. Marcos Valle’s version of Azimuth’s “Não Tem Nada Não“ is probably one of the sweetest pieces of music ever recorded. I used to play that as a closing track in a series of parties we used to call “El Barrio“. El Barrio was a happening where we played only music with a heavy percussive feel, from Boogalo and Descargas to Latin House and pitched down Cumbia. I remember one night where I played that tune around 15 times in a row. The song has only 3 minutes and people were so in love that I kept playing and playing it... I guess we had a lot of new couples that night.
- We just started a new label by the name Kryptox, which will feature unheard forms of music inspired by Jazz, contemporary classical music and experimental electronica.
(Growing Bin Records / growingbinrecords.com)
WOLFSMOND - Fühl Dich Frei (1982) (Basso Edit)
Excavated in Hamburg’s sacred „Plattenrille“ this super relaxed song rapidly grew to become one of my favorites. To make it more dance floor compatible I did an edit of it, but to be honest, I didn’t expect Brits, Portuguese, Russians, Ukrainians and Japanese peops go nuts about it. That edit even got approved by Wolfsmond and most likely will end up on a Music For Dreams compilation sooner or later.
- For Growing Bin I was about to release a wonderful recording of underwater tunes by Alan Briand (Shelter), but the vinyl pressing turned out to be so bad that for now I postponed that one and a synthesizer and percussion record by Japan’s Singu will be released first.
(Permanent Vacation / woolfy.me)
WILLIAM PITT - City Lights (Extended Version)
Like all Balearic tracks, it's about timing. Playing the track at the right time for your people to bask in their emotional glory. Done at the wrong time? Murder in the Sea of Moroccan Cheese. From the start, “City Lights“ opens the imagination with an island feel of Spanish guitars sailing away into the promising sunset. The stage is set for the best bass line, ever, to drop. You can see Dennis Edwards about to put the smackdown on Mr. Pitt, as it's an absolute lift of his hit song "Don't Look Any Further”. Just like in Eric B. and Rakim's "Paid In Full", if you’re gonna steal somebody's shit, make it count; worth the copyright infringement. In comes Bryan Ferry, or rather the U.S. version of him aka William Pitt (check the LP cover, someone wants to be Mr. Ferry, but he wears the masquerade well). The mixing and arrangements are stellar, with a moving chord change towards the end, what a delight! Whether on the beach in the late afternoon, or a highrise at night, it's always a pleasure to play. Extended mix is a must. Romanticos Balearicos (not to be confused with Woolfy's City Lights).
(Multi Culti / multiculti.bandcamp.com)
HIROYUKI NAMBA - Tropical Exposition (1982)
Obviously a tough one to choose as I am from the land of everlasting sunrise/sunset - Australia. Having said that: I have scored too many cosmic sunrises to count with this track. When a track resonates with you in a way that you find hard to understand and explain then you know that it has transcendental powers. This is one of those tracks.
- Dreems has a release with his main man Kris Baha under their Die Orangen moniker coming out early July. On the Multi Culti side of things he and Thomas Von Party are putting out a re-issue of Ghanaian singer/hipline artist Blay Ambolley’s “Simi Rapp“, which will come with their own edit, plus remixes by Red Axes and Johnny Aux.
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here's a small glimpse of where it all began - ibiza, the island that defined a genre which isn't one - amnesia closing party, ibiza, 1989, "the second summer of love", dj alfredo playing.
we're not sure about the massive amounts of recreational drugs consumed there, but it looks like one of those parties where you def don't wanna go home. (video via testpressing.org) :