Review: Some four years after Swims brought the work of Dan Snaith to the attention of a whole new audience, the London-based Canadian artist returns with a sixth Caribou album entitled Our Love. Staunch followers of Caribou will know that Snaith tends to adopt different sonic approaches with every long player (compare the psychedelia of Up In Flames with the more spaced out Andorra) but this latest album feels like a natural development of the club influenced sounds of Swims. City Slang call it Snaith's most soulful set yet, and that's certainly helped by the presence of compatriot Jessy Lanza, and like all Caribou albums there is something new that appeals with every listen.
Review: Despite a career in electronic music that stretches right back to the mid 1990s, this album marks the first time that International Feel boss Mark Barrott has released music under his own name. That's a surprise, but then the whole project - quickly recorded and mixed during a period spent living in Ibiza - has a delightfully spontaneous feel about it. Exotic, humid, atmospheric and richly immersive, Sketches From An Island sees Barrott in full on Balearic mode, laying down a series of instrumental soundscapes variously influenced by Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Peter Green and the Orb. It's pretty darn good, too, sounding like a sassier, more cultured version of his 2007 Future Loop Foundation set Memories From A Fading Room.
Review: Formed of Leo Mas and Fabrice (with a little help from Italo legends Rago and Farina), the Onyicron project debuts quite aptly on Aficionado Recordings with Sweet Dream, a 12" that will undoubtedly cause feverish excitement amongst the more Balearic-minded selectors. There's a nice and subtle rise and descent in terms of intensity over the course of the four versions here, with the opening On Air mix evoking memories of early 90s Junior Boys Own ambient bliss, whilst the Balearic Militant and Andras Fox remixes retain this sumptuous textural sheen but add some dancefloor bump to proceedings. The closing Sun mix strips back the beat to little more than a handclap or two.
Review: The second release from the Fools & Fables label comes from Closed Paradise, aka Mathieu Cle, and follows Maricopa's recent debut, an artist that first debuted on Tusk Wax in 2012. Closed Paradise keeps the beats, groove and vibe of "Jungle Goddess" so laid back it become the type of music you dance to while lying down, with chugging house beats mixed with sounds of nature and ambient piano keys. On the flip there's "Get Your Bearings" which is slightly more upbeat thanks to some light African rhythms and sensual Rhodes playing. Good times.
Review: Overworld is key to the rise of Andras Fox this year, a soundtrack to a contemporary dance piece of the same name the Australian producer composed as A.R.T. Wilson and issued on limited cassette format and digitally back in April. Heavily new age in tone, the ten track composition was comparable to some of the early tapes issued on Mood Hut (think Jack Jutson's Mother Official). Due to popular demand the album has been licensed for a wider issue on vinyl by Growing Bag Records and the music eminently fits this new format. This edition features an alternate version of "Sarah's Theme (Air)" whilst the Sunday afternoon selectors out there will get plenty of mileage out of the sublime "Sun Sign Aries".
Review: 'Around the Bend' is soft rock for hard times brought to you by Universal Cave. Bongos high in the mix, a breezy beginning builds towards guitar glistening over a mega kind groove. A tune fit for hang gliders, rock climbers, and summer Sundays. Sunsets and sailboats. Slow grooves for mellow moods. Side B's 'Riding' is flipside meets ripside, no nonsense shredding over a driving drum beat. Long haired beardo disco rock that never quits.
Review: As much love has already been given to Larry Heard's late '80s and early '90s work, it's nice to see some of the Chicagoan's slightly later work getting a deserved reissue. Alien first surfaced on Black Market International back in 1996, and finds Heard exploring his sci-fi influences in a range of deep and emotive styles. So, there are forays into blunted hip-hop ("The Beauty of Celeste"), twinkling, starburst ambience ("Faint Object Detection", "The Dance of Planet X") and Detroit techno-influenced melodic downtempo beats ("DNA-RNA"), as well as occasional moments of typically immersive deep house warmth (the wonderful "Flight of the Comet"). In other words, it's a trip into space in the company of one of electronic music's finest exponents of melodic richness.
Sam Sallon - "You May Not Mean To Hurt Me" (Leo Zero remix)
Ned Doheny - "Get It Up For Love"
High Voltage Orchestra - "Midnight Blue"
Clout - "Sunshine Baby"
Jago - "I'm Going To Go" (instrumental Plant remix)
Underground - "The Illuminator"
Luke - "I Love You" (Frontera dub mix)
Sniff 'N The Tears - "Driver's Seat"
Monsoon - "Wings Of The Dawn"
Review: The first installment of Kelvin Andrews & Balearic Mike's Down To The Sea & Back series, released back in 2010, was something of a classic - a Balearic compilation that largely eschewed the tried-and-tested in favour of deliciously wide-eyed obscurities. This second edition, expanded to two discs, is another belter. Highlights are naturally plentiful, from an eccentric French cover of reggae classic "Chase The Devil" (Dou Dou's "Chocolate Out Vanile Reggae") and the shimmering electronics of Chris and Cosey, to Ned Doheny's stoner-rock cover of Tata Vega's disco classic "Give It Up For Love". There's also some thrillingly wide-eyed slo-mo disco in the shape of Clout's brilliant "Sunshine Baby" and a chunk of African drum voodoo from Guem Et Zaca Percussion. Perfect.
Review: **Repress** The Music From Memory label was launched by Redlight Records founders Tako Reyenga, Abel Nagenast and Jamie Tiller earlier this year, sporting a proud mantra of "giving overlooked and unreleased music that we love a second chance". The focus of attention for Music Of Memory's second release falls on the works of celebrated ambient composer Gigi Masin. Born in Venice, Masin's work has been sampled by the likes of Bjork and To Rococco Rot and his albums attract feverish acclaim, with Wind, Masin's privately pressed debut LP a desired rarity for the only the most well-heeled of second hand collectors. It's from this album and a selection of Masin's other released works that Music From Memory draw from for this stunningly meditative double LP retrospective Talk To The Sea, which also includes a healthy amount of unreleased material.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Emotional Rescue and Woo once again come together, this time to reissue their masterpiece, the previously cassette-only album Into The Heart Of Love. A joyous, uplifting ode to love in all it's forms, the trials and tribulations and ultimately the triumphs are all encapsulated in Woo's unique soundscapes. Of all the myriad of released and unreleased Woo recordings, Into The Heart Of Love is without a doubt their most complete and cohesive body of work. Full of Woo's quirky analogue dub electronics, there is also a very English sense of folk. With more vocals then their other albums, the structure and softness of mood quintessentially comes from the Mother Isle.
Review: Uber is the new label from the Is It Balearic..? Camp. Its aim to release the more of the more Balearic music they have inn their vaults. First up are Bonnie & Klein. The duo behind Bonnie & Klein is Greek pair George Fountzoulas and Thanasis Skouzis who were were born and raised in Nafpaktos, a beautiful hometown in Greece. "Beautiful City" is a low slung percussive groove with a slightly eastern feel with Mediterranean strumming and delicate melodies and an unexpected sax solo. "Carina" is a lighter more cinematic groove with a soft flute pattern and muted guitar all wrapped up in warm strings. Mario Pierro of Raiders Of The Lost Arp (ROTLA) fame remixes "Beautiful City" creating an after sunset chugging balearic slo mo house track oozing class and subtlety. Powerful stuff.
Review: Ramshackle by name, ramshackle by nature on this excellent slab of Balearic business from the Aficionado camp, which features four unreleased gems from the archives of Brenda 'Beachball' Ray. The sultry "Love To Dance" sets the tone nicely, and can best be described as Arthur Russell orchestrating proceedings at the Compass Point Studios and is further blessed by Brenda's whispered vocals. New Age vibes abound on "Coolin' In The Rye" and things get even more tropical on "Theme From Another Space". It's the last track that's our personal favourite however, with "Translantic Dance Trance" the sort of proto 4/4 business you can imagine Max D rocking in a DJ set.
Review: The Mantua based Tempelhof pairing of Luciano Ermondi and Paolo Mazzacani mark their debut on Aficionado with a sublime two track 12". The music here was allegedly inspired by the recording sessions they did for the recent Hoshi LP with Gigi Masin and if you are familiar with his work you will be able to hear how Ermondi and Mazzacani applied the lessons learnt wit the ambient maestro on Piano Piano. The title track is an absolutely gorgeous modern ambient composition that feels like it could go on for a lot longer than its eight minute duration without getting tiresome. Those sumptuous piano notes are pitch perfect. On the b side Ermondi and Mazzacani nudge proceedings gently towards the dancefloor with the delightful Balearic wonder "Barbados". Like most Aficionado releases this wont be around for long.
Review: International Feel boss Mark Barrott lays down a marker for what to expect from his forthcoming debut album Sketches From An Island with this limited no frills 12" sampler. Listening to the five tracks here, it's clear the much travelled Barrott has settled into life amongst the hills of Ibiza very very nicely as there's a sheen of serenity that ties everything together. Recorded using "weird percussion, some slide guitars and a few borrowed synths," inspiration for the tracks here and indeed the album apparently comes from listening to early mixtapes from Jose Padilla in the pre-Cafe Del Mar times, with Barrott attempting to convey the true spirit of Balearica. It's convincing enough for the Juno review team, we're just off to look into villa prices on Ibiza...
Review: To accompany the reissue of Woo's Into The Heart Of Love, Emotional Rescue is releasing a limited 7" featuring songs not included on the vinyl pressing, plus a previously unreleased version of the beautiful title song, which only appeared in
later form on their CD only, La Luna album. With the original Into The Heart Of Love album only appearing as a 60 minute cassette-only release, several of the albums songs could not make the first time vinyl issue from Emotional Rescue.
Therefore, this limited edition 7" includes two of those ommited songs. The wistful English folk duet between Mark Ives and Sue Amor on Make Me Tea and it's sibling on the album, A Little Long Way. Possibly Woo's most straight forward folk song, Make Me Tea is as the title imagines a very particular English poem. Recording as a duet between two late night lovers, awaking from post-love making slumber to find peace and with it, a nice, perfect cup of tea. However, it is the inclusion of the unreleased version of the title song, Magic In The Dark that is worth the admission price alone. Taken from the CD only album, La Luna, the original's short and gentle story of late night love is presented here in it's alternate demo form. A different vantage point is shown in revelation and then exhaltation. The sadder start expands in to a beautiful and wonderus folk celebration. Mark's vocals and guitar are later joined by gentle rhythmic percussion from brother Clive, before Clarinets duet to a yearning finale. Woo once again showing their unique mix of folk and new age electronics. A one off to cherish.
Review: Given the Balearic nature of International Feel's releases - not to mention the fact that label boss Mark Barrott is now a resident of Ibiza - it seems fitting that the imprint's latest missive comes from White Isle legend Jose Padilla. Those who have fond memories of Padilla's evocative downtempo recordings of the 1990s will enjoy "Solito", which winds twittering flutes and dreamy chords around sparse percussion before morphing into a deliciously deep analogue house chugger. Bubble Club's accompanying remix retains the track's innate beauty, while offering a more melancholic interpretation. It borders on the stunning, thanks largely to liberal use of sparse, cascading synth melodies and a deliciously dubbed-out groove.
Review: Originally issued back in 1998, Mezzanine remains the most commercially successful album released by Bristol troupe Massive Attack, thanks in no small part to the Liz Fraser-featuring "Teardrop". This third album signalled a change in sonic direction that played more explicitly on the darkness and tension that was always an undercurrent of their much loved debut Blue Lines and successor Protection. After numerous bootlegs over the years, Virgin have done the right thing and presented this official reissue of Mezzanine to appease fans of Massive Attack and it's clear the LP has lost none of it's bewitching power. The Quincy Jones and Isaac Hayes sampling "Exhange" and "Exchange" remain a delight in particular.
Review: Second release from Uber records is Jesus Luvs U Baby. Los Porcos drop a tripped out dreamy piece of indie Balearic soft rock. Reverbed guitars and chugging bassline and a blissed out vocal. On the remix Claremont 56 boss Paul' Mudd' Murphy delivers a stripped back atmospheric dub groove whilst the second remix from Is It Balearic..? boys Coyote step on the delay pedal and and hit the percussion. The lazy Hammock dub is exactly that...Uno Dos Tres Quatro.
Review: It's been some three years since Paul Byrne last donned his Apiento moniker for the brilliant "The Orange Place" on World Unknown. In that time, he's been busy building up his Test Pressing website, which has helped him make a whole load of impressive new connections. One-time Yello and The Shamen cohort Ian Tregoning lends a hand on "ESP", the lead cut on this first 12" for Golf Channel. The subsequent track is an uncomplicated joy - a woozy chunk of alien-sounding Balearica full of YMO synths and shuffling, picturesque rhythms. Lexx remixes, giving the duo's original a glistening analogue deep house feel. For the EP's other missive, Byrne joins forces with Sade's Andrew Hale - yes, really - for a hazy chunk of bleep-heavy Balearica with a slo-mo acid house twist. Excellent stuff, all told.
Review: Under his Wolf Muller alias, Jan Schulte has proved adept at delivering atmospheric but off-kilter blends of musical styles for the Balearic-focused Themes From Great Cities imprint. He's a good choice, then, to remix Jose Padilla's surprise single on International Feel. Schulte offers up two interpretations, both of which rely far more heavily on live instrumentation - particularly bells and percussion - than Padilla's original. The "Water Mix" sounds a little like classic Dunkelziffer - no bad thing in our book - while the "Water Dance" version ups the tempo slightly, adding a live bassline that gives the track a horizontal dub disco feel.
Review: The new soft-spoken, hard-rocking group from Baltimore debuted their full length live show at the Wolf + Lamb Marcy Hotel this March. Following in the footsteps of greats like Nicolas Jaar and PillowTalk, they were the first invited guest in over 2 years to perform at the legendary Brooklyn proving grounds. Life on Planets is a duo that met in the studio lofts of their east coast hometown, whereby a collaboration fusing indie artrock and electronic music began to take shape. It was a pairing of two dramatically different personas, merging as one for a serendipitous, romantic sound that's now been signed to the Double Standard label. Life on Planets has also released music through Better on Foot, where the debut single 'Apollo' made waves in early 2014. The touring act features live vocals and guitar, backed by a dj/producer, dawning a long-awaited return to authentic songwriting in dance music.
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.