Since first joining forces at the tail end of the noughties, California-based duo Simon 'Woolfy' James and Dan 'Projections' Hastie have become masters of the Balearic blend, delivering albums packed full of hazy, picturesque gems that join the dots between a multitude of sun-kissed styles. They're at it again on this third full-length for Permanent Vacation. Across the 11 tracks, they variously fuse, mangle and doff a cap to flamenco, dub disco, AOR pop, stoned West Coast rock, chugging Italo, lilting downtempo grooves, reggae, deep house, post-punk dub funk, and folksy pop, all whilst retaining their now familiar beach-friendly sound. Station's greatest moment, though, is "Who", a blindingly good - and suitably baggy - cover of Odyssey's 1974 Balearic anthem of the same name.
UK institution Ninja Tune have certainly done a good job of remaining relevant. The label that once brought us the trip hop and chilled beats of DJ Vadim and Funky Porcini these days offers us the sultry deep house of Romare. A Frenchman who claims to have learned his aesthetic from African American studies in college, "Love Song" gets its groove on nicely with some uplifting deepness complete with some sultry vocals, exotic percussion and overall dusty aesthetic.
International Feel's love-in with Balearic veteran Jose Padilla continues, as So Many Colours album track "Lollipop" gets the remix treatment. Padilla kicks things off by delivering an extended, 12"-friendly version, where sun-kissed pianos, twittering synth-flutes and - of course - hazy guitars wrap themselves around a tactile Balearic disco groove. The accompanying remixes are of an impressively high standard, with Dream 2 Science's drifting, soft touch deep house remake - every bit as luscious, analogue-rich and evocative as his early '90s productions - really impressing. French maverick I:Cube delivers two reworks; a straightforward Remix that adds a little warehouse-friendly bump whilst retaining Padilla's gorgeous melodies, and the looser, baggier "Casiotone Reprise".
Shadowy downtempo deviant Nuage takes a break from his drum and bass servings, and switched to house mode with this latest EP for the prolific Project Mooncircle, this being the producer's debut for the label. "Nulla" opens the doors to a odd but wonderful planet made up of subtle melodic tones, caressing beats and soothing pads. "Spring Ghosts" is another majestic moments amid the tracks, a laid-back jam charged with a slow house tempo and fluttering breaks. Nuage's music is a true breath of fresh air, combining contrasting elements with a singular precision and an open mind. Something we can all enjoy.
New label Invisible Inc has decided to try and hit home hard from the word go, filling this debut "sampler" EP with cuts from artists they'll be working with over the coming months and years. Los Angeles based artist-turned-producer Secret Circuit kicks things off, delivering a typically saucer-eyed blend of yearning synthesizer melodies, elastic synth-bass and dreamy pads. Higamos Hogamos doff a cap to synth-wave and minimal-wave on the wonderfully atmospheric, modular-heavy soundscapes of "Mini Pops", before hirsute eccentric Tim 'Love' Lee melds twinkling ambience and dubby, soft touch grooves on the picturesque "Trip Triangular". Finally, the Poncho Brothers skillfully combine dub disco rhythms, Balearic synths and stoned electronics on the brilliantly named "Airbed Drifter".
Here's an intriguing prospect: a collaboration between ambient and dub inclined Icelandic band Kura and Italian house/techno types Hunter/Game, under the previously unseen Landside alias. Happily, the fusion of the two outfits' different styles is a successful one, resulting in two highly evocative and atmospheric compositions. They begin with "Silence Before The Storm", a spacious, bass-heavy fusion of post-dubstep beats, drawn-out chords, woozy electronics and tumbling vocals. They move further towards the dancefloor on the droning 4/4 pulse of "Still There", whilst retaining the vocal-led, texture-heavy feel of its' predecessor. Remixes come from Max Cooper and Benjamin Damage, whose techno rework of "Silence Before The Storm" is a raw, brutal and hugely atmospheric.