Reviewed this week
While there's always been something definitively matter-of-fact about the title of the Balearic compilation series, the music they showcase is rarely less than magical. That's certainly the case on this fourth annual instalment. Naturally, the selections touch on a variety of Balearic staples, including Vangelis-influenced instrumental bliss (Max Essa's sublime opener), hypnotic, slow motion grooves (see Simon Peter's wonderful, jazz guitar-flecked "Ottimismo"), flamenco guitar-laden haziness (a killer On-U-Sound version of Los Twangueros's "Entre Dos Aguas"), swirling synth-pop/nu-disco fusion (Faze Action remixing Private Agenda), loved-up blue-eyed soul (Quinn Luke) and deep space electronics (Fabrizio Mammarella's enveloping Ambient Mix of Gallo's "Faron").
The Nightnoise imprint has become synonymous with quality electronic experiments, particularly of the balearic category, and they're known for pushing out new talent on the regular. Tales Of Voodoo is their latest catch, a producer who clearly has a vision in mind for what he wants his music to be - "Sun Cymbals" is a joyous, almost tribal groove that sways left to right, from house to something altogether undefined; "Moon Rituals" is the darker, more percussive evolution of the track heads way out into the ether. There's two remixes, Jose Manuel's starry-eyed revisioning of "Sun Cymbals", and Yarni's hyper-space-deep-house rework of "Moon Rituals". Fly.
Since Emeralds disbanded earlier in the decade, Steve Hauschildt has impressed with a serious of largely overlooked albums on Kranky that showcased his innate ability to craft distinctly melodic music that sits somewhere between IDM, slowly shifting ambient, droning soundscapes and more ethereal home listening techno. Dissolvi, his first album for Ghostly International, could well be his most accomplished solo work to date. While it explores similar sonic territory to previous full-length releases, the set is bolder, more atmospheric and, at times, intensely beautiful. While undoubtedly fresh, those with long memories will note audible nods to ambient and deep techno greats of the early 1990s, including Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum), Pete Namlook and, most obviously, Boards of Canada. In a word: timeless.
Eclectics has been quietly getting on with the business of releasing essential music for over a year now, establishing itself as a label that has quality as the only constant in a wide-ranging back catalogue. This latest release is no exception, but that's not to say it isn't exceptional. All the way from Daytona Beach in Florida, Justin Weems aka Faint Waves, brings music to fall for in a big way. The Paradise Lost EP features the soothing, shimmering celestial new age tones of the title track, which receives a neon-lit rework by San Francisco's Dream Chimney. Then the chilled-out balearica of "Sea Of Dreams" also gets remixed: this time by Sentrall Records Rollmottle who takes it into deep and dark kosmische territory.
Having excelled via a series of mind-blowing reissues, the Isle of Jura label has given birth to a new offshoot focusing on fresh material, Temple of Jura. The sub-label's debut EP is a notably dub-wise affair, featuring killer cuts from Melbourne man Len Leise and Adelaide-based overlords Jura Soundsystem. Liese's picturesque and breezy "Dear Adrian" is a perfectly pitched tribute to Adrian Sherwood's 1980s peak with a glistening Balearic sheen. It's very good, of course, but it's the three versions of Jura Soundsystem's "Udaberri Blues" that have really set our pulses racing. The rootsy, floor-friendly original version comes accompanied by a heavyweight, breakbeat-driven Dub straight from the top drawer, and a blissfully brilliant Space Mix that sounds like a long lost, undiscovered relic from the ambient house era.
Chamber music composer turned electronic music producer Paul Frick has been rather quiet of late, with his last solo release of note coming way back in 2011 via Kalk Pets. Happily, this belated return to action - a fine full-length excursion on R&S's downtempo offshoot Apollo - is one of his strongest releases to date. It's largely humid and tropical in tone, with the producer fusing field recordings of nature and manipulated tropical drums with all manner of lilting, ear-pleasing musical touches. It's rather hard to pigeonhole, all told, but there's little to fault. The producer's ability to balance feverish soundscapes and blissful home listening fare with more floor-friendly compositions is arguably the album's defining feature, with his knack of crafting entertaining and melodious experimental music coming a close second.
Top Labels
K7 Germany
New State
Music For Dreams US
Eighteenth Street Lounge Music US