Balearic . Yacht Rock . New Age . Downbeat


Genre pick of the week Cover of Dreaming Of Spires - Vinyl Edition by July Skies.
Amid the haste and confusion of the modern world, you need to take comfort wherever you can find it. I'd suggest there's no better place than in the soft, ambient textures of the debut album from July Skies. The solo project of Birmingham musician and Avrocar mainstay Antony Harding, July Skies offers a hazy glimpse of soft focus nostalgia and reassuring melancholy. Composed from a minimal set up of guitar, reverb/delay, occasional keyboard washes and calmly murmured vocals, the twelve pieces on this debut fully envelop you in their fragile beauty, sheltering you from the outside world and allowing you to luxuriate in raw emotion. On its CD only release back in 2002, "Dreaming Of Spires" met with rapturous critical acclaim, garnering comparisons to Duruttti Column's finest work. I'd offer Gigi Masin, Johnny Nash and Suzanne Kraft as ideal companions from recent years. The album consists of twelve delicate dreamlike compositions, each full of heartfelt detail that conjure up images of half-forgotten childhood days, innocence, nature and the English landscape and skies. From the dusky autumnal loss of "Coastal Stations", the swooping delayed melody of "Swallows and Swifts", the late night astronomical delights of "The Night Sky" and "Garden Constellations", this is certainly an album for the quiet moments in life and will delight anyone who is led by the heart. No review would be complete without a mention of "The Softest Kisses", a sublime piece of music much loved by Balearic militant Moonboots. After a truly dire week, I'm gratefully accepting the opportunity to retreat into the shelter of this modern classic.


Ltd LP Info: 180 gram vinyl. Limited to just 300 copies worldwide.

Andras & Oscar

(I Know) What You Want / Looking Back - Inc. Tornado Wallace / Zanzibar Chanel Remixes

After taking us for dinner at the "Embassy Cafe" and "Cafe Romantica" on dates number one and two, "(I Know) What You Want" sees Andras and Oscar go all the way. Released in celebration of the duo's current European tour, this sublime cut is a smoothly urgent house plea, with Oscar’s yearning vocals soothed by Andras’ warm, lightfooted production. Blessed with arguably the best production I've ever heard, this incredibly textured and round house cut goes all the way back to the early 90s, shaking its shit next to Larry Heard, Frankie Knuckles and Vincent Floyd. A fluid sequence works its tropical magic under the warm house chords, while the smooth bassline and killer drum programming get you moving from the toes up. Total summer anthem! For the B-side A&O enlist some of their antipodean chums to transform "Cafe Romantica" stand-out "Looking Back". Tornado Wallace takes to the task first off, stretching the track out into an instrumental excursion into lush vegetation and fragrant flowers. Perfumed, groovy and summery as they come, this remix is alive with additional percussion and disco guitar. On the B2, funk anarchists Zanzibar Chanel take a big swig of the purple drank and deliver and deranged cover version complete with croaking synths, flip flopping toms and all kinds of odd distortion. It's as mad as the box of frogs they used to record it! There are three killers here, but it's the A-side that steals the show - Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Andras and Oscar!

Get ready to feel the sun on your face and the wind in your sails as Mark Barrott returns with the latest instalment in his ear pleasing, care easing "Sketches From An Island" series. Recorded in the tranquil heat of the Ibizan spring, this four tracker sees Barrott pick up right where he left off on an LP which found fans everywhere from Todd Terje to Trevor Jackson, even including a reprieve of its opening track and the welcome return of Uruguayan botanist Dr Nimm. 

Opening track "Right 4 Me" finds Barrott in playful fashion, reimagining the cheery melodies of "Baby Come Home" over a buoyant bassline and loose percussion before knocking us down with the feather light flute melody. Next up, Mark charters the International Feel jet and zooms us across the oceans to the "Mysterious Island Of Dr Nimm", a strange place where up is down, left is right and time flows backwards. Sola topi in situ, we begin an anthropological study of Balinese gamelan, Peruvian pan-pipes and bouncy Aboriginal percussion until the ayahuasca takes over completely. On the flipside, the circular marimba of "Cirrus & Cumulus" perfectly soundtracks our out of body experience, echoing to infinty like ripples on a rice paddy. Finally "Der Stern, Der Nie Vergeht", fuses the celestial kosmische of a Dusseldorf commune with the humid percussion and fretless bass of Morocco to arrive at sound you might stumble across during a trip to the Growing Bin. Your pockets might get a little lighter but you're soul will get much richer.

The Central Executives

A Walk In The Dark

The Central Executives. What can we say?

Not much as it turns out - the generally very forthcoming Golf Channel crew are remaining tight-lipped about the architects of this, frankly mind-blowing debut long-player from this new NYC collective.

'A Walk In The Dark' is exactly that, a situationist song-sheet and sonic chaperone to guide us through the back street escapism these troubled times demand. From gently over-driven punk funkin' mascara stained hymns, to house that's been thoroughly smudged to the edges of its live music incorporating limits.

Sitting very comfortably, in a moment of stewed elevation alongside Sound Signature style machine jams, bare bones vocal led improvisations, discordant Arthur Russell moments and the distorted reflections of roots House that run to the very core of the big apple.

A drop-jaw debut then, that wears its influences proudly, but takes them somewhere entirely new.

Japanese import business here from the Catune label, who giddily present the first material from Balearic dancefloor supergroup Flying Men. The collaborative vehicle of Japanese import Max Essa and Italian duo Leo Mas & Fabrice, Flying Men touch down on your nearest turntable with a two part 12" special, featuring four sublime mixes of the mighty "Only Love". We're right in the pudding from the get go on this first EP, speeding through the strobe lit underground to the sounds of the "Flying On The Dancefloor Dub". A heads down trance dance reminiscent of The Backwoods or DJ Kaos, this cut flies into the peaktime on the back of a jet propelled acid bassline, full of menacing synth stabs and phasing white noise. Almunian guitar and synthetic brass provide hands in the air melodies before space age synths make a notable appearance in the latter stages. If any of us are lucky enough to see the Idjut Boys play in Japan, I'm certain they'll deploy this rave weapon. Things take a calmer, cooler but no less killer vibe on the flip, as Max, Leo and Fabrice serve up the humid house vibes of the "Jingumae Rooftop Extended Mix". Cicadian guiro adds a tropical touch to the chunky drumtrack, while the vintage house bassline shakes the windows and the wall, locking everything in sight into its timeless groove. Glassy keys deliver some deep dancefloor texture while the synth brass returns to tie the whole thing together. If you dig on early nineties Larry Heard or those recent Far East Recordings reissues, then this is very much the one! Deep and discoid Balearic house tackle already approved by Weatherall, Coyote and Pete Herbert - join the club.

The bells sounds for round two of Catune's Flying Men double header, and we find Max Essa, Leo Mas & Fabrice in imperious form with two more mixes of the mighty "Only Love". Once again we're thrust straight into the smoke, strobes and sweat of the peak time on the A-side as the "Balearic Militant Acid Spirit Dub" soars out the speakers with a menacing roar. Powered along by a fierce acid bassline, this stripped back mix drops most of the guitar and brass from the other mixes, opting to keep things dark and deep via trippy echoing percussion, whispering slo mo vocals and occasional bursts of laser guided synth. Skip to the flip and it's a different kettle of fish - specifically, big fish, little fish, cardboard box. The Flying Men top a shoulder rolling Balearic house bassline with fluid piano, spacey synth and rippling guitar while the exuberant percussion rattles away. Sounding a whole lot like a collective memory beamed forward from the second summer of love, this sunkissed dancefloor moment should have ravers of any age smiling and swaying.

As Gonno celebrates more than a decade at the forefront of the Japanese house & techno scene, it seems about time he got down to business and released a second full length LP. If you've heard any of his releases for the likes of International Feel, Perc Trax or Beats In Space then you'll be well aware of the man's flawless knack for mixing speaker punishing club sonics with machine wrought emotion. For his new album “Remember The Life Is Beautiful” he ressurects a forgotten art and leads us on a musical journey, producing ten tracks that unite Balearic, ambient, techno, house and the spaces inbetween into a mesmerising sonic collage. Even though the LP comes on like a multi-coloured musical trip, switching between rushing peaks and drifting ambience, Gonno manages to inject a story arc into his album that reflects the emotions and feelings we've all been through at some point. And where so many of his contemporaries are slaves to the sampler, Gonno does his thing with 100% original material, hunkering down among the Korgs, Moogs, Roland drum boxes and borrowed guitars and letting it all loose. The result is a triumph or machinery and melody which offers delights for both the DJ and home listener.

Okay. If you're coming to this expecting the usual LIES technoise assault, you're barking up the wrong tree. If, on the other hand, you're in the market for the most eccentric, otherworldly, eurotrash madness captured on tape, this three track of edit action from Lipelis is right up your strasse! Enlisting fellow muscovites Simple Symmetry for the A-side, our intrepid editor gets right into the drug-laced pudding, throwing a painfully obscure Thai vocal over a borderline Balearic, 80s electro-funk / disco backing to create "Weirdshit Xu Paelk". Tribal drum breaks sit next to Caroline Loeb pop fusion keys, while weird dub effects and an eastern chorus make up the rest of the music. Incredibly it still manages to sound like one coherent record, packing maximum punch amid the madness - weirdshit indeed (imagine Compass Point relocated to Phuket). Lipelis is joined by That's A Steal affiliate Emotional Blackmail on "Rumours", a coke-fuelled ballad which manages to tread the fine line between blue eyed soul, jazz fusion and sweatband metal without ever losing its cool. Balearic in the most eclectic sense of the word, this should give the LIES crowd a much needed end of nighter, and provice the beards with a distorto curveball to play next to "Kiss Me All Over" (apologies to Rob Bright). Now, at this stage in proceedings, there isn't much ground Lipelis has left uncovered. Lysergic Brazilian disco, I hear you cry? Of course! "It's Alright" marries a phat acid bassline with tumbling toms, rolling congas, bells, whistles and the sounds of tropicalia, before bursting into a spoken female vocal (a la Musique) and the flourish of AOR disco strings. Mental and essential.


Patrick says: The Russian disco mobster comes through with eurotrash brilliance, blue eyed soul and tropical acid insanity that's a million miles away from the usual LIES tackle.

Two and a half years on from the sad and untimely passing of Ewan Robertson aka Offshore, his label Big Dada can announce the release of a last album from the Aberdonian musician and designer. The tracks for the new record, 'Offshore' were all more or less completed before his death in 2012. His family, his partner and the label have pieced the album together as close to his original intentions as they could manage, to create a suite of music which in its openness, beauty, humour and joyfulness, both hints at what Ewan could have gone on to achieve, and celebrates what a unique and lovely human being and musician he was.

In addition, artists including Ikonika, Amon Tobin, Blue Daisy, Slugabed, Mamiko Moto, Lockah and Enchanté have all contributed remixes and expect videos and photographs from long time collaborators.

All profits from the record are to go to the Marfan Trust at his family's choosing, it was the condition that affected Ewan.

The sadness felt by those who knew and loved Ewan is still very real, but this record is a chance to celebrate what a unique and talented individual he was.


LP Info: Limited blue and white marbled vinyl pressing. Comes in colour sleeve with printed outer PVC sleeve.

After taking a lengthy hiatus from studio duties, Balearic legend Jose Padilla made his return this year at the request of International Feel. Surrounded by the collective production talent of Jan Schulte, Mark Barrott, Tornado Wallace and Telephones, Padilla delivered the perfect modern Balearic LP, providing the soundtrack to beachlife and nightlife, sunrise and sunset. Following the blueprint laid out by previous singles from the LP, this 12" hits us with a special extended mix from the track's co-producer (in this case Telephones) as well as a fresh remix from NY house legend Dream 2 Science and two versions from French filter disco king I:Cube. Telephones' 12" Version of "Lollipop" sees the Scandinavian producer expand on the transportive dancefloor magic of the original to treat us to a sublime summer house anthem, driven into the clouds by rippling percussion and a rolling groove. The floating melody plays out on keyboard, piano and guitar, while bright sequences ring out across the bright blue sky. I:Cube takes the controls on the A2, discarding most of the original instrumentation in favour of a moodier club cut complete with detuned deep house pads, growling bass and the occasional blast of Padilla's chirruping melody. The B-side opens with a rare appearance from reclusive NYC house dons Dream 2 Science, who compliment the summery melodies of the original with trademark vibraphone and shuffling hats to create a warm and groovesome rework perfect for the terrace or outdoor party. I:Cube takes the reins once more on the B2 with a minimal arrangement of the track played through naive synth sounds, bossa rhythms and autoharp riffs. The result is a gentle journey through cosmic realms, perfect for post club listening. 

Seahawks & Eddie C Present

Sky Party EP

Canadian groove expert Eddie C teams up with Britain's famed cosmic yachtsmen Seahawks on this Red Motorbike 12", soothing us with a typically lush two tracker of dreamy innerspace travel music. "Say Hello To Love" opens proceedings with a head bobbing funk breakbeat and porch-swing double bassline (presumably Eddie's doing) before blissed out pads, twinkling harp and yacht friendly guitars enter proceedings taking us to a fantasy island where you can smoke the palm trees and drink in the sun. Just as we're settling in our deck chair, cocktail in hand, Eddie takes the baton and injects the track with a snipped Rhodes lick, beatdown house beat and more of the sample magic he's made his trademark. Truly the sum of its parts! Over on the B-side we plunge into the nebulae and take in the luxuriant beauty of the cosmic majesty. Interstellar whale song, drifting pads and ambient tones wash over the mind and body like a cool solar wind until the gentle rattle of organic percussion carries us through a dimensional wormhole. As we pass onto the other side, a steady one-note bass, subdued kick and hissing percussion replaces the cosmic with the kosmische, suspending us in the perpetual motion of a Tangerine Dream. Phasing synths, sweeping pads and dubby fx work their magic before the celestial choir lifts our souls into exaltation. This is music Carl Sagan would smoke weed to, music that swirls and flutters through rays of light reflected by the sheen on this production.

Tempelhof & Gigi Masin

Hoshi Remixed - Inc. Ptaki / Balearic Gabba Soundsystem / Reverso 68 / Luminodisco Remix

Hell Yeah follow up their killer Telespazio remix package (repress coming soon!) by giving Tempelhof & Gigi Masin's Piccadilly favourite and modern classic "Hoshi" the same treatment. In original form, "Hoshi" was a blissed out collage of ambient textures, Balearic grooves and slow motion jazz, and now the creme of the current production crop up the tempo and add some percussive spice to bring it closer to the dancefloor. Graduating top of the Very Polish class, Ptaki have gone from strength to strengh over the last couple of years and their gorgeous remix of "Bow Down" is further evidence of their melodic expertise. Handling the fragile, floating chords of the original with lightness and care, the Polish duo deliver a sumptuous Balearic gem which swells and soars out the speakers like theme to a healthier, happier and more wholesome Twin Peaks. The label's in house and off kilter production team, Balearic Gabba Sound System follow on, flipping "Buena Onda" into a deep bit of sunset disco with glowing arps, elastic drums and sweeping strings. If New Order had made music for cocaine loving European playboys and millionaire heiresses rather than E'd up Mancs, it would probably have sounded a lot like this! The sun kissed romanticism continues on the flip as long time Balearic stars Pete Herbert and Phil Mison don their Reverso 68 moniker to take "Red Venus" for a spin under the full moon. Lush pads and cute stabs sway under the full effect of percolating drums, while a trademark bassline sends spiritual vibrations through your whole body in this perfect example of Balearic house. Lastly, Hell Yeah regular Luminodisco gets a little more broken up and experimental with his dishevelled but soulful version of "My Velvet Book". The Italian producer combines the original's jazzzy keys with slouchy hip hop rhythms and trippy effects to deliver a groove filled cut which sounds like a one off studio collab between Don Carlos and Kruder & Dorfmeister. The original LP won plaudits from the top rung of the international Balearic brotherhood and this remix EP's garnering similar reviews. Finally you'll be able to bring those gorgeous melodies from the afternoon terrace to the late night dancefloor.

Unouzbeck & Venturi

Houmous Pous Tous

French duo Unouzbeck & Venturi make their vinyl debut with a pair of psychedelic disco groovers for the already essential Ostra Discos imprint. Following the lead of De Los Miedos, the producers dive into the dusty crates at the back of an Istanbul poundshop and pilfer a couple of choice cuts to season and serve. On the A-side, "Manjula Doll" sees les amis in proper snake charming mode, looping a mysterious bassline and some souq shaking percussion into a hypnotic groove that'll hold you transfixed. The ever present organ drones away nicely before some interdimensional synths prompt a well deserved dancefloor freakout. On the flipside, "Mumbay Disco Sensation" whirls us into the impassioned frenzy of the ceremonial dancefloor via a collection of organic percussion, vocal chanting and wah guitar. As the track gains momentum, the echo-laden lead hints at dub, before a killer sitar riff lifts us to another level. A superb debut from the Frenchmen, and another must have release from Ostra Discos.

After a brief hiatus for hsi Leleka imprint, this time round Vakula explores the universe of the man who was searching for a world where there were women and children obeying the moon but faced the reality with its wisdom, and fever, and sickness. And faced it too soon. 'The music and voices are all around us. Choose, the croon, the Ancient Ones. The time has come again'. The album is Vakula's thoughts in time and out of season dedicated to Morrison, the poet, the musician, the soft mad child, the great man. 'Enter again the sweet forest, enter the hot dream, come with us. Everything is broken up and dances'.

Basically, this is an extension of "Voyage To Arcturus" - Vakula getting all 'proper full length' album, and heavily influenced by psychedlia in general, and the Doors in particular. Our crazy Ukrainian has enlisted a full band to play all the music from start to finish - all OG psych material played with authenticity and panache! That's not to say it's not heavily inspired by Morrison's pioneering group - all fried guitars, raga-fuelled repetition and a truly lysergic feeling from start to finish. The A-side drifts along at a completely unhurried pace - occasional forays of poetry by William Blake bursting through a desert-scorched jam of buzzing slide guitar, gentle congas and tentative organ licks. It sounds like a Doors album! But it's not... The B-side keeps up the illusion with some heavy blues jams, some with vocals some instrumental but all riffing unrelentling throughout and again sounding oh so authentic. We knew Vakula could turn his hand at anything but by God! This could come straight out of 1971 and has that old school recording sound nailed to a tee. Vakula we salute you! Not only a strange and pretty brave concept but he's executed it perfectly - I reckon you could slip this into a Doors listening session and no-one could tell the difference. It's like a long lost album from our Jim, except it's brand new and by a totally turned on Ukrainian. Massive.

Brooklyn's finest purveyors of synthetic madness, Lectric Sands drop a fresh and funky nine tracker from label mainstays Zoovox under the imaginative title "Great Cats And Weak Dogs". Syncing up the classic sounds of the ana-digi machines of yore, the duo embark on a journey deep into tropical synth territories, passing through the Norman Whitfield-in-Jamaica 3D dub psychedelia undergrowth and coming to rest in a humid jungle clearing. The Compass Point meets Miami Vice lilt of "The Turkey And The Swan" eases us in nicely before "Marinara Trench" merges menace and camp via moody 80s action film motifs and a charmingly bizarre spoken vocal. "Volcano Vic" and "World Service" see Ben and Jeremy combine the tripped out tribalism of Jan Schulte with the playful tones of Young Marco, seamlessly combining primitive electronics, cosmic funk and into one surreal, psychedelic package. Speaking of dub, A-side closer "You Jane" brings the slank with no slackness, turning the space echo up to 11 while the digi bassline dances with Sakamotan synths. "Irene" brings an upbeat mood on the B1, layering a vocoder sound and pinging synth reminiscent of Charlie's "Spacer Woman" over a galloping bass sequence a la JMJ's "Oxygene IV". Six tracks in and no boogie? Well feast your ears on "Donkey Calling", a joyful meeting of simple drum rhythms, heavy duty bass and spritely synthlines, perfect for play next to Sasac jams, Benedek cuts or future funk grooves from our pal Ruf Dug. From the sublime to the more sublime next, as Zoovox turn out a relaxed, replayed and resplendent primitive synth dub of Carly Simon's Chic assisted, Balearic co-opted pop gem "Why". Get your audials round that! The quality stays sky high to the finish as "Funky Wildlife Congress" soaks you in totally tropical dancefloor flavours, via jaunty stabs, snaking synth lines and a meaty drum riddim. Flawless from start to finish, this one's already sprung into the upper reaches of my End Of Year chart, making the perfect companion piece to Ruf Dug's "Island".

With each successive volume of Throne of Blood’s 'Moon Rock' compilations, the New York label attains a deeper appreciation of electronic music’s most chakra-massaging tendencies, participating in a communal dialogue devoted to a new dynamic beyond the confines of the dance floor.

Sharing a spiritual and aesthetic kinship with a burgeoning community of psychonauts and astral voyagers like Multi Culti, Emotional Response’s Scheißen series, Andras Fox’s ART Wilson project, 'Moon Rock Volume 3' casts a wide net, folding in crystalline contributions from label veterans like Steve Moore, Ulysses, Curses, Luv*Jam, Anti Hero (aka Chris McIntyre from Jokers of the Scene), Clean Plate (aka Pink Skull), Tempelhof, and Pittsburgh Track Authority, as well as expansive contributions from friends like Stone’s Throw affiliate Chrome Canyon, LA mainstays Kisses and Anzano,’s Apiento & Co, CCC’s Night Plane, Peacefeast mailman Tim Love Lee, and Hivern Discs’s CPI.

Pushing beyond the terrain so capably explored in Volumes 1 and 2,'Moon Rock Volume 3' begins in a familiar place with cyclical arpeggios and orchestration deeply indebted to Brian Eno. An interlude of reverb-drenched percussion and harp segues into cinematic synths and a series of selections rooted in the low slung rhythms of chillout. Fluctuations in intensity slowly give way to a darker tone as more unnerving drones and atmospheres close out this fifteen track selection.

As always, 'Moon Rock' is music for comedowns, meditation retreats, and adventures beyond the Ultraworld. Tune in and space out...

So here it is, after three years, three albums and all manner of musical incantations we're ready to embark on the the final leg of this 'Magik' journey. Starting with the redolent psychedelia of the dancefloor leaning "Magik Cyrkles" in 2012, Danny and Tom have led us around the globe, through different seasons and feelings, be it the deep calm of "Magik Sunrise" or the atmospheric beauty of the opening chapter of their "Magik Sunset". Now we stand poised on the edge of forever, ready for these sonic shamen to turn day into night through thirteen otherworldly, unheard and deeply obscure selections. We head for the depths of the musical universe from the off, transported to a distant dimension on the wings of the previously unreleased "In Search Of Atlantis", a mindblowing electronic symphony from Edinburgh composer John Keating. Germany's Orchester Ambros Seelos and France's Plaisirs Erotiques keep things cosmic but inject a hefty helping of funk into proceedings before Danny & Tom hit us with the mighty (and pricey) "Young Freedom" from the one and only Francis Lai. This cinematic groover gives way to the glam slam of a vocoded Neue Deutsche Welle cut from Glenn, before our digging duo pluck another pearl off Jack Adkins rare as rocking horse shit "American Sunset" LP to kick off the second disc. We find ourselves sipping cocktails by the pool to the organic fusion of the Instrumental Group Cabas, before Frederic Castel hits us with the emotive AOR of "Open Up". The Electric Connection supply a counterpoint to the vocoded disco of "Groovy" from "Magik Sunset Part One" with "Cry Of The Lone Wolf" while Fabio Fabor blisses us out with the naive melodies of "Idolo Moresco". Harking back to the weirdo disco of Magik Cyrkles, The Primates' "King Kong" provides a slow, psychedelic groove perfect for any Wolf Muller fans, while the Tony Sinclair Orchestra's "Walkin' Through The Night" is a superlative slice of AOR disco with one hell of a low slung groove. As the sun dips below the horizon, Psychemagik leave us "Far Away" from where we started, drifting along the beach to the tropical strains of the Trepidant's cod reggae.  


2xCD Info: Includes mix CD and unmixed CD.

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