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NUNORTHERN SOUL

David Lovato’s first outing as LOVA, the superb Gypsophilia EP, was one of NuNorthern Soul’s most lauded and cherished releases of 2021 – a gorgeous collection of emotive, sun-soaked sounds from the mind of a producer who got his chance on the imprint after handing a USB of tracks to Phil Cooper at Hostal La Torre in the summer of 2020.

Now, the EP returns for 2022 in expanded form, with a trio of fresh, mood-enhancing remixes joining the three original tracks featured on last year’s release. It’s those – ‘Cecilia’, Lovato’s glistening, emotionally resonant musical tribute to his baby daughter, mid-tempo nu-disco gem ‘Echoes of Memories’ and the stunning, sunset-inspired ‘Esperanza’ - that form the first half of the EP, with a trio of reworks following in hot pursuit.

Long-time friends of the label Leo Mas and Fabrice, an Italian duo famed for their brilliant Balearic reworks whose individual and collective histories stretch right back to the late 1980s (Mas, for example, was one of the resident DJs at legendary White Isle venue Amnesia at the back end of that decade). Given this shared Balearic history, it’s fitting that they step up first and give their spin on ‘Cecilia’. Making the most of Lovato’s stunning, reverb-drenched guitar licks, dreamy chords and atmospheric pads, the pair delivers a shuffling, club-ready interpretation underpinned by a locked-in dub disco groove. It’s a fine take on a track brimming with positivity and joy.

Hear & Now, an Italian duo best known for delivering a trio of brilliant albums on Claremont 56, give their interpretation of ‘Echoes of Memories’. Beginning with a mixture of quietly colourful chords, enveloping sonic textures and hazy guitar motifs, the mix gently builds as it progresses, with the pair introducing a pitched-down house groove, chiming electronic melodies and alluring elements from Lovato’s original version. Like much of Hear & Now’s work, it sits somewhere be-tween Balearica, slow-motion electronic disco and the Rimini-friendly dream house sound that marked out Italian club cuts at the turn of the ‘90s.

To close out the EP, rising star Danilo Braca – an Italian producer based in New York City who began DJing in his home country way back in 1996 – gently leads ‘Esperanza’ towards the dancefloor. Braca is a member of production duo Synth & Soda, whose 2020 remix of DJ Harvey presents Locussolus track ‘Berghain’ was selected by the man himself as the winner of an online competition. On this solo revision, Braca wraps a punchy, Latin-tinged house beat in cascading melodic motifs, bubbly synthesizer arpeggio lines, rising and falling electronics and pads so sumptuous you might want to marry them. Simultaneously morning fresh and sunset-ready, Braca has delivered a classic-sounding chunk of Balearic nu-disco/deep house fu-sion.

Gypsophilia Remixed is the latest volume in NuNorthern Soul’s Myths of Ibiza series of EPs, which all feature specially commissioned artwork from illustrator Emily McGuinness. This time round, McGuinness’s distinctive artwork depicts Tanit, the ‘protector goddess’ of Ibiza. A warrior deity of dance, fertility, creation and destruction, her spirit is said to watch over the island’s West Coast, particularly the area around Atlantic and the mysterious Es Vedra rock.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Cecilia [Original]
A2. Echoes Of Memories [Original]
A3. Esperanza [Original]
B1. Cecilia [Leo Mas & Fabrice Remix]
B2. Echoes Of Memories [Hear & Now Remix]
B3. Esperanza [Danilo Braca Remix]

As NuNorthern Soul gets ready to celebrate its tenth birthday, it seems fitting that the label’s next album release comes from Coyote, whose impact on the 21st century Balearic scene has arguably been even more significant than that of Phil Cooper’s Ibiza-based imprint.

Timm Sure and Ampo barely stray away from the label they founded in 2006, Is It Balearic?, and their decision to hand over their seventh album to NuNorthern Soul is testament to the high regard in which they hold the imprint. The feeling is mutual, with Cooper being a long-time supporter of the Nottingham-based duo’s work and their label’s carefully curated releases.

Everything Moves, Nothing Rests is classic Coyote. Musically varied but tied together by a distinctively warm, dreamy and tactile trademark sound, it contains numerous subtle references to musical and cultural themes that have long been an under-reported feature of their work (the title, for example, is a reference to the 7 Hermetic Principles outlined in ancient Greek text The Kybalion, a work that has long fascinated the duo).

Those familiar with the pair’s output will feel right at home. A rich, loved-up musical tapestry rich in drifting chords, dubby basslines, echoing vocal snippets, languid instrumentation, colourful synthesizer motifs and relaxed beats, the album’s multitude of sonic highlights come together to create a coherent musical voyage that seems to reveal new audio details with each successive listen.

And what highlights. There’s opener ‘Free To Choose’, where aural textures reminiscent of vintage Italian dream house tracks rub shoulders with echoing spoken word vocals, cascading synth solos and flashes of acoustic guitar atop a head-nodding groove, the Flamenco-dub shuffle of ‘Freya’s Song’, and the yearning lament of ‘Nothing Rests’, whose lilting trumpet solos, swirling chords, tumbling Marimba melodies and infectious drums sound like a sunrise soundtrack in waiting.

The quality doesn’t stop there, either. Many will gravitate towards the subtly psychedelic electronics, weighty acid bass and evocative ambient house chords of ‘Vine of the Soul’, and ‘Fullness’, whose atmospheric synth strings, sampled spoken word vocals, slow-motion grooves and deep bass are the aural equivalent of a tender embrace. Then there’s ‘Writing on Water’, a rushing, ever-building dancefloor excursion in which spine-tingling piano motifs, life-affirming strings and waves of kaleidoscopic synthesizer sounds lap around a dubby house groove. It provides a stunning conclusion to a fittingly evocative album from Nottingham’s Balearic masters.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Free To Choose
A2. Freya's Song
A3. The Fullness
B1. Vine Of The Soul
B2. Nothing Rests
B3. Writing On Water

Bianca Binky only ever made a handful of records, the majority of which have long been forgotten by all but the most dedicated fans of late-‘80s European synth-pop and crossover house. ‘Tabu’, her final solo single from 1990, is different: a gorgeous, tactile chunk of piano-sporting Balearic house from the time when dancing under the stars at Amnesia was a rite of passage for clubbers from all over Europe, has undoubtedly stood the test of time. Something of a sought-after classic, with keen collectors willing to spend hundreds of Euros on an original 12Inch single, ‘Tabu’ remains a loved-up, life-affirming dancefloor gem.

It also happens to be a firm favourite of NuNorthern Soul founder Phil Cooper, who has gone to great lengths to produce a deluxe reissue of the hard-to-find Balearic anthem. Original producer Felix B Mangione, head of Blanco Y Negro Records, had long since lost the original master tapes, so Cooper flew from Ibiza to Barcelona to pick up one of of the only mint copies still available, before forwarding high-quality digital transfers on to Robin Lee for remastering.

The results speak for themselves. The original mix, a breezy, sun-soaked fusion of synthesized marimba melodies, spine-tingling piano riffs, dreamy chords, Chicago-style TB-303 bass and Binky’s sensual spoken word vocals, naturally opens proceedings, and is joined on the A-side of the 12” by the original, alternative ‘House Mix’ – more club-friendly version that beefs up the beats, emphasizes the undulating bassline and offers occasional blasts of spacey synth.

This reissue edition also includes an exclusive, never-before-heard re-edit of the legendary ‘Caribbean Dub’ – first featured on the flip-side of the original release – from Manchester’s finest, Ruf Dug. Tough, effects-laden, bass-heavy and positively epic, Ruffy’s version is arguably the ultimate version of a piano-laden, TB-303 driven Balearic house classic: ten minutes of rising and falling, saucer-eyed dancefloor bliss that’s surely destined to be one of the most-played tracks of summer 2022.


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Is Ruffy on a roll or what? Seems like every week he's delivering either a top drawer remix or a killer new OG. It's the former here as he gets to grips with a rare-as-hen's-teeth Balearic-house monster. Of course the original is included too as part of this unmissable package curated by Phil Cooper.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Tabu
A2. Tabu (House Remix)
B1. Tabu (Ruf Dug's Extended Caribbean Dub)

Based in the Sicilian coastal city of Catania, Dario Aiello has plenty of chances to longingly stare into the endless deep blue of the Ionian Sea. It should therefore come as no surprise that his debut EP for NuNorthern Soul, Cosmic Sailing, is a six-track musical daydream about a kaleidoscopic sea voyage into the unknown.

Although his recording career as My Friend Dario is still in its infancy, Aiello has already made an impact. He won plaudits from Balearic-minded Bandcamp diggers for a string of self-released singles, before offering up a handful of inspired remixes and tracks on a number of releases on the admirably saucer-eyed Hell Yeah! Recordings imprint. Even so, his NuNorthern Soul debut is a big development, portraying him as an accomplished producer and musician with a gift for crafting colourful and inventive musical fusions.

Across the course of six tracks, Aiello perfectly sets out his mellow, warming, spacious and mind-soothing approach, smoothly navigating cosmic waters. Opener ‘Fenice’ sets the tone, with the Sicilian producer cloaking rising and falling synthesizer arpeggio lines in twinkling piano motifs, simmering chords and colourful electronic motifs. He channels the spirits of Italy’s turn-of-the-90s dream house movement and horizontal Balearic disco on the impeccable ‘Malvasia’, while ‘Mr Mellow’ sees him mix-up post-electro beats, pots-and-pans percussion and starry electronics to great effect.

Aiello’s varied inspirations come to the fore across the reminder of the EP. Check, for example, the rubbery and undeniably intergalactic 21st century boogie bounce of ‘Neve Su Acireale’, where Pat Metheny style jazz guitar flourishes, sparkling synth riffs and elastic slap-bass notes dance around a snappy, early ‘80s drum machine groove.

‘Campagna 2’ goes further, with the Italian smothering a deliciously crunchy drumbeat with warming chords and looped sax samples, while ‘Storm’ sees him calming choppy waters via fluid, slow-motion piano solos, sleepy beats, enveloping musical textures and a handful of atmospheric samples. It’s a breath-taking end to an EP chock full of evocative, ear-pleasing aural treats.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Fenice
A2. Malvasia
A3. Mr Mellow
B1. Neve Su Acireale
B2. Campagna 2
B3. Storm

NuNorthern Soul proudly presents Dimun, an overlooked neo-classical / ambient fusion track by Faroe Islands-based producer Kristan Blak’s Yggdrasil project. Label boss ‘Phat’ Phil Cooper was playing G! festival on the Faroe Islands in 2019 and as part of the experience the delegates, artists and DJs where invited to see and experience some of the cultural spots and institutions of the Faroe Islands. One of those was Tutl records owned by Kristian Blak. Tutl records is a wonderful record store and label representing the wealth of amazing Faroese recording talent and has been around for years.

Kristian invited a few people to his house and he played the piano line of Dimun, Phil recorded it on his phone and could not stop watching it… He eventually contacted Kristian to ask about the music which led to it being licensed for this release.

Mike Salta* steps up with studio partner Marty ‘Mortale’ to create an epic 12 minute version with a nod to the heritage and sounds of Cafe Del Mar circa 1998 and with added new flavours of Ibiza al la Mark Barrott / International Feel. The flip sees UK producer & DJ, Chris Coco** take the helm with his dreamy New Age version chilled to the perfect temperature for lost La Torre sunset moments. Finally we have the original version and to quote David from One Million Sunsets "This is ace, all three versions, you could put them together to make one long track. New Age finally making a proper comeback."

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: In its original form, "Dimun" is a neoclassical gem, easily as beautiful as anything messers Frahm or Arndalds have released - and the remixes are on point too, Chris Coco harnessing Vangelis in Blade Runner mode and Mike Salta & Mortale translating the track into a Padilla-style serenade.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Dimun (Mike Salta & Mortale Remix)
B1. Dimun (Chris Coco A Las Estrellas Remix)
B2. Dimun (Original)

Blair French

Patio Pastel EP

    Blair French continues his second wind with another sun-kissed selection of tracks for NuNorthern Soul. Just in time for the warmer climes with a laid back and relaxed mood, these tracks sashay across the beach with a divine flair.

    Drowsy organs, glistening pedal steel and undulating hand percussion characterize opener, "Patio Pastel". The Serge Gainsbourg style chanson-goes-tropical bliss of "La Playa De Tercipelo", which features some deliciously breathy vocals from Stephanie Lyon, comes next. Then there's "Morning Sail", a sumptuously evocative soundscape rich in toasty, dub disco bass, shuffling percussion and lilting, Jonny Nash style guitar solos (see also the effortlessly horizontal "Lounsbury Gardens"), and the kaleidoscopic, saucer-eyed Balearic pop brilliance of ; "Human Make Human", where new age synthesizer melodies and the fuzzy vocal refrain of Kasi Seguin gently dances above an Afro-flecked, mid-tempo groove.

    Throughout the EP, French mixes electronic and acoustic instrumentation, drawing together musical elements from myriad styles to create sumptuous new fusions. It's particularly evident on superb closer "Belle Isle Sunsets", where colourful synth motifs, eyes-closed guitar riffs and Mediterranean-warm chords wrap themselves around a gently pulsating, impressively layered groove.

    Now excuse me as I empty the sand from inside my trainers...


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: Ah Summer's here!! Dreamy music time. Blair French keeps us laid back and blissed out on this sublime offering.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Patio Pastel
    2. La Playa De Tercipelo
    3. Morning Sail
    4. Lounsbury Gardens
    5. Human Make Human
    6. Belle Isle Sunsets

    BJ Smith

    Between Ship And Shore Part Two - Inc. A Man Called Adam Remix

    The first missive in BJ Smith's "Between Ship And Shore" series surfed a wave of excitement like a message in a bottle, landing softly in our hearts with its horizontal beauty. Now we're graced with more mellow magic and majesty via the second instalment, which comes complete with a remix from A Man Called Adam. JJ Cale, Terry Callier and John Martyn all influence and inspire Ben, and this is apparent in his subtle yet powerful tales. "Stars Festoon" sees the songwriter transport the listener to a bygone era with a meandering, jolly jaunt day trip to the beach, gently bobbing about in small wooden boats, as beach fires and the smell of fish and chips with salt and vinegar wafting through the air. Balearic pioneers and longstanding laid back music evangelists, A Man Called Adam add their deft touch to "Stars Festoon" and take it down a slightly off beat track between the sand dunes with electronic glitches, pops and bass sounds. Stripping it back to bare bones and isolating vocal parts to give it a slightly haunted feel, A Man Called Adam deliver a stunning revision perfect for a late night / early morning beach walk soundtrack. "If Only Sometimes" once again delivers, with its wonderful piano led opening and gentle guitar pickings allowing Ben to soothe and gently ease the listener in before enveloping them with warm harmonies and uplifting vocals, enhanced by the euphoric string section that then gives way to wonderful brass stabs and the crescendo. It's time to drift away again.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Starts Festoon
    A2. If Only Sometimes
    B1. Starts Festoon (A Man Called Adam Mix)

    Captain Sunshine

    The Ocean Inside

      Captain Sunshine is the alias of Jon Tye, one half of revered cosmic quakers Seahawks. The style shares many of Seahawks deep space aquatic vibes but is if anything even more salt washed and faded, spaced and misted. The Ocean Inside was recorded alone during a particularly long and dark winter voyage. A dose of flu helped create a deep dream state, sometimes unsettling at others blissfully narcotic. The analog tape recordings were later cut and spliced together with occasional overdubs of guitar and vocal to form a collection of celestial tone poems that at times recall early Eno, Vangelis, Joe Meek’s ‘I Hear A New World’ or even Aphex Twin’s selected ambient works. Deep and meditative, warm and enveloping, this is a great album to put on of a clear evening as you stare at the stars, watch the distant ships bobbing on the waves or simply zone out in your favourite place. 
      The digital download that accompanies the cassette also includes some exclusive tracks and bonus content plus all the individual tracks.


      TRACK LISTING

      A1. The Ocean Inside
      A2. The Ocean Inside Pt 2
      A3. Celestial Dubs
      B1. Silver Scene
      B2. Moon Mist
      B3. Ice Fur Ice
      B4. Sunset Shadows
      B5. Wind Blows


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