Balearic

Whenever I speak with anyone about “Balearic” or “Chill Out” music, the conversation usually ends up pointing to the Paul Oakenfold era of chill out music, which which was a fantastic era, as it went hand in hand with all nighters at clubs like Pacha and Amnesia, and the hedonism that required a period of convalescence the following morning listening to tracks like Energy 52’s “Cafe del Mar” and DJ’s like Jose Padilla.

There is an excellent article here (brilliant artwork from Derek Ridgers) that encapsulates the music in this collection of three special mixes, as Ibiza was about this music and not Paul Oakenfold as people seem to think. I also don’t think that much of the chill out music that came out in the nineties or noughties has stood the test of time, a lot of these records really sound quite dated now, and perplex one as to how they became so popular, the commercialisation of Ibiza must be a factor with trance hit after trance hit at the top of the charts at the end of the nineties, the very essence of the place became lost, while the generation that grew up listening to music like this just looked on in disbelief, time however has shown them to be precocious.

Its no secret that I have long been a fan of DJ Harvey and his general approach to music, seeing him play several times at the Ministry of Sound around 1994. Sadly, as trance broke out in the late 90’s, dance music really became commercial to the detriment of quality focussed DJ’s for a while. Harvey is the kind of DJ that will play mind-blowing ambient music for 2 hours when he is playing one of his marathon sets, then pick things up a bit and build a set with peaks and troughs of fast and slow emotional music. DJ’s like Alfredo were masters of playing sets like this.

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Alfredo could play 14 hours a day for 7 days a week and did at the height of the Balearic beat era. This is what sorts the “wheat from the chaff” in DJ’ing as far as I am concerned. Too many of the current stock of producers and DJ’s are linear, going out and listening to 6 hours of electro, hard house or grime non-stop is wearisome. A comparison could be drawn with what Jazzie B did with the Soul II Soul Sound system at the Africa Centre at the time, yes they played soul, but pretty much everything else got played as well, just as long as it passed the litmus test of being “good”. I think it was the collaborative efforts of people around a Sound System, and the Sound Systems in Ibiza that were key to the diversity of sound, rather than the bedroom bedlam (we used to call it) that not only DJ’s but Music Producers now work in today.

Andrew Weatherall has been playing at a brilliant night called “A Love From Outer Space” in the past few years – incidentally, he released a classic mix on Ministry Of Sound last year called “Masterpiece” well worth getting a copy of – the general rule of thumb is to play records that never exceed the 120 BPM range, frequently he plays records at a hip-hop tempo and slowly bring things up.

Most of the music in this collection of three Special “Vinyl Only” mixes is still quite rare even today, with the internet and online shops like discogs and ebay available, that significantly reduce the problems with trying to source the music, most of which never got a digital release, so be sure to tune in as there are some genuine Adriatic classics.