Review: Said to have been created after a long period of writer's block, Mark Barrott wrote much of Sketches From A Distant Ocean when he returned to his former home of Uruguay for the first time in a long while. The long break is said to have taught him about the value of self-expression and connection, and he returned to work with an invigorated enthusiasm. This has certainly paid off, as Sketches From A Distant Ocean shines through musically. Our picks are the sun kissed balearica of "Galileo", bossa nova-inflected island dreams of "Low Lying Fruit" and the evocative trip-hop journey of "The Rowing Song", which calls to mind his earlier output from the '90s as Future Loop Foundation.
Review: International Feel main man Mark Barrott has been unfeasibly productive in the last couple of years, releasing a string of fine mini-albums, and 12" singles, which touch on a variety of styles. This latest outing is every bit as magical as some of those excursions, with A-side "Cascades" offering a life-affirming blend of undulating, Tangerine Dream style synthesizers, soft touch, D.K style beat patterns, and breathlessly sun-kissed atmospherics. It's ambient, kids, but not as you know it. The Ibiza-based producer moves further towards Jose Padilla territory on the hot and humid, tropical-tinged flipside "Tagomago", whose combination of live instrumentation and blissful electronics is near perfect.
Review: International Feel's recently launched mini album series continues, with long-serving downtempo producer CFCF delivering his vision of a lazy Balearic holiday. Sitting somewhere between Jose Padilla, Joan Bibiloni, and Gigi Masin's collaborations with Templehof, the extended player's eight tracks bristle with authentic live instrumentation, most notably jazzy guitars, soft-focus acoustics, reflective pianos and humid accordions. These are effortlessly blended with subtle electronics to create sun-kissed, early morning mood pieces that undoubtedly define the Balearic, after-hours experience. What's most striking about On Vacation, though, is just how beautiful it is. At times, it's breathtakingly stunning.
Review: As debut albums go, this sumptuous set from the previously unheralded Scott Gilmore is extremely impressive. It's made up of eight evocative and emotion-rich compositions layered in Jonny Nash style guitar, meandering analogue synthesizer motifs, swirling sonic textures and the sounds of dusty old instruments bought at yard sales in the producer's native California. While his influences - think Eno and Byrne, the Walker Brothers, quirky 1970s library music, easy listening and early Air, for starters - are obvious, none of the included tracks sound like heartfelt tributes. In fact, it's Gilmore's own musical voice - imaginative, atmospheric and quietly colourful, with a passion for lo-fi recording techniques - that makes Subtle Vertigo such a rewarding listen.
Review: The legendary Jose Padilla of Ibiza institution Cafe Del Mar is back on Mark Barrott's International Feel. The track "Blitz Magic" from his last album, So Many Colours, is the latest to be given the high profile remix treatment. Deetron's version is first and transforms the Balearic beauty of the original into a soulful house epic like you'd expect from the Swiss genius. Mesmerising Rhodes keys, hypnotic bleeps and heavenly church organs all collide over a steady beat. On the flip is Munich's Tambien; they of Public Possession, who deliver the "Jill Thunder Light Mix" returning the track to the Balearic vibe but on a darker, '80s flavoured tip with angelic vocals, rich pads and syncopated rhythm and it's totally awesome!
Review: Shelter began his production career re-editing quirky cuts of a Balearic persuasion, before dropping a fine collection of original tracks on Uber last autumn. That set of woozy, horizontal gems clearly impressed International Feel boss Mark Barrott, as he's decided to release the French producer's debut album. Zon Zon Zon is arguably a little more varied than some may expect, with Shelter combining his usual new age inspired melodies and tropical flavours with nods to rubbery, post-disco pop, dub, woozy ambient and the kind of fluid, sun-baked electronica that defies easy categorization. However you describe it, Zon Zon Zon is mightily impressive, delivering a near perfect blend of electronic and acoustric instrumentation.