Given that Melbourne's about 10,000 miles away from the Cafe Del Mar, Australian producer Len Leise might not seem like the most person to have recorded 2015's undoubted Balearic masterpiece. But that, readers, is exactly what he's done.
Signed to Mark Barrott's esteemed International Feel imprint — a label we genuinely can't get enough of here at THUMP HQ — Leise's soon to be released Lingua Franca is the kind of special albums that comes around every so often that's utterly, utterly timeless. This is music that's removed from the inherent shitness of the quotidian experience, existing in a kind of otherworldly state of cave-dwelling beauty. It's the sound of perfect sunrises in Cala Saladeta, sunsets in Punta Galera. It's defiantly Balearic in both sound — there's woozy, wheezing sax, windchimes, reverb-sodden 80s AM radio basslines — and spirt, without being the kind of throwback schmaltz its all too easy to churn out. You know the kind of thing: winsome spanish guitar, some bongos burbling away, and a terrible, breathy, "ethereal" vocal over the top.
Anyone who's heard his Music for Forests 12" on International Feel, or the Aficionado Recordings released Landscape Language single knows that Leise has form, so it's not surprising that Lingua Franca is such a stunner. We caught up with Len over email to discuss all things related to the 'B' word. Oh, and we've got a stream of the album for your listening pleasure below.
THUMP: Hey Len. Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with Mark and International Feel?
Len Leise: Hey, sure. Well, International Feel discovered me and released my music to the world for the first time. So I think there will always be a certain amount of appreciation and respect for that. My relationship with Mark is a professional one. On Music for Forests he pushed me to bring a real cohesion to the record that it needed. And with Lingua Franca Paul from Test Pressing who's is working with IFeel played a similar-ish role as Mark focuses more on his own productions. The three of us will bounce funny emails back and forth a fair bit. Thats about it because being in Australia i'm super far away from everything. I've never met Mark or Paul but still, the label feels like the right fit for me.
You've also released on Aficionado...did you ever realize that rainy Manchester had such a bustling Balearic scene?
Haha I did, I mean so many of my hero's seemed to live there shout outs to Moonboots, Boardman, Ruf Dug, etc. Not to mention it's rich music history. I'm not surprised there is such a scene happening there. Maybe the simple fact that it's so rainy makes perfect sense that a balearic scene would happen there...they need the escape even if it's just a mental or aural one.
As an Australian what was your entry point to this sound? Who were the DJs you admired, what were the key releases?
My entry point was the local Melbourne DJs. They weren't balearic DJs specifically though the sound might occasionally filter into some of their mixes which inspired me more than their releases. At that time it was people like Tamas Jones and Jason Evans from Hey Convict! (their Time to Noodle mix CD), Misha Hollenbach (His mixtapes especially AWA and Tuff Shit), Phil Ransom (knowledgeable conversation), the Noise in My Head guys Michael K and Bell Towers (when it was at Triple R radio on Sunday afternoons). And a bit later on people like Tornado Wallace (his Beat is Space and ESP releases) and Andras and Lewis (Strange Holiday also on Sunday's at Triple R). Also just talking and mixing records at home with good pals Salvador and Gordy Zola.
Thinking about the new record, do artists ever consciously make a record with...inspirations in mind? If so, what were yours, and if not, can you tell us a little about your artistic process?
There was no particular inspiration for the whole record. But I was listening a lot of jazz and Afro throughout it's creation which is pretty evident across the record. As far as my artistic process goes I have two approaches. Process one is simply sitting down and start playing with one of my synths until I hear something I like in a particular key and build the whole track around that very naturally and very freeform with no ideas in mind just whatever i'm feeling at the time. Forlorn Fields and El Modelo and both products of this process. I guess they are both the most emotional tracks on the record so maybe that says something about that process. Process number two: have an idea or a feeling I want to convey or a story which I generally imagine like a video clip or just an atmosphere. I can see what the song looks like visually and I to try create a song to represent that.
Len Leise's Lingua Franca is out on October 30th via International Feel. You can grab it here.