Barrott releases his own music on the imprint, too. As Sketches From an Island he's making some of the most absurdly amazing records around. His debut full length under the moniker is a bona fide classic, and this week sees the release of a genuinely incredible follow up. Sketches From an Island 2 is an essential purchase for anyone with even the slightest interest in both the Balearic sound and the Balearic mindset. Given that, we decided to ask Mark himself to answer the biggest question of all: What's the best way to define Balearic? He very kindly provided us with an lovely explanation, a pair of playlists, and some brilliant commentary. Over to you, Mark.
What exactly is Balearic music and culture? Is it specific to Ibiza & Formentera, or is it a state of mind available globally to those that choose to step off the beaten track and tap into it?
One thing's for sure, it's a totally different thing to every single person. A Dalston beard will have a different interpretation of it to a 50 year businessman sat at La Torre in Ibiza enjoying the sunset. A seasoned raver remembering the halcyon days of Jose Padilla and Alfredo will remember differently to a young kid that stumbles across a new International Feel record in Phonica. But all are equally valid, as with anything in life, there is no right or wrong, only different perceptions.
For me, that's really the key. It can mean anything to anybody, but with one proviso - the context. It's all about the 'frame' that you hang around it and as an artist and DJ, that frame is living in Ibiza, making music in Ibiza and soundtracking the sunset at La Torre every summer.
With that 'frame' in mind, I thought it would be fun to pick 10 older tracks that inspired the current crop of Balearic producers and then another 10, made by the new crop of producers. Just remember, it's all about the context and in Ibiza, you can get away with a multitude of sins (and music selections) that will get you crucified just about anywhere else on the planet!
Mark Barrott's Original Ibizan Top 10 Playlist
1. Brenda And The Beach Balls - Theme From Tall Dark Stranger
2. Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Air á Danser
I was put onto these first two tracks by Moonboots. Both come from the same 'school' of eccentric English music made by slightly oddball musicians in the 80's that doesn't seem to get made any more. Jose Padilla was a big PCO fan, playing the track "Music for a Found Harmonium" so much that club owners were coming up to him and saying 'don't you be playing that fucking penguin track again'! As with a lot of Balearic music when first aired, it was a guaranteed floor clearer!
3. Dip in the Pool - On Retinae (East Version)
There's so much amazing unheard Japanese music out there it's mind boggling. This was recently rer-eleased by the impeccable Music from Memory label and every time I play it someone comes up to ask what it is. It's a timeless classic with Trevor Horne-sque production. The track's vocalist Miyako Koda is still a very well known model, actress and singer in Japan.
4. Il Guardiano Del Faro - Disco Divina
Another 'Jose Padilla' record from the early days of Cafe Del Mar. Made by Italians, it still sounds modern today, but more Morricone than Rimini!
5. Jack Adkins - Sunset Beach
Another 80's record from (I think) an album that was pressed privately by the artist (and his only release). Early Drum Machine vibes with amazing Spanish guitars. Over the top and perfect for Ibiza!
6. Finis Africae - Managua
As time goes on, more and more people are waking up to their genius. This is a Spanish avant-garde band from the 80's/90's that blended elements of world music, proto-house, ambient, and Indian classical, into this amazing melting pot of timeless atmosphere and quirkiness.
7. Ned Doheny - Get It Up For Love
The California singer-songwriter is also going through somewhat of a renaissance at the moment. The songwriting is pure gold—totally timeless stuff. This is a Harvey end of the night record and what's good enough for him....
8. Tangerine Dream - The Dream is Always the Same
I'm a synth boy at heart, growing up in Sheffield with The Human League and Cabaret Voltaire, and I love this of sequencer music. This and "Love on a Real Train" are totally fantastic and hypnotic. Always a good track to play 30 mins before sunset to transition into that part of your DJ set.
9. Eddie Hooper - Tomorrow's Sun
I don't really know too much about this. It was recommend to me by Gatto Fritto (who releases on International Feel). It's another early drum machine track with acoustic stuff on top that just captures a mood perfectly. Like most of these, it's one that when played, always gets asked about.
10. Ashra - Sunrain
The most hypnotic sunset track from Manuel Gottsching of E2E4 fame. It's intense, captivating. It draws you in, spits you back out, back in again, deeper down the rabbit hole. It's a drug free trip.
Mark Barrott's New Balearic Top 10
Note: Do bear in mind that this is a 'snapshot' of what I'm feeling right now and if I choose them next month, it'd probably feel completely differently.
1. Ishi Vu - Tema Per Malva
Don't really know anything about this. It's Finnish, it's pretty new and I love it. Totally Balearic
2. András - Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise Mix)
Andras just keeps getting better and better, from the New Age A.R. Wilson project, to Andras & Oscar, the new Wilson Tanner and now this. There must be something good in the Melbourne water.
3. Domenique Dumont - Comme Ça
I love this. It sounds like a quirky weird French library record from 30 years ago. It's on up and coming French label Antinote and is actually only one year old. Brilliant
4. Len Leise - Stars For Jorge
Another Melbourne resident getting better and better with every release. His mini album on International Feel late last year, Lingua Franca, is quite something. This was the record of last summer: a wonderful 'deluxe edit' of a rare Brazilian track. It's now so expensive on Discogs you'll need a second mortgage to even get a sniff.
5. Cantoma - Tala Lumi
No YouTube link for this one sadly but it still has to be in there. Cantoma is Phil Mison, whom along with Moonboots and Test Pressing has kept the Balearic flame flying through thick and thin. One of the early Cafe Del Mar residents, Phil is a superb DJ and this new album, Just Landed, is his best as Cantoma by a country mile.
6. Now Now Now - Problem (Enzo Elia AfroNeukolln Edit)
Italians in Berlin making wonderful sunkissed Balearic vibes—the whistle, whistle!
7. Leon Vynehal - Midnight On Rainbow Road
Got this early on from Gerd Janson and it's a record I play every week to transition into the 30 mins before sunset. It's a modern classic, seeped in atmosphere and melody, floating just out of reach.
8. Telephones - Blaff
Henning's genius EP from two years ago, packed with tracks that you just want to play week after week. He's able to channel the spirit of "Sueno Latino" like no other modern producer.
9. Hatchback White Diamond
Pure joy. All analogue synths and drum machines, it packs more emotion into 10 mins than most people can experience in several lifetimes. Another one that I play week after week and never get bored of. It tugs at your sense of nostalgia and sucks you into the present moment.
10. Mark Barrott - Deep Water
Well I am known as a producer of Balearic type music so I had to squeeze one in there somewhere! This is my sunset track every week (although sometimes I play "Abrahams Theme" by Vangelis) and it always hits the spot. Sun kissing the ocean, people finally looking at nature rather than their bloody phones and in that moment, everything is perfect.
Sketches From an Island 2 is out on July 1st via International Feel. Pre-order it here.