My Ibiza And The Changing Nature Of The Balearic Beat

I stepped out of the door of the plane and walked straight into a heavy wall of heat, instantly the strong stinging scent of salt from the salt flats and the thick heavy aroma of pines hit my nostrils and my stomach was filled with butterflies.  It instantly felt like home.

This was September in 1990 and my first visit to the Island which would take a very special place in mine and my families heart.

Myself and two very close friends were regulars at Charlie Chester’s night, Flying at the Soho Theatre Club behind the Astoria,  and Phil Perry’s Full Circle Parties at The Greyhound in Colnbrook in Slough.  We were avid readers and attenders of the Boys Own fanzine and parties and had heard all the tales of the clubbing paradise that was the white island so we booked up and made the pilgrimage.

To walk into Space for the first time and onto that Terrace to hear extremely loud music at 8am in the morning was a bit of epiphany to say the least.  We couldn’t believe that the club was open air, and this loud!  We had found a perfect playground; hot sun, beautiful sea, sand and locals that had a totally carefree and completely tolerant attitude.  For me that was it, I had found nirvana.


We visited the huge cavernous Ku, danced on the terrace at Amnesia and went to the water party at Es Paradis, but I think the crowning glory was after the madness, watching the sun go down at Cafe Del Mar, sitting on the beach with a few hundred like minds, smoking a spliff  and enjoying a chocolate milk and brandy, all set to the most amazing sunset soundtrack I had every heard.  The strangest mix of genres, although completely different all seemed to meld perfectly together, and in the beach setting of the Cafe Del Mar.  This was and still remains to be one of the most special and tranquil times in my life, and holds the most fantastic dear memories for me.


The two weeks came to and end but of course that was just the beginning.  We returned every year for our two week fix, and I have done ever since.  Each time when I returned to the UK my search to hear the music that was played at Cafe Del Mar and my interest in the DJ’s that played it was piqued.  It took four years but finally in 1994 Cafe Del Mar brought out an album, which I bought immediately and it still remains as one of my most played to this day.  It was mixed by none other than José Padilla, the very DJ I had heard playing this emotionally charged music in the first place.

It was then that I heard that a local DJ from home had secured a residency at the Café; Phil Mison, an Essex lad that drunk at our local The Bridge House in Upminster Bridge.  Phil had a chance meeting with Jose and was invited to play.

Since those early days I have been captivated by this musical style, I will always have a huge love for House and Techno but the same can be said for this very distinct sound.

With Ibiza’s meteoric rise in popularity in the years that followed, and the growth of the super clubs the sunsets at Cafe Del Mar are much changed, the last time I visited (which was a good few years back) instead of a few hundred on the beach now there are thousands.  With the pre-party bar Mambo next door this guarantees a heaving throng of sweaty revellers, not very tranquil at all!  There are however other alternatives now to be enjoyed, Sunset Ashram and Cap Dés Falcó being two amazing spots to enjoy a less hectic Ibizencan sunset.

In 2010 I returned but this time with my family.  We had a completely different holiday and a saw a totally different side to the island.  Every visit previous to this had been pure madness.  We rented a small house in Cala Vadella an idyllic bay on the West coast of the island, around twenty minutes drive from the airport.  We hired a car and driving to our new holiday home for the first time ever I realised that the entire island is covered in pine trees.  I hang my head in shame!

The Greeks called the island “Pitiüses” or Land Of The Pines, now I could see why.  Some family friends of ours live on the island all summer long and gave us some tips of places to visit.  We drove up to Satalia, the highest point on the island.  From here you can really see the full extent of the thick pine forest;


Our friends have a boat and took us to Cala Conta, where the amazing Sunset Ashram can be found.  To discover this side of the island after all these years only proved to ingrain the power of Balearic music and made the link to the island within me ever stronger.

Thankfully these days we have many bastions of the Balearic sound probably more now than ever before;

Mison himself releases under the moniker Cantoma and with Pete Herbert Reverso 68.  In 2013 Phil launched Highwood Recordings, a new imprint for this unique sound.

Claremont 56 is a standout label too, run by Paul Murphy features some of the most forward thinking music around, including the excellent Originals series, of which Mr Mison mixed the 6th version:

And of course there is the quintessential Balearic label International Feel, conceived in 2008 on the Uruguayan coast, Mark Barrott the label boss now lives on the island, his recent release Sketches From An Island in my opinion is a near on perfect audio embodiment of the island:

Also flying the flag for all things Balearic is the truly excellent Test Pressing, which has a vast amount of information plus tons of music, a must for the intrigued:

And in 2014 a regular Balearic Sunday night affair at The Horse & Groom in Curtain Road, Shoreditch; Música Noche, already in its fourth incarnation with such eminent guests as Phil Mison himself, Nancy Noise, Daniele Baldelli and Ruf Dug holding court, the next party is a Carnival warm up scheduled for the 1st of August with none other than Tom Middleton playing upstairs;



Discogs, Vinyl and My Bank Balance:

It was four years ago, my wife told me my mid life crisis had officially begun when I finally at thirty seven years of age, after spending most of my adult life yearning for, purchased a set of Technic’s 1210’s and a mixer.  I had a very mixed bag of vinyl that I had picked up at various points along my lengthy career of partying, which started way back in 1988 when I was at the tender age of just fifteen.  It was a real mixture of tunes that I simply had to buy at the time for when I finally did tip my toe in the water and get myself a set.  

My obsession with House music has never left me.  Years ago there were literally packs of friends, club gangs if you like that would frequent various parties, clubs in London and around the country and of course Ibiza.  Over the years we all grew up, got married, had kids (me included) and most of my friends moved on with their lives and hung up their raving shoes for good.  But as I was reaching my forties I discovered that my obsession with electronic music was, if anything, growing exponentially.

With the rise of the internet music had become so much more accessible to me, it was much easier to find “that” elusive track you had been after, and with platforms like soundcloud, I could now follow the producers I loved and get snippets of new material as they release it.  I was like a kid in a sweet shop.

I had been listening to Reboot’s Resident Advisor podcast and was obsessed with finding the name of track nine and buying it on vinyl.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I managed to track it down; Scarlett Meets Recloose – Moveology.  I scoured Juno, and Beatport relentlessly, but to no avail.

So I popped into those wonderfully helpful and highly knowledgeable fellows in Phonica Records in Poland Street and spoke to the ever charming Vangelis, who had incidentally never heard of the track.  He tapped the track name into the computer on the desk  and spun it around for me to see;

“if it’s not on here, it’s more than likely unreleased, keep trying back”  I checked the website name on the screen; I knew that I had heard the name before, when I had been digging recently in Gary Dennis’s wonderful Crazy Beat in Upminster.  I thanked Vangelis and blissfully unaware of the financial ruin I was facing toddled off home to look into the wonderful world of Discogs.

I signed up and was immediately sucked in.  Here it was in all its glory, a huge treasure trove of all of the tracks that I had tried so hard over the years to track down. After so many years of trawling through Hard To Find Records less than easy to navigate website for these elusive slabs of black stuff I had given up.  Imagine my sheer delight in not only finding them ALL here and in plentiful abundance, but cheap too, that was it, I was up to my neck in it already and didn’t even notice.

Slowly but surely a steady stream of flat square parcels started to arrive at my door, I was in heaven!  However the missus did not miss this either.  “Is that more records?”  She would enquire, “errrr yes darling”, I would mutter beating a hasty retreat to my man room.  My wife was approaching her fortieth birthday and we were having a party at home at which I was DJing, this was the perfect excuse to buy up every piece of vinyl I had ever wanted, which I did.

Now I find myself four years later and now a Discogs veteran, it is a love and hate relationship, love the fact that I can find and buy pretty much anything I want but hate not having the money to buy it all!  With amazing sellers out there like the wonderful Ed Davies, who’s brown, square, manilla covered packages always arrive inscribed on the back with permanent marker “with love” you can really tell that not only does this man know and love good music, he also takes pride in his work.  Now a Facebook friend, his constant posts of delights arriving at Davies HQ are almost too much to bear.

Discogs a truly wonderful tool for the vinyl enthusiast, just whatever you do, don’t go on when you’re pissed, it can work out VERY expensive.

Mark Barrott – Sketches From An Island 2

When the illusive Mr Mark Barrott releases an EP it makes everyone sit up and take notice, Mark has an incredible musical background beginning in the world of Ambient Drum & Bass with Future Loop Foundation, he was the first artist to perform Drum & Bass live on British radio and has worked in many different areas and genre’s of music.  In 2008 Mark moved to the Uruguayan coast where he started up International Feel Recordings which quickly became a quintessential label for Balearic Music, with quality limited run vinyl releases International Feel quickly garnered cult interest with twelves chaining hands on Discogs for ridiculous sums.  Having been living in Ibiza for two years Mark has embarked on the Sketches From An Island project.  Immersing himself in the islands culture he hopes to capture the true essence of the Balearic sound.

Formentera Headspace Blues (Pt’s 1 & 2) is a delightful skittering synth fuelled journey into the sunshine, the percussive arrangement is reminiscent of the drums to be heard at Benirras Beach melded with lilting guitar riffs and xylophonic interludes.

Deep Water is again synth heavy with flighty flutes, tom tom percussion and a smattering of flamenco guitar, the addition of tinkling piano breaks forms a rounded almost spiritual sound.

Go Berri Be Happy has a guitar led blissful vibe, haunting synths and laughter blended with wooden percussion, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Essene is again guitar led, exquisitely arranged and extremely easy on the ear, without a doubt 100% bona fide sunset music.

Back To The Sea begins with the sound of the crashing mediterranean and the cries of gulls, synth and guitar permeate slowly to bring a warm welcoming smile to the face.

With this EP Mark has given us a near on perfect audio embodiment of The White Island, an absolutely perfect soundtrack for idyllic hot sunny days spent splashing around on a boat just off the coast at Cala Conta or equally at the lofty perch of Satalia the highest point on Ibiza.  In my opinion Mark has captured a true feeling of the real Ibiza with this EP.


Ron Basejam – Love Don’t Wait – RNT006 // Ron Basejam Edits

Early support from Lovebirds, Jimpster, Trujillo, House of Disco, KoKo, Tugboat Edits…

An EP almost 5 years in the making, these tracks from Ron Basejam (of Crazy P) were some of the early inspiration for the launch of Razor-N-Tape and are finally getting their due on a slab of 180-gram wax! Boogie flavors all around on these 3 rare digs, sporting a nice range of playable tempos, and all touched with RB’s signature classy production approach. Been heard in Ron’s and RNT DJ sets for years, and now they’re all yours!

USA – Crosstalk:




Benoit & Sergio – Your Darkness EP – Release Date 28/07/2014

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Benoit & Sergio: Your Darkness EP

Berlin favourites and Visionquest Regulars Benoit & Sergio return with the resplendent Your Darkness EP:

The Benoit & Sergio ethos ia steeped in their live vocal take on electronic music, always editing, always tweaking, always new.  With the Unparalleled success of  Walk & Talk” Benoit & Sergio return on Visionquest to show us exactly how it’s done.


This track launches us pretty much immediately into an electronic synth heaven; deep bass tones tease us into the breakdown which when it comes is a stormer.  Driving bass with a four four kick delivers, this is true electronica with bollocks.

Your Darkness:

Immediately punchy with deep dark bass tones, this track grabs you and takes you in from the start. An infectious acid squelch and haunting electronic vocal then leads us into the heart of the track. Punchy, melodica, heads down!

Beat Macho:

In your face from the offset, Beat Macho takes us exactly where expected.  Driving four to the floor, added to with frenetic handclaps gives us the framework for the track.  Hearing this on a large system would be nothing less than miraculous.  It unrelentlessly  forges on, brining the heat!

Beat Macho is without a shadow of a doubt the standout track for the EP.

If this is what Benoit & Sergio have to offer then I’m all open ears!


Butter – dirtyblackdisco and The Mixtape Club


Two years ago I happened across a website that musically and aesthetically ticked all my boxes, a very simple concept; one quality track a day with an extremely slick yet very simple interface with an archive facility to hear previous days postings.

The more I searched through the archive section the more I realised that whoever was responsible for producing the site not only had clearly excellent taste in music, but also wanted the music to speak for itself.

Having got in contact I then discovered yet another musically intriguing project from the same stable;

An equally simple idea; each session comprises of ten people selected for their unique taste in music and their selection of ten tracks to make up their perfect mixtape.

Now two years on I now get the chance to share these websites with you and also get a chance to interview the creator and curator of this musical phenomenon.

Butter (Brian Thomas) * is a graphic designer by trade and this is quite plain in his crafting of the HTML for both sites, having lived in the states, Brazil and now living in Australia it took a while but I managed to tie him down for a short time to ask him some questions about both sites;

So lets start at the beginning; where did you grow up and what were your earliest musical influences?

I grew up in Northern California, in San Jose, a city an hour or so drive south of San Francisco. A place where having a car is essential and the radio was always on. My parents listened to lots of soul and r&b from the 70’s and 80’s. Motown. Maze & Frankie Beverly, Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, Bee Gees, Earth, Wind & Fire and so on. It remains at the root of my musical influence as I continue discovering. There is usually some connection between it and the things I am interested in today, even in the slightest way.

When did your love affair with House begin?

My friends in high school were DJs and and throwing parties playing house. Once I found out about this DJing business I became involved. I didn’t know about house until then. I started buying records even before I convinced my parents to buy me turntables. This was in 1997.

When and why did you move to Brazil?

I first visited Brazil in 2006 and have been attached ever since. Over several visits I learned the language, played some records and made some invaluable friends. I was living in New York before relocating and wanted a change, something outside of America and something different. Brazil is a visually beautiful country rich in a vibrant and friendly culture with deep roots in music. Brazil was where I wanted to be for a while so I made it reality in early 2012.

When did you start The Mixtape Club* and dirtyblackdisco* projects and why?

The Mixtape Club began nearly 4 years ago. My friend Micah Panama headed an analog version in design school and I pitched the idea of creating a digital platform. I wanted a place for people to share and discover unfamiliar music of all types while maintaining a strong connection to the artwork. Something very simple and very honest.

dirtyblackdisco came after in 2011. It kind of just happened. I wanted an outlet for the music I played as a DJ. On one random night I developed an idea for a brand, created a logo, programmed a website and started uploading music.

Now you are based in Australia, what was the reason behind the move?

I am a nomad I suppose.

I understand that there have already been some rather legendary Dirty Black Disco parties in Brazil, is this something you will continue to do in Australia?  

Who knows really. Those parties were some of the most memorable and rewarding experiences of my life. Brazil has given me so much over the years. The country is somewhat disconnected musically from what is happening in the northern hemisphere and I saw it as an opportunity to give something back. It was a struggle. Beyond the troubles of simply being a foreigner, the beaches and babes were not tempting enough for foreign artists. The country is geographically far and not appealing for artists since South America as a whole is generally into a different kind of dance music. I managed to bring HNNY, El_Txef_A and Brennan Green over the series of parties and ended it all with an epic boat party with two of my best mates playing with me.

Being a foreign brand in Brazil is due some credit. I brought something new to Rio de Janeiro and thankfully had some critical friends who helped along the way. Australia is also far from the core electronic music scene but isn’t as behind. Artists are coming and competition is heavy. I don’t really know anyone here so it will be challenging. But its worth a shot when the time is right.

You mention competition, I know in recent years there has been a marked increase in Australia in the popularity of electronic music with some quality projects appearing like Future Classic, do you think Australia is a good place to be right now creatively?

There is some quality production coming from this country. Tornado Wallace, Mike Callandar, Softwar, Untzz 12″. And considering its distance a good amount of artists come here to play. It all seems fairly accessible and with a plethora of opportunity.

How many parties have there been so far?

One in New York. Five in Rio de Janeiro and one in São Paulo.

Would you ever consider bringing the party to London?

The idea has developed as a traveling party. I’d love to do parties in London and wherever else there is an audience ready to dance.

Who would be your dream booking to play a Dirty Black Disco night?

Kuniyuki, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Actress with Peven Everett on vocals. Or Moodymann, Floating Points and Gilles Peterson back to back. Guest appearance by Fatima.

What’s next?


Please check out at your earliest convienence;

RA Sessions: Session Victim – Never Forget


Words lovingly reproduced from those wonderful chaps over at

The German house duo let loose for our latest live music film.

Authenticity is essential to the work of Session Victim. Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling are the type of guys who only work with people they know. They both have a hand in vinyl-only labels—Freer runs Retreat with Quarion, Reiling is involved with Giegling—and only play vinyl in their DJ sets. Session Victim produce classic house tracks on hardware gear and often use old soul, funk and disco records for samples and inspiration. They’ve released an album, The Haunted House Of House, and lots of 12-inches in this vein, and most recently Freer put out Treats Vol. 5, Retreat’s latest compilation.When it comes to playing live, Session Victim run a setup that intentionally leaves room for error: “There are so many points where we can fuck up,” they told us in 2010. “We’re able to improvise and people should really see that we are doing something.” For their RA Session they gave us a raucous rendition of “Never Forget,” a track from their upcoming LP for Delusions Of Grandeur, which, like their best work, is bright and full of character.

Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman – 20th Anniversary Re-issue and Show


Has it really been twenty years?

Where has that time gone?

I think I went to every Underworld gig in the first ten years of their career.  Living in Upminster all the reprobates drank at a local watering hole; The Bridge House in Upminster Bridge (penultimate stop on The District Line) .

Mr Darren Emerson was a local so hence we all attended every gig religiously.  It was almost like going to football.

Now here we are TWENTY YEARS LATER, where the hell did that go?

Good times have been aplenty thats for sure and more than a few of us then hardened beat disciples have fallen by the wayside, but the music still speaks for itself; an incredible album which still sounds fresh and new today.

Underworld a serious combined talent and well worth another sniff, get involved!