Review: Under the Prins Emanuel alias, Emanuel Sandin has never been particularly prolific, though what he does release tends to be very high quality. He's certainly kept the quality threshold high on sophomore album "Diagonal Musik", a breezy, beautiful and evocative set that's as Balearic as getting a back rub from Jose Padilla while watching the sun go down outside Cafe Del Mar. The album's greatest strength is its stripped-back simplicity, with Sandin offering up eight evocatively produced tracks built around gentle guitar motifs (mostly acoustic, with a little Pat Metheny style electric guitar), the occasional voice or beach-side field recording, a few well-placed effects (primarily delay and reverb) and little else. It may be simple and stripped-back in its construction, but "Diagonal Musik" is rarely less than intensely beautiful.
Review: The always sublime Music For Dreams is a perfect home for the balearic vibes, European electronica and Brazilian stylings of Copenema's debut album. Their name is a portmanteau of Copenhagen and Ipanema, which is a nod to the fact the quartet is made up of musicians from Denmark and Brazil. Lead single "Te Faz Bem" is a funky downtempo number with live flute, sax and guitars, while Ibiza favourite "Serei Seu" is a funky party track that echoes the great samba man Jorge Ben. Next to these cuts are sunset gems and cosmic jazz explorations as well as a a trio of vinyl only bonus cuts.
Lumiere Et Penombre (feat The Swan & The Lake & Langkilde)
Sem Voce (feat Copenema & DJ Pippi)
Review: Islandman is the artistic alias of Tolga Boyuk, a Turkish producer whose 2017 debut album "Rest In Space" effortlessly joined the dots between occidental exotica, psychedelia and evocative, synth-laden Balearic beats. His second album "Kaybola" offers a similarly ear-catching and mind-altering blend of early morning mysticism, off-kilter downtempo grooves, spiraling psychedelic instrumentation and quirky cuts that defy lazy categorization. It's a formula that guarantees intriguing, enjoyable and often surprising results, with highlights including the Middle Eastern dub disco extravaganza "Lumiere Et Penombre (feat The Swan & The Lake & Langkilde)", the spacey Balearic chug of "Khepre" and the languid brilliance of "Island Dub".
Review: Music For Dreams' latest must-have compilation of obscure Balearic treats comes courtesy of noted digger Basso, a DJ, producer and re-editor who has previously released some killer scalpel jobs on Joe's Bakery and People Must Jam. You'll find one of his edits tucked away towards the end of the EP - a tidy extension of Wolfsmond's sun-kissed, Chris Rea-esque German language number "Fuhl Dich Frei" - alongside stunning selections that variously touch on stoned West Coast jazz-rock, new age, ambient, drowsy 80s pop, kosmiche and loved-up late night AOR shufflers. An inspired collection of pretty much unknown gems; what's not to like?
Review: Music For Dreams' compilations are rarely less than essential, and this collection of recent Japanese music (2008-2018) is no different. Compiled by Ken Hidaka, Tokyo-based Max Essa and Test Pressing co-founder Dr Rob, the set starts with a beautiful and becalmed ambient piece by Yoshio Ojima (the sublime "Sealed") and ends with the lapping waves, vocal harmonies and twinkling pianos of Takashi Kokubo ("Quiet Inlet"). In between, you'll find the Steve Reich-ish marimba movements of Yoshiaki Ochi, the dubbed-out, piano-laden downtempo grooves of Little Tempo, the jazzy Balearic house of Schadaraparr, the sun-kissed dancefloor grooves of Little Big Bee and much more besides. As you'd expect, Hidaka, Essa and Dr Rob's selections are uniformly superb.
Om Buschman - "Hey Tata Gorem" (Wolf Muller edit) (4:54)
TCP - "At The Water-Hole" (Wolf Muller edit) (4:13)
Review: Tropical Drums of Deutschland is an intriguing proposition. Put together by Jan Schulte, whose Wolf Muller project draws influence from exotic new age music and gentle global drum rhythms, the compilation focuses on "tropical" music made in and around Germany, most during the mid to late 1980s. It's a fascinating listen, but far more introspective and melancholic than you might expect. Of course, there are percussive tracks that feel dancefloor-friendly - see Argile's "Tagtraum Eines Eleganten", and Sanza's beguiling, drums-and-vocals workout "Sounouh" - but for the most part the material selected by Schulte (and, on a couple of occasions, re-edited) tends towards the horizontal. This is not meant as a criticism; if anything, it makes the collection a much more beguiling listen.