A Balearic List // a list of favourite tracks

on 13 June 2013
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What IS Balearic Music?

This is a question that comes up time and again, and the various answers rarely satisfy the enquirer. For me, you really only get the answer when listening to a DJ set for 90 minutes, and then someone saying "THAT is balearic music" - it's a combination of tracks rather than one in particular, though to confuse the issue there are certain tracks that have a "balearic sound" to them. Balearic is mixing up genres that shouldn't go together well at all - it's going against your DJ instincts, unlearning the sensibilities of music categorisation. Balearic is throwing out the notion of music categorisation altogether. Balearic is the moment you hear a Johnny Hates Jazz b-side mix in over some uber-hip underground electronica and it somehow works. it's not even being deliberately "anti-cool" - it's simply expanding your potential playlist to almost any genre you can think of.

I first came across this illogical, uncategorisable genre back in 1992. I'd bought a mix-tape from Afflecks Palace in Manchester. It said "Danny Rampling, Milk Bar" on it. Up to that point, I was into what we would describe at the time as garage, house, and progressive house. I knew my genres and sub-genres. I would create my own mixtapes with my electro-vision belt drives, quickly developing an obsessive compulsive disorder with regards to beat mixing and playing mixes at a very specific tempo. So listening to Danny Rampling was an affront to the orderliness I was used to. His beat mixing was dodgy, and....what's this...an uncategorisable track playing that seemed so out of place. But like many good tastes we develop in life, the initial shock was simply down to my own limited view of "good" and "bad". I wrestled with the tape. Something about it was intriguing. And it became my soundtrack to that summer. His mix sounded so original, so fresh, so mood-capturing. And even more amazingly - it was unpretentious. In 1992, the whole scene was teetering under the heavy weight of pretension and seriousness. People identifying themselves with ridiculously narrow sub-sub-genres. DJs afraid to drop "clangers" and play something too commercial or too this or too that. In particular, I was impressed by THAT track (I mentioned earlier) that simply jumped out of the mix because it was....well.....uncategorisable [this track]. I took the tape to Eastern Bloc, Manchester Underground, a few other record shops I forget the name of....nobody could name this particular track, but it was the guy at Eastern Bloc (could have been Moonboots, who knows) who said "sounds balearic".

A lot of people don't even really like the term at all. It's just another label in a world full of labels and identity and categorisation. The type-of-music-that-has-no-name (to many people) is an escape from all of that - it's the freedom to play whatever you like, to stick two fingers up at fashion and its orthodoxies.


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