When it comes to musical descriptors, the term Balearic is a bit timeworn, to say the least. As an aural adjective, it was originally used to denote musical the anything-goes, vaguely hippyish spirit that DJs like Alfredo would play on the island of Ibiza in the '70s and '80s, then exported to the rest of the world by the U.K.'s first generation of acid-house DJs. By now, of course, Balearic has been watered down to mean…well, whatever you want it too mean, really. But it's nearly impossible to talk about DJ-producers Simon James and Dan Hastie—the pair known as Woolfy vs Projections—without using the word. For one thing, the duo takes its inspiration from the titular hero of Zazu's "Captain Starlight," the 1979 tune that originally helped define the Balearic sound for the outside world. But more than that, it's the vibe of Woolfy vs Projections' music: The California-based partners have that hazy, summertime, swaying Balearic feel perfected.
The two have just released their third (and for now, we're told, final) LP, Stations, on their longtime home of Permanent Vacation—and the release, like all their work, is a beauty. You could describe it as "lushly produced, chilled psyche-folk with a beat"—and that largely would be true, as far as it goes. But like all of Woolfy vs Projections output, Station's' pleasures run much deeper than that: There's the dubbed-out tropical groove of "Walkaway," for instance, the horn-led sunshine-funk of "Set It Up," the loping drum-machine disco of "Tangiers," and even a gorgeous cover of Odyssey's revered Balearic tune from ’74, "Who." The album occasionally nudges towards the dancefloor ("Who," for instance, or the sparkling house cut "Combination," which weds a Larry Levan-esque vibe to its percolating synth), but really, Stations is an album that oozes laid-back sensuality, perhaps better suited to a spliffy beach-house gathering that a full-bore shindig. ("The fish were soothed," one of our XLR8R coworkers said, describing a set the pair played at an aquarium on Long Beach, CA.) But it's not like James and Hastie are averse to getting down—so see below for Woolfy vs Projections' custom-curated "essentials for your Afro-disco-reggae party."
Chalice "Loosen Up" (Pipe Music)
Paying heavy attention to new synths of the time, Chalice keeps this track super-roots, with a taste of New York City disco coming into play. Vocal melodies go from the dancehall to the Paradise Garage. Always love the way the energy of the chorus picks up to some flavors of ska. Serious dudes—just check the album cover.
Grace Jones "Nipple to the Bottle" (Island Records)
what more can you say about this woman, the domineering queen of so many genres; put Sly and Robbie in the mix, and it's the perfect storm. Killing it on every front, they let the vocals breathe at the right times, bringing that Jamaican feel to the dancefloor. Grace always bring some weight to her lyrics, which puts her above the obvious.
Gibson Brothers "Ooh, What a Life" (Island Records)
Raw, driving, a full force of nature—this one's been in the box for years and it works at the beach, in the morning, or prime time. The guitars have an eternity in them that pushes people to keep on, and there's enough tension in the bridges to really give release to the hook. What a life.
Hugh Masekela "Don't Go Lose It Baby" (Carrere)
There are o many versions , extended dubs and covers of this amazing piece. It's always a staple in our late night Los Angeles shindigs. At the end of the night , these lyrics can mean so many things to so many people and it always makes sense.
Third World "Lagos Jump" (Columbia)
Right from the top when the vocal drops, there's a deep feel that's undeniable Everybody likes to raise their glass to this on . Heavy percussion takes over the track that gives way to the uplifting verse…summer for days.