First things first: the "unknown" artist here is Englishman Mark Barrott, proprietor of International Feel, and the island in question is Ibiza, Barrott's new home after a stint in Uruguay. Although he once had a full-fledged career in drum & bass as Future Loop Foundation, Barrott had been laying low as a producer until this year, when he re-emerged with The Sonic Aesthetic, a project that deals in mellow, acidic disco-house. This 12", meanwhile, represents a less floor-oriented, wholly chilled-out take on the ever-nebulous Balearic idea.
It's fitting that Barrott calls these tracks sketches—judging by their old-school musicianship and simple use of repetition, they could very well be edits. This review will give him the benefit of the doubt, however. A track like "Baby Come Home," with its lighthearted but expertly wrought boogie framework and free-flowing flute melody, might induce some nostalgia for a time when music's barriers of entry were more than a cracked version of Ableton. Such a serene vibe is not easy to conjure, much less prolong, and perhaps this is why the track briefly does its thing and fades out. More contemplative but no less optimistic is "Dr Nimm's Garden of Intrigue & Delight," which builds gamelan-ish percussion and loose synthetic motifs around a pokey bassline as the sounds of a tropical forest chirp and tweet in the background. This earthiness continues on "Island Life," the record's hushed finale, which moves the artist out of the garden and onto the beach under the stars. It's another meditative tangle between synthetic and organic elements; a lonely guitar twang becomes a soaring flute becomes glassy percussion patterns while subtle arpeggios patter in the background. These tracks might offer brief glimpses, but it's easy to picture them in the midst of a sun-dappled, never-ending mix by Phil Mison (or somebody like that) at Café del Mar during the days before Ibiza gained its current reputation (at least in terms of its club scene) as somewhat of a cesspool. Maybe Barrott is wishfully reminiscing, or maybe, living there now, he knows something the rest of us don't.