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Album of the Week: La Escollera Session

Beautiful music for beautiful places, this compilation showcases the golden side of life in Ibiza.

Artist: Various (mixed by Gavin Kendrick and Phil Cooper)
Album: La Escollera Session One
Label: Nu Northern Soul
Release date: 21/07/14

Roaring speakers, laser shows and bass faces are a healthy part of island life, but scattered across the island's beaches, reserves and craggy cliffs there are venues that set an entirely different tone. In the middle of Ses Salinas nature reserve lies Es Cavallet beach, the home of La Escollera restaurant – a family run affair which appreciates the simple joys of good food chewed to a good soundtrack. Enter Gavin Kendrick and Phil Cooper, who have been supplying la Escollera with a rich supply of smooth, funky, melodic and ultimately relaxing tunes, flying the flag for eclectic chill-out music on an island which too frequently falls back on a staple diet of deep and tech house.

The first disc, mixed by Kendrick, is your daytime session, opened by the soulful tones and tickling guitar of BJ Smith, who actually features three times in the Escollera sessions. It's all about the holiday vibes, with the jovial steel drums in Mo Kolours' Little Brown Dog escalating later into disco funk with Michael Boothman's Waiting for Love (where the vocals are a wee bit 'waily' for my tastes). The second half of Kendrick's selection spirals off into jazzy jams bridged by latin beats and overlayed with rnb vocals, as in Xantone Blacq's Search for the Sun (Zanzibar mix).

Phil Cooper's mix, angled at the evening session, also opens with some very chilled guitar in Headland's The Hum Song, prefaced by the gentle washing of waves on the shore… instant and unshakeable calm. A mid-mix highlight is Free by Major Lazer; in a very different guise to their usual hype-tastic electrathon, Major Lazer have produced a slow and quirky tune with an edge melody from Amber of the Dirty Projectors which tumbles down the scale over a perky ‘um-cha' pedal. Soulful vocals and lazy beats are a feature of this compilation, culminating in the unbelievably silky cover of Walk On By from the Decoders which sends our minds off ambling into the proverbial moonlight at the end, or beginning, of a great night.

Here's what Phil Cooper had to say about his and Kendrick's creation ...

When you're putting together such an eclectic group of songs, are there any rules? How do you work out the order and avoid awkward genre clashes?

"Both Gavin and I decided to look at doing two sessions within the compilation, one that represented day time selections and the other leaning towards tracks that would be played at night time at the venue. Gavin has the same intense musical passion as myself and I had full confidence that his selections would unearth some gems that I had not come across, I was right. Once Gavin had put together his choices, I could then pull together something that would compliment that."

Why are the Escolleras of Ibiza are just as important as the Amnesias and the Ushuaïas?

"I think they represent a more organic and natural sound for Ibiza. Ibiza has always been about eclecticism, a place to hear left of centre music, that has been harder and harder to come across over the years but it appears that small pockets of resistance are popping up and providing that again. Plus good music, good food and good company have always gone hand in hand and is part of the NuNorthern Soul ethos, we did after all start as a Sunday session in a pub in the UK providing exactly that. People will always come to Ibiza t get off the beaten track, venues like La Escollera form part of that hidden Balearic network."

You live in Bali now, are there similarities to the lifestyle in Ibiza?

"Bali reminds me of Ibiza about 10 years ago, its still quite raw in many aspects, but stick a load of like minded people in any part of the world with a heavy dose of sunshine and access to amazing beaches and results over time will be the same."

How does your location in the world affect the music you play?

"Like Ibiza, when people are relaxed they are open minded and you can play some weird, wonderful and very beautiful music to those people. Sunsets here are particularly amazing and getting to soundtrack them is quite an honour and it is this very reason I love being in Bali. EDM has reached these shores but in the most, a deeper, funkier house and disco sound is pretty well respected and there are some serious weekly parties that provide that. At the moment the island caters for surfers who want to party, and they do a bloody good job at partying… But slowly and surely as the scene develops here, it is becoming a destination for serious fans of electronic and dance music."

What is the best setting in which to enjoy to this compilation?

"Ideally on a beach, flat on your back with the sun beating down on your face, if thats not possible, just listen to the CD and hopefully it will transport your mind to that situation…"


CD 1 - Gavin Kendrick Selections
1. BJ Smith - Runnin'
2. Dexter Story - Underway (Gavin's 'Love Is' Reprise)
3. Mo Kolours - Little Brown Dog
4. Uku Kuut - I Feel Love
5. Andras Fox - Running Late
6. Kafka - Illuminations [DJ Chikasi Nishiwaki Remix]
7. Michael Boothman - Waiting For Your Love
8. Marcos Valle - Parabéns [Dança Do Daniel]
9. Xantone Blacq - Search For The Sun [Zanzibar Mix]
10. Ackin' - Tembezi [Prins Thomas Version]
11. Kid Fonque - 2Sides
12. Jonny Miller feat. Al Scott - Mystix

CD 2 - Phil Cooper Selections
1. Headland - The Hum Song
2. BJ Smith - Prototype
3. Ragz Nordset - You Started It All [Ron Basejam Rework]
4. Major Lazer - Get Free (feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors)
5. Abimaro and the Free - Mark [Smith and Mudd Dub]
6. Steve Cobby - Settling Days
7. Tropics - Courage feat. Gavin Turek
8. Elephant - Shapeshifter
9. BJ Smith - Umi Says
10. Abimaro and the Free - Mark [Flashbaxx remix]
11. Xantone Blacq - Search For The Sun [Zanzibar Mix]
12. The Decoders - Walk On By feat. Noelle Scaggs

Buy the album on beatport

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