Sketches From An Island 2 by Mark Barrott

Mark Barrott - Sketches From An Island 2

You sit behind the wheel of a Jeep with the top down, driving leisurely along the coast. Three Scarlet Macaws drift on a warm breeze above you. Luxuriant flora cover both sides of the road, until a break in the greenery to your right reveals the ocean’s endless expanse. You pull over on a small dirt road, park your vehicle, and walk down to the emerald-kissed beach. You sit down, lean into the embrace of a shady palm tree, close your eyes, and breathe deeply . . .

Within an archipelago off the Spanish coast in the western Mediterranean Sea, a portrait of heaven can be found. Balearic beat, a genre born on the island of Ibiza, is a blissful combination of sultry tropical house and the relaxed sounds of downtempo, a musical reflection of the lush environments that canvas the miniature paradise. Enter Sketches From An Island 2, the newest full-length by producer Mark Barrott.

Turning his focus away from Ibiza’s boisterous party scenes, Barrott draws inspiration from the island’s breathtaking scenery, vibrant wildlife, and easygoing mentalities. Laid-back percussion rhythms, warm bass lines, ethereal synths, sun-drenched guitar riffs, and whimsical woodwind melodies are sprinkled with field recordings and samples of local fauna, creating the ideal soundtrack for an escape to euphoric tranquility.

Currently holding a weekly residency at Ibiza restaurant La Torre, where he plays the role of accompanying DJ to each sunset, Barrott is an embodiment of the Balearic lifestyle. With track titles like “Brunch With Suki” and “Driving To Cap Negret”, Sketches From An Island 2 feels like more than just a collection of songs; it’s a meditative, transportive experience. If you’re seeking blissful Balearic music, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Sketches From An Island 2 by Mark Barrott

Freetown Sound by Blood Orange

Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

Rain patters on asphalt, rinsing blood and oil that canvasses the streets into nearby gutters. Hooded individuals crouch in alleys, holding cups with shaky, outstretched hands. You pass them by, and head for a boisterous congregation of people two blocks away. A chorus of singing voices, accompanied by somber piano chords, grows louder as you approach. A woman strides into the center of the crowd, raises her face to the sky, and speaks . . . 

Sound is a vessel, a medium through which meaning is dispersed, and one of the most effective methods of influencing change in a world oversaturated with corrupt media. Our world is battered and bruised, infected with rampant violence, institutional racism, and gender inequality. We must listen to the voices that promote unification. Enter Freetown Sound, the newest full-length from Dev Hynes as Blood Orange.

Strung together by powerful spoken word samples ranging from forthright beat poetry to inward contemplation, these seventeen songs unpack a wealth of potent topics — racial injustice, police brutality, female empowerment — and do so via pristine funk/r&b grooves and colorful melodies. Hynes’ soothing baritone is accompanied by a plethora of guests, such as Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Nelly Furtado.

Evocative in similar ways as D’Angelo’s Black Messiah and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A ButterflyFreetown Sound is a record birthed from the souls of the oppressed, one that calls for drastic shifts in action and thinking alike. We possess the ability to avert ourselves from the dark path our species currently walks, and it starts with us dancing together in unison. If you’re seeking resonant, soulful funk/r&b, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Freetown Sound by Blood Orange

Indigo by River Tiber

River Tiber - Indigo

The countless candles adorning an altar ignite with purple fire. A lush chord from an organ breathes life into every nook within the massive temple. An aroma of lavender wafts through the hallowed chamber. A choir of voices descend from on high. You climb the steps leading to the altar, elegant in its design. You kneel before an unknown idol, and speak words from a language unknown to you. Billowing smoke surrounds you, transporting you elsewhere . . .

“I don’t even know what is going on in Toronto right now, but I know that the music sounds like the city looks,” spoke Zane Lowe on Beats 1 Radio. It’s a statement indicative of the codeine-soaked sounds trickling down from the city in the north, a land where chilly instrumentation, sultry voices, and mopey mentalities reign. Enter Indigo, the newest full-length from singer/producer Tommy Paxton-Beesley as River Tiber.

Utilizing a wide-ranging assortment of equipment, including synths, Rhodes organ, violin, cello, trombone, tuba, and a plethora of both acoustic and digital percussive elements, Paxton-Beesley transports listeners to an otherworldly dimension inhabited by shadowy, off-kilter r&b. His hypnotic voice, laden with effects and dripping with emotion, guides the record with melodies as grandiose as haunted cathedrals.

Embodying the seductiveness of dvsn and the sensuality of How To Dress Well, although much more peculiar, Indigo rides the threshold between sweet-spot soul and exploratory electronic music. Having collaborated with BADBADNOTGOOD, Kaytranada, Freddie Gibbs, Mac Miller, and Pusha T, it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing a lot more from this mastermind. If you’re seeking chilly, experimental r&b, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Indigo by River Tiber