Mark Barrott

Sketches from an Island, Vol. 2

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In the international waters somewhere between new age and electronic dance music lives Balearic, the breezy, vaguely defined chillout music inspired by the Mediterranean archipelago of the same name. Years prior to his relocation to the Balearic island of Ibiza, British DJ/producer Mark Barrott was already imbuing his drum'n'bass music with a fairly bright tropical palette as Future Loop Foundation. After retiring that project in 2009, he spent a few years leaking softer Balearic and nu disco-inspired singles under colorful pseudonyms like Young Gentlemen's Adventure Society and Boys from Patagonia via his own International Feel label. Finally shedding his guise in 2014, Barrott collated these tracks into the first volume of his Sketches from an Island series, marking the first time he'd released an album under his given name. Following a 2015 EP, confusingly titled Sketches from an Island, Vol. 3, he returns in 2016 with the full-length Vol. 2. A further expansion of his Sketches series, this volume is, if anything, even more low-key than its predecessors, with Barrott further distancing himself from dance music and reveling in the island's natural flavors. Amid the hushed synths, percussive marimba tones, and gently plucked guitars, bird calls ring out, mingling with the music's easy pulse. At his best, like on the stuttering kalimba and bamboo flute-laden "Over at Dieter's Place" and the near-mystical buildup of "Der Stern, der Nie Vergeht," Barrott creates enchanting, easily digestible rhythmic soundscapes that recall the golden era of pre-gift shop new age music. The more outwardly Balearic chillout tracks like "Brunch with Suki" and "Driving to Cap Negret" feel a bit more like Ibeza hangover helpers and pass by without much notice. Fortunately, they are the minority on this otherwise winsome set.

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