- With International Feel, Mark Barrott brought Balearic music—disco-tinged rock, cosmic grooves, tropical funk—into the 21st century. With his solo work, Barrott has homed in on a particularly engaging strain of the sound, one that leans retro. Inspired by the Jose Padilla tapes sold at markets around Ibiza, the laid back guitar solos and wind instruments of the early Sketches From An Island material—compiled into 2014's stellar album of the same name—made for the ideal tropical island soundtrack.
Barrott, who now lives in Ibiza, takes inspiration from an often overlooked side of the island, far from the clubs of San Antonio and Playa D'En Bossa. Sketches From An Island prefers the White Isle's beautiful coastlines, rolling hills and remarkable views. Barrott's first edition highlighted Ibiza's natural beauty with a mysticism that's marked the island since its early hippie days. Sketches From An Island 2 concerns itself with the rhythms of daily island life, tapping into a more relaxed mood.
That much is obvious from the track titles: "Over At Dieter's Place," "Driving To Cap Negret," "Brunch With Suki"—there's an everyday, almost mundane inspiration here. "Brunch With Suki" feels like a callback to the first album's opener, "Baby Come Home," but where that one was laced with funky guitar, "Suki" has soothing woodwind passages. You can practically feel the morning sea breeze blowing in.
Barrott ruminates on the weather, too. "Winter Sunset Sky," with its dub-wise rhythm and noodling guitar, is as absent-mindedly absorbing a changing sky. The mood becomes anxious on "Distant Storms At Sea," which steers into darker climes with eerie horns and field recordings of thunder.
Sketches From An Island 2 has an easygoing quality that might come from living on an island many consider to be paradise. On passages like the mallet and string section of "Over At Dieter's Place," Barrott's sound touches not only on classic Balearic but also the lineage of new wave, relaxation and private press music that's gotten popular recently. Barrott's music has much in common with the output of labels like Music From Memory, Light In The Attic and Mood Hut. In the context of this album, the slide guitar he loves so much sounds oddly contemporary.
In the time since the first Sketches, Barrott landed a Thursday evening residency at Ibiza restaurant La Torre, where he soundtracks the sunset. It seems like a perfect gig, a relaxed atmosphere where he can play whatever records he likes and not worry about making people dance. Sketches From An Island 2 sounds as if it was made by a DJ with a deep collection. The spacey synths on "Cirrus & Cumulus" hint at motifs beyond the White Isle, while "Over At Dieter's Place" conveys a lived-in sort of exotica rather than an imaginary one.
Sketches From An Island 2 suffers only from familiarity. It's a sequel through and through, reprising ideas, themes and sounds from its predecessor, albeit with a different energy. It's a welcome reprise, though, and those who loved Barrott's first album will find themselves transported back to his richly textured, intensely coloured natural world all over again.
01. Brunch With Suki
02. Over At Dieter's Place
03. Driving To Cap Negret
04. Winter Sunset Sky
05. Distant Storms At Sea
06. Cirrus & Cumulus
07. Der Stern, Der Nie vergeht
08. Forgotten Island
09. One Slow Thought