- For all the international renown of places like Ibiza and Barcelona as party destinations par excellence, Spain has always struggled to keep up musically. There is of course an active production scene (Under, Schwarz, Tadeo...), but its exploits are largely confined to the Iberian peninsula and frankly dwarfed by the commercial and critical success (and, crucially, variety) of more illustrious European neighbours. Perhaps it's a result of the seasonal-affected surge in interest, or perhaps it's down to the narrow window between the late openings and early closures of their clubs, but while new moulds are steadily cast north of the Pyrenees, the Spanish seem generally content in their routine affection for the non-descript, tech house banger.
To describe Affkt's "Once Upon a Time" as above would be a little unfair—its giddy beats and disco breaks are more charismatic than that—but it could have been more. He clearly aims for the funky in his choice of Roulé-style samples, but instead of the Roulé bassline to match, there's a subwoofing plod that takes the shine off things. This is compounded by an anaemic vocal that flits in and out of key with the guitar and invites a conclusion that sometimes samples just aren't quite meant for each other, no matter how beat-matched Ableton can make them.
Remixes by Uner & Los Suruba and Hermanez are more unabashed in their banger skin. That's not meant as a slight, for these are both well-produced records with their sights firmly set on the peaktime impact they'll doubtless have. It's just that is as far as they go. So if, up till now, the 12-inch seems typically conformist, thank goodness for John Talabot. A lit torch in Barcelona's often dim musical whereabouts, his work stands out by way of its non-uniform approach to tempo (slower), melody (more studied) and sound quality (richer)—traits that set his remix quite some way above the other square-shooting tracks on this record.
A1 Once Upon a Time
A2 Once Upon a Time (Uner & Los Suruba mix)
B1 Once Upon a Time (Hermanez mix)
B2 Once Upon a Time (John Talabot Summer Mix)