Balearia, as far as the genre may be termed, has itself this year been employed rather unreservedly, whether that be in the process of deƒining, describing, or indeed scribing. Slathered over most electronically infused tracks that sound in some way Mediterranean though consequently coming to signify something of an ambiguous epithet of exponentially decaying meaning, it’s one we’ve indubitably come to abuse across 2012. Whether or not that has anything to do with the meteoric rise of John Talabot, well, that’s fairly inconclusive. What we can categorically avow, however, is that few, to no one has employed the euphoric propensities and proclivities of Balearic beat to a more sole-thumping, sun-searing effect than Talabot. Arising from the grotty metropolitania of Barça, Talabot has ascended from obscurity to inƒinity and beyond, last seen installed immovably within the top two of Rough Trade’s illustrious Albums Of The Year countdown. ƒIN was only bettered by Visions – an actuality we can only confirm and, alas, not exactly condone.
Though unlike Grimes’ highly lionised, ƒIN is one we deplorably neglected to ƒind time to fully evaluate circa its original February release, yet as was with Sharon Van Etten’s patchless Tramp we’ve again been granted redemption for our ineptitudes in the form of a much merited rerelease that we can now go revere. Often deemed a widely derided $-spinning in¢lination favoured by majors and independents alike, one of such latter – Permanent Vacation – here repackage one of the most proficient, if perhaps not progressive electronic recordings of the year and hurl its scintillating Cataluñan glister together with some bits of remix and other pieces plucked from the vaults of Talabot’s hard drive, thereby only enhancing its enduring allure.
We’ll gloss over the itself aptly glossy, big time sensualities of a disc we’re already rather well acquainted with for the time being, and skip right on through to the equally joyous compilation tacked onto its end; its ƒIN, even. These, by and large, are tracks we’ve long since been exposed to also: the surging, warm tidal swells of Mai Mes; the celestial, cloud 99 elation of Tragedial. Then, delving beyond, there’s Talabot’s comparatively antiquated, self-affirmed stab at the acid succursal of the house genre, Matilda’s Dream – a tribalistic clunk from 2010 – that serves as an inspiring prototypal blueprint preempting that which we’ve been overindulging in all year, and I Want Tonite which comes beamed right back in from November 2011. Blithe electropop muggier than most Barcelona afternoons, within quietly reside flickers of things out of sync with the remainder of his sonic output: those Gang Gang Dance samples redolent of a scimitar in the process of being unsheathed, what sounds like an electronic bog being plumbed, and heftily vocoded hunks of vocal. It’s perhaps a little more heavy-handed when set against, say, Oro y Sangre, though in diverging it stands to educate, as well as to further invigorate of course.
Though this one is, and always would be, a celebration of Talabot’s irrefutably smashing breakthrough. The humid tropiphoria of the album’s borderline oppressive opener Depak Ine; the rakish ’80s sleaze-fest that is When The Past Was Present; the disco-smeared funk of Last Land that’s the aural equivalent to a glaring beam of headlight splashed across speeding Mexican windscreen like burst and bloodied mozzies. ƒIN should never have been granted a midwinter release – it’s all too estival for that. Though even now, at the other extreme of our most dismal season, it continues to radiate a beguiling gleam. It’s a consummate piece; a pièce de résistance blemished only by negligible flaws. The forbidding echoes and noirish tones to H.O.R.S.E. still seem rather extraneous to the flow of the album for instance, whilst El Oeste is too languorous a comedown to the two tracks to have preceded it. This, if you’d not yet gleaned, is us grasping for microscopic gripes.
Depak Ine of course preludes the latter, though it’s this one other that really sets John on his way. Destiny. It commences with some bullish tooting and syncopated fusillades of – yup – Balearic synth and, as though named from the now, it acutely befits its premonitory billing. As far as unabashed 2k12 pop tracks go, it’s got to be right up there though its success is in no small part down to Talabot’s steadfast accomplice, Pional. However as this in many ways gruelling annum has worn on, it’s another track on which his depilated beat thief of a sidekick features that has come to an increased prominence, and that is the broody scuffle known only as So Will Be Now. A soft, treated throb itching away at melodrama, it’s an unsuspecting dance floor obliterator that has only matured with time as socks crusted over your ordinary, though anything but average Sónar weekend may. Fittingly therefore, the this time enigmatic Ekhi-featuring Journeys pongs of that wistful sense of nostalgic longing to inundate your every thought as you drift high above Barça and homeward when all’s been said and done; taken and subsequently recovered from.
ƒIN itself is in many respects akin to such a pilgrimage, condensed down into a still riveting fifty-two and perhaps it’s for the positive that we weren’t quite so hasty in assessing what was, having experienced this second disc, a duly overdue début. Talabot took his time in piecing it together, just as we’ve taken our good sweet lo que sabes in coming around to review the oeuvre. Certainly witnessing the perpetually peaked hombre sweat it out on home turf proffered a better understanding of what it was that he was about and just as time may often be cited as life’s omnipotent, all-forgiving healer, it may also be its hesitant evangelist in this instance. In Depak Ine and in deeper reverence praise alike, ƒIN now appears all but immortally excellent.
Rereleased: November 30th, 2012 [Permanent Vacation]