INTERNATIONAL FEEL-A COMPILATION.

INTERNATIONAL FEEL-A COMPILATION.

During my whistle-stop, worldwide search for new, exciting and innovative compilations, I’ve reviewed compilations from all over the world. Recently, this has included compilations from record labels based not only in the UK and US, but Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Japan. Next stop is Uruguay, home to International Feel Recordings. International Feel was founded and run by Mark Barrott. Since 2009, International Feel Recordings have been releasing electronica and Balearica, including twelve-inch singles, compilations and artists albums. This includes singles from DJ Harvey, Gatta Fritto, Efeel, Rocha, Coyote, Hungry Ghost and Bubble Club. That’s not forgetting albums from DJ Harvey and Gatta Fritto, plus compilations that include International Feel and Locussolus Remixes. Now International Feel Recordings have released another compilation, International Feel-A Compilation. This is a double-album, showcasing some of the label’s roster, including some of their previous releases. Included on International Feel-A Compilation are previously unreleased tracks, plus track that previously, were only available on vinyl. So, International Feel-A Compilation looks like the perfect introduction to International Feel Recordings? Is that the case? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

DISC ONE.

On Disc One of International Feel-A Compilation, there are eleven tracks, including tracks from some of International Feel regulars. This includes Gatto Fritto, Rocha, Bubble Club, Flights of Fancy, Gonno and IFeel Studio. Many of these tracks have been released since 2009. Of these tracks, some are making their CD debut for the first time. Other tracks fall into the category of rarities. Indeed, so rare are some of the tracks, they’re describes as as rare as rocking horse droppings. So, Disc One of International Feel-A Compilation won’t just appeal to newcomers to International Feel’s music, bit completists too. With rarities sitting side-by-side with some of International Feel’s previous releases, choosing just some of the highlights of Disc One of International Feel-A Compilation my prove problematic. Here goes, though with what are my highlights of International Feel-A Compilation.

My first choice from International Feel-A Compilation, is Gatto Fritto’s The Curse. This is a track from his 2011 album Gatto Fritto. There’s something of an old school sound when crispy drums and shakers give way to Acid House synths. Suddenly, it’s the second Summer of Love again. Keyboards, buzzing synths and sound effects are joined by a crystalline vocal. Rolls and fills of drums add variety as this multilayered track unfolds. By now Gatto Fritto is fusing electronica with elements of Acid House, techno and house. Sometimes, there are even references to disco. Indeed, so many influences are fused to create this innovative track, it could’ve been made anytime in the past twenty-five years. 

Second is a track from International Peoples Gang’s 2010 album Up, originally released by the Detroit duo in 2010, on Hi-Phi Music. It’s remixed by Coyote and is a track that sits comfortably between the dance-floor and Balearica. For DJs playing a long set and just upping the tempo this is perfect. A lone female vocal drenched in echo opens the track. Crunchy beats, guitar and percussion join keyboards and a deliberate vocal. Straight away, the track takes on a hypnotic sound. Echo and filters are added to the vocal, as the vocal drifts in and out. Subtle layers of music sit in the background, as keyboards drive the track along, building the track’s drama and dance-floor friendly sound. So impressed was I by the International Peoples Gang’s music, I’ll definitely be checking their music out.

Flights of Fancy’s Spacebird is a track that showcases something International Feel does so well, releasing Balearic music. It’s best described as an ambient soundscape, one that’s both elegant and dramatic. A picked acoustic guitar and washes of synths combine, creating a backdrop that gently and subtly reveals its charms. A dramatic, spacey guitar reverberates and that’s the signal for things to change. Crunchy drums, synths and the guitar combine, with washes of synths for company. Together, they create a sound that’s a fusion of rock, ambient, Balearic  and electronica. Elegant, dramatic and mysterious. This track is all these things and much more, including quite beautiful.

Parada 88’s You’re Gonna Miss Me is the final choice from Disc One of International Feel-A Compilation. Released as a twelve-inch single in 2011, it’s a track that references several musical genres. House, techno and Acid House are all rolled into one dramatic, driving track. Stabs of buzzing synths, a mesmerizingly repetitive vocal, crunchy drums and keyboards are all that’s needed to create the track. Some of the keyboards and synths are straight out of an old Acid House track. Sometimes, the music unfolds in soaring, dramatic waves. Key to the hypnotic sound is the  punchy, repetitive vocal that punctuate the arrangement. Glacial backing vocals have an ambient feel, while sometimes, there’s even a hint of house and techno thrown into the mix. All this makes a track that’s guaranteed to fill any dance-floor.

The eleven tracks on Disc One of International Feel-A Compilation feature a mixture of electronica and Balearic beats. So consistently high is the quality of music, that choosing just a few of the many highlights wasn’t easy. Unlike so many compilations, there’s neither any padding nor filler. Instead, there’s just some great music, from some hugely talented, creative and innovative artists. Fittingly given the compilation’s title, these artists are from different parts of the globe, giving the compilation its International Feel. Given how good Disc One of International Feel-A Compilation is, will Disc Two be just as good?

DISC TWO

Disc Two, like Disc One of International Feel-A Compilation is an eclectic selection of electronica and Balearic music. Some familiar faces from Disc One feature, including Rocha, Gatto Fritto, Flights of Fancy and Gonna. There are also tracks from Bepu N’Gali, The Globe, Adventure Party and Hungry Ghost. In total, there are ten tracks, which I’ll now choose the highlights of.

Of the ten tracks on Disc Two of International Feel-A Compilation, Bepu N’Gali’s I Travel To You is my first choice. It was released earlier in 2012. It’s described as a track where deep and tribal house combine. To that I’d add a healthy sprinkling of Latin music. It’s that Latin feel that’s guaranteed to get you on your feet. Chiming guitars join pounding drums, percussion and handclaps. A flute joins the mix as the rhythm section drive the track along. A myriad of joyous vocals join the party and so do, rasping horns. By now, you’ve realized that this a gloriously, irresistible track. There’s a real funky side to the track and when combined with the Latin influence, keeping still quite simply isn’t an option.

Rocha’s Night Music is very different from other tracks. It has a much more experimental, leftfield sound. There’s an ambient influence to the track, as it meanders into being. It’s almost as if the track is awakening. Keyboards, a sprinkling of percussion and sound effects create an intriguing soundscape. A distant vocal joins the fray, as do pounding drums that gradually, get nearer and nearer. By now, you’re wondering where the track is heading. Synths reverberate, while samples, sound effects and keyboards tantalize and tempt you with its secrets. An epic is unfolding, one over ten minutes long. With Rocha as your tour-guide, you’re taken on a compelling, intriguing, mesmerizing and sometimes, haunting journey. Quite simply, this is one of the highlights of International Feel-A Compilation.

You can’t fail to be intrigued by a track with the title (I Am A) Series Of Strange Loops. This is a track from Hungry Ghost and when it opens, it has an eerie, space-age sound. Key to the space-age sound is a vocoder, which the vocal is spoken through. With the help of synths, sound-effects and drums, these space-age sounds are created. As the vocal drops out, the space-age sound continues, but keyboards take charge, before crystalline guitar licks are added. It’s a bit like crossing a choppy lake and suddenly calm is restored. However, you never know when things will change. You’re always on edge, wondering what’s about to happen. Unexpectedly, harmonies join the mix, but so does that edgy vocal. Then the track takes on a much more rocky, dramatic sound. Truly, it’s compelling and intriguing. For nearly ten minutes subtleties and surprises aplenty are in-store. In some ways, it’s not unlike walking onto the set of a yet unmade sci-fi film, which you feel you’re part of.

The last track from Disc Two of International Feel-A Compilation is Gonno’s Turn To Light, a track from the Acdise Number Two twelve-inch single. As the track begins, there’s a real understated, pensive sound, one that’s almost experimental. Synths beep and squeak. Subtle as they are, they’re contrasted by a broody string sound, while occasional guitar licks punctuate the track. Nearly three minutes into the six minute track and it’s teasing you relentlessly. Waves of music unfold, with just the moody sound of strings contrasted by guitars and synths. Sometimes, it’s not an easy listen, and is challenging, but sticking with it is worth it. Soon, the sound grows into a powerful, impressive soundscape, which although moody, broody and experimental, is also innovative, cutting-edge and challenging.

Just choosing eight tracks from the twenty-one on International Feel-A Compilation wasn’t easy. There were so many great tracks, tracks that ranged from all types of electronica right through to International Feel’s trademark Balearic sound. Many of these artists won’t be familiar to most people, so International Feel-A Compilation is very much a voyage of discovery. These are just a taster of their first thirty-six releases, since Mark Barrott formed International Feel Recordings in 2009. He couldn’t have named his label better, because the artists on International Feel are from all parts of the world, brought together through one thing, music. Like so often is the case, music brings people together. Music breaks down barriers, allowing people to come together in a positive way through a shared interest. With artists from all over the world, International Feel-A Compilation, truly has an International Feel, as well as featuring a totally eclectic selection of music. 

While International Feel Recordings is only three years old, it looks like the label has a great future ahead. Mark Barrott has that rare talent, the ability to spot talented and creative people. His label gives them an outlet for their creativity and allows their music to find the wider audience it deserves. For that he deserves credit and kudos. Although International Feel-A Compilation is only a tantalizing taste of their releases so far, there’s much more to International Feel Recordings. I’m sure in the future, we’ll be hearing much more eclectic music like that on International Feel-A Compilation, music which will have an International Feel. Standout Tracks: Gatto Fritto The Curse, International Peoples Gang Second, Bepu N’Gali I Travel To You and Rocha Night Music.

INTERNATIONAL FEEL-A COMPILATION.

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