21 November 2011
Balearic, or Balearic beat, adjective
Spanish origin but formally cultivated by British DJs, Balearic came to be identified with a certain kind of mid-tempo (i.e. 100 – 120 BPM) dance music.
Origins: Pioneered in the late-Eighties by certain key DJs on London’s nascent acid house scene, the term Balearic beat was coined after a trip by the group to the prime Balearic island destination of Ibiza, in summer 1987, and initially just meant a much more eclectic mix of music than any of them was used to hearing, as exemplified by a certain island taste-maker they met, called Alfredo Fiorito (pictured). Witnessing the Argentine DJ, then resident at Amnesia (later Pacha), mixing up some of the more out-there indie records of the time alongside smooth soul, italo disco, Chicago house, new beat, EBM, new wave, punk, reggae, plus the odd weird and wonderful pop tune, they decided they’d discovered The Next Big Thing. The meaning later became by turns more obscure and also more closely affiliated with mid-tempo club records exhibiting a funky beat more akin to the rhythm of hip hop than the straighter four-four beats of house and disco.
Key figures: Trevor Fung, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Johnny Walker, Nicky Holloway, plus oft-forgotten ladies Lisa Loud and Nancy Noise, all watched Alfredo in action in Ibiza, christened his style and took it back to Blighty, pioneering the initial trend. Oakenfold and Fung compiled Balearic Beat Volume 1 – The Album (FFRR) with Radio 1’s Pete Tong, plus sleeve notes by Junior Boy’s Own legend Terry Farley and featuring Edinburgh legends Fini Tribe, no less. And Balearic has remained a staple for left-leaning DJs with an ‘anything goes’ attitude, or who prefer not to get stuck in a 125 BPM house groove, from Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B in south London and Bristol’s Wild Bunch crew to the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Harvey and the Idjut Boys, among myriad others.
This feature was originally published in March 2011 by The List magazine. The article has been reproduced with their permission.