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Balearic Breakfast – Vol. 1 (The RA review)

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

The long-time DJ and radio host redefines what Balearic is and can be on this beautiful, sometimes eye-opening compilation.
Emeka Okonkwo (Resident Advisor)

The long-time DJ and radio host redefines what Balearic is and can be on this beautiful, sometimes eye-opening compilation. Emeka Okonkwo (Resident Advisor)

There are curators, and then there's Colleen 'Cosmo' Murphy. When it comes to putting records together, the Bostonian audio connoisseur has been a tour de force for 30 years, using her long-standing dedication to disco and crates of hidden gems to grow into an internationally renowned tastemaker. From hosting world-famous shows like Classic Album Sundays to studying under legendary DJs like David Mancuso and François K, she has the kind of resume that beggars belief, one that's testament to an ethos that has underscored most of Colleen's journey: the art of listening.

During the early days of the pandemic, Murphy started a show called Balearic Breakfast on Worldwide FM with the aim to "create a musical atmosphere for escape." In her words, it's a "hodge-podge of chill out, spiritual jazz, deep soul, percussive house, quirky disco, indie-dance and what may 'traditionally' be called 'Balearic' (whatever that may be)." Two years in, she's decided to encapsulate exactly what Balearic is with the first volume in a series of upcoming Balearic Breakfast compilations on Heavenly Recordings.

One look at the cover art and you'll make reasonable assumptions about the album's vibe: summery pastel colors adorn a tapestry of palm trees, tropical birds, red suns and the ocean. The first stop is by the Mediterranean coast. Joan Biblioni's "Sa Fosca"— named after what many locals and travellers consider to be the most beautiful cave on Mallorca — brings to mind early '80s Vangelis. With its pitch-shifted guitars and jazzy scales, "Sa Fosca" twinkles elegantly, gradually bursting into life like watching the first cracks of dawn blossom into a sunrise. You feel the day progressing as the album unfolds, and as the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, Coyote's remix of "The Mountain" creates a wondrous mood.

Balearic Breakfast doesn't give into clichés, and it's not a purely sunlit affair. Instead, it's sonic escapism that seems unwilling to be beholden to any one locale. The entry requirements are simple: the more transportative the sounds, the more likely they are to slot into Colleen's vision of Balearic. Songs like Fragile's sweet synth-pop gem "We've Got Tonight, Boy" with its glitzy metropolitan swagger, or the grimy, open-road motorik on "Velo" from Friendly Fires & The Asphodells, offer a wide-open interpretation of the often hokey idea of "Balearic.'

The brilliance of Colleen's curations lies in how they channel shared, intangible motifs of a genre, era or movement, instead of just selecting tracks that superficially sound alike. Balearic Breakfast Voume 1 feels especially fulfilling because of how well it captures the diversity of both the initial, well-worn Balearic sound and the enduring Balearic spirit. These cuts are ideal for daydreaming, but they also have an infectiously motivating energy that's perfect for breakfast, or maybe just new beginnings. Murphy's definition of Balearic seems more tied to music's capacity to take you to limitless backdrops than it is to any specific destination, a natural outlook for a curator whose career has been one long, fruitful journey.


01. Joan Bibiloni - Sa Fosc

02. Cantoma - The Mountain (Coyote Remix)

03. Fragile - We've Got Tonight, Boy

04. Linkwood Family - Miles Away

05. P'taah - The Cosmic Laws (Phil Asher Restless Soul Vocal)

06. Mildlife - Vapour (Cosmodelica Remix)

07. Friendly Fires & The Asphodells - Velo

08. Lady Blackbird - Beware The Stranger (Ashley Beedle's North Street West Vocal Remix)

09. Morenas - Hazme Sonar (Ambient Mix by Peter Vriends)

10. Caoilfhionn Rose - Paths

11. Mike Salta & Marty Mortale - Henry's Spacewalk

The review is reproduced in its entirety and CAN BE FOUND HERE.
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