Barrott is a Brit who currently hails from the island of Ibiza, one of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. This CD features his “balearic” chill-out sound, and it’s a pleasant, warm sound indeed! The musical textures merge live instruments, synth sounds, and samples. There’s a touch of Latin and world drumming mixed with nature sounds.

From the first track, Baby Come Home, the listener floats into a worry-free zone. Barrott leans a bit heavily on sampled rhythms and textures, so don’t expect a complicated harmonic progression. A jaunty flute takes off on a friendly melodic line. Track 2: Dr. Nimm’s Garden of Intrigue and Delight begins with a pulsing ostinato/sample ornamented with synth, world drumming textures, wood flutes, and bird song.

Track 3: Go Berri Be Happy is another sample-based track. The lead is a guitar, and a strong bass line helps to tie the melodic ideas together. Track 4: Essen jumps to a minor key and a more contained rhythmic pulse. The guitar work is delicate and complex. This is one of the best tunes on the album.
Track 5: Formentera Headspace Blues Pt 1 & 2 shifts to an ambient-space place. It’s a synth focused track. Layers of sound and rhythm weave back and forth in a very pleasing, well-balanced mix. Different voices toss around the melodic material. A bit of xylophone adds to the island-music feel. This 9-minute track offers the composer plenty of time to develop sound and effects themes.

Track 6: Deep Water features an alluring flute melody over congos. Nature sounds of bird song and water add to the relaxing feel of the song. Track 7: Island Life downshifts into a more ponderous, stately song. The musical introduction is without drums, which helps set it apart from the other tracks. It takes time to roll out the melody, so of course, you’re on island time now. The marimba adds an exotic touch.

Barrott sticks to his water-themed music with Tracks 8 & 9: Back to the Sea and Sacred Islands. Track 8 is languid and lazy. The sound of waves and seagulls makes the listener feel like it’s an evening on the beach. Sacred Islands is, like Track 5, a long, ambitious piece. It begins with bird songs. Eventually a piano opens the music with a wistful and romantic chorale. The music rolls on through a development, and the track closes the album with more bird song.

This album does exactly what it says it will do – it fosters relaxation and a beach vacation state-of-mind. There’s no frantic virtuosity or demanding, angst-filled songs – just low-key, grown-up music. The inclusion of bird song, waves and water sounds throughout the album is subtle but a key ingredient to the chill-out factor. There’s a good blend of instrumental sounds that convey the laid-back island pace and a touch of world-music drumming to keep it interesting and mostly upbeat. The tracks are thoughtfully arranged so the upbeat numbers contrast with the slower tracks. Barrott uses samples liberally; some will find this a plus, others not so much.

This is great music for socializing and front-porch dwellers on a warm evening. If you can’t go to Ibiza, you can get the atmosphere with this friendly, accessible CD.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: Mark Barrott
International Feel, 2014
$10.99 (track 9 included on CD only). Available through various music outlets and download sites. For the artist’s notes on this CD, visit: