Mediterranean Sketches [Home Recordings 1997 - 2003]

by GusK

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NuNorthern Soul’s Hints of Ibiza series continues with something rather special: a deep dive into the previously unreleased archives of little-known Greek musician GusK.

Inspired by summer holidays on Aegean and Ionian islands, the music on Mediterranean Sketches was recorded at different points between 1997 and 2003 in GusK’s home studio. He started setting up the studio in the mid 1990s following spells as a guitarist in various Athens-based bands. Stocked with a range of midi sequencers, samplers and analogue synthesizers, the studio allowed GusK to lay down imaginative and emotive musical “sketches” that draw influence from a variety of musical styles.

Although these “sketches” were colourful, atmospheric and finished to a high standard, GusK never thought to send them to record labels at the time of their recording. Instead, they lay on tapes and hard drives gathering dust until he plucked up the courage to forward them on to NuNorthern Soul’s Phil Cooper last year.

Given their escapist, sun-splashed inspiration, it’s little surprise to find that GusK’s Mediterranean Sketches are rich in vibrant synthesizer melodies, immersive pads and tactile, laidback grooves. They sound like the perfect accompaniment to lazy afternoons laying by the pool, or bright mornings spent walking round the coastline of a picturesque Mediterranean island.

Opener ‘Sketch #01: Antiparos (I’m in Love)’ sets the tone, with GusK wrapping dreamy, stretched-out chords, chiming synth sounds and kaleidoscopic electronic melodies around leisurely beats and a seriously squelchy bassline. ‘Sketch #02: 100 Breaths Per Minute’, the oldest track in the collection, underpins his trademark drifting chords and gentle melodies with crunchy breakbeats that increase in speed and tempo as the track progresses, beckoning us towards the dancefloor with a smile and a nod. Throw in some twinkling piano lines and a rubbery, funk-fuelled bassline and you have a genuinely life-affirming treat.

GusK’s love of deep, starry, midtempo house is explored on 1998’s ‘Sketch #03: Discovery’ – all intergalactic chords, metronomic beats, subtle synth-strings and fluid melodies – while ‘Sketch #04: Anafi Nights’ (1999) fixes slowly shifting melodic elements to a bubbly electronic bassline and laidback beats whose skittish rhythm was partially inspired by drum & bass.

This attractive combination of enveloping electronics, tactile melodies, jazzy bass and intricate musical touches is at the heart of ‘Sketch #05: Stars’ – another wide-eyed, breakbeat-driven gem – while closing cut ‘Sketch #06: Loutraki Sunset’ is little less than stunning. Recorded back in 1999, the track offers a spinetingling strut through deep, synth-bass-propelled house full of cyclic marimba style melodies, sustained pads and sparkling, turn-of-the-90s style piano riffs. It provides a gorgeous, awe-inspiring conclusion to a superb collection of previously hidden gems.

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NuNorthern Soul Eivissa, Spain

NuNortherns Soul has been running events since 1996, the label, which was formed in 2012, is about presenting a rich tapestry of music, not restricted by genre or production techniques, it is not a Soul music label, but a label for music WITH Soul.

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