Mark Barrott’s commitment to the Balearic ideal is absolute. Since 2012, the Sheffield born musician has lived in Ibiza, where he runs his International Feel label, makes music in his living room, and DJs ambient sets at Hostal La Torre, a secluded inn perched atop rocky cliffs with an enviable view of the sunset. The venue is a metaphorical world away from the White Isle’s teeming superclubs and so is Barrott’s own music, which draws inspiration from a drowsily eclectic style made famous in the ‘80s by DJs like Jose Padilla and Alfredo Fiorito. His wafting synthesizer pads and gently plucked guitar conjure a simpler era, when Manuel Göttsching and Talk Talk were staples on the island’s turntables.
“Schopenhauer’s Garden” is clearly of a piece with Barrott’s discography, but something has subtly changed; the focus is sharper, the calm more pervasive. Atop a soft bed of pulsing synthesizers, a clean-toned electric guitar traces lazy circles in the air, recalling traces of Michael Rother, Tangerine Dream, and other kosmische artists that helped define the Balearic sound. Then, in the song’s second half, something unexpected appears: a keening soprano saxophone, which, even more surprisingly, actually sounds wonderful as it swoops and climbs in contrapuntal motion. A tinny pitter-pat burbles away in the background, and the sense of stillness is total. We may not all be lucky enough to live on an island; “Schopenhauer’s Garden,” at least, gives us license to visit whenever we wish.
Mark Barrott is putting out a new EP called Music For Presence on March 3rd.