Oh Cafe del Mar – how good your early compilations were; as good as the imitators were poor.
Jose Padilla was the evening DJ at Ibiza’s Cade del Mar. To help the clientele wind down before a big night partying, he would spin warm, soft, relaxing music picked from feel than genre or style. So Dusty Springfield, acoustic Pat Metheny and flamenco legend Paco De Lucia co-inhabited with the trip hop of Nightmares on Wax, the sample-laden William Orbit and the ever-increasing exploration into ambient beats by producers influenced by house, techno, Kraftwerk and Shulze, Eno, the KLF and the Orb. It was perhaps Padilla who did as much as anyone to tune the Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Music for a Found Harmonium into an ambient classic.
The first compilation was released in 1993. By the time of 6th and Padilla’s last Cade del Mar compilation (1999), the style had been given a range of names like chill out or Balearic. It had been marketed, mass-produced, nullified. Whereas Padilla had selected disparate tracks to suit his style, music was now being created especially to appeal to such compilations: a little Spanish guitar, some waves or water, some polite beats and no edginess. The electronic underground had twisted and turned up into its own proverbial, some producers reducing the scene into the inevitable null-point of glitch – from where there was nowhere to head – while other producers took the money to create made-to-order tracks for compilations. At least that is how it sounded for an outsider like me.
I came to Cafe del Mar through the electronica program Digital Dream on University Radio Bath, as simulcast on 2UNE. Three or times a year Justin Gould would feature Cafe Del Mar tracks mixed with his own selection of chill out every bit as diverse of Padilla’s: Coldcut, Pete Namlook and Klaus Shulze and the Future Sound of London to name some of many. Listening, I loved the music but also the ramshakled mixes – the collation of tracks from unrelated sources brought together by nothing more than a feel. I learnt a lot of about mix DJing and radio programming from these episodes and from Padilla’s selections. It was such a shame he gave up, but by the time he did the market was swamped with those seeking to capitalise on his work.
This track is one of my favourites from Cafe Del Mar volume 2, as well as a favourite of the Digital Dream’s. It’s nothing more than lush arpeggios, vocal samples and warm beats. Enjoy.