Is it Balearic? An age old question….But what’s the answer? Maybe more qualification is needed? For example: ‘Would Alfredo play it?’, ‘Would it fit in a set with some Simple Minds and some Belgian Nu Beat?’. Maybe the answer lies somewhere below the Mediterranean Sea, in a hidden cave deep below the musical surface. Maybe it’s more a feeling? A sense of fearlessness, ignorance of rules and freedom of expression. An unconventional mode of attack that has a spirit of adventure. A desire to push boundaries and be open to new possibilities. It’s on this hidden shore that the music of Wally Badarou somehow seems to perfectly land. Questing for musical perfection while testing what’s possible with the form. Plus, making it super funky and expansive, just for good measure.
Colours of Silence has an intriguing and equally submerged history. Originally released as the soundtrack to a yoga DVD, put out by a friend of Island’s Chris Blackwell, Nathalie Delon in 2001. The tracks that make the record are described by Wally himself as ‘high quality demos’. However, this is the man who has worked with, amongst others, Sly & Robbie, Mick Jagger, Grace Jones, Gwen Guthrie, Talking Heads and Fela Kuti. So there’s an easy reassurance that, what he would term a demo, would be something lesser beings would struggle to match in quality across their entire career. It’s also gained cult classic status across the Balearic cognoscenti and now gets a well deserved vinyl outing by the folks at Be With with a little help from TP’s own Apiento. Remastered to perfection and with original artwork to complete the package, giving it the special treatment it deserves.
The 13 tracks cross various tempos and styles as expected from a virtuoso like Wally. Tabla sketches, like opener ‘Dance In The Dust’ expand into more plaintive, emotional pieces such as ‘Amber Whispers’ and ‘Pictures of You’. Funk, and that Island sound are also present and correct, within the Reggae feels of ‘Where We Are’, for example. ‘The Lights of Kinshasa’ trips beautifully with a lilting organ groove and on point Soca drums, definitely fit for dancing.
‘Serendipity For Two’ is different again, with piano front and centre, creating a lost soundtrack excursion that perfectly balances emotion and groove. There’s more light than shade in this collection, but there are darker moments, such as ‘Higher Still’, evolving as it does from a dreamy synth opening into a subtle blossoming finale.
‘Days To Wonder’ takes birdsong and solo piano then combines them into a meditative space of calm and tranquillity. Beats are removed altogether for ‘Dawn Of Europa’ bringing his spacious keyboard style to the fore. Next up, ‘Crystal Falls’ joyfully plots its melodious course, like a river to the soul. ‘Purple Lines’ rounds things off with a simple modulating synthesiser, fading to silence as the journey (or practice) ends.
‘Colours of Silence’ is music that defies definition in many ways, genres seem redundant really when music is this broad reaching. It’s ambitious without seeming to try. Melodic but also spiritual. So perhaps the original question can’t be answered, and really it’s not worth worrying about anyway. Just get lost in the world of one of music’s secret heroes and enjoy the trip.
Colours of Silence is forthcoming direct from Be With via their website.