mat playford

Album Review: We Love... Portraits 01 - Mat Playford

We Love... has been the tale of Ibiza legend since its inception back in 1999 when it took over the infamous Sunday all day and all night slot at Space. A club night that originally started on a Sunday morning and ran for a full 22 hours, whilst revellers can bask in the outside terrace area: what's not to like?

Except of course times change - Space first received a canopy (blocking out those glorious hands-in-the-air as planes swoosh over moments) and then a full-on roof. The hours have now been reduced to 14 hours, with the action kicking off at 4pm on Sundays. I went back to Ibiza last year for my second time, the first time in seven years. I wasn't there on a clubbing excursion but even so - things have noticeably changed. The warmth of the white isle runs through my veins - it's difficult to resist the lure of gorgeous beaches, sunshine and house music - but things change.

At least they have changed for most of us. Because if you listen to Mat Playford's 'artist profile' you just might find yourself falling down the rabbit hole. This being number '01' it clearly represents the first in a series so I can't conclude that they will all follow the same format but what we have here is basically two albums. The first is an artist effort, with Mat Playford (or his Weirdo Police alter ego) providing original material, whilst the second set is a conventional mix album.

If this sounds like a bad idea, that is because it is. Albums by DJs can be pretty terrible at the best of times, sticking one at the beginning of a mix CD screams 'phoned in'. As such I'm pleasantly stunned to find that Playford's own material here is mostly good and at times excellent. It is truly soaked in Balearic vibes but it still takes in a variety of sounds - opening track 'Evidence' is cosmic and chilled, like Jean Michel Jarrett taking over Café Del Mar. It's easy to bite your thumb at a bit of chill these days but this is surprisingly good and when it is sunny it sounds undeniably good.

The DJ set element kicks in with one of Playford's own compositions, smoothing what could otherwise have been a slightly bumpy transition. Things start fairly laid back and cosmic however, with Ford Inc.'s 'Delirium' little more than some gentle funky keys and Salt City Orchestra's 'Downtime' adding a bit of bass but still playing gently.

Mat Playford's mix of Luca C's Ali Love featuring 'Different Morals' is the first track to raise the pulse a little, but it keeps things classy - funky but minimal, Love's vocal doesn't overpower the mix and the real star here is the reverb, coating the song in deep, lazy sunshine. The dark acid house of Joe Morris' 'Velocity House' is another highlight, vintage house stabs pounding out a melody that emerges from the darkness like the sun cutting through grey.

The set finishes with the epic 'Face The Music' by Tim Deluxe, which combines loose, live sounding percussion with a euphoric techno-inspired synth line. It's all hands-in-the-air until the break drops all but the beat and throws in a piano and some classy brass. Suddenly you really are on the (proper) terrace at Space, listening to a fusion of jazz, house and techno.

It's a fantastic end to the set and the album. Portraits 01 does a great job of recapturing the spirit of 'We Love...' and does a good enough job at demonstrating Playford's DJing and production skill. Now if only I had another trip to Ibiza on the cards...

BP x

Portraits 01 is out now on We Love Recordings, the full set is available from Amazon on CD or MP3 [affiliate links].