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Ubiquity Records

Tigerbalm "International Love Affair" Double LP

Tigerbalm "International Love Affair" Double LP

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Track List

A1) Kete ft. Joy Tyson

A2) Tokyo Business ft. Joy Tyson

A3) Tokyo Business (Instrumental)

B1) Waiheke

B2) Cosmic Camel      

B3) Cosmic Camel (Instrumental)      

C1) Bahia Escapista

C2) Riad De Lister

C3) Riad De Lister (Instrumental)

D1) Cocktail d'Amore

D2) La Brisa

D3) Tokyo Business (Radio Edit)

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In an age of regressive politics and inward-looking neo-nationalism, there’s something gloriously open and outward-looking about the musical worldview of Rose Robinson. A keen traveller whose mindset and musical vision has been shaped by her experiences visiting different destinations around the globe, Robinson’s releases as Tigerbalm thrillingly combine her roots in dance music – Robinson has been DJing around her home city of London and much further afield for well over a decade – with rhythms, sounds and instrumentation inspired by all manner of indigenous musical cultures from around the world.

This trademark sound is sonically kaleidoscopic, unflinchingly percussive and undeniably infectious, though attempts to accurately describe it are likely doomed to failure. While confounding those employed to review music not Robinson’s aim – she was much more interested in fusing her eclectic global musical influences and showcasing great female vocalists – her brilliant debut album, International Love Affair, will surprise as much as it delights – and all for the right reasons.

It arrives on the back of a string of celebrated singles and was created with the help of a large archive of recordings of jam sessions with musician friends, and contributions from a talented pool of female singers Robinson has met on her travels around the world. It’s those travels that shaped the sound of International Love Affair, with every track being a personal response to the musical cultures of places she’s visited. Combine these vivid experiences with nods to dancefloor-focused styles she loves – think organic house, nu-disco, Afro-house, dub disco, Afro-disco and Brazilian club cuts – and you have a debut solo album that’s as imaginative and entertaining as they come.

For proof, check the album’s two Bali-influenced tracks: album opener ‘Kete’, where Joy Tyson’s stylish vocals ride a heady, low-slung midtempo groove wrapped in Indonesian instrumentation, and the extra-percussive, tech-house influenced dancefloor voodoo of ‘La Brisa’ (a cut named in honour of the Bali-based club of the same name). Or for that matter the two tracks inspired by Robinson’s experiences in Berlin, the Joy Tyson-voiced strut of ‘Tokyo Business’ – a dense, squelchy, dark-room ready blend of heavy grooves, punk-funk inspired vocals and ‘80s freestyle synth sounds – and the irresistible peak-time heaviness of ‘Cocktail D’Amore’, a track made in tribute to the legendary LGBTQIA+ party of the same name that sits somewhere between Afro-house, tribal house, dubbed-out late-night hedonism and the most mind-altering of organic percussion workouts.

Robinson’s positive experiences on Waiheke Island in New Zealand, the location of the legendary Flamingo Pier festival, are explored on two tracks, too – superb recent single ‘Waiheke’ and the inspired ‘Cosmic Camel’ – an impeccable, breathlessly brilliant re-imagining of the mid-80s proto-house sound of Paul Simpson and Boyd Jarvis (amongst others) blessed with cut-up Maori vocal samples and the kind of hazy, dubbed-out horn licks that have long been a feature of records by New Zealand outfit Fat Freddy’s Drop.

Such is the quality across the set, attempting to pick highlights is a futile gesture. Some may cite the breezy, Brazil-inspired samba-house/funky nu-disco of ‘Bahia Escapista’ (this features a very special ‘secret guest’ vocalist, whose identity will no doubt promote debate online), or Robinson’s response to visiting Morocco, ‘Riad De Lister’ – a squelchy chunk of 21st century P-funk that’s as heady and intoxicating as it is addictively dancefloor-focused. An instrumental version of that track is also featured on the album, alongside a handful of other vocal-free alternative takes.

Taken as a whole, International Love Affair more than lives up to the promise of its title, marking out Robinson as one of electronic music’s most inventive and on-point global fusionists.