In the summer of 2018 Beachfreaks Records founder and celebrated crate digger Charles Bals threw open the doors of Club Meduse, an imaginary open-air venue on the Cote D’Azure where the obscure but inspired soundtrack is always humid, sun-kissed, synthesizer-heavy and proudly European. The resultant compilation was acclaimed by both music critics and record buyers, so two years on Bals has once more joined forces with Spacetalk to re-open Club Meduse for another imaginary summer season beneath the baking-hot Mediterranean sun. Acting again as in-house DJ, Bals has dipped into his personal stash of obscure, overlooked and little-known gems and selected a soundtrack rich in drowsy chanson vocals, glistening Spanish guitar lines, Latin-tinged drum machine rhythms, rushing Fairlight stabs and sparkling synthesizer sounds. Having gone to great lengths to track down the musicians behind the music, he’s joined in the virtual DJ booth by a wealth of forgotten artists whose magical music he holds so dear.
This time round there’s an undeniable 1980s flavour to proceedings with all but one of the tracks – Claude Miss’s African-influenced 1990 Balearic pop shuffler “Paco Ye Adame” – being produced and released during the decade. As with its predecessor, Meduse (Retour au Club) contains a mixture of off-kilter, barely known dancefloor cuts and the kind of drowsy, slow-motion tracks that are best suited to lazy afternoons by the pool and early evenings spent squinting towards the sunset. In this category you’ll find the ambient-pop bliss of Lili’s fretless bass and Flamenco guitar-sporting “Gitana Morena”, the slow-motion brilliance of Belgian outfit Capco’s “No Vayas Al Sol” (featuring the vocals of future Benelux pop star BeaLuna), the trumpet-laden magic of Nathalie David’s “Coup De Foudre (Instrumental)” – a track written by her songwriter father Jacques Bendavid – and the Mediterranean pop slickness of Jean-Claude Watrin’s “Game City”.
If dancing in your Speedos or swimming costume is your thing, Bals also has you covered. Check, for example, the “Midnight Mix” of Jade 4 U’s Praga Khan produced 1988 gem “Rainbows” – a prize slice of new beat/synth pop fusion powered forward by a bold, headline-grabbing bassline – or De Dion’s “Sexy Cola (Glu Glu Version)”, a jaunty, hard-to-explain mixture of pop cheeriness, Art of Noise experimentation and summer holiday glee. Or for that matter the reggae/zouk/electro fusion of Les 36 15’s effervescent “Zoulous (Remix)” and the boogie-era Gallic jazz-funk of Marc et Frank’s “Cap’tain Coke” – a cut recorded in a Paris studio by two prisoners on day release, jointly funded by the French ministries of justice and culture. When you’re done dancing, there’s plenty to soundtrack those wide-eyed late night romantic moments too, not least the bubbly, 80s-soul influenced chanson delight of Weekend Millionaire’s “Exit”, the gentle reggae/synth-pop fusion of L’s private press delight “La Boite Musique” and Cecilia’s seductive synth-pop shuffler “Chocolat”, the B-side of a seven-inch single that now changes hands for hundreds of pounds online.