Cafe Mambo (series)

Any notion that Cafe Mambo lingers in Cafe Del Mar's shadow when it comes to quality chillout music should be put to rest after hearing these outstanding early compilations by longtime resident DJ Pete Gooding...his exceptional taste and unerring ear for great and sometimes obscure downtempo tunes ensures that his compilations set a standard, rather than jump on any chillout bandwagon.

series:
Cafe Mambo

country of origin:
Spain/UK

style(s):
Balearic, lounge, deep house, chillout, Latin

decades active:
90's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Cafe Mambo Ibiza 10th Anniversary (2004, Defected)
  • Cafe Mambo Ibiza 2005 (2005, Defected)
  • Cafe Mambo Ibiza 2006 (2006, Defected)

Reviewed by Mike G

One of the famous Cafe Del Mar's near neighbors on Ibiza's sunset strip is Cafe Mambo. While the former pioneered the Ibiza chillout sound, any notion that Mambo lingers in Cafe Del Mar's shadow when it comes to quality should be put to rest after hearing these outstanding compilations. Longtime resident DJ Pete Gooding began his contributions to the series in the early 2000's. His exceptional taste and unerring ear for great and sometimes obscure downtempo tunes ensure that his best Mambo compilations set a standard rather than jump on any chillout bandwagon.

Three of his mix albums stand out, a sequence beginning with Cafe Mambo Ibiza 10th Anniversary (2004). The mostly instrumental first disc is broken beats in that vaguely Balearic style: gentle funk, soft Spanish grooves, ambient pop and sunny lounge. Gems include a highly atmospheric beatless mix of Goldfrapp's "Black Cherry" and the meltingly lovely trumpet phrases and echoed vocals of "Moonsmith" by Cantoma. The second disc is more seamlessly beatmixed and gradually settles into a relaxed 4/4 tempo around the 125bpm mark. Some of the most sensual, spine-tingling, deep Balearic house you'll in your life is here. The slowly swelling strings on both "Million Miles" and the spoken-word disco fantasy "51 Days" never fail to bring on the goosebumps.

Cafe Mambo Ibiza 2005 and Cafe Mambo Ibiza 2006 are not quite in the same league as the debut but are excellent releases nonetheless and certainly as eclectic. These ones shift back and forth between downtempo and mid-tempo more consistently across both discs and they also have a slightly higher quotient of nu jazz and soul sounds. On the 2005 album Moby shows he can still do exquisite ambient techno with "Swear", while Sebastian Tellier peels off a stunner with his strings and piano breakbeat gem "La Ritournelle", a slow-building and profoundly euphoric piece of music. Once again Pete Gooding's instinct for compiling soulful songs and intelligent instrumentals is very impressive.

Subsequent releases in the series have seen a decline in quality, however, or at least a decline in distinctiveness along with a little too much emphasis on beats and vocals at the expense of eclectic, atmospheric tunes. Pete Gooding departed after 2007, and it seems the Mambo series' time in the sun is now past.

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