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Compilation of the Month: DJ Harvey ‘Mercury Rising: Volumen Tres’

DJ Harvey conveys the hedonistic spirit of Pikes Ibiza in the ecstatic third edition of Mercury Rising compilation series

Oft quoted as saying, “You can’t understand the blues until you’ve had your heart broken by a woman, and you can’t understand my music until you’ve had group sex on ecstasy,” it’s little wonder DJ Harvey found a kindred spirit in Tony Pike, founder of Pikes Hotel in Ibiza.

A charismatic bon-viveur and prolific, unashamed shagger, Pike hand-built his hotel, then transformed it into a mythical adult playground – immortalised in Wham’s video to ‘Club Tropicana’ and legendary for its salacious goings on, such as Freddie Mercury’s infamous, three-day long 41st birthday party.

With Harvey taking up a DJ residency there in 2015, helming his own party Mercury Rising, the hotel launched its label in 2017 to release the first edition of ‘The Sound Of Mercury Rising’, a collection of tracks played on their dancefloor. And though Tony Pike sadly passed away in 2019, Harvey returns with the third compilation in the series, musically conveying some of their shared hedonistic spirit.

Stallions’ remix of Mode’s ‘Lo-Fi Odyssey’, plucked from the vaults of In Flagranti’s Codek label, lives up to its billing, opening with a panorama of Spanish guitar and hazy synths. Epic and evocative, it’s filled with grand promises. And establishing his genre- hopping credentials early on, Harvey follows with the ’80s German funk of Georgie Red, the throaty, sax-filled ‘We’ll Work It Out’ every inch the original incarnation of Balearic.

Sequenced rather than mixed, ‘Mercury Rising’ is more a carefully curated mixtape than a now traditional DJ set, transitions mediated by mood and meaning. There’s plenty of classic funk and disco, encoded with the spirit of the inner sanctum of Pikes. “It feels mighty fine,” sings Peter Jacques Band on the breezy break-up and move on track ‘Mighty Fine’. ‘You Know Why (Disco Version)’ then finds Roxy Robinson singing “It’s now or never” alluringly over Pino Presti’s funked-up production, before Brass Construction’s closer, ‘Now Is Tomorrow’, also collapses time to just the present moment, declaring “tomorrow is now”.

There are modern dance tracks too, yet they’re cut from a similar musical cloth. Released earlier this year, Luca Averna & Chris Coco’s ‘There Is No Planet B’ has a hint of mid tempo chug, but it’s languid melodies bring to mind a shimmering heat haze. Tensnake’s take on Kraak & Smaak’s ’Same Blood’ ups the tempo further, but also swims in a dreamy, otherworldliness to keep the exotic spell intact.

Fleet-footedly moving between newer releases like the beautiful deep house of Soul Of Hex’s 2020 ‘Psychic’, Mozaika’s synthy ‘Never See You Again’, and older gems from his collection — Twice Of Love’s new beat cover of New Musik’s ‘24 Hours From Culture’ particularly seductive — Harvey steers clear of the obvious. Instead, he weaves together a tapestry of emotions better served by the relative obscurity of the tracks relating them. Left to breathe in their entirety, each is a moment in its own right, swelling with a particular feeling. As a whole though, they conjure a glimpse of the antics of Pikes: the love, the loss and the group sex on ecstasy.