The Cayman Islands is known more for its sunshine and beaches rather than as a fertile breeding ground for producers of electronic disco house fusions. So Ilya Santana already stands out from the crowd before his music even nuzzles your ears. The man’s birthplace may be unusual but his impeccable electronic pedigree isn’t. Weaned on Moroder and Vangelis, he’s released records on the likes of Balihu and Tirk – which also serves as a signpost to the strain of dance Santana likes to delve into – this is disco, informed by cosmic swirls and eighties looks.
After being discovered via Daniel Wang, who exposed Santana’s skills to the universe through his ace, amiga-made ‘Walking On a Crystal Sea’, more material on Eskimo and remixes for the likes of the Human League and the Phenomenal Handclap Band have continued to set his personal bar high. This latest EP, released on Eskimo to celebrate ten years of fervent digital activity, is a great showcase for all comers old and new to Santana’s svelte disco sound.
‘Transborder’ is dance music which is as graceful as it is glacial, and like big records from contemporaries such as Kris Menace and Aeroplane, has Balearic eyes gazing at the horizon. It’s also high on drama and tension while the lush orchestral manouevres ensuring this is definitely suitable for after dark. Additional handclaps, slap bass and guitar noodles come wrapped up layers of strings and all add up to something epic
Elsewhere Leatherette wind the original’s neck in to add some additional wonk while Minilogue stretch it out in a tech-house tweaker – but it’s the original which holds the most appeal. Disco has never sounded so smart. And in the studio skills of Ilya Santana, the Cayman Islands could become known for something other than holidays. Lush.
‘Transborder’ is out now on Eskimo Recordings.