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Hear & Now

Alba Sol

    Hear & Now’s 2018 debut album Aurora Baleare was undoubtedly one of the most magical full-length excursions to appear on Claremont 56 to date; a drowsy, mood-enhancing masterpiece full to bursting with tactile grooves, blissful guitar motifs, dreamy aural textures and seductive, slow-burn melodies. The culmination of two years of work by longtime friends Ricky L and Marco Radicioni – a pair of experienced deep house producers whose solo careers stretch back to the 1990s – the album was as finely crafted as it was musically stunning.

    Two years on, the pair return to Claremont 56 with the hotly anticipated follow-up, Alba Sol, a similarly seductive and sun-kissed set that is every bit as beguiling as its lauded predecessor. Once again built around the pair’s trademark blend of colourful synthesizer melodies, ear-catching improvised guitar motifs, soft-touch grooves, enveloping chords and fireside-warm bass, the set’s eight tracks are vivid, vibrant and as memorable as watching the sun rise over the Mediterranean or Adriatic seas. This time round, listeners can expect a few more nods towards the kind of glassy-eyed ‘dream house’ that was once one of Italian dance music’s greatest exports – think Don Carlos, Sueno Latino, Keytronics Ensemble etc. – and synthesizer-heavy 1980s new age ambience, though the duo’s trademark sonic template is evident throughout.

    These influences can clearly be heard on “Larus”, where jangling piano riffs, mid-80s new age synths and cascading David Gilmour style guitar solos rise above thickset chords and sparse beats, the eyes-closed, arpeggio-driven goodness of “Acqua Tronica” – which also features some of Marco’s funkiest guitar playing to date – and the head-nodding haziness of “Danza Delle Onde”. They’re there, too, within the mid-tempo rush of “Litorale”, an emotive and life-affirming mixture of metronomic beats, fluid piano solos, retro-futurist synths, locked-in bass and pads so sumptuous you almost want to reach out and grab them. While the subtle evolution of the duo’s sound is evident throughout, Alba Sol also contains a swathe of tracks that echo the slow-motion hedonism of their earlier work. Closing cut “Pioggia Sil Mare”, for example, is a beguiling and brilliant foray into kaleidoscopic ambient house territory rich in in slowly unfurling musical motifs, while “Polvese” chugs along on waves of stretched-out electric guitar notes, echoing percussion hits and the sort of stoned bass that was such a feature of Aurora Baleare.

    Then there’s the album-opening title track, a gloriously epic, joyously blissful number that first wowed listeners on the recent Claremont Editions One compilation and already feels like a downtempo classic. It brilliantly sets the tone for a sophomore set that’s arguably even more wonderful than its stunning predecessor.

    Over the years, Claremont 56 has played host to some memorable collaborative projects, most notably Bison, an unlikely super-group whose members included Holgar Czukay, Ursula Kloss, Liquid Liquid’s Sal Principato, Ben Smith and label boss Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy. Now Murphy is at the helm of another collaborative outfit, Hillside, whose seductive debut single contains two deliciously pie eyed instrumental workouts. Hillside is very much a family affair, with Murphy joining forces with two old friends: bassist/guitarist Alex Searle and percussionist Patrick Dawes. The trio has a collaborative history that stretches right back to Murphy’s time in Akwaaba in the mid nineties. For their debut outing, Hillside has also welcomed a very special guest musician: award-winning jazz violinist and long-time Bert Jasch collaborator Mike Piggott. As opening gambits go, “Hidden Port” is an emphatic statement of intent.

    The audio equivalent of sailing slowly around a cluster of sun-baked islands in search of shelter from an approaching storm, the track sees Searle wrap bluesy, Peter Green style guitar passages around a shuffling, Latin-tinged groove rich in Dawes’ distinctive percussion patterns and Murphy’s languid electric piano and synthesizer lines. As the track progresses, Piggott steps up to make his mark, with his undulating electric violin lines complimenting Hillside’s impeccable instrumentation while adding extra emotional weight to proceedings. It’s a stunning beginning to the Hillside story. Piggott also makes a big impression on accompanying cut “The King’s Tun”, delivering fluid and energy-packed solos that weave in and out of a bright and breezy instrumental track rich in jangling acoustic guitars, subtly spacey electronics, fireside-warm bass and more sparse-but-intricate percussion courtesy of the effervescent Dawes. Searle’s eyes-closed, rock style guitar solos cap another memorable excursion from Claremont 56’s latest in-house band

    Okinawa Delays Feat. Satoko Ishimine

    Nariyama Ayagu - Inc. Phil Mison Remixes

      Blink and I missed it! After the highly sort after and supremely limited first run disappeared over the horizon, OBI strip and all, Claremont 56 take pity on schmucks like you and I with a plain sleeve repress of this serene Balearic beauty. Though it may not be the looker it once was, you'll be reassured to know that this gem sounds just as good as ever. Label favourite, Cafe Del Mar hero and all round top talent Phil Mison takes controls on the A-side, rewarding one and all with a pair of pure, ambient bathers. Celestial synthwashes wax and wane beneath gentle acoustic guitar, occasional piano chords ripple through the infinite calm and the fx laden vocal sings sweetly to the siren, leaving us to drift peacefully into a new state of mind. In dub form, Phil omits the vocal and lets his tranquil instrumentation take centre stage, rivalling the superb "69" on Growing Bin for untampered beauty. Over on the flip, original Okinawa Delays cut "Vibration" steps a nimble path between Japanese jazz, mature funk and city pop to take a place at the top table with Eri Ohno, Ruriko Ohgami and Sadao Watanabe. The mix of shuffling percussion, diminished 7ths and rubber-necking bass should keep your body loose and limber, while Satoko Ishimine's smooth vocal soothes your soul to perfection. This won't be around for a long time, so buy a copy and stay cool all summer long. 


      Ltd 10" Info: ONE COPY FOUND!

      Two years ago, Ferdi Schuster was a young multi-instrumentalist and producer daydreaming of releasing his music on Claremont 56, one of his favourite labels. Now he’s set to release his stunning debut album, “All One”, on Paul Murphy’s long-running imprint. It’s been a long time between drinks for the German producer, who last graced C56 with his superb double A-side single, “Little River / Befreit”, in the autumn of 2017. Fittingly, it’s “Little River” – a babbling brook of audio bliss rich in samba influenced drums, soothing acoustic guitars and spacey synthesizer licks – that kicks off “All One”, a seductive set in which every drumbeat, piano note, guitar riff, synthesizer flourish and fireside-warm bassline was played by the man himself.
      Throughout, it’s easy to see why Murphy decided to snap up Schuster and push the producer to record a debut album. Check, for example, the dubbed out shuffle of “Thinking of You”, where ghostly chords, soft-focus guitar solos and ethereal vocals drift across the soundscape, and the slowly unfurling bliss of “The Good Fight”, an effortlessly Balearic workout rich in sun-kissed guitars, bubbly synth lines and chords so snugly they could probably be used as a comfort blanket.

      Schuster’s greatest strength is undoubtedly the evocative and enveloping nature of his instrumental music, which draws on a variety of complimentary influences but never sounds anything less than original and fresh. Some listeners may be enchanted by the loose and languid pulse of “Fading Away” or the lo-fi reggae jazz of dusty closing cut “Night Talk”, though others may prefer the stoned funk shuffle of “Interaction” or the spacey vibrations of “Pulsa”, where intergalactic synthesizer lines wind their way around heady bass guitar and sparse, off-kilter deep electro drums. “All One” is that kind of set; an atmospheric and musically accomplished collection of cuts capable of muting the mundane and distracting from the stress of 21st century life. As debut albums go, it’s something of a stunner.

      Claremont 56’s latest release is very much a family affair. It sees Idjut Boy Conrad McDonnell - a regular remixer of Claremont 56 releases since the label’s inception - serve up two spaced-out, dub-wise revisions of a little known cut by Bison, the imprint’s very own “super-group”. The 12” has extra emotional resonance for Bison’s Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy and Ben Smith, as it marks the band’s first release since the passing of fellow founder members Holger Czukay and Ursula Kloss.

      Clutching his cherished space echo and tape delay units, McDonnell has delivered two tasty new dubs of “Salmon Spungcake”, a spacey, gently throbbing Bison cut that he co-wrote, produced and mixed for Claremont 56’s 10th Anniversary box-set in 2017. While the original version shied away from the dancefloor in favour of creating a hazy, horizontal mood, McDonnell’s “Zip It Shrimpy Mix” re-invents the cut as a hypnotic dub disco shaker rich in weighty bass, layered hand percussion, locked-in kick drums and spaced-out vocal snippets. In true dub fashion, flashes of the band’s original instrumentation - effects-laden guitars, hazy electronics and meandering, deep space chords - float in and out of the mix at irregular intervals. It’s the kind of remix you want to get lost in while wearily shuffling at 5am in a dark, sweaty basement.

      The glassy-eyed, head-in-the-clouds fun continues on the “I Think I’ve Got Gout Mix”, an even more spaced-out affair that recalls some of the other inspired dancefloor dubs McDonnell has produced alongside Idjut Boys partner Dan Tyler. Stripped back, heavy, percussive and driven forward by sturdy kick-drums and the track’s rich, warm bassline, this is a deep space dub disco tailor-made for space cadets and intoxicated sunrise dancers.

      Jack Cutter / Paqua

      Serpent Strut / Ruby Running Faker - Larry Heard / Emperor Machine Remixes

      Bonus cuts from the Claremont 56 Box Set featuring tracks and mixes not featured on the original release. Chicago legend Larry Heard is joined by UK mainstay Andy Meecham in his EMperor Machine alias as they remix the amazing Paqua and Jack Cutter. First up, "Serpent Strutt" by Jack Cutter gets a spacious and soulful rerub by Mr. Fingers who emphasizes the relaxed nature of the track through a beachy, waves lapping at your ankles kinda vibe that really resonates with the OG whilst simultaneiously shining a light on Larry's unique, effortless style.On the flip, EM takes Paqua's "Ruby Running Faker" into squelchy new disco territory complete with boogie bass, dubbed out delays and echo laden hand claps. Rock solid but with a bit of give around the hips, this'll make ideal warm up tackle... Super limited and really quite good - you know what to do! 


      Matt says: Nice Brucey bonus for fans of the ultimate Balearic collection. Larry Heard and Emperor Machine's remix never made the boxset, but they're more than worthy additions to this most pretigious collection. Super limited too so don't dilly dally.

      With the label’s 10th anniversary celebrations now done and dusted, Claremont 56 returns to action with something rather special: a magical debut single from a previously unknown talent. There’s not much we can tell you about Ferdi Schuster, other than that he is a talented young producer from Augsburg in Germany. As Claremont 56 is one of his favourite labels, he speculatively submitted some tracks for consideration. Label founder Paul Murphy was astonished by what he heard and believes the two tracks showcased on this 12” are amongst the best things the label has released for some time. A-side “Little River” is breathtakingly good. Opening with the sound of a babbling brook, it sees Schuster wrap plucked, sun-kissed acoustic guitar licks and jaunty vintage synthesizer motifs around a languid, samba-influenced groove. As the track progresses, further magical musical elements come to the fore, including blissful electric piano solos and more mazy synthesizer solos, seemingly played on battered old equipment from the turn of the ‘80s. Schuster’s love of the acoustic guitar is explored further on similarly impressive B-side “Befreit”. Here, gently strummed chords and fluid Spanish guitar motifs catch the ear, as hushed cymbals and gentle hand percussion lap at your feet like the sea at sunrise. The German producer adds atmosphere through a combination of leisurely Hammond organ solos and a touch of Jew’s Harp. When all of these immaculate elements combine, the results are little less than spellbinding. Schuster may be taking his first steps into releasing music, but his compositional, playing and production skills are already finely tuned. We can surely expect to hear more inspired music from him in the years to come.


      Patrick says: Just making it out of the pressing plant pile-up before 2018, Claremont's latest serving of mellow magic comes from German newcomer Ferdi. The A-side's a bossa beauty, the flip's pastoral and pretty. Very nice!

      In the spring of 2007, musician and producer Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy decided to launch his own label. Named after the house he grew up in, Claremont 56 would release beautiful music by friends, associates, collaborators and like-minded musicians. In the 10 years that have passed since, Claremont 56 has more than surpassed Murphy’s modest expectations. It has built up a cult following around the world, with listeners responding positively to the label’s combination of magical music, beautiful artwork, and impeccable packaging. To mark the label’s first decade, Murphy has put together a sumptuous vinyl box set of previously unheard material, produced and presented with the same attention to detail that listeners have come to expect. Each copy of Claremont 56: 10 Years contains five weighty slabs of wax and a bespoke info sheet, housed in a specially designed, hand-numbered box with debossed logos on the front and rear. However impressive the packaging, it’s the music that makes Claremont 56: 10 Years stand out. Featuring a mixture of unreleased tracks and brand new remixes of vintage label releases, the highlights come thick and fast. As you’d expect, some of the most impressive contributions come from those artists you could describe as “legendary”, including Chicago deep house originators Larry Heard and Ron Trent. Can legend Holger Czukay kindly contributes one of the standout moments, the eccentric ‘Music To Be Murdered By’, from his own unreleased catalogue, while Afro-cosmic pioneer Daniele Baldelli joins forces with Marco Dionigi to deliver a typically spacey remix of Bison’s ‘Familiar Stranger’. There’s also an epic, Afro-tinged dub disco remix of Smith & Mudd’s ‘Nether’ by Norwegian scene founder Bjorn Torske. Elsewhere, Good Timin’ man Jex Opolis turns an overlooked track by Paraiso into a samba-boogie killer, Sean P dubs out Zee Erf’s beautiful cover of ‘Southern Freeez’, and Phil Mison turns FreshRo’s laidback electrofunk cut ‘Pacific State’ into a breezy, Balearic gem. Look out too, for the emotion-rich beauty of Statues’ ‘River Darkness’ – a track arguably worth the cost of the box set on its own – and the deep space explorations of Almunia’s Leo Ceccanti. We could go on, but we’re running out of space. Suffice to say, Claremont 56: 10 Years is a lovingly compiled, curated and presented celebration of the label’s first decade.


      5x12" Box Set Info: Debossed black foil logo design box front
      C56 logo de-embossed box rear, hand numbered
      Info credit sheet
      5 x vinyl
      Pantone coloured spined sleeves

      Some believe that the environment in which you make music - from the studio space, to the location itself - has a profound effect on the creative process. Immerse yourself in the world around you, the theory goes, and it will shape the music you make.

      Listen to 'Gorthleck', the third album from veteran downtempo alchemists Benjamin Smith and Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy, and you can almost visualise the craggy, windswept and breathtakingly beautiful environment in which it was made.

      Reconvening after a near seven-year hiatus last summer, the duo headed up to the Scottish Highlands to spend a week recording in the surrounds of Gorthleck House, nestled on the shore of Loch Mhor in Inverness-shire. Earlier this year, they returned to the same venue, with its’ stunning views of the tranquil loch and rocky, wooded hills rising in the distance, to complete the nine-track set.

      Certainly, the immersive environment and famously changeable weather seems to have inspired the longtime friends and studio partners. The album’s epic centrepiece, the nine-minute “Mhor”, sounds like an emotional love letter to the body of water they strolled alongside every day. Its undulating synthesizer line - reminiscent of classic Tangerine Dream and the Orb’s “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain” - mimics the slow ebb and flow of water across the loch, while Smith’s shimmering guitar lines mimic the glint of sunlight reflecting off the surface.

      Elsewhere, the audio references are a little more subtle, but no less relevant. The hazy jazz guitars, twinkling pianos, rich grooves and fluttering clarinets of “Nether” sound like the perfect accompaniment to a single malt whisky-fuelled sunset session at the water’s edge, while the quietly foreboding aural textures, layered guitars and urgent electric violin of “Enos” evoke memories of watching storm clouds gathering behind distant Highland mountains.

      The same could be said of “Mr Coats” - a track arranged in steamy Mexico, and blessed with all the humidity you’d expect from such an excursion - while you can hear gale force winds whistling around the rafters on “Dogwood”. As for “Errogie”, it’s as bracing as a crystal clear morning in the Highlands; chilly, but hugely life affirming.

      The duo’s previous two albums, 2007’s 'Blue River' and its 2009 follow-up, 'Le Suivant', were both hugely evocative, but neither captured a distinct a sense of time and place quite like 'Gorthleck'. Listen carefully, and you could almost be there with them, watching the sunrise and sunset.


      CD Info: Limited edition - individually numbered.

      Jack Cutter

      Serpent Strut / Gift Of Our Fathers

        Jack Cutter is a songwriter and guitarist based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. He started with a $5 banjo just after finishing high school. In University, during the late 60’s, he performed with bar bands in Buffalo, New York. After completing University and a year as an Aerospace Engineer, he decided that attack helicopters were not really what the world needed and so he headed off to California in pursuit of music and mystic times.

        Fast forward to Fall 2014: Jack is playing his quintessential tune, ‘Gift of Our Fathers’ in the SF BART subway to an onslaught of morning commuters when he was spotted by 40 Thieves. Eureka! Love at first sight and in the next few months, two of Jack’s original acoustic pieces were given the 40 Thieves treatment.

        Enter David Sanderson aka David Harks, a singer, songwriter, producer and label curator from East Sussex. “Having fallen in love with the cosmic boogie (of 40 Thieves classic ‘Backward Love’) I really felt I would love nothing more than to write a tune with them. Layne got back in touch with a track he was working on entitled Serpent Strut with Jack Cutter and we worked via email over a few months to brew up that misty soul.”

        Deep, stony, psychedelic, drawing from the well of Hawkwind, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Baffo Banfi and Tolkien-tinged acoustic Led Zep, the proof of concept is now complete and in the capable and loving hands of Claremont 56.

        Out of the cultural milieu that thrived and survived in downtown Manhattan circa 1980 came a musical group whose aesthetic was fun, funky, bold and smart. Female fronted, of its time but out of time, technically adept, purposely naive, conscious but not self-conscious. Dog Eat Dog embodied the best of what came out of that particular time and place along with fellow travellers; DNA, ESG, Liquid Liquid and Sonic Youth - they embraced a sound that was uniquely their own without apologies or regrets but most importantly without pretension or calculation. Writing songs and performing for only three years the band never released a record but still they produced some of the most vital & representational studio and live recordings from this period. That’s why after almost 30 years Dog Eat Dog’s music not only stands the test of time but also instructs the next generation of performers in a brighter, deeper approach to making music.


        CD Info: CD includes three bonus tracks.

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