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CLAREMONT 56

Claremont Editions

Volume 4

    Since launching in 2020, Claremont 56’s Claremont Editions series of compilations has delivered a trio of must-check collections featuring a mixture of unheard gems from the label vaults and brand-new, previously unreleased tracks. Label founder Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy continues with this blueprint on 2024’s instalment, the fourth in total.

    There's naturally some genuinely headline grabbing highlights amongst the nine tracks on display, starting with opener ‘Crossing’ – a fresh cut from C56’s in-house super-group Hillside (AKA Paul Mudd Murphy, Alex Searle and Patrick Dawes), featuring lead vocals from long-time friend of the family Quinn Lamont Luke. The track is prime Hillside: all rolling hand percussion, warming keys, simmering synth-strings, sun-splashed solos and blue-eyed soul vocals from the effervescent Quinn.

    It sets a high bar, quality wise, but predictably the rest of the collection hits similarly heady heights. Mudd contributes two other tracks of note: a first collaborative outing with long-time creative partner Ben Smith for five years, Smith & Mudd’s ‘Journey Seven’ – a languid, slow-motion affair that hints at what we can expect from their forthcoming album – and a typically rich, jazz-fusion influenced solo excursion, ‘Massimo’s Steps’. As vivid, emotive and detailed as you’d expect, the track explores similar sonic territory to Mudd’s recent album, In The Garden of Mindfulness.

    It's usual for Claremont Editions collections to include tracks from new members of the Claremont family. Editions 4 is no different, with Danish producer Fureby – a close friend of fellow Danes Mike Salta and Peter Visti – joining forces with Guy Moscoco and Brian Faber on ‘Halcyon (Extended Mix)’, a gorgeously kaleidoscopic Balearic groover rich in fluttering flute solos, simmering disco strings and sun-bright electronics.

    Elsewhere, a few familiar favourites contribute suitably stellar tracks. Mai Fujinoya dons the Yamp Kolta alias for the first time since appearing on the first editions compilation in 2020, serving up the languid Japanese language Balearic pop brilliance of ‘Saturate’, featuring beautiful lead vocals by Yuzz. Krautrock-influenced duo Neumayer Station – who made their C56 bow on last year’s Editions collection – lay down a typically stretched-out, dubbed-out groove with Spaghetti Western soundtrack flourishes (the lilting and atmospheric ‘Bassrutscher’), while Ferdi Schuster invites us to dive into the immersive depths of ‘Resonance’ – a lightly art rock and progressive rock-influenced soundscape best enjoyed while lying flat on your back.

    Slow-motion house specialists Hear & Now continue to join the dots between tactile Balearica and pitched-down Italian ambient house on the stunningly gorgeous ‘Chimaera’, while there’s a surprise return for a Claremont 56 favourite: Mudd’s sought-after extended mix of Bel’s 2018 single ‘Ready To Die’, a sing-along modern Balearic classic. This time round, it has been re-edited by Blank & Jones, who teases out the sun-soaked instrumentation before finally dropping the original’s emotion-rich lead vocals.

    It all adds up to another must-check instalment of the indispensable Claremont Editions series. As usual, the vinyl version has been pressed in limited qualities and comes housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, complete with another stunning cover painting by illustrator Mark Warrington.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Hillside Feat. Quinn Lamont Luke – Crossing
    A2. Mudd – Massimo’s Steps
    B1. Bel – Ready To Die (Mudd’s Extended Mix) (Blank & Jones Edit)
    B2. Fureby, Moscoso & Faber – Halcyon
    C1. Smith & Mudd – Journey Seven
    C2. Neumayer Station – Bassrutscher
    C3. Yamp Kolt Feat. Yuzz – Saturate
    D1. Ferdi Schuster – Resonance
    D2. Hear & Now – Chimaera

    Mudd

    In The Garden Of Mindfulness - 2024 Reissue

      When Paul Murphy released his critically acclaimed debut solo album, Claremont 56, in 2006, many thought it would be the first of many. In a way, it was, as in the years since he’s released a string of collaborative sets alongside Benjamin J Smith (as Smith & Mudd), and as part of underground ‘supergroups’ Paqua, Bison and Hillside. But that second solo album? Well, it just had to wait. In early 2023, Murphy finally decided to scratch that itch, roping in some of his most trusted collaborators (keyboardist and bassist Michele Chiavarini, percussionist Patrick Dawes, guitarist Dave Noble and HF International’s Kashif included) to lay down a sumptuous set of tracks that not only showcases his now familiar (bit hard to pigeonhole) neo-Balearic sound, but also proves how much he has matured as a writer and producer since 2006.

      In The Garden of Mindfulness is richly musically detailed, expertly arranged and full to bursting with fluid instrumental solos, with Murphy and his collaborators serving up tracks that brilliantly blur the boundaries between languid jazz-funk, downtempo, vintage synth-laden krautrock, dubby grooves and sun-splashed soundscapes. It simply sparkles from the moment that opener ‘Eighty Three’ slowly rises like the morning sun, with gentle, undulating synth sounds ushering in a slow-motion jazz-funk excursion rich in twinkling electronics, spacey pads and warming bass. Recent single ‘Katanaboy’, a lusciously layered dub disco-infused dancefloor excursion in Murphy’s familiar style, raises the temperature a touch, before ‘Bonne Anse’ and the sublime ‘Unka Paw’ (whose combination of evocative fretless bass, extended electric piano solos, Clavinet licks and acoustic guitars is genuinely spellbinding) invite a combination of wavy shuffling and flat-on-the-back, eyes-closed appreciation.

      And so it continues, with gorgeous title track ‘In The Garden of Mindfulness’ making way for the boogie-influenced, Japanese-British brilliance of ‘Hangsang’ (check the jaunty pianos, yearning breakdown and exotic melodies). Murphy’s long held love of warm, weighty bass, hypnotic disco grooves, colourful analogue synth sounds and jazzy guitars once again comes to the fore on ‘Way Of The Hollow’ before the album reaches a fittingly triumphant conclusion with ‘Late In March’.

      A neat sonic summary of all that makes the set such a rewarding and entertaining experience, repeat listens reveals a wealth of musical details, from off-kilter triple-time drums and surprise bass guitar solos, to impeccable piano solos (provided by the immensely talented Chiavarini), fizzing jazz-funk synth doodles and stirring synth-strings. It’s a breathlessly brilliant way to end an album that was genuinely worth waiting for.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1. Eighty Three
      A2. Katanaboy
      B1. Bonne Anse
      B2. Unka Paw
      C1. In The Garden Of Mindfulness
      C2. Hangsang
      D1. Way Of The Hollow
      D2. Late In March

      Four years after wowing listeners with his surprise debut album, All One, Ferdi Schuster is back with a similarly inspired sequel. Taking his distinctive, freewheeling approach to its predecessor, Playing Life offers a set of inspired instrumentals full of soft-focus grooves, alluring musical motifs, subtle mood shifts and plenty of intricate musical details. In fact, such is the layered nature of the productions, you’ll still be noticing new things on your fifth or sixth listen.

      Those who know Schuster’s story and previous work for Claremont 56 won’t be at all surprised. Arguably the label’s best-kept secret, Schuster ended up on Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy’s label in 2017 after speculatively submitting a demo. Murphy was blown away by the quality of the publicity-shy multi-instrumentalist’s work and asked him to work on an album; two years later, All One appeared in stores and the rest, as they say, is history.

      Just as he did on his celebrated debut album, Schuster played every instrument, note, chord and riff on Playing Life, arranging and producing the whole thing at different points between 2020 and 2023. The results are undeniably spellbinding, with the talented artist arguably delivering an even more assured, attractive and entertaining set.

      For proof, check opener ‘Dream Quality’, a sumptuous affair in which immersive pads, jazzy guitars, twinkling keys and smooth bass rise above a dubby, minimalistic beat, the steel pan-infused gentle jog towards the dancefloor that is ‘A Step Further’, and the Balearic ambient jazz masterpiece that is ‘Due’. Or, for that matter, the lapping waves and deep, dubbed-out grooves of ‘Playing Life’, and the starry magnificence of ‘Light Minded’, where Ferdi offers a few nods to the great Pat Metheny over twinkling synths and sparse, spaced-out beat.

      Everywhere you look across the album, you’ll find a softly spun, exquisitely executed highlight. There’s ‘Moving Forms’, whose instinctive beat pattern and sun-bright jazz guitars enrich the soul, the marimba-sporting sunset wonder of ‘Universal Dance’, the chunky dub disco shuffle of ‘Pulsing’ and the awe-inspiring brilliance of ‘Vastness’, a suitably star-gazing, effects-laden excursion that provides a fittingly impressive conclusion to an album dripping with emotion-rich sonic gold. 

      TRACK LISTING

      A1. Dream Quality
      A2. A Step Further
      A3. Playing Life
      B1. Due
      B2. The Fuzz Version
      B3. Osho Again
      C1. Light Minded
      C2. Moving Forms
      C3. Gentle Man
      C4. Universal Dance
      D1. Pulsing
      D2. Lungern
      D3. Vastness

      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

      TRACK LISTING

      A. Hidden Port
      B. The Kings Tun

      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.

      TRACK LISTING

      A. Salmon Spungcake (Zip It Shrimpy Mix By Conrad McDonnell)
      B. Salmon Spungcake (I Think I've Got Gout Mix By Conrad McDonnell)

      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.


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