Review: Hillside are a loose collective consisting of Claremont 56 boss Paul 'Mudd' Murphy, bassist/guitarist Alex Searle, percussionist Patrick Dawes and multi-instrumentalist Michele Chiavarini, with a little help from a rotating cast of session players. Making the most of lockdown, they've used their extra studio hours to put together a debut album that blends funk, jazz, disco and Balearic influences, and that's very aptly titled: things never move much beyond walking pace, making for a long-player that's best appreciated whole, ideally while lounging poolside with a fresh Mojito in hand. It may be a little polite for some, but you can't fault the quality of either the musicianship or the production.
Review: Waxwood generally likes to keep his identity on the down low, though it was confirmed recently that he's a Brooklyn-based Russian with a penchant for cosmic and spiritual music from around the world, as well as layered ambient experimentation and intoxicating house and techno beats. All of these traits come to the fore on "Kama", which sees him pepper a rolling, head-nodding hypno-house groove with simmering strings, relaxed electronics and chiming melody lines. It's rather good, all told, as is the more obviously Balearic revision by Swiss crew Fuga Ronto, which adds guitars, electric bass and new backing vocals for an even wider-eyed listening experience.
Review: Benjamin Smith and Paul "Mudd" Murphy rarely disappoint, as those who copped 2016 album Gorthleck will confirm. "Janet 50" marks the experienced duo's first new material since (though we have it on good authority that a fresh full-length is also on the way). The track is typical of their work, with sumptuous, jazzy guitars, deep space effects and rich electric piano parts reclining over a blazed, Balearic disco groove. It's a sublime piece of music, all told, which is arguably made even better by remixer I:Cube. The Parisian veteran thrillingly re-casts the track as a spacey, synthesizer-heavy treat rich in bleep techno inspired bass, Kelley Polar synths, gentle acid lines and Ben Smith's brilliant guitar improvisations. In other words, it's out-of-this-world good.
Review: Claremont 56's 10th anniversary celebrations continue via this tasty 12". It contains two alternate, previously unheard versions of remixes that originally appeared on the label's celebratory box set earlier in the year. Chicago deep house legend Larry Heard is at the controls on the A-side, delivering a deep, dubby, spacey and musically rich "Fingers Deep Club Mix" of Jack Cutter and David Harks' Balearic shuffler "Serpent Strut". While naturally superb, it's the flipside Emperor Machine dub of Paqua's "Ruby Running Faker" that's really got us in a spin. Clocking in at well over ten-minutes and blessed with one of the strongest synth basslines you're ever likely to hear, the Stafford producer brilliantly plays around with delay-laden piano and vocal snippets throughout.
Review: Anyone who's ever run a record label will happily tell you how it's rare to find musical gold amongst the many demos speculatively submitted by up-and-coming producers. Imagine Claremont 56 boss Paul Murphy's surprise, then, when he received these superb cuts from previously unheralded German musician Ferdi Schuster. Naturally, he snapped them up straight away. "Little River", in particular, is spectacularly good. Based around the sound of a babbling brook, sun-kissed acoustic guitar licks, vintage synthesizer solos and a languid, samba-inspired groove, it's a grade-A chunk of Balearic brilliance. While "Befreit" doesn't quite reach these dizzying heights, it's still a wonderful trip into sunrise-friendly downtempo territory. As debut singles go, it's little less than stunning.
Review: Blair French has dropped his second single this year and there were initially only 300 copies on vinyl! Following "Standing Still Is An Illusion" on Rocksteady Disco come two more sublime Balearic affairs that fit Claremont 56 like a snug pair of speedos; "Sandbar Caviar" wafts and sways with island waves as gentle arpeggios ebb and flow creating harmonies and cosmic textures while "Inland Island" adjusts our seats to a horizontal position with its snaking bassline and spacious percussion gradually opening into a heavenly vocal and guitar lead that's tantamount to transcendental.
Review: More chill balearic shenanigans courtesy of Claremont 56 head honcho Paul Mudd Murphy teaming up with studio partner Kevin Pollard on keyboards. They've been collaborating since 2007 across several fine EPs but N7 Odyssey marks their first full length; the title being a direct reference to the Holloway studio they recorded in for many years before Murphy moved. The album draws together freshly re-mastered versions of their previously released singles with a clutch of previously unheard tracks.
Review: As it approaches the end of its' first decade, Claremont 56 continues to lead the way when it comes to atmospheric, sun-kissed Balearica. This latest chunk of horizontal goodness comes courtesy of Essex-based Statues, a trio who caught label boss Paul 'Mudd' Murphy's attention after submitting a string of impressive demos. "Alaula" is a softly spun delight, with Grant Carruthers' impassioned vocals weaving themselves around alluring acoustic guitars, rich bass, twinkling Rhodes lines, and Robin Lee's immaculate cello parts. Murphy delivers the obligatory flipside remix, serving up a delay-laden dub built around intricate percussion, life-affirming pianos, and Lee's wonderful strings.
Review: Seven years since the last Smith & Mudd album kissed our ears... Gorthlek is a long-awaited treat that's landed (by no coincidence we suspect) right at the start of prime sandy season. Picking up where they left us (together and as part of the Bison collective), it's every bit as soul soothing, soft-focus and poised as you'd expect. It's the weight and richness that will grab most fans the hardest; amid the floral pastoral instrumentation on tracks such as "Alrick" and "Gorthlek Part 1", there's real swampy bluesy fusion such as "Mr Coats", there's fiddle-flipping cosmic folk on "Enos" and naked piano striking drama on the closure "Gorthlek Part 2". Instrumental Balearic bliss.
Review: Paul Mudd Murphy's Claremont 56: accept no substitute. Yet more quality Balearic gems from this camp, this time courtesy of Simon Peter, who follows up last year's great Double Up EP on Silhouette Music. "Ark Of Lark" is the kind of blunted, sun-kissed, road trip soundtrack you could imagine playing in your rented Cadillac as you drive out to visit the Joshua Tee in Southern California. With its blues guitar, pan pipes, bongos and Rhodes.. you just cant go wrong. The "Layne Night Vision Mix" gets funkier and definitely a lot tougher with its buzzing synth bass being the centre of it all and the addition of a drummer's sturdy beat to give it momentum. Also on the flip is the "40 Thieves dub extension" which does exactly what it says on the cover: focusing on that rolling bassline and stripping back a few layers for a more immersive experience.
Review: Paul "Mudd" Murphy's Claremont 56 is fast making a name for itself as the first stop for proper disco and balearic aficionados. The dreamy and summery Latin infusion of "24/7" is sheer genius and the most feel good track you'll hear all year. You can just imagine yourself lying in a hammock on a deserted island with the sun shining in your face while sipping a pina colada. Check it out! If that wasn't enough, they get in Detroit's finest Recloose for a remix. He might have been living in New Zealand for the better part of 13 years but he's still got the Motor City in him. His version gets more deep and dirty with funk bass and guitar being the perfect backdrop for those nice bongos but just wait 'til his trademark soulful strings come rushing in. Tip!
Review: After eight years, Claremont 56 is proud to present its' 50th 12" single release - a special collaborative 12" that's been some nine years in the making. Seu Torriso marks the debut from Paraiso, a project schemed up in the hilltops of Derbyshire, the sun-soaked beaches of Brazil and the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. The story begins in 2006, when then Matlock-based producer Ant Harrison (now resident in Hong Kong) began daydreaming about South American music. The veteran studio maestro - best known for his deep house partnership with Matt Rhythm under the Rhythm Plate guise - took to the Internet in search of inspiration, and found a Brazilian duo, guitarist Carlos and vocalist Nego. Having offered to produce some tracks from their jamming, he put together a range of tracks, adding drums, bass, Rhodes, strings (expertly played by Richard Hancock) and additional percussion. Now those tracks, expertly mixed from the stems by Claremont 56 boss Mudd, are finally available. Both are deliciously breezy, with the duo's loose samba vibe enhanced immeasurably by Harrison's deft production and sympathetic rhythms. The title track kicks things off, delivering a jaunty, sun-kissed blend of shuffling acoustic guitars, cheery vocals, lilting saxophone and undeniably Balearic grooves. Mudd delivers an extended mix of "Filhas De Oxhum" on the flip, stretching out Harrison's groove seductively, whilst leaving enough space in the mix for Harrison, Carlos and Nego's original instrumentation and vocals to breathe. The result is a mesmerizing chunk of shuffling dancefloor Balearica, in true Claremont 56 style.
Review: After 15 years of live space-rock improvisations and jam sessions around Europe, Bambi Davidson finally got round to delivering their second LP last month. Warmly received by old fans and new, here we find the title track repurposed as an extensive 13 minute exercise in spatial expressionism. Dreamy, deep and full of endless twists and turns, this is the epitome of modern cosmicity. Claremont never cease to surge forward.
Review: Here's something rather special: the long-await debut album from Bison, Paul 'Mudd' Murphy and pal Ben Smith's collaboration with vocalist Ursula Major and krautrock legend (and all round fruitcake) Holgar Czukay. Recorded at Czukay's legendary Cologne studio and featuring mix-downs from Conrad Idjut, Travellers is a particularly dubwise trawl through hazy, krautrock-influenced disco and horizontal Balearica. By anyone's standards, it's a deliciously intergalactic concoction; a fearlessly atmospheric blend of low-slung grooves, delay-laden horns, quirky percussion, stargazing electronics and mesmerizing, eyes-wide-shut vocals. Given the talent on show, we shouldn't have expected anything less.
Review: With Bison's long-awaited debut album, Travellers, due to drop in September, band-member Mudd delivers a couple of particularly sleazy extended versions of 2011 7" single "Mandy". The original, which was recorded at Can's legendary Innerspace Studio, was arguably a little too short. Here, the Claremont 56 chief stretches it out impressively, allowing the dubbed-out bassline, cosmic guitars and Holgar Czukay's eccentric, half whispered vocal room to breathe. The results, particularly on the atmospheric dub, are little less than mesmerizing. While the Dub is impressive, the vocal version - complete with Czukay's bizarre ramblings - is probably our pick.
Review: As we continue to recover from the sheer awesomeness of Paqua's debut album Alkaliko, Claremont 56 commission two very special versions of the modern day Balearic hymn "The Visitor". Ray Mang reminds us of the true meaning of dub as we're immersed in a truly enveloping dynamic where flickers of the original's vocals fly and in and out of the mix. Idjut Boys follow a similar sentiment but instead of teasing us with the vocal shades, they extend, break down and rebuild the instrumentation in a way only they know how. This is the perfect complement to a perfect album.