Review: When it comes to contemporary Balearica, nobody does it quite as well as Paul 'Mudd' Murphy's Claremont 56 label. This debut album from newcomers Almunia - Leonardo Ceccanto and Gianluca Salvadori - is a great example. While it ticks many of the 'nu-Balearic' boxes - slo-mo, dubbed-out disco grooves, an ear for the atmospheric and an obsession with cut-glass guitar frippery - it's not your average Balearic by numbers full-length. For every moment of sweet, Smith and Mudd-ish semi-acoustic groovery (see "Until She Comes"), there are three or four others that revolve around echo-laden Peter Green style blues licks, druggy rhythms and contemporary psychedelic wizardry. This off-kilter mix of dark and light elements gives New Moon an attractively intoxicating feel throughout.
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: 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: 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: Last year's "Way To LA" release saw Bison grab the attention thanks to the involvement of Can legend Holger Czukay. For their second release, Bison retain the talents of Czukay but add a dash of post-punk legend by recruiting the distinctive vocal talents of Liquid Liquid's Salvatore Principato. "Soup Fiction" is certainly one for the hot summer nights, with an ever so slow and down right dirty groove being ridden with aplomb by Principato's vocals. For the heathens among you that don?t like Sal P's vocal, a handy instrumental version is also provided. Yet more greatness from the Claremont 56 stable.
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: 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: 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: 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.