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3. Paqua - The Visitor

Paqua - The Visitor

Written by Bing Ji Ling (aka Quinn Luke), Alex Searle and Paul Murphy, percussion by Patrick Dawes

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5. Almunia - New Moon

Almunia - New Moon

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6. Bison - Travelers LP/CD Clips

Bison - Travelers LP/CD Clips

1. Familiar Stranger (Day) 2. Familiar Stranger (Night) 3. Way To LA (Day) 4. Way To LA (Night) 5. Mandy 6. Mandy (Power Boy Mix) 7. New Moon Boy (Day) 8. New Moon Boy (Night) 9. Travelers BJ Smith: Guitar, keyboards & percussion Paul Murphy: Bass, keyboards, percussion & drums Holger Czukay: Guitar, French Horn, vocals & bells U-She: Vocals Produced by Paul Mudd Murphy Extra production on Familiar Stranger/New Moon Boy night mixes Conrad McDonnell Travelers mixed by Conrad McDonnell

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8. Almunia - Pulsar

Almunia - Pulsar

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9. Four hands - Hizou

Four hands - Hizou

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14. Smith & Mudd - Gorthleck

Smith & Mudd - Gorthleck

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 visualize 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.

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16. Paqua - Dinosaur Zappa (96k)

Paqua - Dinosaur Zappa (96k)

Written by Bing Ji Ling (aka Quinn Luke), Alex Searle and Paul Murphy, percussion by Patrick Dawes, Organ by Benjamin James Smith

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17. Statues - Alaula

Statues - Alaula

As Claremont 56 speeds towards its’ ten-year anniversary, label founder Paul Murphy continues to champion little known producers and previously unheard artists. Over the past 12 months, the label has showcased material from rising talents such as Bella Figura, Simon Peter, Paraiso and Oma & Amberflame. Now, Claremont 56 is adding another new name to the roster: Statues. Essex-based trio Bradley Lucke (production/bass/percussion/keys), Mark Crooks (keys/production) and Grant Carruthers (vocals/guitar) has been making music on-and-off together since they were teenagers, and last year decided to come together under the Statues alias. They submitted a number of demos to Paul Murphy, who was so impressed by what he heard that he offered to help produce and write an album with them. As debut singles go, “Alaula” is stunning. Reminiscent of many softly spun moments from the Claremont 56 back catalogue, it builds slowly and breezily via subtle waves of organic and electronic instrumentation. Carruthers’ impassioned vocals pop in and out of the mix at opportune moments, peeping above alluring acoustic guitar, bass, synthesizer and Rhodes parts. Throw in tumbling, life-affirming piano lines and swelling cello parts – both provided by friend-of- the-family Robin Lee of Faze Action – and you’ve got another near-perfect chunk of sunset-friendly, horizontal brilliance. On the flip, Murphy dons his familiar Mudd alias to provide a superb Piano Dub. Building the action around a sparse, delay-laden percussion track, Murphy teases out the track’s most potent moments, in the process creating something that lingers even longer in the memory. Lee’s superb piano and cello work naturally takes pride of place, as Murphy expertly emphasizes the track’s impeccably atmospheric nature.

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