When it comes to contemporary Balearica, nobody does it quite as well as Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy’s Claremont 56 label. Murphy’s own work – often in collaboration with guitarist Ben Smith – is a prime example of how to get it right. While his releases, and that of the label as a whole, often tick all the nu-Balearic boxes – slo-mo grooves, sun-kissed guitars and the like – they rarely wander into soft-focus noodling territory, which is a trap that often befalls such enterprises.
This latest audio missive from Claremont 56, the debut album from newcomers Almunia – Leonardo Ceccanto and Gianluca Salvadori – is another great example of nu-Balearic at its best. Whether they’d appreciate that tag is another matter. You see, while New Moon does indeed tick many of the nu-Balearic boxes, it’s not your average Balearic by numbers full-length. For every moment of sweet, Smith & Mudd-ish semi-acoustic groovery (see blissful closer “Until She Comes”), there are three or four others that revolve around echo-laden Peter Green style blues licks, druggy rhythms and deep-fried psychedelic wizardry. This off-kilter mix of dark and light elements gives New Moon an attractively intoxticating feel throughout, also ensuring that it steers clear of the usual clichés.
On the one hand, you have the Peter Green meets lazy West Coast rock of the title track, the drifting guitars and quietly pulsing rhythms of “Das Estrellas” and the haunting, dewy-eyed early morning melancholy of “Electro Blues”. In contrast, there’s the dark, heavily electronic, dub disco-blues of “Travel” and “Moving Up Slowly”, a deliciously dubby concoction that sounds like a cosmic rock-era indie B-Side produced by the Idjut Boys. See also opener “L&G Psychedelic”, another slo-mo trip into beguiling, eerily bluesy territory. Whether nu-Balearic is another musical dead end remains to be seen, but as long as Claremont 56 keep releasing albums of this calibre, we’ll have no complaints.