HEAR & NOW
Hear & Nows 2018 debut album Aurora Baleare was undoubtedly one of the most magical full-length excursions to appear on Claremont 56 to date; a drowsy, mood-enhancing masterpiece full to bursting with tactile grooves, blissful guitar motifs, dreamy aural textures and seductive, slow-burn melodies. The culmination of two years of work by longtime friends Ricky L and Marco Radicioni a pair of experienced deep house producers whose solo careers stretch back to the 1990s the album was as finely crafted as it was musically stunning.
Two years on, the pair return to Claremont 56 with the hotly anticipated follow-up, Alba Sol, a similarly seductive and sun-kissed set that is every bit as beguiling as its lauded predecessor. Once again built around the pairs trademark blend of colourful synthesizer melodies, ear-catching improvised guitar motifs, soft-touch grooves, enveloping chords and fireside-warm bass, the sets eight tracks are vivid, vibrant and as memorable as watching the sun rise over the Mediterranean or Adriatic seas.
This time round, listeners can expect a few more nods towards the kind of glassy-eyed dream house that was once one of Italian dance musics greatest exports think Don Carlos, Sueno Latino, Keytronics Ensemble etc. and synthesizer-heavy 1980s new age ambience, though the duos trademark sonic template is evident throughout.
These influences can clearly be heard on Larus, where jangling piano riffs, mid-80s new age synths and cascading David Gilmour style guitar solos rise above thickset chords and sparse beats, the eyes-closed, arpeggio-driven goodness of Acqua Tronica which also features some of Marcos funkiest guitar playing to date and the head-nodding haziness of Danza Delle Onde. Theyre there, too, within the mid-tempo rush of Litorale, an emotive and life-affirming mixture of metronomic beats, fluid piano solos, retro-futurist synths, locked-in bass and pads so sumptuous you almost want to reach out and grab them.
While the subtle evolution of the duos sound is evident throughout, Alba Sol also contains a swathe of tracks that echo the slow-motion hedonism of their earlier work. Closing cut Pioggia Sil Mare, for example, is a beguiling and brilliant foray into kaleidoscopic ambient house territory rich in in slowly unfurling musical motifs, while Polvese chugs along on waves of stretched-out electric guitar notes, echoing percussion hits and the sort of stoned bass that was such a feature of Aurora Baleare.
Then theres the album-opening title track, a gloriously epic, joyously blissful number that first wowed listeners on the recent Claremont Editions One compilation and already feels like a downtempo classic. It brilliantly sets the tone for a sophomore set thats arguably even more wonderful than its stunning predecessor.