As Claremont 56 continues to celebrate its first decade, founder Paul Murphy remains on the look out for talented producers to add to the label’s slowly expanding family of artists. The imprint’s latest debutant, Blair French, is hardly a newcomer to music production, though, having put out his first release – under the Dial81 alias – this time 10 years ago.
French is something of a musical chameleon. Over the years, he’s been a member of numerous musical collectives – most notably Cosmic Handshakes and Formless Figures – established his own well-regarded DIY record label (Fat Finger Cosmic) and delivered material on imprints including Delsin, M1 Sessions and, most recently, Rocksteady Disco (the deep and jazzy Afro-house brilliance, Standing Still Is An Illusion ).
The Detroit based musician, producer and graphic designer is also notoriously difficult to pin down. Trawl through his releases and you’ll come across blissful ambience, experimental hip-hop, skewed techno, hazy deep house, beach-friendly Balearica, neo-classical, an award-winning film score (documentary Detropia ) and even a dash of bassbin-bothering grime.
On his first Claremont 56 10″, Blair French is in full-on, head-in-the-clouds, feet-on-the-sand mode. The A-side boasts the soft-spun delight that is “Sandbar Caviar”, a gently undulating exercise in aural bliss built around sparse drum machine hits, pitched-down Balearic disco aesthetics – think bubbly bass and humid flashes of Afro-influenced guitars – and the kind of fluttering synthesizer melodies that would once have been described as “new age” in tone.
The sticky, tropical-tinged humidity continues on the flip, where “Inland Island” showcases French’s love of dub disco bass, atmospheric field recordings, bongo-laden South American rhythms and the kind of hazy, tactile vocals that seemingly drift between the speakers on a cloud of pungent marijuana smoke. It’s an intoxicating and loved-up experience; you can dance if you want to, but it sounds just as good if you’re lying flat on your back.