Philip Clemo The Rooms Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

It's beautiful, transcendent and yes, indefinable.

Chris Jones 2008

Philip Clemo is an aberration. To be clearer, he's a man who resists pigeonholing. Put him in your iTunes and it'll tell you that this album and its predecessor, Ambiguous Dialogues are 'unclassifiable', while at your local emporium he's ideally going to be floating in some space somewhere between jazz, rock, new age (urgh) and soundtracks. He makes ostensibly electronic music for films, music for art installations and here in particular, as the title suggests, music for rooms.

Yes, there's a touch of Brian Eno in here in the way that the environments he creates (and this is a far more useful term to use than 'pieces') draw you into something approaching a parallel universe where there's still time for contemplation. Thus, supplying the requisite zen tropes is noted shakuhachi wielder, Clive Bell, and for more of that 'fourth world' ambience we get the producer's friend, whenever your music calls for some floating pedal steel, BJ Cole (did Daniel Lanois and Eno know what they were unleashing when they recorded Apollo?). The jazz end is held down by trumpeter Henry Lowther and the sax and flute of Theo Travis (himself recently having worked at both ends of the space cadet hall of fame with Robert Fripp AND Gong). Meanwhile the rockier six strings are handled by ex-Moist guitarist (and cohort of another installation veteran, Paul Schutze), Simon Hopkins. All this adds up to 53 minutes of gently drifting atmospherics, only going slightly astray when Chloe Goodchild's vocals enter the fray.

And if at times you're reminded of the sublime studio craft of Talk Talk's late period work, that's because their legendary engineer Phill Brown took part as well. For those in the know this all adds up to pretty much a dream ticket. It's an apt description in many senses, as Clemo's 'compositions' meander into your peripheral auditory field and recede again with dreamlike nuance. It's beautiful, transcendent and yes, indefinable. Play safe, and order it online.

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