You really have to admire Paul 'Mudd' Murphy. Not only has he quietly been running two lovely record labels often accompanied by beautiful artwork, he is also making music that sits close to his heart. I mean we all do that in our own way but Paul has very specific influences he seems to pull in even if he isn't aware of it.
'In The Garden Of Mindfulness" is his follow up to his debut solo album in 2006 (18 years later!) and it's a really lovely listen. Lovely sounds trite but honestly there's not a hair out of place which just makes it a super nice sound all round. For me the album pulls from three lanes which you can hear in this record. His love of the kosmiche (Murphy famously worked closely with Can legend Holger Czukay), his youth (I imagine) spent listening and dancing to jazz, funk and house records and finally the sort of modern balearic sound that has developed from the 'scene with no name'.
The album opens with 'Eighty Three' which does indeed have that kosmiche feel. It's pure German highway music with a Kraftwerk-esque riff starting the track before the bass and drums roll in together. It's a perfect intro. 'Katanaboy' comes next with a keyboard trumpet (sounds terrible but isn't) and keys that really move the track along while sitting on top of a super nice drum sound.
'In The Garden Of Mindfulness' arrives and it's pure modern jazz funk and honestly (excuse the phrase) I'm here for that. Pianos and synths strings are accompanied by some lovely arps before a glassy synth sound brings a riff, a key change and then rolls back into the groove. Murphy is accompanied on keys on this album by Michele Chiavarini and well he's got the licks down. Also along for the ride are percussionist Patrick Dawes, guitarist Dave Noble and HF International’s Kashif. When they are accompanied by Mudd's ability and knowledge on when to 'go' and when to 'hold back' you've got a really nice mix on the go.
'Hangsang' keeps that lovely jazz funk vibe going... I asked Mudd if that 70s jazz funk vibe was in his head when he made this record and he said 'no, but weirdly someone else has just said the same'. Like minds... This one is almost like a Steely Dan instrumental. It has strings that sit somewhere between a stab and a melodic line riding the piano-led groove before a harmonica solo comes in. Love a harmonica solo. It's about as balearic as it gets due to Bagdad Cafe and 'a desert road'.
'Afternoon Bob' keeps the vibes moving and well bring on spring is all I can say as this album will sound so nice with the sun out. Bob must be a walking good time if this is what he sounds like. 'Bonne Anse' goes bossa and vibes.. A nice pause on the beat front and some Vince Montana-esque moments to breathe into something new as the album heads home. 'Unka Paw' and 'Late In March' bring the album home as the bpm's drop. 'Unka Paw' brings the guitars to the fore and 'Late In March' goes heavy on the piano for the last track.
I'm really into how tight this whole record is. It feels warm and good and is accompanied by super lovely artwork (a woodcut initially) from Yoshi Nakagawa. This album is literally one step off having that thing that makes your mate buy it that buys one record a year. Tbh I imagine that thing is a few vocals here and there (like a Zero 7 album) but honestly that's not to say that this record needs those as it's ace as it is. I guess I can just imagine Mudd making waves in unexpected areas if and when he chooses to push that button. Anyway we digress... Buy it then play it on a Sunday morning with the sun coming in the window and the world will feel well alright.
Mudd's 'In The Garden Of Mindfulness' is released this Friday 9th February on Claremont 56. Head to their BANDCAMP to find out more.