Philip Clemo

The Rooms

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Released around the same time as Soundzero (and I mean "around": a couple of months before it in Europe, and a couple of months after in America), The Rooms establishes Philip Clemo as a producer first, a composer and guitarist second. Still an unknown name outside a small circle, and a musician's musician, Clemo proves to be the textural, detail-driven type. This album consists of a smooth-segueing sequence of nine ambient-world-fusion-jazz pieces featuring 22 guest musicians, among whom are ethnic flute player Clive Bell, Gong-family saxman Theo Travis, pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole, and a host of string players. The first and longest track on the album, "The Place," has a strong affinity with the Cinematic Orchestra, and not only because the music is assembled out of separately recorded contributions. It's the same electro-jazz mood with a soft ecstatic build-up. Elsewhere, the music gets a bit jazzier at times, a little spacier at others, but The Rooms basically falls alongside the Cinematic Orchestra/Jaga Jazzist continuum. "The Shifting Patterns of Sunlight" and "Taking a Hand (In the Company of Angels)" (the latter featuring singer Chloë Goodchild) provide the other highlights, but the album doesn't have a single dull moment, although you must be prepared for long stretches of quiet soundworking and slow developments. Though the work of a guitarist, first and foremost, this album doesn't put the guitar to the fore, the instrument being worked into the sonic tapestry as only one of several strands. Despite the above references, Clemo goes his own route, creating a highly personal form of spacy electro-world-jazz, and the results are nothing short of beautiful, with a mesmerizing quality that will have you coming back for more.

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