Percussionist, Patrick Dawes, guitarist / bassist, Alex Searle, and Claremont 56 founder, Paul “Mudd” Murphy, once formed the backbone of Paqua. During lockdown the 3 friends have – virtually – regrouped as Hillside, and in doing so recruited the considerable skills of player / arranger, Michele Chiavarini – a member of Dave Lee`s Sunburst Band, whose keys are off the hook. Chiavarini can be found adding Brian Auger-esque Hammond B3 sustain to the funky yacht rock groove of Sunday In June, as Searle`s guitars switch between fuzzed freak-outs and blue-skied, sunshine, strum. Michele adds more organ to For Daniel, and Trinity Strut. The bass-bumping latter spinning in side-effects like Primal Scream`s early `90s Brendan Lynch sessions, with Chiavarini also contributing a cool piano vamp. The former features the fluttering flute of Collocutor`s Tamar Osbourn, who in addition helps weave the wonderful West Coast weather of the top-down convertible cruising 1939 Grand Avenue. With the aid of veteran folk violinist Mike Piggott, on Hidden Port, Hillside sound like The Grateful Dead at their funkiest. Think Blues For Allah`s Slipknot! or Help On The Way.
Chiavarini also drew up the charts for the album`s soulful orchestration – performed by Realstrings` Pete Whitfield. At just under 6 minutes, the title cut is a mini-epic, while Aguila Negra`s cinematic serenade could be mistaken for the work of some genius Italian library music composer moonlighting making scores for `70s soft porn.
In closing the crew hand Walpole Days over to Joaquin “Joe” Claussell – who transforms the laidback Harlem River Drive of the OG into an expanse of ECM-esque new age jazz ambience. Replacing the sedated go-go cowbell and congas with didgeridoo-like drones and isolated chimes, solar winds, and an overall vibe like Chick Corea & Gary Burton`s Crystal Silence orbiting inner / outer space.
Hillside`s debut long-player, Sunday In June, is released tomorrow on Claremont 56. You can order a copy directly here.