Three years in the making Playing Life is Ferdi Schuster’s second album for Claremont 56. It’s one of those records that’s a devil for DJs since it’s impossible to cherry pick a standout – it’s all so fucking good. Delicate drum machine patterns drive the soulful grooves. Truly great guitar work – measured microtones, jazzy picking – features on everything. Part Pat Metheny, part Lee Ritenour, with echoes of Azymuth in its laidback latin rhythms, the record deserves to be filed alongside currently acclaimed stuff like Eddie Chacon. Not really aimed at the dancefloor, more designed for a decent home hi-fi, or quality headphones, waves of Fender Rhodes, organic percussion, and subtle 6-string action wash the warm rich production. Almost like eavesdropping on a live jam, the set is made up of melodic moods rather than catchy hooks.
Historically Claremont’s output has often been labelled “nu-disco” or “modern Balearic” but to be honest the imprint’s album releases in particular are more “serious” and “muso” than that. They’re commonly progressive and / or kosmische rock influenced. Ferdi’s sophomore outing however is damn fine fusion, and should really be getting spins on the radio shows of people like Gilles Peterson. Moving Forms and Lungren, with their cascading chimes and brilliant bass-lines, especially, recall a former Peterson favourite, Opafire’s Walk Like Rain.
Ferdi’s music shouldn’t be confined to the sunset playlists of spots such as Ibiza’s Hostal La Torre. Claremont has grown and its music and artists matured. That said, tracks like The Fuzz Version, with its folk figures and hushed vocal harmonies all set to a sort of samba, is as Cafe del Mar worthy as, say, Cantoma’s classic Viusu. Gentleman is a Brazilian, Bahia breeze. Some of it, Osho Again for example, is simmering Herbie Hancock-esque funk. A sound painting of a heat hazed horizon. An African savannah watering hole at dawn. A few of the tracks flex fourth world flavours, mixing fluid congas, tribal and trap drums with rippling rivers of electronics, synthesized fresh water streams. Light Minded wouldn’t be out of place on a Daniele Baldelli Cosmic Club tape.
Ferdi Schuster`s Playing Life is out now on Claremont 56.