When Paul Murphy released his critically acclaimed debut solo album, Claremont 56, in 2006, many thought it would be the first of many. In a way, it was, as in the years since he’s released a string of collaborative sets alongside Benjamin J Smith (as Smith & Mudd), and as part of underground ‘supergroups’ Paqua, Bison and Hillside. But that second solo album? Well, it just had to wait.
In early 2023, Murphy finally decided to scratch that itch, roping in some of his most trusted collaborators (keyboardist and bassist Michele Chiavarini, percussionist Patrick Dawes, guitarist Dave Noble and HF International’s Kashif included) to lay down a sumptuous set of tracks that not only showcases his now familiar (bit hard to pigeonhole) neo-Balearic sound, but also proves how much he has matured as a writer and producer since 2006.
In The Garden of Mindfulness is richly musically detailed, expertly arranged and full to bursting with fluid instrumental solos, with Murphy and his collaborators serving up tracks that brilliantly blur the boundaries between languid jazz-funk, downtempo, vintage synth-laden krautrock, dubby grooves and sun-splashed soundscapes.
It simply sparkles from the moment that opener ‘Eighty Three’ slowly rises like the morning sun, with gentle, undulating synth sounds ushering in a slow-motion jazz-funk excursion rich in twinkling electronics, spacey pads and warming bass. Recent single ‘Katanaboy’, a lusciously layered dub disco-infused dancefloor excursion in Murphy’s familiar style, raises the temperature a touch, before ‘Bonne Anse’ and the sublime ‘Unka Paw’ (whose combination of evocative fretless bass, extended electric piano solos, Clavinet licks and acoustic guitars is genuinely spellbinding) invite a combination of wavy shuffling and flat-on-the-back, eyes-closed appreciation.
And so it continues, with gorgeous title track ‘In The Garden of Mindfulness’ making way for the boogie-influenced, Japanese-British brilliance of ‘Hangsang’ (check the jaunty pianos, yearning breakdown and exotic melodies). Murphy’s long held love of warm, weighty bass, hypnotic disco grooves, colourful analogue synth sounds and jazzy guitars once again comes to the fore on ‘Afternoon Bob’ before the album reaches a fittingly triumphant conclusion with ‘Late In March’.
A neat sonic summary of all that makes the set such a rewarding and entertaining experience, repeat listens reveals a wealth of musical details, from off-kilter triple-time drums and surprise bass guitar solos, to impeccable piano solos (provided by the immensely talented Chiavarini), fizzing jazz-funk synth doodles and stirring synth-strings. It’s a breathlessly brilliant way to end an album that was genuinely worth waiting for.
released February 9, 2024