As NuNorthern Soul eases into its second decade, the label welcomes back a familiar face: Benjamin J Smith, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer whose emotive, colourful and atmospheric compositions are the very definition of ?Balearic?.
Famously, it was Smith?s The Movedrill Projects album that kicked off the NuNorthern Soul story way back in 2012, and he?s periodically returned to the imprint on numerous occasions since. It?s fitting, then, that Smith is stepping up once more, with NuNorthern Soul founder Phil Cooper selecting to showcase two overlooked gems from his bulging back catalogue.
Both tracks are taken from Smith?s digital-only album Mojave (Vintage Californian Dreams), a set of thoroughly gorgeous, West Coast-inspired library music compositions smothered in sumptuous strings and informed by the artist?s love of jazz-funk, languid jazz-rock and the kind of luscious, sunset-ready soundscapes that defy neat categorization.
Opening proceedings, and sitting on side A of the vinyl release, is the breath-taking ?Marina Del Rey?, where layered, reverb-laden harmonic vocalisations, twinkling electric piano improvisations, lazy guitar licks, spacey synth flourishes and sultry strings slowly rise above a toasty bassline and gentle, Latin-tinged beats. Smith cannily adds layers of sound throughout while moving the musical story forwards, leading to a memorable, awe-inspiring conclusion.
In contrast, ?Big Sur? sees Smith take an imaginary road trip through the driest, dustiest parts of the Californian countryside. Psychedelic rock style organ motifs, sustained Hammond B-3 chords and glistening West Coast rock guitar solos dance atop a rubbery bassline and intoxicated, loose-limbed drums, with Smith?s eyes-closed vocalisations ? drenched in reverb and delay ? adding extra layers of aural loveliness. Like ?Marina Del Rey?, ?Big Sur? is a vivid, widescreen concoction tailor-made for soundtracking films that have yet to be made.
Wille Graff, Pacha, Pikes, Ibiza – Beautiful tunes! ?Sweet Sounds? and ?High Desert? are the ones for me.
Sasha – Smooth
Chris Coco, Melodica / The Chill Out Tent, UK – Super atmospherics for high flying moments.
Nick Warren, UK – I love Marshalls music. His last EP was outstanding and this takes it up a notch again. Timeless beautiful music, shades of Ulrich Schnauss at his best. More please!!!
Andy Wilson, Ibiza Sonica – Lovely EP perfect for poolside and sunset sessions this summer in Ibiza.
LOVA, Italy – The Seahawks remix is so big, love it! Good release Mr Marshall, quality!
Ken Fan, Cafe Del Mar, Ibiza – all lovely vibes.
Andy Pye, Balearic Social Club, Leeds, UK – Beautiful, Seahawks mix is such a great remix wonderful stuff all round.
Piet [Blank & Jones] – Loving this EP! we can’t wait to feature “High Desert” on our new MILCHBAR compilation this spring!
Tom Novy – Seahawks remix in my lounge radio shows.
Gavin Hardkiss – Super! Will be playing.
Chris Coco [Melodica / The Chill Out Tent, UK] – Super atmospherics for high flying moments.
Mike Salta [Music for Dreams] – Pure bliss and composition made with authenticity only a few master at this level. All thumbs up for Marshall Watson.
Leo Mas – Seahawks remix is great.
LOVA – The Seahawks remix is so big, love it! Good release Mr Marshall, quality!
Mark Broadbent [Pikes on Sundays, Ibiza] – Nice sounds for head nodding moments down the front this summer, thanks. Picked ‘Sweet Sounds’ for the vocal but they’ll all work well equally well.
Steve KIW. [B.A.O.L. UK] – Sweet sweet sounds. Love Marshall’s work to date and High Desert and Open Sky are proper corkers, brilliant addition to the MW canon. Seahawks mix (as always) hits the spot too. I can see The Landscape getting a few late night rattles as well. Excellent package.
Chris Howler [Balearic Breakfast, 1BTN, Brighton, UK] – A stunning set of tracks here. So hard to pick a fave as all will get plays! Hats off!
Jaye Ward – Another totally beautiful slice of slow and deep!! Ace!