Hear & Now’s story is one of friendship and a shared passion for music. It began with a chance meeting on the dancefloor at Red Zone in Perugia, one of Italy’s most legendary clubs of the 1990s. Nearly three decades on, these glassy-eyed clubbers have joined forces to deliver one of the most magical and sun-kissed albums that Claremont 56 has ever released.
By the time Ricky L and Marcoradi first joined forces in the studio in 2016, both had become established producers within Italy’s vibrant deep house scene. Between them, they’d released records and remixes on such labels as Ibadan, Uomo, Reincarnation, Top Tracks, Restricted Tracks and Vega. Keen to step away from the dancefloor, they decided to simply create beautiful music for bleary-eyed after-hours sofa sessions, lazy summer afternoons and early mornings spent blinking at the rising sun.
Aurora Baleare, their debut album, follows on from a fantastic double A-side 12” for Claremont 56 in February 2017. Those two tracks take pride of place amongst an eight-track selection simply brimming with evocative workouts, gentle soundscapes and noon-bright sonic bliss. While you’ll find luscious instrumental cuts designed to inspire baggy, glassy-eyed shuffling – see the mid-tempo, spine-tingling brilliance of “Salsedine”, mind-massaging “Hirundo” and dreamy slow-house treat “Sabbia Magica” – it’s the effortless brilliance of Marcoradi’s improvised guitar playing and the duo’s atmospheric approach that really catches the ear. Check, for example, the heady horizontal shuffle of “Trasimeno”, where poignant ambient chords, jazzy electric guitar solos and deep space electronics tumble down over shuffling beats and a squeezable synthesizer bassline, and the sun-down Adriatic wonder of “Stella Dei Venti”, a track so effortlessly loved-up and blissful that you might be overcome by emotion (it certainly had us daydreaming of days spent exploring the intense natural beauty of Italy’s Adriatic coast).
Moments like this, where the duo’s dreamy electronics and smile-inducing melodies seemingly shimmer across the sound spectrum, can be found dotted throughout Aurora Baleare. There’s the darting digital synthesizer motifs, sparse hand percussion and ricocheting solos of “Airone”, the Italo-disco-inspired chugging positivity of “La Marsa” and the title track’s humid beachside breeze, where intertwined electronic and acoustic lead lines seemingly glimmer like rays of sunshine bouncing off the surface of a becalmed, crystal clear ocean.
Their roots may be on the dancefloor, but Hear & Now are fast becoming down tempo masters. You can dance if you want to, but you may just want to hug a stranger instead.