Smith & Mudd - Tea with Holger 12”KPM Music Ltd (UK)
It seems KPM have long been fans of Smith & Mudd and, after being introduced to each other by mutual friend Andy Allday, the peerless Balearic maestros were invited to contribute to the library label's digital-only "Album Shorts" project. It makes perfect sense for Be With Records to take on the vinyl release of this instant library classic. But why is it called Tea With Holger? "Holger" is of course Holger Czukay and the whole LP is dedicated to Smith & Mudd's time spent with him and Ursa Major at Can's famous Inner Space Studio in Weilerswist, near Cologne. When not recording it seems they spent a great deal of time sat around being entertained by Holger's stories and drinking many cups of different sorts of tea. The album was recorded over several years in London, Margate, and Gorthleck, a small hamlet in the Scottish Highlands. Mike Piggott, who played with Bert Jansch, handled the strings and played violin whilst Sam Creer lent his virtuoso cello work to the proceedings. They wanted to capture magical improvisational moments live and not do the work later on in editing. They describe the tracks collectively as "Balearic themes including breezy soul, sun-dappled melodies, warm pianos and sweeping strings". A gentle piano ushers in opening track "The Gardener" soon joined by low, bubbling drums. When the time is just right, lush guitars glisten above a Welsh language vocal that floats like silk. "Innerspace" is a nod to Can's aforementioned studio. Dark, heavy piano meets rolling drums before warm chords and luscious strings take over, gliding over moody grooves. "Weilerswist" delivers more beautifully rolling piano and guitars over thumping cellos and building drums. The full, string-enhanced version of "Away From Me" is Smith & Mudd's preferred version, only made available here on this vinyl issue. Tribal tones, piano, and cello set a melodic staccato for violin to soar over while rolling piano lines and gospel organ chords descend into a drum drop. Distant synths introduce sun-drenched guitars and uplifting strings in "Kölner Street", before a spacey Moog solo leads to a spellbinding, sci-fi drop. The album closes with "Tea With Holger". Airy vocal swells are punctuated by plucked cellos and picked guitars, all wonderfully warmed by a soulful piano. Cut by Pete Norman and pressed in the Netherlands by Record Industry. Comes in a classic KPM green sleeve complete. 140 gram vinyl.