composer / instrumentalist
“Clemo possesses the compositional vision to draw from a vast array of source material – from John Cage to electric Miles via Brian Eno – and create something both intensely personal and profoundly beautiful” – Jazzwise
Described as “mesmeric and completely addictive” by The Wire, Philip Clemo’s densely layered compositions reveal a process of negotiation across the boundaries of jazz, contemporary classical, post-rock and electronica. Instruments and atmospheres are in constant interplay, moving in and out of focus. His pieces are infused with a filmic sensibility – in the way time unfolds and compositional form melts into ambience, and in the evocation of landscapes and cultures through location recordings. All strangely visual, colourful somehow – supersaturated. His pieces are abstract, melodic, composed; and at the same time fixed to the everyday experiences of real times and places.
Clemo collapses the roles of producer/artist/editor. In the studio he builds complex textures and develops them through a process of composition and improvisation, with contributions from a diverse group of musicians. During the final stages he extensively reconfigures, interweaving instrumental, vocal and recorded material, disguising origin and cultural references, to produce finely crafted shimmering matrixes of sound.
He is also a film-maker and uses live video projections extensively in his performances. His films, shot on location throughout the world, are propelled in the direction of music through his use of distended temporality, layering and transpositions of various kinds. It is evident that the assumptions of film and music interpenetrate one another in Clemo’s mind. He is interested in achieving a kind of fusion where visual and sonic data are rendered equal and experienced synthetically. Couple this with the sense of intensity in the music and in his choice of recording locations – geothermal sites in Iceland, the rainforests of Malaysia, the crowded streets of Delhi, glass and metal workshops in London and Sydney – and a hunger for the sublime is revealed, a state in which the boundaries of the senses, the body, are somehow de-differentiated in relation to a broader field.
Philip Clemo was born in north east Scotland in 1964. He has been living and working in London since 1982.
“Startlingly original writing… alternately hypnotises and charms… neatly encapsulates how even the strongest musical bloodlines are now in flux” – The Observer