Few within dance music culture can truly claim to have developed their own distinctive, sharply defined sound. Sacred Rhythm founder Joaquin ‘Joe’ Claussell is one such artist, as is emphatically proved by the stunning remixes he’s prepared of Hillside’s ‘Walpole Days’ for Claremont 56.
Claussell’s trademark-take on dance music is richly spiritual, frequently referencing the tribal drums and distinctive polyrhythms associated with African music, the free-spirited Afro-futurism of jazz, the soulful release of gospel and the celebratory rush of NYC disco. Throw in a genuine love of live instrumentation and a decidedly cosmic musical outlook and you have a style that’s very much his own.
Many of these trademark elements are evident on his versions of ‘Walpole Days’, a typically warm, evocative and musically detailed chunk of near horizontal Balearic jazz-funk from Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy, Alex Searle and Patrick Dawes’ Hillside project. The trio’s original version boasts all manner of intricate musical touches – eyes-closed electric piano solos, ear-catching and infectious hand percussion, spacey analogue synthesizer sounds and fluid piano flourishes, for starters – giving Claussell plenty to play with.
The New York-based DJ/producer makes the most of it on the epic ‘Sacred Rhythm Mix’ version, an 11-minute peak-time epic that just increases in energy and intensity throughout. Opening with reverb-laden piano solos, he crafts an organic deep house groove out of Dawes’ percussion, echoing snippets of guitar, Searle’s warm bass and his own polyrhythmic programmed drums. As the track progresses, Claussell continually beefs up the groove, adding weighty kick-drums and layering more percussion on top of Hillside’s electric piano sounds and spacey synths. It’s little less than a masterclass in warm and spiritual deep house.
Claussell isn’t finished there though, and those who love extra-percussive, driving house music should check his second rework, the ‘Sacred Rhythm Hornsdrums Version’. Destined to inspire a frenzy of sweaty, loose-limbed dancing, it’s a dancefloor dub built around little more than drums, ultra-energetic percussion solos, trippy effects, driving bass and, in the track’s latter stages, echo-laden horns and electric piano riffs. It’s breathlessly brilliant and, like his A-side rework, one of the best remixes Claremont 56 has released to date.