Claude Speeed is the pseudynom of Edinurgh now Berlin based musician Stuart Turner. It was through the free Lucky Me mixtapes that I first came across the sounds of Claude Speeed and his short lived band American Men. Through the Middle of Sun mixtape (click on the image below and explore all his mixes on the Lucky Me site) by Ali Llyod of AM I discovered a range of sounds which stood in stark contrast to the club thumpers of the other mixes, all of which are worth checking out too but lets focus on Claude.
Being a key figure since the early days of Glasgow's Lucky Me label, Claudes earliest works can be heard woven into the numerous mixes he's created for the label, one of which I used to mix some visuals for BYOB in Glasgow and culminated in the release of Cool World with American Men (listen below). Although short lived American Men crafted some fine tunes with AM System being a personal faveourite. Its interesting how they created such a distinctive sound over such a short space of time, instantly recognisable on a smattering of unreleased songs which appeared on subsequent mixes aludding to a wealth of material sitting on a hard drive somewhere. The Cool World EP also brought some heavy names to the label in the form of remixes from label honcho Hud Mo, Falty DL and Hyperdubs Ikonika delivering pummeling reworkings which give the tunes a club friendly feel but the Hud Mo track is definitley an end of the night kinda vibe, real heavy. Cool World is available here.
I waited a good while in the hopes of catching American Men live and even recieved a nice email from Claude listing the tracks to his Middle of Sun mix after posting a wee nod to the mix on the blog. A few more mixtapes appeared on the Lucky Me site, each one showcasing various remixes and reworkings of club classics, 5 On It and a droned out remix of Katy Perry (later released as a 2 track ep, listen below) being worth a listen. The mixtapes mark a clear shift away from indie / synth pop reworkings towards more ambient and melodic tracks as showcased on the White Horses & Swells mixtape.
The Truants blog served up a nice slice of droned out hits along with an in depth interview which you can read here. The truancy mix is packed full of exclusive tracks many of which have now seen some light via Claudes soundcloud page but when the mix came out I was itching to find out where these synthed out gems had materialised from and how to get ahold of em. Stand out track 'R U Sorry?' finally saw a release this year but more on that later.
Its seems like with every new mix Claude Speeed got bigger and bigger yet the music got dronier and dronier and none more so than on his Fact Mix which blended some sketches for debut album 'My Skeleton' with various field recordings gathered during his travels. Bringing together classic drone masterpieces and throwing in some contemporary songs from Sevendeaths, Bibio and Rice Boy Sleeps makes for a soothing adventure but beware, there's some mind melters and bone crushers on here too! But it makes for the perfect companion piece to the long awaited debut album and perfect for any train journey!
Finally 2014 saw the release of 'My Skeleton' Claudes first full album proper. Made up from sound bites and sketches made during an extended stint travelling in the East gives the album an interesting sound, not playing up to any new age traveller spiritual awakening cliches but instead bringing to mind dusty train rides and strange encounters with local natives. Tracks like Washaa and Prove You Exist would sit nicely in any ambient library while Tiger Woods (listen below) seems to pull the listener up and flow with a menacing amount of energy, perfect for late night adventures in dark underpasses! As a whole 'My Skeleton' is a fantastic album which ebbs and flows as you'd expect from any drone masterpiece and carries the distinctive mark of its creator. There's been a real big emphasis on the visuals to go with the album with Lucky Me's resident video creator Peter Marsden at the helm, you can read a good articel about his projects on Nowness.
Late 2014 I discovered the incredible sounds of Planet Mu honcho μ-Ziq and his XLR8 podcast featured an interesting selection of Claude Speeed cuts. After discovering this conection it was announced that Claude had signed to Planet Mu and would be releasing his first ep in late January 2015. 'Sun Czar Temple' continues from where 'My Skeleton' left us but instantly steps into heavier territory with opener 'Traumzeuge' delivering a nice slab of ethereal drone. Closing track 'R U Sorry?' as mentioned above is a real highlight, haunting, ethereal and possibly the best thing Claudes produced so far. You can buy Sun Czar Temple here.
Along with all the mixtapes and legit releases you will also find a vast amount of work in progress, sketches and remixs on Claudes soundcloud page. Its incredible how many tracks have appeared, some already featured on his numerous mixtapes and some completely new and unheard tunes. You should check out his 'Versions' playlist below which features his own cover of chart topping hit by MJ 'Remeber the Time' amongst others.
It feels like I've been on a real journey following Claudes career from American Men to his latest release with Planet Mu but its been exciting, hearing snippets of new tracks and remixes along the way, hearing his sound become more defined and also adding something a little different to the current musical landscape. And hes introduced me to a wide range of new sounds to boot with choice cuts from Oneohtrix Point Never, Sun Kill Moon, Hood and Tim Hecker all now sitting on my radar thanks to his mixes.
What's coming next is anyones guess but I cant wait to jump on board and ride that synthwave drone!