Group Listening’s Stephen Black and Paul Jones originally met at music college. The two went different ways creatively after leaving college with Black delving into the world of pop under the moniker Sweet Baboo and has previously worked with Gruff Rhys and Cate Le Bon. Jones, on the other hand, pursued a career as a jazz pianist and experimental musician and has played with Keith Tippett and formed the Jones O’Connor group.

Reconnecting years later the pair discovered that their musical tastes met in the middle. They realized they shared a love for artists like Moondog, Artie Shaw and Angela Morley and began working on music together.

Another artist they bonded over was of course, Brian Eno, whose 1977 track ‘Julie With’ the pair have covered, Black saying - “An album of ambient music would not be right without an Eno piece on there so it’s great to have chosen one of his more traditional ‘songs’ as opposed to one of his classic ambient pieces.”

Jones continues - “I love the song and the strange, sophisticated sound of it. Mr Eno’s vocals add another dimension here; there’s a plaintive, hushed, almost crooner’s delivery – such a feeling of melancholy throughout the song. There’s so much 1977 going on in this song also: the super hi-fi tape quality of the recording and in particular, the gently chorused guitar parts. It seems to presage a whole raft of New Wave sensibilities, while also adhering to an earlier art rock, progressive, and very English sensibility.

The lyrics suggest escapism, and there’s a very soulful aspect to it all. For me, it’s full of this sort of feeling of a deep yearning, neither sad nor happy. They’ve got different words for this feeling in different languages: saudade in Portuguese, sehnsucht in German or hiraeth in Welsh. There is no direct or literal translation for these words into English, but the closest definition might be a longing melancholy. A positive sadness, I’d call it.

The version we used on the album is the demo version we recorded in my front room, and it’s the only one that made it onto the album that we didn’t record in the studio. I thought there was something about the version we had already that was not going to be replicable, some sort of ‘first thought is best thought’ methodology at play. I particularly liked the intro noises we improvised and the set of sounds Steve got going to process his clarinet.

We had about six or seven mics up in the room when we recorded it, some close and some further away to capture the ambience of the room. When we came to mix it I ended up taking most of them out, apart from one or two room microphones and a microphone in the bottom of the piano that seemed to have all the sound we needed to get it across as it felt when it was played.”

Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol.1 is out on 4th May via PRAH Recordings.