Thursday, 8 November 2012

Goodbye Rap

This is an entertaining video from Kool Keith (from Ultramagnetic MCs for the uninitiated), worth watching from start to finish. I like the section @ 1:45 when he lists out things that he thinks are WACK. With Thanks to Deep Sea Beats for the recommendation

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Novi Singers; If you don't know, GET TO KNOW

Most sampleurs/collecteurs of records have a working knowledge of Eastern European jazz/rock/funk. I would put myself in that category- I have a few pieces, some of the 'Polish Jazz' series, some hungarian stuff, Zalatnay Sarolta, Skorpio etc, but for some reason had never come across the Novi Singers.

I've been selling a lot of gear on eBay recently, just purging stuff that's not getting used, or stuff I can't afford to hold onto (tragic), so my Paypal account is bulging. I thought i'd treat myself to a Koncz Zsuzsa album on eBay that has a nice break on it, and found that the seller had loads of other stuff as well. I thought 'fuck it' and ended up taking 7 other albums, classic breaks that i've never found before in shops; Syrius, Omega 5, Piramis etc. They were also selling some Novi Singers stuff, and I hadn't heard of them. 

Their 'big song' is Five, Four, Three from the album of the same name. It's been sampled loads. It kind of reminded me of 'Rien Ne Va Plus' by Funk Factory aka Michal Urbaniak (It's full of vocal hooks and scats, some from his wife Urzsula Dudziak), but it's way cooler. They're like a funky Dave Lambert!

Turns out their albums are hard to come by, there are a couple on Spotify but none to be found on any blogs even... There was a now-deleted compilation that Jazzanova made of their prime cuts, but impossible to find now. This is the coolest YouTube to post, as there's a video of sorts for the tune:

Thursday, 9 August 2012

John Martyn and Danny Thompson having a big old JAM

Been listening to 'One World' by John Martyn this morning. Great album, think it was recorded at Compass Point with Chris Blackwell producing? Can't be arsed to check. Think Martyn's estate are quite 'on it' with removing tracks from Youtube but I came across a beautiful performance of 'I Couldn't Love You More' from the Old Grey Whistle Test. Danny Thompson is such a KING of the acoustic bass, the greatest ever in my opinion. Such perfect parts.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Where has this song been my whole life? They kind of ripped it on Shutterbug by Big Boi:

Here's a high-quality version (will directly download a 320kbps mp3). If anyone objects to it being here let me know

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

This Promo is GENIUS

Now I ain't no massive fan of dubstep, but The Reel Newsletter this morning showcased an amazing video for Benga's new 'banger'. Check it out, directed by Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor, aka 'Us', who've done videos for Wiley, Dels and other good peoples:

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Jim Carrey as Snow

Woah, just found this, awesome. I love Jim Carrey, THAS RIGHT I SSSAID IT:

Particular highlights are the general tongue-flapping, and his Popeye impression


I've spent all morning listening to Sly Stone (and his Family). Have this huge playlist of pretty much everything he did up 'til 1975 or so. It reminded me to dig out an old issue of Wax Poetics i'd bought in a record shop which had Sly Stone on the front cover. The article inside deals particularly with the time around the making of 'There's a Riot Goin' On', quite comfortably one of my favourite albums EVER. A few myths were busted, let me tell you. 

The thing that's particularly amazing about this album; it has a sense of atmosphere quite unlike any other suite of music i've ever heard. There are moments on João Donato's 'Quem é Quem" that have you weeping you're so sucked up in the vibe, in the room with these beautiful songs and musicians, but 'Riot' is sustained. Listening to it is like going on holiday.

Now i'd always had this image in my head of Sly in his home recording studio, happy, smoking a few doobies, peace and love, lying on the sofa singing etc (as 'Family Affair' was supposedly vocalled). My perception couldn't be further from the truth.

Sly was gripped in a horrific cocaine addiction, as well as imbibing pretty much anything else he could get his hands on. He had a valet who had to get him in and out of the bath, propping him up so he could take meetings, do promo etc. He was FUCKED. I mean, the whole vocalling on the sofa/bed thing was to do with the fact he literally couldn't stand up, ha!

The vibe in the studio was one of complete drug-fuelled paranoia, random security guards wandering around with guns, a menagerie of vicious snarling dogs prowling about. Sly thought people were out to get him, in a big way. How the hell he managed to make such a mellow, joyful album i'm not really sure. I mean, when I think of a cocaine album I think of some of the live Miles albums from the 70s, "Dark Magus" et al. I mean, those records ARE the sound of cocaine. But not 'Riot' surely?

There I was, thinking it was all good vibes. It goes to show, the mood an artist was in at the time of recording their music could bear no relation to the feelings put across in it. Also, your perception of the music could differ wildly from how the artist intended you to hear it.

I find myself using the term 'Smoke and Mirrors' a lot in my line of work;

"Smoke and mirrors is a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description" (from Wikipedia)

It's regularly a relevant thing to say. Especially when trying to keep A&R people happy. As opposed to the above definition though, it's more a deceptive presentation (and therefore perception) that often goes down.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter how something is conceived, finished-off, tarted-up, whatever, what survives is how the listener interprets this sound. When you make and release a piece of music, and lots of people get to hear it, it becomes a LOT bigger than the pokey little studio it may have been cooked up in.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Feisty and her Sounds

I've been neglecting the old blog of late, busy times. I saw a gig so good on Sunday though, IT HAST AWOKEN ME FROM MY SLUMBER; Leslie Feist at the Royal Albert Hall.

I am a big Feist fan but for whatever reason was not expecting the show to be that great. I have grown to be a bit 'over' all that folky-dolky shit, you know, bands called 'Mountain Wolves', 'Horses of Destiny' or something. That reminds me; at one point my band was going to rename itself from 'The Brian Jacket Letdown' to 'Horsepower'. Great names both.

Feist has transcended that scene (not that she has ever been part of it, but tends to be categorised alongisde beard-sporting, cardigan-wearing types) by virtue of having a schmlash worldwide hit '1234' (included on her awesome 2nd album 'The Reminder'), propelled into the stratosphere via the only way white people's music can; the ubiquitous iPod advert.

She somewhat retreated into the background with her new album 'Metals', a subdued, defiantly alt-country record with no obvious 'hits', but the genius of Feist is her songwriting's ability to get under your skin in a completely cool and understated way.

If 'musical enjoyment' were a female, then mainstream pop music is the equivalent to a rapist, molesting you with brute pop force, screaming hooks down your ear in a guantanamo-music-torture style, and then running away into the darkness after 3 minutes. Feist and her ilk would be more of a casanova-type, seducing you instead over the course of an evening with fine wine and intelligent banter; a generally much more enjoyable experience.

Anyway, I digress. This evening was all about this new album; it was played almost in it's entirety, and even old favourites like 'Mushaboom' (tune) were given a sonic makeover, as if they had featured on this new set of tunes. Line-up wise, it was Feist on guitars and vocals; a dude on a tasty setup of keyboards (I spotted an Upright Piano, Jenco Celestette, Rhodes Piano Bass, Vox Continental and Juno 60); a drummer; a crazy Holger-Czukay-looking-motherfucker on all manner of weird stuff (bowing things, custom-manuscript-wind-up-music-boxes, guitars, mallets, sound effects) and as if that wasn't enough; the amazing (but appallingly named) Mountain Man on wondrous three-part harmony backing vocals.

As if this weren't all amazing-o enough, Feist herself was a monster on guitar. Great feel, great touch and a uniformly BRILLIANT sound on every single guitar she played; Nylon Strings, Parlour Guitars, Gibson 335 (?) and even something that looked like a Les Paul. I think her workhorse guitar is an old Martin Acoustic; again, absolutely gorgeous sounding. All electrics I could see were mic'd esoteric amps, old combo amps from the 50's.

So yeah, it was an amazing gig and she was hilarious (think she has been involved in comedy in the past), and it just made me think how attention to detail is so important. This is a group of people who truly, truly care about their sounds, and the audience reaped the rewards. The live show sounded fucking ANALOGUE. To the musicians out there, next time you pull out that Guitar Rig preset, or Software Synth, or take a Nord Lead to a gig, just don't be such a pussy. Get that shit REAL sounding. Take time over your sounds. ETC ETC ETC ETC

OK bye

P.S My friend Karin snapped that photo on her phone. Normally I would have slapped her about the head for being 'that person' that gets their phone out at gigs, but this was an experience to capture. I'll remember this gig for LONGTIME

Monday, 6 February 2012


I remember when Voodoo came out. I was working at a Virgin Megastore, my first job after leaving school. There were a few of us that were Hip-Hop heads there, made beats and whatnot. I remember them telling me about this guy D'Angelo, and how great he was, and in particular how good his new album Voodoo was. I'm an opinionated kind of guy, and had already made my mind up about how I didn't like him; I mean, look at that album cover, him with his pecs out, I thought it was cheesy as fuck, way too smooth. I have, and always will like my music rough around the edges.

Not long after the Voodoo tour had left town, I happened upon the album, and... well, you just don't listen to that album and not become obsessed with it, no matter what your taste in music is. That and Common's 'Like Water For Chocolate' album became the soundtrack to my life. It's weird, none of the artists that were grouped into the Neo/Nu Soul genre did anything for me whatsoever. Maxwell, Musiq Soulchild, The Roots, even Erykah (the only albums of hers I truly enjoy are the New Amerikah ones). Too smooth for me. Voodoo is different. It's freaky.

Last friday I saw D'Angelo at the Brixton Academy, his first gig in London in 11 years. Needless to say I was pretty excited. Was sat at my computer 5 minutes before tickets went on sale pressing the refresh button on my browser like a crazy person. Booked my tickets, but found out weeks after that the gig still hadn't sold out. I was confused. I guess no matter how good you are, you can't disappear for that long and expect to pick up where you left off.

The gig was mildly disappointing. The band for me were poor, despite Pino Palladino being on bass (he who played on the Voodoo sessions). Too often, it lapsed into cod-james-brown 60s funk jamming, as opposed to the more freaky, slower, Sly Stone vibe that D is known for. There were nods to Eddie Hazel and Funkadelic with distorted guitar shenanigans, but they fell on deaf ears. The vibe was flat, as the audience were there to hear Brown Sugar and Voodoo faithfully recreated.

Speaking of which, one of the two notable things about the gig was the audience. I've never been to a gig with such a mixed crowd. There were people there of all ages, all sexes and all colours. I have genuinely never seen this. 

Secondly, for a brief while, D'Angelo sat down at the CP-70/80 (Not sure which) electric piano, and played a medley of some of his back catalogue, completely unaccompanied. Something really happened hearing him play and sing with such virtuosity, the thing that i'd been hoping i'd feel when I went to the gig. It was truly moving, and it dawned on me what an astonishing talent this man is. Listening to Voodoo I have to admit i'd attributed the plaudits to Russell Elevado, D's band, the inspiration of Jay Dee (present at the sessions with his MPC), Questlove. But here it hit me plain and simple. D'Angelo is the genius, with the voice and the compositional talent to back it up. Stripping the songs of their grooves, you heard just the harmony and melody, and it was more than enough.

Since the gig i've been listening to Voodoo on repeat, and I am convinced it really is one of the best soul albums of all time. Yet I know so little about it. Looking for a photo of the Voodoo cover to add to my tumblr album listening diary thing, I came across this video that was part of the EPK for the Voodoo release. It's pretty cool... mental to see people like Rick Rubin, Chris Rock, Eric Clapton (?) all listening to playbacks in the studio. And they all have the same reaction, they can't believe what they're hearing;

To this day, I wish I had listened to those guys at the Virgin Megastore. My flatmate saw the Voodoo tour, and I can barely even look her in the eye, such is my jealousy. My good friend Tommy D, a music producer, was present at some of the Voodoo sessions, at Electric Lady studios in New York. Don't even get me started on that.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Listomania; Music that I enjoyed in 2011

In no particular order, here are my favourite musical things of the past year. To be honest, I mainly listen to old music, but try and stay in touch vaguely with new stuff. Like last year, i've included UK spotify links for those who have accounts (not sure if they correspond with US links?)


Shabazz Palaces
Black Up (Sub Pop)
Although I said 'in no particular order', this is probably my favourite LP this year. OK maybe Tune-Yards too. From the astonishing mind of former Digable Planets MC Butterfly, now known as 'Palaceer Lazaro'. Amazing beats, amazing lyrics, amazing everything.

When I first heard Tune-Yards stuff, it sounded interesting but somewhat unfinished. With her second LP, she KILLED IT. Undeniable Dirty Projectors influences aside, Merrill Garbus's songwriting is all her own. Check out this if you're unconvinced.

The English Riviera (Because Music)
Marketing, tis a funny thing. As soon as Metronomy, always Joe Mount's hard-to-categorise solo/remixer project, added a visual identity to their music (i.e band members), it all took off for them. Still, this is a great album with lots of lovely songs on it.

Clams Casino
Instrumentals Mixtape (Self-Release)
Clams beats aren't anything necessarily that new technically, but there's a dark musicality to them. He's completely unconcerned with crate-digging; his sounds instead coming from youtube rips and random audio searches on torrent sites

King Of Limbs (Self-Release/XL)
Radiohead. Nigel Godrich. It's a no brainer.

Hudson Mohawke
Satin Panthers EP (Warp)
Banger, after banger, after banger. It's ridiculous really. He really reined in the unlistenable jazz-fusion wank elements of his 'Butter' LP and just. made. bangers. Listen on the bassiest sound system you can find.

Can't believe how much this got ignored, maybe because they're completely ungoogleable. These guys RULE. Basically, this sounds almost exactly like Grizzly Bear playing Prince covers. Cathedral-verbed vocals/organs with crisp LinnDrums.

King Krule
S/T EP (True Panther)
Love this guy. A real knarly Joe Strummer voice mixed with beautiful jazzy electric guitar, a bit of 808 thrown in there. One of the most ear-catching things I heard this year. Can't wait to hear a full-length

A$AP Rocky
Liveloveasap Mixtape (Self-Release)
Weird that you'd sign a rapper for $3m so that you could officially release a mixtape that everyone has already downloaded for free, but anyway. I don't especially rate his flow, but the production is wicked (clams casino once again)...

Take Care (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal)
... which brings me on to this, guilty pleasure of the year. Drake is a poor MC and a significantly worse singer, but I LOVE THE BEATS ON THIS RECORD (mainly the T-Minus and Noah "40" Shebib ones). P.S 'Over My Dead Body' is chord progression of the year


A Real Hero
I'm not providing a link to this song. Watch the film 'Drive' and you'll know why this is THE song of the year, even though yes it's a couple of years old I think. Whatever.


Tom Vek @ Heaven
I had forgotten all about this gig after i'd booked tickets, and when I turned up to Heaven I wasn't that excited about it, despite it being his first gig in 5-odd years. To hear 'We Have Sound' almost in it's entirety was my gig of the year. Astonishingly good. Makes up for never being able to see Talking Heads live.

Tune-Yards @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
Managed to nab tickets to this secret show that preceded her support slot with Beirut the following day (Beirut- meh). The things this woman can do with a loop pedal is no joke

Sufjan Stevens @ Royal Festival Hall
It was a huge disappointment to me that I only got into Sufjan weeks after he'd left the UK on his 'Illinoise' tour. Had to wait years to see him, and it was worth the wait. This man has so much talent it's unfair to the rest of the musicians in the world. Musically speaking, possibly the most eclectic gig i've ever witnessed. Moving from folk to auto-tuned R&B is no mean feat

Hudson Mohawke @ XOYO
The most gurning i've ever done in my life, with only alcohol in my system too. An absolute FACE-MELTER, and some of the best beats i've ever heard. Release them please!!