Sabtu, 22 Maret 2014

NameBrandSound "Spell On Me Stream"

Two of the biggest producers from the London Broken beat movement have joined forces to form NameBrandSound, their first EP "Nowadays Pressure" is released on April 7th 2014 via cult electronic label Ninja Tune.

This project sees IG Culture (New Sector Movements/Son Of Scientist/Quango) and Alex Phountzi (Al Da Bubble/Bugz In The Attic) uniting in a mission to invigorate dancefloors worldwide with their own take on modern electronic fusion.

This EP is packed with the same wild experimentation that made early releases on labels Main Squeeze (ran by IG) and Archive (home to the classic "Off The Record" by Alex) so desirable and interesting from 1999 onwards. Dancehall clashes with juke, jungle and eighties soul in a blend that would have been perfect for a Sunday night in a crowded Plastic People.

Its great to see these artists on form, creating interesting music and upping the BPM.

Hopefully the recent resurgence among the Broken Beat pionneers will help to expose the innovative work they achieved fifteen years ago and new listeners can begin to indulge in the back catalogues of these ground breaking artists that never really went away.

Links: Soundcloud / Nowadays Pressure / Ninja Tune

Rabu, 12 Maret 2014

Christian Prommer "Aturo And Interview"

We caught up with the well respected electronic music producer Christian Prommer to discuss his first solo album and the inspiration behind its creation.

Click below to purchase the album from iTunes:

Links: Compost / Soundcloud / Facebook / Twitter

Hello Christian, first of all thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us today! You have been composing and producing music for the last two decades, how did you start and what drives you to keep writing?

I started playing the drums at the age of 12 and also started to listen/collect records at that same time. This led to making my own music in bands and, when the computers and drum machines made it possible, on my own. There is so much that inspires me every day to write music. It's like breathing or eating. I just need to do it. There is so much I have not tried yet, thats the strongest drive for me; curiosity. I am very interested in the "decontextualisation" of things in music. Taking ideas from one place to a different one. My main method of doing that is through sampling or recording in different locations.

During this time you have worked with a wide range of diverse artists from Carl Craig to Incognito, when you collaborate how does the writing process work?

One of the first things you need to find is the voice of the project. The best way to find that is to jam and play with no rules. Listen to the other person. I really love to work this way. I try to keep it fresh and interesting by jamming and playing around with unusual ideas as much as I can.

Is there anyone you would like to work with and why?

There are some great musicians out there that inspire me and that would be great to work with from old masters to newcomers. Really hard to pick one. My next project is with Alex Barck from Jazzanova and a new one with singer Thomas Hien who features on the new album on a track called Wonders Of The World.

What I love about your music is the fusion of styles. I guess the main example of this would be the Drum Lesson LP where you combined Jazz and Techno, how did this come about and what was the reaction from Josh Wink and Derrick May?

I felt that the energy I get from jazz and Detroit techno are very similar. I played around with the piano chords from Strings Of Life for some time until I had the first version. With the help of great musicians like Roberto Di Gioia and Wolfgang Haffner we recorded the first track. I played it for a while in my DJ Sets and when it got released it really worked well. Derrick May called me up and thanked me... that was a great moment of course. Same with Patrick Pulsinger and Masters At Work. Josh Wink liked it, but was not so crazy about the idea of a jazz version at the beginning.

Will there be more Drum Lessons?

Yes. I am starting on the third one this summer. I am pretty excited about this already. 
Tell us a bit about your new album Ubermood.

This album is the result of the last year making music and traveling. All my music projects so far have been collaborations so I took some ÜberMood and the result is my first solo album. I still collaborated with a variety of musicians and singers but I went to a lot of different places for inspiration. Classical, Jazz, Folk, Soul and Club sounds. The record came together very spontaneously at the beginning without a big masterplan. Michael Reinboth of Compost Records got involved early on, that was a great push. We have been working on music projects together for almost 20 years.

When I first played the LP the first thing that struck me was how rich and crisp it sounded, dynamically and sonically it is amazing, how did you record it?

I recorded it in many different locations including some really great studios in London, Berlin and Munich but also in kitchens, beaches and train stations. I only used my laptop, Logic, Ableton Live and a good microphone. Ableton Live is the best composition tool for me. I never stop playing and improvising with it. I mixed it all inside the box as we call it, when you do it in the computer. For a long time in my career I have used big studios and a lot of gear but for this record I wanted to limit myself to my laptop.

Our stand out track from the album is undoubtably Aturo. When it came on I was instantly captivated by how you fused techno with jazz, classical and Phillip Glass style minimalism.

What's the story behind that track?

Happy that you mention this tune. This was my blueprint or benchmark track for the album. Its based on a chord sequence from a Claude Debussy composition. I replayed the piano and Kelvin Sholar played some great piano overdubs on it that gave the track this great live feel. We even recreated the hiss from that old recording and used it as a musical part. The tune stayed with me for a whole year. Always changing and, hopefully, improving. I played this live with my Drumlesson band as well as in my DJ sets and whenever you hear it in a fresh location, you hear something new in the track or feel a different direction.

What's next on the horizon for you?

I will play a lot of concerts and DJ shows starting in Milano next week and then going to Thailand, China, South Korea and back to Germany. I am also working on remixes for club releases and a few one off tracks for different labels. As always, collecting music and ideas.

Where can people find out more about you?

Best in a club or concert venue when I play live. Thats the direct way. See you there...

View upcoming shows on Christians website:

Senin, 03 Maret 2014

Teotima Ensemble "Gloves Off And Interview"

We caught up with Greg Sanders to discuss what was for us undoubtedly one of the albums of the year in 2013. Counting The Ways was the ensembles first LP and was critically acclaimed by the likes of Gilles Peterson as well as a host of jazz and world music connoisseurs.

Stream our favourite track "Gloves Off" and find out more about the band and this excellent project below.

Click below to purchase the album from iTunes.

Links: Bandcamp / Facebook / First Word Records

Tell us a bit about the Teotima Ensemble and how you got this 14 man unit together...

The musicians are all people that I've known for quite a few years through doing music in London - either through playing in the same bands - bands such as Ruby and The Vines, Wara and FUR or just through meeting each other repeatedly at different gigs - mutual friends, seeing each other's bands such as United Vibrations etc. Some of the musicians are people I've been playing with in one form or another since we were 12 / 13 years old! 
In terms of getting the project together, it was done step-by-step. The first step was writing one tune (Counting The Ways), and getting together first with Fabio one of the percussionists to check how it came across to him, then with Ellie the singer to do the same thing, then with a group of drums, percussion, bass, keys, vocals & guitar to see how it felt to actually play it all the way through as a song, and then finally with a full ensemble including horns & strings, just at a rehearsal. The idea was to play that one song all the way through with all the instruments at a rehearsal, and then if it felt good to everyone - I would keep writing, and if it didn't, I'd go back to the drawing board! 
It felt good and everyone seemed enthusiastic so I finished off a second arrangement (Gloves Off), and the next step was to record them both and use them to try and find a label who might be up for releasing a whole album, if one were to be made!

Quite often projects of this size just don't make it to fruition, what helped drive this? The logistics must of been a nightmare!

Yes - it was complicated logistically. There isn't really a special way of doing things like this, I think making something this size happen boils down to planning everything very far in advance and remembering to keep reminding people to reply to your emails and texts! I think it really is as simple as that. And maybe having spreadsheets where you keep a note of who's replied, who hasn't, what they've said etc! Just admin like in any office or organisation really! That first full-band rehearsal where we played through the song Counting The Ways was on 28th Jan 2012, and I was emailing people to organise it right at the beginning of December 2011...

To me the album is 42 minutes of perfection. I love the way that each track could be a single yet it also works flawlessly as an album. How did you go about the writing process?

The writing process was gradual - the first song was started in August 2011, the last one was finished in March 2013, so the writing was happening whilst I was working with other bands and teaching. When I started thinking about this band, I had clear ideas of the different things I wanted from music at that time, and I wasn't hearing any music that seemed to combine these different things. That meant I wasn't really listening to any music for quite a while, or when I did I didn't find it very satisfying. A friend suggested that if I had clear ideas of what I wanted to hear, and nothing else was providing them - I was in a good position to write the thing I wanted to hear! 
These were such things as: 
  • The amazing elegant and deceptively complex grooves of west-african, cuban and Brazilian music. 
  • Powerful and unusual arranging in the style of arrangers such as Gil Evans - whose arrangements have so much identity and character. 
  • Improvisation, but within the forms of strong arrangements - rather than really long solos over a relatively small bit of source material such as in much jazz (although I also love jazz and play that kind of stuff as well!). 
A kind of relaxed or soothing / healing character to the music, for want of a better word. Not that I wanted it to sound like 'post-club classical chill-out', or whale song, but to have some aspect that would be calming and maybe stress-relieving. So this might have come out through the generally medium-to-slow tempos and danceable grooves. 
A kind of juxtaposition of melancholy and sadness, joy and something slightly unsettling. A lot of West-African music, particularly from Guinea, I find has that mix, and I find it really beautiful and amazing.  
I also wanted each piece to have it's own distinct identity but for them all to work well as a whole. I started quite a few different things, and then once I had a bit of music that I thought could be developed into a whole tune, I did that! I also enlisted the help of a couple of other people in the group - Nick Sigsworth one of the violin players wrote the string parts for Darbari (which are amazing). Ellie Rose Rusbridge and I wrote the song Orange Lamps together through a kind of back and forth process - she wrote the song using some chord progressions I put together, and then I wrote the arrangement around her song, checking it with her bit by bit.

The LP is very emotionally charged, full of character and vivid imagery. Was its creation painstaking or did it come naturally?

I'm not sure if I can remember very accurately - I think the answer is both! The source material for each tune - the bit of music I had to start off with, was usually something that had come naturally or had come out of just playing around, not always necessarily trying to write. The painstaking part was writing the arrangements and actually finishing the tunes - it's one thing to have a cool idea, but another thing to turn the cool idea into something with strucure, a good beginning, a good ending, etc! And when you know you're going to have 14/15 musicians playing what you've written, I think you take a lot of care to try and make sure that every single note you've written for every single musician is the best possible thing you could give them to play at that moment, considering all the things that are happening in the tune! 
Obviously with something like that there's never any single definitive best arrangement, I suppose there's an infinite number of best solutions, but also an infinite number of rubbish ones, so you want to make sure you've arrived at one of the best ones!

The stand out track for me is Gloves Off, what was the inspiration behind this one?

The source material, or first bit of music, for this one was the main bass line, the line that starts at 00:57 and comes back in various forms at different points in the song. That bass line came in to my head when I was singing 'Crazy In Love' by Beyonce to myself, whilst cycling home from a friend's house late at night. At first I used the bass line to write a kind of simple jazz-groove tune to play at function gigs etc - something that people could dance to but that we the musicians could also use as a starting point for improvising. At this point the tune basically just consisted of that bass line, and the melody that comes in at 1:19. 
When I started thinking of this band, I thought that that bass line and melody were strong material, and might be a good thing to use to try and write a longer, fuller piece. Then when thinking about structure, I thought about trying to write something using quite a standard structure in classical music which is basically - first theme, variations on first theme, second theme, variations on second theme, first and second theme together. 
This is more or less the structure of the tune, although with some extra bits and bobs along the way.

This project was helped financially via Kickstarter, more and more productions seem to be funded that way, do you see this as an important tool to getting projects like this off the ground? 

Definitely for me! I'm not sure this would have happened without Kickstarter. There are still quite a few arts grants available in the UK for various things, but at the stage I was at (two songs recorded, no live performances, nothing released) it can be quite difficult to successfully apply for funding of the amounts needed to do something like this - for example to spend a week in a studio recording 15 musicians live to tape!

You wouldn't have been able to use Kickstarter five or ten years ago, is this a sign that the traditional record label is dead?

I'm not sure - to me it doesn't seem like the traditional record label is dead - but that might depend on my definition of a traditional record label. To me a traditional record label is a company that makes a huge profit margin on a tiny percentage of it's products, (it just so happens that the product is audio recordings) and loses money on everything else! I think that's still what happens with the major labels - perhaps what's changed is the willingness of record companies to take risks when investing in new artists. As far as I can tell that almost doesn't happen any more - by this I mean any new artist that has significant financial backing from a record label, the kind of amounts necessary to push them into a level of popularity where they can actually make a living solely from that one musical project, is usually one that sounds very similar to most other things that are being released and making that kind of money! Labels feel less and less certain that they might make money on things that sounds noticeably different to anything else! With a few rare exceptions...

One of your incentives in the Kickstarter project was to cook the pledger a feast of foods from around the world, does the fusion that runs through your music also run through your kitchen?

Haha, I think the answer is yes! I live with 6 other people at the moment and we all love food from all over the world. I think we've covered most areas of the globe in our own cooking at one point or another. We also live in an area of London where it's easy to find ingredients from all over the world, which makes things a bit easier!

Your album was clearly a musical highlight for us last year, what were a couple of yours?

The two Flying Ibex albums - Travel in Dangerous Places and Habits, seeing Wayne Shorter and the BBC Concert Orchestra at the 2013 London Jazz Festival was totally beautiful as well as mind-blowing, Shabaka Hutchings and the Sons Of Kemet at the Vortex in early 2013, 'Wires' by the Floating Points Ensemble, seeing a short-lived but amazing band called Wolperdinger play at Word Is Born, probably lots of others I can't remember! Kit Downes 'Light From Old Stars' album launch at the Cockpit was stunning as well.

What is next for the Teotima Ensemble?

Not sure yet! Hopefully loads of gigs in beautiful sunny corners of the world with delicious local produce!
More music will probably come, slowly but surely. I'm having a bit of a rest right now from some of the intense admin and organisational side of things, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I'm back on the treadmill.

As and when there's enough good new music to record, hopefully we'll do that! I did an arrangement of a Joni Mitchell song called 'Rainy Night House' that we played at the Teotima launch gig at Wilton's Music Hall in December 2013, I'd quite like to record that!

Minggu, 23 Februari 2014

Karizma "Beat Tape And Interview"

We caught up with Karizma AKA Kaytronik AKA K2 AKA Kris Klayton for a quick chat about experimental digital distribution, the importance of vinyl, hip hop production and studio equipment.

Karizma is known world wide for his distinctive style of tech infused house music but is just as gifted producing hip hop and future soul. He put this Beat Tape together back in 2005, some of the ideas appeared on Volumes 1 and 2 of "Mind Of It's Own" but many remain unreleased. Watch out for the way he flips "Slowly Surely" by Jill Scott and "Find A Way" by A Tribe Called Quest.

More recently he has released an EP titled “Hear And Now” featuring Osunlade on R2 Records. It is available on limited edition clear vinyl and in a bold move digitally for one month only from 17th February 2014. The EP contains all the elements that make Karizma and Osunlade two of the most soulful producers in house music today, expressive percussion, heartfelt vocals and inspirational chords all wrapped up in the perfect arrangement.

Buy vinyl here: Juno / Piccadilly
Download here: Traxsource / Beatport

Links: Soundcloud / Twitter / Facebook

You have decided to make your latest single available digitally for only one month, why such a short shelf life?

For me its an experiment, we are all so used to getting things quick and fast and as soon as we have it we play it and then forget it, I wanted to see if I made this song available would it even matter because as soon as it becomes available online you can get it for free in a matter of minutes... so like I said just an experiment.

Do you think this will increase people sharing vinyl rips or downloaded copies when it's no longer available to purchase digitally?

We will see, I just like to try new things when releasing music.

It was reported last year that vinyl sales increased whilst digital sales declined for the first time since iTunes was launched, do you see the importance of vinyl returning?

For me the physical is always important, it gives you something to hold, feel and relate to... something to look at!

As well as being a producer you are also a renowned DJ, where do you stand on the vinyl/digital debate?

I don't really stand on it cos at the end of the day if the consumer doesn't realize by now what the situation is with artists and their digital rights, they either don't care or like to stay naive.

What tracks are currently down well in your sets?

Karizma - Hear and Now Featuring Osunlade
Atjazz - Soldiers
Osunlade Featuring Lady Alma - It's House Music (Kaytronik Raw Dub)
Mike Steva - Ova Oro
Karizma - Nuffin Else

You blew up with your track "Twyst This" back in 2006/7. What's the story behind how that got discovered?

"Twyst This" was created in 2006 when I did an edit of the Donnie song Cloud 9 and I looped the Twisted part, this edit caught on and a lot of people started looping that part so I decided to make a full on track of it and that's how it came to be.

How would you describe your style as a producer?

Its the "Whatever" process, I just do what I feel, lay it down and move on to the next thing, I never like to linger on one project too long.

You recently aired on an unreleased beat tape of hip hop ideas, is this something we will hear more of?

Yes all the time cos I'm constantly doing them and other stuff in-between the albums and remixes.

For the tech heads what equipment/software do you use?

Ensoniq ASR-10
Abelton Live 9 Suite
Maschine Studio and Maschine 2 (on the road)
MPC-2500 and 3000

What can we expect from you this year?

Hopefully the "Kollabs" album, Exist Album (with Atjazz) and some remixes of Lady Alma, Detroit Swindle and Pete Moss.

Selasa, 11 Februari 2014

Source Direct "Concealed Identity" Unofficial Video

Another drum and bass post but something that I stumbled on today and totally blew me away. This combines two of my biggest interests and creates a perfect partnership of audio and visual. The sound is taken from the classic album "Exorcise The Demons" by Source Direct whilst the visuals were edited together from the "Lone Wolf And Cub" series.

The nine minute video was made unofficially as a personal project for editor Michael Dring and was posted online in 2013. "Exorcise The Demons" was released via Virgin Records back in March 1998 and captured Jim Baker and Phil Aslett's approach to drum and bass perfectly. Words like "dark" and "deep" are normally used to describe their sound but "cinematic" and "intense" are just as relevant.

This short movie captures what a samurai film would look and sound like if it was scored by two of the scenes heaviest producers.

Links: Source Direct / Michael Dring / Lone Wolf And Cub

Sabtu, 08 Februari 2014

Nasty Habits "Shadow Boxing" (Om Unit Remix)

OK, OK so it wasn't that long ago I announced I would no longer be posting drum and bass on this blog but, out the blue, Doc Scott has kindly added me to the promo list for 31 Records.

First thing I received was a copy of the Shadow Boxing reissue featuring a remix from Om Unit. The EP is released worldwide February 17th 2014 on both vinyl and digital.

I can't think of a time recently where there has been so much negativity towards a drum and bass release but it seems people are quite happy to express their dislike to this latest interpretation of the Doc Scott classic. Om Unit, who runs the Cosmic Bridge label, even got caught up in the reaction to his remix over on the Drum And Bass Arena forum.

As far as my reactions towards the remix I am glad I held back until hearing the mastered WAV. Quite simply any radio rip or YouTube clip you may have heard does not do it justice. Om Unit has produced a very clever remix, he EQ's the distinctive bassline that was once wonderfully overbearing into a hypnotic drone that by the end of the track becomes almost uplifting. The two step drums of the original are replaced with half time beats for the first section until a fresh layer of chopped breaks are added to create a more uptempo finish to the track. Kung Fu samples are used throughout to add to the brooding atmosphere that was popular on tracks by Source Direct and Photek, most notably on The Crane and Ni Ten Ichi Ryu respectively.

Purists may not like it but sonically it is rich with layers, edits and depth.

There were a couple of unofficial Shadow Boxing bootlegs floating around the internet a while ago that where popular among the dub step fraternity but its not until now that someone has done the original justice. Now I have to be honest and say that I was never a massive fan of the original as I was more into the breakbeat side of things and less into the hardstep/two step sound pushed by Grooverider, Ed Rush etc but credit where credit is due the original is still an anthem and has never sounded as good as the remastered version supplied here.

In my opinion Doc Scott is one of the godfathers of Drum And Bass and by putting this mix out he is doing what I believe everyone should be doing, ignoring the negativity, pushing a sound they believe in and supporting the emerging artists of today. It stands proudly alongside recent output from labels like Metalheadz and Exit Records.


Links: Om Unit / Doc Scott / 31 Records Store