Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, June 4

Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren band - Savannah
Linton Kwesi Johnson - Victorious dub
Johnny Osbourne - Budy bye
Black brothers - Give me loving
Candy Mckenzie and the upsetters -Long enough
Junior Murvin and the upsetters - Get ready
Manasseh - Zion city
Richie Phoe - Eyes on the dub
Woima collective - Woima
Charles Bradley  -Why is it so hard?
Chaka Khan  -Life is a dance'
Black blood - Chicano
Gay flamingoes steel band - Catapilla (This song got an interesting response, via text - "What IS this?! just turned the radio on and this is the first thing I hear. I WANT MORE.")
Tom tom club  -Genius of love
Louis Jordan - Aint nobody here but us chickens - DJ Premier remix
Hawk - Dont judge a book by tis cover
Myron and E and the Soul investigators - Cold game
Oddisee - That day feat Muhsinah
Nicolette - Single minded vocal
Barrington Levy - Looking for love
Turntable dubbers - Get lively now - Dreadsquad remix
45nm - Biscuits
Architeq - Birds of dub
Rhythm and sound w Sugar Minott - Let Jah love come
Roots Radics - Babylon wrong
Collen and Webb - Golden
Gil Scott Heron - Lady Day and John Coltrane
Esther Phillips - Home is where the hatred is
Spanky Wilson - Sunshine of your love
The Horne singers - Flat foot

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Riot Riddum live!

Roland (L), Bobbylon. Photo: Sonoma Message. Published in Planet, 1991

Riot Riddum Sound System (2R2S) was based around my old mates Bobbylon and Roland from Hallelujah Picassos, along with guests on the mic such as Termoana Rapley, Paulette Edwards (ex Strawpeople), Pip (Blue Marbles), Tosh (Semi Lemon Kola), Justin and Twitch. Riot Riddum Sound System started out as a side project for them with both DJing and taking turns on the mike, Roland in his gruff style,  and Bobbylon with his melodious 'singjay' style. They recorded on the Deepgrooves label.

They have been approached to spin some tunes in a DJ/MC style this weekend, at the Punky Reggae Party, on Sunday at The Kings Arms. It's been a while since 2R2S stood behind the decks so this should be a lot of fun.

Punky Reggae Party 2011 
FEATURING: The Iron Hammers feat Silva Emcee, The Solomonix + Jah Red Lion, The Lager Louts, The Last Rockers, Atsushi and The Mini Moisties, Riot Riddum Sound System, Earthtone Hi Fi feat Selecto, Printor and El Folio, Obelix, Artofficial, Peter Mac, Dubhead and Iron Will + drink specials and hot food.  
From 3pm $10 /$20 after 6pm


This song below marks their recording debut, and was recorded and produced as part of a marathon nine days of recording sessions fronted by Mark Tierney at the desk.

Eight songs ended up on the debut 'Deep Grooves' compilation release from the Deepgrooves label, which, when it started, was three partners - sound engineer Mark Tierney, Bill Latimer (owner of The Lab recording studio, where the sessions took place) and Kane Massey, who eventually took over the label when the other two partners left.

Other acts on the debut compilation were Sound Foundation, Straw People, Rhythm and business (Daniel Barnes and George Hubbard), Jules Issa (covering Dangerous Game, featured in a previous post), DLT meets the Projector (aka Mike Hodgson, later of Pitch Black), Nemesis Dub System, and Love and bass featuring Christine Fuemana.

The compilation is a landmark recording for capturing the incredible hiphop/reggae musical collisions going on in clubs and parties across central Auckland at the time, predating the Welly dub scene by at least a decade. It's vitally important music that for the most part hasn't dated in  the least. And it's sadly out of print.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pitch Black rarities and goodies

Out June 13, a swag of remixes and rarities from Pitch Black. Preview below. You get Pitch Black remixing Salmonella Dub, Katchafire, Tiki and others, plus the very first track Mike and Paddy ever worked on together, The Wanderer, from 96.

There's also a free live album from Pitch Black on Bandcamp too. Grab it here.

Mo Oddisee

Oddisee dropped his Odd Seasons album recently. To celebrate, he's offering a few bonus instrumentals for free download.
Support the new Oddisee album at itunes and ughh and Fat Beats and emusic. Vinyl coming soon!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SJD - City of lost souls

(originally published in Pavement magazine, 2001)

SJD is the musical alias of one Sean J Donnelly. His second album Lost Soul Music, is one of the most entrancing records you will hear this year. It's a deliciously melodic blend of electronica, funk, soul, lounge, and odd dash of folk loopiness. It's incredibly hard to pin down just what it's appeal is, but it's totally irresistible.

Donnelly released his debut album 3 under his own steam back in 1999, and his follow-up Lost Soul Music has been picked up by Round Trip Mars Records, responsible for albums by Phase 5 and the Sideways compilation, which featured SJD. Label maestro Stinky Jim was positively frothing at the mouth when he told me about Lost Soul Music. I recall his words were something like "It's the ships biscuits, it's just brilliant".

Clearly his label has the faith, so how does Donnelly view the finished product? "I'm happy with it, in a confused sort of way. I'm not entirely used to it yet." It's only two days since the album was finished when I talk with Donnelly. "I've only heard it through a couple of times. I think it's probably quite good, but I'm still getting used to it", he says, humbly.

Lost Soul Music is the product of eighteen months solid work for Donnelly. "At the beginning of that year and a half, I had a lot of things I wanted to do, and to turn those ideas into coherent pieces of music tends to take quite a while. I can create music quite quickly. Sometimes when you've just got ideas, when you set out and actually do them, it can sound quite contrived. So, it took that long to be able to create organic sounding pieces of music out of them."

Even though his music uses electronica as a starting point, he doesn't see himself as working in the dance genre; "For me it's much more about writing songs, really, using the idioms of dance music and electronica as part of that process." With the title, Lost Soul Music, Donnelly says he was trying to describe the kind of music that he wanted to hear. "It's very ambiguous, and I guess for me, a lot of the music that influenced me on this was gospel music. I wanted to make a kind of gospel music, that someone who's an agnostic might make, maybe trying to find something spiritual in everyday life. And it's the lost soul thing: I'm a lost soul, like everybody else, I guess.

" There's the kind of music I'm making. It's a quality in music that I really really admire, but it's very difficult to describe, it's the quality of lostness. It's something that sounds really familiar, but somehow you missed it, or you've just found it., some weird unpolished gem. I love discovering those things, like some weird old Kraftwerk track, or some strange Syd Barrett song. And as difficult as it is to aim to make that kind of music, I hoped that some of my music would have that quality. In one sense they're songs, in another sense they're movies for the ears. I'd like the album to be like something that people could sit down and listen to like they might watch a movie". Cinematic Soul Music, anyone?

Tone tone tone

Benny Tones (Electric Wire Hustle's studio producer) has some fine remixes off his debut album going for free download over at Soundcloud, or listen below. Warning - they're huge wav files. Off the forthcoming album Chrysalis Remixes, from Benny Tones, out August 24.

Benny Tones - Fire Fly feat. Mara TK (Opiuo's So Strong In 2008 Remix) by Benny Tones

Benny Tones - On My Way feat. MaraTK (fLako Remix) by Benny Tones

Benny Tones - Odyssey feat. LP (Kamandi Headspin Remix) by Benny Tones

Phase five....

Stinky Jim and Angus McNaughton are PHASE 5....
the artists formerly known as Soundproof)

Originally published in Lava Magazine, October 1998

Soundproof, the dynamic duo of DJ Stinky Jim and studio boffin Angus 'Mo Delay' McNaughton join HDU for their tour this month (Oct 98). Soundproof are the dub demons responsible for one of the remixes on HDUs latest Flying Nun release Higher++. Angus and Jim have worked together previously in Unitone Hifi. Peter McLennan dropped around to the Basque Liberation Front HQ for the lowdown ...

Go Angus, says Jim. You better say something in this interview. Angus agrees. Yeah, okay. What was the question?

How did Soundproof come about....

it came out of some of the songs that Jim and myself were writing together, and out of the demise of Unitone Hifi. We still wanted to work together. Im sitting with Soundproof, faced with the not inconsiderable task of discovering whats going on in the lives of two our our most illustrious beat merchants.
Okay boys, lets hear it. Whats the difference between Unitone Hifi and Soundproof?

Oh, about an orchard worth of fruit, Id say, laughs Jim. Well, weve moved on in the last year or two says Angus. Weve certainly dropped the emphasis on dub music Jim concurs. With Soundproof, theres still a huge reggae element, thats always going to be there in our music, and a dub element, in as much as the mixing desk is an instrument and is a part of the whole creation process, but with Soundproof I think were able to stretch it further, all over the place. Judging by the reaction weve had from Europe, the one thing people cant deal with is that the variety of what were playing is so wide. Were talking about people at labels who release music that I find unclassifiable, and they cant classify what were doing. Theres a lot more interesting tempo elements, and time signatures. Were not beholden to a four, four mentality.

Okay, so, what is the rhythm style?

Jim: Theres a lot of Bossa Nova in there.

Angus: It emerged on Box Juice, (which features Daddy Dom from The Peter Stuyvesant Hitlist getting saucy on the Hammond organ). That was developed from a breakbeat we were chopping up, recycling (ah, so theyre greenies!), and it worked so well we tried it on a couple of other tunes.

Jim: And people love it. Its an instant head nod.

Ahhh, its becoming clearer. After the no-boundaries approach of Unitone, Soundproof have developed a fresh approach to writing, one thats less lateral, more focused.

Jim: In the time that weve been going, we could have probably released an album if we were working in the mindset we had with Unitone, which was get enough stuff together and chuck out an album. With Soundproof, were amassing the material, then well decide how well deal to it. Were putting down a track, then doing a rough mix of it, living with that a bit, then mixing it. Its a bit more of a considered approach. At the same time, were trying to avoid overworking a track.

So thats how they do it... when can we expect a Soundproof release?

Were going to put an ep out ourselves on 12 inch vinyl says Jim. Weve got a track on a compilation called Son Of Bastard Tracks, on Rockers Hifis label Different Drummer.
Theres a Digidub remix coming out, and theres another track on a French compilation called Wreck This Mess. Thats been the plan, to put out things on complations or remixes, that allows other people to go out and promote us without us having to do that hard work ourselves, and that is the hardest part, getting out there in Europe.
If we'd tried to just put out an ep out straight away, it wouldnt have stood a chance. Its the value of association, people pick it up and see Moody Boyz, Rootsman, and maybe read the small print and go, oh, a track from New Zealand, whats this? Getting your work alongside all these other people who we know of and respect, it gives you a level playing field to have a look at what you do.

Any response from the major record companies?

Yeah, which is odd, cos it never happened with Unitone, but were telling them to wait until were ready. Its really interesting, that when people cant have something they suddenly really want it. But, its not like were ever going to do a cd single and try to hawk it round the country, and do gigs in towns we don't even particularly want to visit, like Christchurch.

Oi! exclaims Mainlander Angus, rising from his chair, and for a moment it appears Soundproof are about to become a solo act.

Okay, enough tomfoolery, Ive got one more question. Whats Soundproof live all about?

Well, the plan is to emulate the studio setup... Its important or us that there are things we can manipulate live says Jim, that its not just a press play, sit back and skin up scenario, much as that would be quite nice, and if anyone wants to pay us to do that were more than happy! But there has to be some element of live music in there. Playing with HDU, that hybrid, cross pollination concept, will be great. We really enjoyed remixing their track Lull. We love that track. Im amazed that more people havent done it, you know, this sort of gig. People arent pushing it at all.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Nomad... spelled backwards is Damon

Originally printed in Lava Magazine, November 1999

"I spent about a year writing the tracks, without any set idea in mind of how I wanted it to come out" says Daimon Schwalger, aka The Nomad, phoning from his new base in Wellington.

When I make a track, I get the beats down, a few atmospherics, then I lay down the bass, a vocal, then I sit down for a week and do the arrangements. There's lots of jams, and taking it somewhere that you don't really know it's gonna go, experimenting. He's talking about his new album, Second Selection, which he put together over the course of a year in hometown Christchurch.

"It's all gelled pretty well. The album's quite diverse, but it has a similarity of sound. Does that make sense?"

It makes perfect sense. Second Selection is an album full of dubwise downtempo delights, with beats guaranteed to tickle the eardrums of the nation right through the coming summer and beyond. It features contributions from Pearl Runga, MC Antsman from Beats N Pieces, and Tiki Taane, he who makes Salmonella Dub sound so phat, assists with the mix, and Farda P from recent tourists Rockers Hifi also pops in.

The result is a much different sound from the first Nomad effort, Movement,, which delved deep into the realm of dark drum n bass. Why the shift ?

"Well, people change. As much as I love drum n bass, I love trip hop and dub more. That's the style of music I'm into right now. Drum n bass is very influenced by dub anyway. I've been into down groove stuff for about ten years now. When I make a track, I get the beats down, a few atmospherics, then I lay down the bass, a vocal, then I sit down for a week and do the arrangements. There's lots of jams, and taking it somewhere that you don't really know it's gonna go, experimenting. Then editing it all down."

Daimon recorded the album in his home studio. He is also responsible for the album's artwork posters, and very cool stickers. He's very much a one man band. I ask him why he likes working this way. "Well, I'm a control freak!" he says, laughing. "Basically I recorded and produced the record, did the artwork, organised the album tour, because ultimately, I'm in it for the music and I've been doing it for ten years, and it's really important to me. I've got to hold onto that creative control, I've got to make sure its being represented in the way I want."

Must be a lot of work. Why do you do it? "I guess it's like eating; it's just what I do, y'know? I've been doing it for about 11 years now. I'm not doing it to become famous or make lots of money, it's more of a lifestyle. Getting into the studio with friends and busting out a track, I just love it. It's a huge passion of mine. I don't watch TV, I don't go to a lot of films, I just spend a lot of my time at the computer, inventing and creating music, trying to make something that's more of a deeper thing, rather than just cheesy lyrics and dodginess..."

Black Seeds : V2.0

Originally published in NZ Musician magazine, 2001.

Wellington band The Black Seeds launched themselves onto the unsuspecting public last year with the release of their acclaimed debut album 'Keep On Pushing'.

Mixing up reggae and ska, these skanking folk set off round the country to play live, cashing in on their reputation as Wellington's ultimate good time party band. Having spent most of this summer playing at festivals around NZ, including The Gathering and the Raglan Reggae Sunsplash, the Seeds are now resting up.

Their latest release due out February (as yet untitled "but we'll decide on the name soon" say the band) is a remix collection of tracks from their debut album, sliced and diced by the likes of 50Hz, Jet Jaguar, Son Sine, DJ Mu, Ebb, House of Shem and more. I meet up with Barnaby Weir (guitar, vocals) and Shannon Williams (bass) from the band for a chat.

The Black Seeds' line-up usually runs to seven members with Bret McKenzie on keys, Daniel Weetman on percussion, Rich Christie on drums, Toby Laing on trumpet and Mike Fabulous on guitar and percussion. Soundman Lee Prebble is counted as their eighth member. The Black Seeds started out in 1998, growing from a three piece, to a four piece, then a five piece "... and now we're a family pack!" exclaims Barnaby.

The lads see the remix album as a logical extension of Keep On Pushing, which was released in June last year by Loop Recordings Aotearoa, with distribution through Border Music.

"Our biggest success came with a remix," observes Shannon. "We weren't that happy with the original version of Keep on Pushing, and our soundman Lee remixed it, and it sounded so much better. The remixes for the new album we've heard so far have been awesome."

"The thing is people that aren't into the rawness of our live show or the sound of the CD, might be into a 50Hz or a Jet Jaguar take on it, you know? There's plenty of people round Wellington who are keen (to remix a track), so its like, sweet, let's put them out as a remix album," says Barnaby.

Both Shannon and Barnaby work at Radio Active, where a lot of local musicians pass through, making it easy to hunt out potential remixers. "It was mainly either friends or contacts through people we know," says Barnaby.

Remix participants got to choose their own songs from the album. Barnaby says they were quite lucky, as nobody chose the same song. "We didn't have any double ups." The remixers were given the music in the format of their choice, mostly as an unmixed Pro Tools session with all the music, or a few bars of various instruments on DAT tape. Most of the remixers used Pro Tools or some form of PC-based software for the remix.

Shannon sees the aim of the remixes is "... about getting different people into it, like some people who might be put off by the reggae thing. Cafes like this one (gesturing to our surroundings) have greatly helped that sort of music. As much as I like Kruder and Dorfmeister, that stuff is all nicely played and produced, but it gets a bit like musical wallpaper after a while. Hopefully our remixes aren't going to be like that!"

"I don't think they will," reassures Barnaby. "It's also good for radio play as well. Programme directors that might not be into the sound on our first release might be much more into that other electronic sound. Remixing is an art form in itself, its about taking things one step further, like with dub music or versions, keep taking it as far as you can."

"Plus, from a really basic point of view, it's great to hear what other people can do with the songs," adds Shannon.
They hint that their next album, which they will begin recording later this year, will showcase more diverse styles from the first, adding in some funk and latino influences into their reggae-fied mashup. They also intend to work in some more raw, live moments into the recording. "Lately we've been having a fair few of those 'magic moments' while playing live, rather than in the rehearsal room," says Barnaby. "It'd be great to bring in some of that on the next record."

What's in a remix then?

The art of the remix originated in Jamaica, when reggae producers such as King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry started reworking their recordings for the B side of a single (known as a Version). Reworking the A side in strange and new ways, dropping out the vocal and adding effects and dubbing them out, hence the label 'dub'. Remixes developed further in the disco scene in New York in the '70s, and led on to some lame 'dub' remixes in the '80s from the likes of Human League and Flock of Seagulls.

Remixes have developed into a major marketing tool for the music industry, lending songs a previously unheard-of credibility from the purchase price of a big-name remixer and their 'sound'. Take the example of U2 and their oh-so-ironic 'Zooropa' phase, with their achingly hip remixes from the likes of Paul Oakenfold and David Morales, giving the band nightclub cred where previously the only time you heard U2 in a club was on Retro night.

But beyond the dollar signs are the creative possibilities offered by a remix. Opening up your song to reinterpretation by another musician can push your own music in new and unusual directions. It requires a fair degree of trust that your music will be treated sympathetically. Wanna get remixing?

Paddy Free
plays keyboards in renowned electronica dub-freak duo Pitch Black. He is also a dab hand in the studio, having produced numerous remixes for a variety of local acts including Stellar*, Supergroove and Salmonella Dub. He also held down the producer's seat on the latter outfit's highly acclaimed album 'Inside the Dub Plates'. He has done three or four remixes with Pitch Black musical partner Mike Hodgson. Paddy says how he starts work on a remix depends on a few key elements.

"Sometimes it's a remix with a target like radio play, and sometimes I'm given free rein, or it's simply for a different mix on a B side. If they're after radio play, I like to think of myself as like a tour guide, going along highlighting the main features. It's short attention span theatre, you just keep putting new things in front of the listener to hold their attention. But if it's an open brief, I'll approach it more from a sonic point of view."

The gear needed to do a remix is much easier to work with these days than when Paddy started out down the studio path. He recalls one of the first remixes he ever did, for Supergroove. "I had a sampler that only had eight meg of memory, and the vocals took up 30 meg, so I had to keep loading them up, then dumping them to tape, so I didn't hear the remix til I'd finished it!"

"Nowadays that's all much easier. As far as gear to do a remix, you can do it all inside a reasonably well set up audio computer with Pro Tools, Logic Audio or Cubase. Remixes are really suited to that desktop audio production setup." He notes that there's often a different head space when doing a remix for friends as opposed to a straight out commissioned work. "With your mates, you've seen them live, and so on. With Salmonella Dub, I've done about half a dozen radio edits and remixes for them, which is because I've got that poppy mindset that they need for that."1

Sunday, May 29, 2011

High Noon Tea playlist, May 29

Replays on Friday 2-4pm NZT. Stream it here online

Electric wire hustle - Gimme that kinda
Unitone Hifi - Hang on - Kinky electric noise remix
Ras Stone meets the Dub Terminator - Love you so much
Salmonella dub - Platetechtonics
The Yoots - Tutira mai
Stinky Jim - Triple agent
Myele Manzanza - Me I know him
Lewis McCallum - New someone
Lord Jackson - Chillem inst
Christoph El Truento - Talons
Kora - Politician
Kevvy Kev - Tribute
Dub connection - Mike quality
Pitch black - Flex
Fat Freddys Drop - Hope - Mkl vs Soy Sos remix
Nuvonesia - Mr Mumra
Bic Runga - Something good - Submariner remix feat the Feelstyle
Riki Gooch - Bakade varor
Mighty Asterix -Sweetest girl
Jefferson Belt - Skylurking
Loudhaler - Nylon
Dr Tree - Eugino D

Weary blues

I ain’t saying I didn’t invent rapping,” says Gil Scott-Heron. “I just cannot recall the circumstances.” 

From Weary Blues, an interview with him from New York magazine, 2008.

In 2008, Heron was playing a show with rapper Mos Def and his band, and was out on parole, trying to make a comeback... his output from 1970 to 1982 - 13 albums. At the time of the interview, he'd managed one album since 82.

"... He was paroled early in May 2007 after serving ten months for violating a plea bargain at the upstate Collins Correctional Facility, but he was picked up for a parole violation last October.

Now out on parole again, he says he’s trying to stay clean (“I’m doing my best”), but he remains unrepentant. “I had some cocaine in my pocket. They should have left me alone,” he says. “In England, they would have took it and gone on home.”

He’s been HIV-positive for several years and says his health has improved, but he recently was hospitalized (he jokes, “the old one was all used up, so they gave me pneumonia”). He’s lost weight recently; his black jeans barely hang on to his hips. He still smokes, Marlboro Reds.

Nonetheless, he’s trying to make a comeback, though he knows it’s a long shot (“It’s like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. He may get in a shot or two, but … ”). He’s assembled some of his old bandmates to record a new album, he’s playing some shows this summer, and he’s finishing his long-stalled book project, The Last Holiday, which chronicles how he and Stevie Wonder hit the road together in the eighties on a mission to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday..."

The New Yorker also has an indepth interview with Heron from August last year, which is free today only, temporarily non-paywalled. Heron smokes crack openly in front of the interviewer...

excerpt ...
“I’m trying to stay out of traction,” he said. “I feel like I got a piece of gravel up at the top of my spine.” He lit the propane torch and touched the glass tube to his lips. “Ten to fifteen minutes of this, I don’t have pain,” he said. “I could have had an operation a few years ago, but there was an eight-per-cent chance of paralysis. I tried the painkillers, but after a couple of weeks I felt like a piece of furniture. It makes you feel like you don’t want to do anything. This I can quit anytime I’m ready.”

He touched the flame to the tube. “I have a novel that I can write,” he said next. “It’s about three soldiers from Somalia. Some babies have been disappearing up on 144th Street, and I speculate later on what happened to them and how they might have been got back. These guys are dead, all three, and they have a chance in the afterlife to do something they should have done when they were alive.” He raised the torch, then paused and said, “I have everything except a suitable conclusion.”

ADDED Just found these live recordings of Gil Scott Heron via Musical Meanders blog, hat tip to Simon Grigg...

Gil Scott-Heron - Live at the Village Gate (1976)
Gil Scott-Heron - Live at the Bottom Line (1977)
Gil Scott-Heron - Live at Berkeley (1978)
Gil Scott-Heron - Live at Glastonbury (1986)

Calfornia Jamming

Spotted at From Fela to the Funk... "At the old Ontario Motor Speedway, April 1974 - 300,000 fans attended this huge rock festival, produced by ABC". Four vids, here's two of em...

From the same concert, Rare Earth

And some interviews with the fans...