Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hood - Cold House (2001)

UK based ambient post rock glitch. I sense a pattern of interesting night driving music and after Penpal this is another great entry. Some songs are a bit aphex twin lite others have a great indie rock feel. Roping them all together are excellent wispy vocals.  Cold House, while an earlier work of theirs is (in my opinion) one of their best. Open wide.

Cold House

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Troop of Echoes

Many rock groups "feature" "odd" instruments from time to time. Horns crop up, violins and piano are among the chosen favorite to spice up a group needing a push into the "interesting" direction. This brings me to the group we have before us, Providence RI 's post-rock crew A Troop of Echoes. They are not in the above mentioned category. Before I go any further let me just say there is an amazing level of instrumentation going on here and things are kept to the 9th degree of propulsive rock n roll. Stripped to just the main guitar, bass and drums this group would fair just fine, now enter saxophone. NOT FEATURING. Dude rips on sax and is right there front and center flying through scales and adding that lead instrument that it was always destined to be. This has been in fairly heavy rotation on my car trips for work.  Highly impressed with this 2010 release and expect more to come from these guys.

Days in Automation

Funky/Awesome Drummer Challenge - Da Purdie Shuffle

Something of a rite of passage when it comes to developing your chops and demonstrating competency with tasteful grooves and shifting subdivisions, the so-called "Purdie Shuffle" is one of the defining rhythms in modern music since the 70's, when Bernard Purdie was laying down the law for Steely Dan. All y'all drummers out there can surely attest to the fiendish subtleties that make this rhythm so smooth, so rich, so fulfilling; certainly it can't be mastered in a day or even a year. But anyway, as a sub-challenge to this Drummer Challenge, I want anyone to post their favorite example of this famous beat.

To start us off we got:

GrĂ¼vis Malt - Simon - Water Closet by Carved in Clouds

Oooof. So sick, keeping that shuffle time while nailing the bass punctuation with rack-tom accents. A wonderfully dynamic recording of one of my favorite drummers, Scott Mcphail, who sadly isn't working in music anymore to my knowledge.

As a bonus:

Battling The Years by Carved in Clouds

Reign of Kindo's Stephen Padin just dominating the kit per usual.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Funky....Awesome Drummer Challenge - Cameron Wisch

Thanks for renaming the challenge Ninko so I can once again bring up my favorite current drummer, Cameron Wisch of Zona Mexicana. You could compare him to the new school of hyper fast math drummers in league with Zach Hill (Hella) and Vince Rogers (formally Tera Melos) though i dont think thats fair. Each has their own area of expertise. Hill enjoys breaking out of the will of the composition and using his drums less as an addition to the piece but as a lead instrument along with the guitar. Vince since Drugs to the Dear Youth has been a free-jazz math rock assassin.
      Wisch in his playing you can clearly tell his classical music training. Not to say it feels less organic, far from it in fact. Every stroke is calculated and perfectly form fit for the exact place in the music. His fills and flourishes are all based around accents from the guitar and bass.  Another important piece to Wisch's playing style is his use of hi-hat. I can not name a rock drummer that uses the hi-hat like Wisch. he has a large love of incorporating syncopated beats using only the hi-hat itself even or mixing it up. I can tell you this is not an easy thing to do. Also of note is stage presence which Cameron does better than most. There is a balance a drummer must strike while playing live. You want that compact wrist control but not at the sake of losing the visual presence and power of your strokes. Again Wisch strikes perfection in his control of stick height as well to gain speed through a composition.  I could go on all day really but watch the video in any event.

ps. at 4.35 a classic post-hardcore break down occurs and for some reason its never sounded that good to me ever.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Funky Drummer Challenge - Can (Jaki Liebezeit)

I'm not going to go into too much detail because I already talked about this cat in one of my mixes, but Jaki laid down so many iconic funk-rock grooves like he owned the genre. Yeah, yeah, he was cribbing from Mr. Stubblefield with a dash of Mitch Mitchell, but not only was he an unstoppable time-keeper, he eventually transformed this style into a pummeling-but-flowing masterpiece of oceanic grooves. The choicest cuts are probably on Tago Mago, but it's just sacrilege to be talking about the illest beats and not drop some "Vitamin C".

Madlib Sampler

I have mentioned before that Madlib is one of the most daunting blog posts i could think of, with his crazy amount of amazing work to explain, and i was quite unsure how to approach such a lengthy endeavor. So at this point in time, i have decided to drop a Sampler Post of a few songs from his various works. Madlib is the definition of prolific. I dont think the man spends a waking moment thinking of anything besides music. He is smart, silly, creative and unstoppable, and he does all the heavy lifting alone.

First, The Return of the Loop Digga from his Quasimoto album, The Unseen. Quasimoto is a studio invention of his, an alternate persona that talks about all the stereotypical things in a hip hop song. Throughout the Unseen, madlib and quasimoto rhyme and converse with each other, the ultimate example of one producer taking on the voices of both the producer and audience he is writing for. In Loop Digga, quasimoto emplores madlib to rhyme about his experiences as a music lover who wants to produce his own sound. It turns into a skit with Quasimoto playing the role of an employee at a record shop where madlib is looking for some albums to pick up. Its a hilarious scene, especially when madlib questionably replies to quasimotos recommendation, "simon herris breaks?". In the third section, madlib goes on the offensive, talking about the very music he was currently creating.

Next, from his Madvilliany collaboration with MF Doom, Fancy Clown. This is another classic album, just madlib working with a great MC and sampling all kinds of great beats and melodies. The vocals that start the song, and then accent the verses and chorus, are so nicely rooted in awesome oldschool R&B. This track showcases his consistent ability to include his classic jazz and oldies influences with his current abilities in the hip hop world.

Next, from his album Shades of Blue, Slims Return. This shit straight qualifies for the Sick/Funky Drummer Challenge, for sure. Blue Note Records decided it would be a good idea to give madlib exclusive access to their entire library. Blue Note Records is a company that was a landmark in jazz production through the 50s and 70s. They wanted him to make a hip hop album for jazz cats, and a jazz album for hip hop lovers. For madlib, this was no big deal. With a professional jazz trumpeter for a father, his knowledge stretched far within and beyond Blue Note, and having access to more of
their master tapes just enabled him to assemble a cleaner sound.

And finally, i wanted to end with another song from the Lord Quas album The Unseen. madlib was putting out some incredibly creative songs on the Unseen, tracks with many different sections and narrators, but in Astro Black he kept it straight to the point; catchy ass chill jam action.

Funk Drummer Challenge-Ebu Gogo

First i suppose i should clarify and possibly change the criteria/ name of this posting challenge. We could easily change it to the Sick Drummer Challenge and no one would have any qualms with it. Lets just say to post songs with drum parts that kicks your ass especially hard, be it funk, emo, classical, neofusion, whathaveyou. I submit tonight my second entry to the challenge, one of my all time favorite drum and bass breakdowns.

British Knights in Miami by ninko

This is an Ebu Gogo track off their album Worlds, one of my favorite albums in the last few years, and an especially sentimental favorite since the permanent hiatus of Gruvis Malt. Once the band had ended, Ebu Gogo was borne from their love for creating fun music together. British Knights in Miami is so damned sick and groovy. It starts simply enough with that bass line, but it spreads out and tightens up when the drums and keys enter, forming a nice groovy A section. An appropriately badass chorus comes in, but then soon, at 1:13, the sickness begins. The keys take main melody with a very precise catchy line, but in the background the bass and drums are working spectacularly together, accenting chords and harmonies that the keys are hitting. The unison work that the rhythm section adds to the chords the keyboards are hinting at mixes into a incredibly solid funky ass shitstorm. I love this track.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Funky Drummer Challenge - Minutemen

It is no secret around the swords that I am not a large fan of funk. This is not to say I cant enjoy it just that my funkiness training is lacking. I want to throw George Hurley of Minutemen into the ring for the Funky Drummer challenge. That's right the 80's politico punk funk rockers themselves. In the 80's there was very little to compare them to and as far as drummers go especially in the hardcore filled era many drew inspiration from George's shifting drum styles. One thing is for sure, every drum lick this man did had pure funk flowing through him.

Just check out this video for "Maybe Partying will Help" jesus those magic flowing locks!

Double Nickels on the Dime

Seriously one of the greatest releases of the 80's

Funky Drummer Challenge

Yes, this is a challenge to my fellow bloggers at Plenty o Swords. I want us to engage in an escalating battle of video/ song posts of the funkiest drummers we can find in our vast histories of music loving. Im talking about those funky beats that get you grooving deep in the pocket. I had a few funky numbers in mind, but decided to go with one of the more classic options, Clyde Stubbfield from James Browns outfit in the Sex Machine era. Sex Machine is a great album, and Clydes drumming is so tight with the bass and driving the entire band forward the whole concert.

If you don't want to listen to the entire awesome track, the funky drumming im talking about starts at about 4:30. James Brown was known for being very strict with his band as a conductor, penalizing them for miscues while they rehearsed and demanding perfection with following the vocal instructions he would give to his band, such as his famous "hit me now" for the horns entering throughout this song. Dude was a nasty dancer, and would choreograph the length of his performances by feeling, having the band rehearse his various cues for new sections or harmony. Clyde is another piece to do his bidding, and at 4:30 he instructs the entire band to drop out except for the congo player. He starts chanting over the simple beat, "clap your hands/ stomp your feet.. in the jungle brother". He brings us back to basics, but before long, he quietly looks back and says "clyde", and clyde enters so smooth with his funky ass shit. Then Bootsy joins in, and the song goes to its outro. So nasty.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It will not come as news to many that Squarepusher is one of the best IDM producers working. His songs are typically lush and melodic, with emphasis on outlandish super beats. He works in a lot of drum and bass, filling the space around it with nice warm pads and cool melodic synths. Dude works almost completely from his computer, but before he was producing his mindbending electronica, he was playing shitloads of bass. He usually preforms live with his laptop and bass, and his extensive jazz training certainly shines through in his harmonies.

This is a track from Ultravisitor, his most acclaimed work. Iambic 9 Poetry starts off as a live performance of a solo bass song, and then he overdubs some live drums and brings it to the studio where he fleshes out the repeating melody with lots of neat layers.

The biggest chunk of his work is all in-studio, so I feel like that isn't a proper representation of his sound. Most of his stuff is like My Red Hot Car, off his album Go Plastic. Just straight sick drum and bass with some nice sample cutting. Such intricate button pushing.

I dropped Ultravisitor for a link to get you started on his library, and figured i would include his Solo Electric Bass album as well, for those who might want to look at the musician behind the computer screen. And i do warn you, it is seriously virtuoso solo bass guitar.

solo electric bass

Maps & Atlases

Maps & Atlases have had a very interesting rise and progression as far as math-pop bands go. With each release they have managed to dramatically scale back their math element and up their pop sense. While some might disagree, their greatest release marked them as a young and energetic band willing to make mistakes but also try some new things along the way. This album was Tree, Swallows, Houses and it features some amazing rhythmic gymnastics along with searing math pop guitars. Granted Dave Davison's vocals had yet to develop true strength as on You and Me and the Mountain or Perch Patchwork but they are good never the less. This is not to say they are inferior albums just not as adventurous. Check them all out to get a taste but I can almost bet dollars to donuts you will be coming back for tree, swallows, houses. Also of note their drummer is magically sack nasty. This fact will be evident within 4 seconds of any of their songs being played, thank you goodnight.

Edit: Ok so I dont mean to sound like such a grumpy bum. You and Me and the Mountain is pretty rump rocking and the production is light years better than tree, swallows, houses.

Rooftops - A Forest of Polarity

There might be about a million reasons why I can not stand the genre term "twinkle daddies" I'm fairly positive you can choose your own adventure on that one. Anywho, Rooftops are amazing. They play highly melodic math influenced instrumental indie rock. Sounds like a lot of whats out there on paper, but yes you'd be making an erroneous assumption.  This is some chilled shiz and even at its most complex structurally and instrumentally it retains a fun bouncy sensibility. What these folks do better than most is too not crowd their songs with useless wanking. I mean I enjoying useless wanking as much as the next guy but it gets old fast when everyone is about how many beats per measure you can fit into a song featuring alternating 19/16, 21/16 time signatures*. Back to the point however is that everyone should be checking out these guys. They also have a split they did which is super awesome as well.

*by the way the song that features those time signatures is Frank Zappa's "Keep it Greasy"

A Forest of Polarity