DJ Paypal is one of footwork's most fascinating figures. Sold Out is a showcase for everything Paypal can do at 160 BPM, and it taps into the deep lineage of soul, hip hop and jazz that defines the Brainfeeder discography. Paypal hooks up with familiar faces like Teklife members DJ Earl and Taye, and some names outside the world of footwork, including Tielsie and Keiska, who assist on Sold Out's elegiac closing track.
The theory of technological singularity – the notion that humans and computer technology will increasingly blend together - has been explored in many forms of popular culture since it’s conception. Over the past two decades, there has been a larger movement to integrate electronic artists and jazz musicians, often leaving the former as more of a sonic addendum (floating over the music) rather than an integrated part of the ensemble. Tasked with exploring a deeper synthesis of electronic and acoustic players, instrumental quintet Kneebody’s collaboration with electronic musician Daedelus in turn creates a true union of these disparate approaches to music and genre as a whole. The collaboration between Kneebody – keyboardist Adam Benjamin, trumpeter Shane Endsley, electric bassist Kaveh Rastegar, saxophonist Ben Wendel and drummer Nate Wood - and Daedelus had its initial roots planted as far back as high school for old friends Wendel and Alfred Darlington (aka Daedelus). “Often when I lived in LA, I would go to practice saxophone at Alfred’s house in the bathroom next to his studio. He would knock on the bathroom door and say ‘Would you mind playing something on this track?’,” recalls Wendel. “So I ended up being on at least five or six of Alfred’s albums because I happened to be there practicing.“The pair’s early musical kinship in southern California seeded a connection that grew through numerous collaborations, recordings and live performances over the years, coming to fruition in an improvised performance in 2009 at “Jazz A Vienne” between their two primary music vehicles. When Wendel was awarded a composition grant through Chamber Music America based on the theory of technological singularity, it became a catalyst to write a series of pieces that would bridge the gap between the oft-indescribable world of Kneebody and the unique aesthetic of Daedelus.When the quintet entered the studio with Darlington, the other members brought more compositions to the fore. “Ben approached me about trying to realize some of this music that was maybe different from the Kneebody spectacular – where they are always so through composed – and do something that was more intimate,” reflects Darlington. The result is a nine-song set of original music that sits inside the rich pantheon of instrumental music, but with a modern sheen that takes the shape of a multi-headed beast straddling rock, jazz, and electronic music.
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,And study of revenge, immortal hate,And courage never to submit or yield:And what is else not to be overcome?– John Milton, Paradise Lost “My answer to that” explains Lorn, having quoted the words of Satan to his lieutenant Beelzebub, “is "'Nothing Else'". Which is one way to explain that this 23 year old “from the middle of nowhere in Illinois" is not keen on compromise. The second artist album from Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint is a deep, deep, dark and uncompromising suite of music. The only Brainfeeder artist to neither come from or ever to have lived in LA, Lorn has already developed an international following for his music. Now, with “Nothing Else", the musician and artist reveals his debut full length. Epic, melancholic and brutal, it's a record which the listener has to be prepared to immerse themselves in. The rewards make it worth the effort. From the fairground dramatics of “None An Island" through the soundtrack sweep and military momentum of “Army of Fear” the discombobulated atmospherics of “Bretagne” the sheer brute force of the bass on “Automaton” the acid-fried detailing on “Voids" 1 and 2, the woozy migraine-simulacra of “Tomorrow” the off-centre melodic catchiness of “Glass & Silver" and “Cherry Moon” the deconstructed electro of “Greatest Silence" and on to the utterly uncompromsing conclusion of “What's The Use” where an underwater hip hop break smashes up against Hammond and the ghost of a human voice, this is a record which feels like its been hewn from stone. Albeit electronic stone. A remarkable, transcendent achievement, no one who knows anything about him is going to claim that Lorn's life has been easy and nor is his music. Instead it's raw, emotional, angry, beautiful and real.
Brainfeeder’s de facto New Age guru and all-around production wizard, Matthewdavid, returns with a sophomore full-length for the label, an all-inclusive Mindflight entitled ‘In My World’. Unlike prior LP Outmind, which was a largely ambient and inward journey, In My World expands exponentially to a multitude of lavish sound worlds ranging from the lush, vaporous pop dub of the title track, ethereal love jams like “Cosmic Caller” and “Next to You Always”, uncharacteristic IDM breakbeats on “West Coast Jungle Juke”, and a languorously crystallized cover “Perpetual Moon Moods”. Every densely atmo spheric track is liberally punctuated with Low End Theory-approved doses of speaker-rattling sub-bass. The album, for all of its masterful production techniques and intriguing lyrical twists, is held together by a unifying theme of love — the most powerful force in the universe.
Peel back a layer of smog from the LA sky and fold yourself into the blanket of haze. The golden half-light catches glimmers that pass by most eyes. Up here, there are treasures for those who tune in. Matthewdavid operates In this magnetic cocoon, unspooling magic radiance. His music reflects beautiful, fleeting moments and magnifies them. Matthewdavid's compositions float like crackling clouds, antenna amplifying the dreams of the city below. Matthewdavid is a man who builds with warm tones. He travels new paths gathering sounds to enhance the intricate dimensions of his creations. It was this hunt for inspired trails and blazing progress that pulled him to California. Matthewdavid made the move from southern states and was immediately embraced by the Los Angeles community. A willowy figure with wide smiles, his gentle presence and generous talents made him a welcome addition to internationally applauded LA creative circles: dublab, Poo-Bah, Low End Theory and Brainfeeder. Constant collaboration with these collectives helped inspire Matthewdavid to a build a platform of his own. His Leaving Records label has an ear to the next and an eye on the original. Through all these outlets Matthewdavid is dedicated to sharing elevated sounds and visions. The songs unveiled on Outmind are destined for infinite replay. Light, gauzy moments blend with those densely layered. The biggest swing gives way to the slowest sway. These are classic jams obscured in fuzz and fog. Nostalgic jeeps bump invisibly to thumping bass. Outmind was lovingly crafted and resonates with Matthewdavid's heartfelt glow. His music's mysterious simplicity sparks senses. These songs come from far out to resonate within. Rotate your dial to a space between frequencies. Catch these ghost channels of golden pop. Outmind blends familiar rhythms with those lost long ago and others yet to come. Matthewdavid's live performances are akin to watching a sorcerer conjure spirits from the deep. He pulls tones like artifacts from an astral trail that ebbs and flows with fresh discoveries. Along the way Matthewdavid collects exotic sound figures: spiraling amethyst cones and wild flowering buds. He treats each found sound like a bright fiber to be weaved into new waveforms. Outmind pulsates with this sense of constant discovery. It is a mosaic sparkling with mystic, radiant matter. As you listen to Outmind set your ears to slow dissolve. Let yourself be wrapped in warmth and levitate skyward to an elegant high. This is the place Matthewdavid resides and if you want to get into the mindset you must get far far out out.
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Forever a wildcat and wild card, Los Angeles' bassist/songwriter/vocalist Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, is impossible to tame artistically. A true master of his craft, he can be found playing bass with Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu and Suicidal Tendencies, in the same breath as performing live with the likes of Stanley Clarke, Snoop Dogg or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His 2011 solo debut (The Golden Age of Apocalypse, co-produced by Flying Lotus) created an equally genre-blurring enigma of indie rock and jazz, with a touch of electronica. On his second album, Apocalypse, Thundercat pairs up with executive producer Flying Lotus to pull the veil back and reveal the simple truths of the cycle of life, for all its beauty and destruction. An album about loss and rebuilding, trying to gain something back, and capturing that moment of clarity where one finally finds feet back on the ground again. Bringing a fusion of pop, soul, electronica, prog rock and funk into an unexplored dimension, the album slowly descends and tunnels to the core of what it takes to grasp peace, at a time that it seems most far. From the deep, rumbling entrance of 'Tenfold,' each of the 12 tracks coalesce with Thundercat's signature bass, his riffs and basslines gliding sky high to meet Fly Lo's astral touch. Bruner's vocals and harmonies also soar with open honesty, rising above heartbreak with uplifting odes to love and companionship ('Tron Song') and wise mantras to live by ('Special Stage'). The album plays as a comedy and tragedy at the same time, delicately addressing tracks like 'We'll Die' while bringing the all-out cosmic funk of the anthemic 'Oh Sheit, it's X.' As heavy as the lyrical weight may be, the divine musicality of Flying Lotus, and Thundercat's instrumental collaborations, brings light. Navigating dense rhythms and intense harmonic progressions, the LP pushes through the hypnotic strands of 'The Life Aquatic,' the analogue explorations of 'Lotus & The Jondy' (recorded in Adrian Younge's studio with drummer Thomas Pridgen), and Thundercat and Lotus' prog rock jam 'Seven,' a spontaneous improv recording that organically materialized in less than an hour. It's no wonder the kindred pair often refer to their freeform sessions as "going to space." Continually pushing tracks to their furthest point, they take the listener to another place completely - somewhere beyond time, a place that transcends this realm. As the aforementioned track 'Seven' (named for its challenging time signature) asks, "Can you hear the sounds of infinity?"
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Thundercat returns with his first solo material in two years with the mini-album “The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam”. Fans won’t have to wait long for Stephen Bruner—the virtuosic bassist and singer-songwriter behind the Thundercat handle—to unleash the 6-track set. The album sees him returning to the Brainfeeder fold after having already made outstanding contributions to two of the best reviewed albums of 2015 to-date: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. Where the Giants Roam takes listeners on six spiraling excursions to the outer limits of jazz-funk. The follow-up to his sonically adventurous and widely praised second album Apocalypse sees Thundercat team back up with longtime sparring partner Flying Lotus, who co-produced three of the albums tracks. The legendary Herbie Hancock also pops up on keyboards on “Lone Wolf & Cub,” and there are contributions from fellow Brainfeeder family members Kamasi Washington, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Mono/Poly on sax, strings and production respectively.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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