Record Label: Astro Nautico
Hyperspeed jazz drum cut-ups and jolting guitar stabs, meditative sub bass pools and fertile spoken word poetry: these are stained glass panes in the church that is multi-instrumentalist Jon Bap.
What Now?, Bap’s debut album, combs regions of free jazz, funk, hip-hop, gospel, psych rock, drum ’n’ bass, and ambient to form outsider soul music as warm as it is unheard of.
The naturally delirious sound of What Now? began with the drum work of prodigy Mike Mitchell (drummer of Stanley Clarke’s trio). Bap tracked Mitchell’s slinky, spastic drums last year when he passed through Buffalo, Bap’s hometown. Bap sat with the recordings for months listening for nuances within Mitchell’s improvisations before editing the rhythm tracks that became the basis of the oblique pop songs of What Now?.
Lyrically, the album speaks to what it’s like to be an artist in 2016. Bap finds strength in opposition to his process (“It takes a background to have a foreground.”) Yin and yang appear and reappear thematically (called out by name in penultimate track ‘Yin’). ‘Ghost In The Wintertime’ declares that now means now (“I don’t want to waste time / Let’s go”). We all just want to do what we all want to do.
Jon Bap just wants to make music. Beneath choral arrangements, poems of friends in faraway places, field sound collages, and sunfaded surf guitar chords, the heart of What Now? is a bold spiritual interrogation of the present.But the gorgeous instrumental ephemera are ornamental. The question (What Now?) is real.
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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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