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.
Brainfeeder will release the debut album, Fool, from Dutchman Jameszoo. Described by the producer as "naive computer jazz", despite features from two bona fide legends - namely legendary jazz pianist and bandleader Steve Kuhn and Brazilian composer and arranger Arthur Verocai - it's a record that fits perfectly into the label's expanding take on the modern evolution of jazz music, following outings by Kneebody & Daedelus, Thundercat and Kamasi Washington. Across its 11 tracks, Fool plays out Van Dinther's journey to find a musical voice he can be proud of and which can also inspire others. Alongside Verocai, Dafé, and Kuhn, the album features a stellar cast of classical and jazz musicians including pianist Niels Broos, drummers Julian Sartorius and Richard Spaven, bass guitarists Raphael Vanoli and Stephen Bruner (aka Thundercat), and saxophonist John Dikeman. All of these different contributions and approaches are weaved together into a whole by Van Dinther, armed with electronics and naivety. At times coherent, at times seemingly haphazard, the album is always joyful. "I tried to create something that is both tradition and me fooling around," he explains. "There is something to be said for both sides of the spectrum. If we always remain in tradition there will be no evolution."
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“I think it’s safe to say Jeremiah Jae is one of my favorite artists of his generation. For years now I’ve been a witness to the incredible progression of his craft. This album has a complex dedication and honesty that I search for in myself with my own art. Underrated and understated, Jae is ready to show these muhfuckers what’s really good. Believe in Jeremiah Jae” – Flying Lotus It’s truly apt that Raw Money Raps opens with Jeremiah Jae hazily reminiscing about awakening from an especially chimerical journey. After a kaleidoscopic grip of beat tapes, EPs and mixtapes that have sent wi-fi connections rumbling, as well as a move from windswept Chi-city to the home of his Brainfeeder crew in LA, Jae unveils his sprawling debut full-length release. More than just an album, this is an all-encompassing Pynchonian, Tumblr-feeding, social networked art-rap fever dream. A seismic collision of the analog and digital worlds makes for deceptively hooky beats that double as sonic rabbit-holes, all of which cradles Jae’s flow – which is a versatile instrument all it’s own, skipping from rapid, focused deliveries to surprising melodic sing-a-longs then chopped-and-screwed slump and stream of consciousness brainfloods. To be a young producer and MC in 2012 is no easy task, however with style and substance in short order and internet democratization run-rampant, there’s arguably never been a better time for one to make their mark. Rather than jump headlong into the cresting 1990’s throwback revival, Jae develops tracks and lyrics that link technology and metaphysics in a defiantly contemporary way, flipping swag rap tropes on their head and reveals a penchant for affecting introspection. This singular approach to music is almost certainly a by-product of Jae’s split personality as a visual artist. Working in the context of fine art with paintings and collages as well as spreading into fashion design, Jae’s output aligns him with multi-media luminaries like the late, great Rammellzee. Raw Money Raps’ first single, Money, is a where-did-my-cash-go-mid-afternoon summer jam for hot cloudy days ahead, accompanied by a suitably tweaked video directed by fellow renaissance man Flying Lotus. “Money” comes paired with another album standout in “Money and Food”, which takes trap rap’s unhinged synths and 808 kicks and filters them through Jae’s prism. Across it’s span, the album touches on fractured, cautionary headbangers (“Rover”), string-laden classicism (“Cat Fight”) and deeply psychedelic futurism (“Hercules Versus the Commune”) and in the process, ignites the brightest rising star of 2012. Prepare yourself for Jeremiah Jae’s journey.
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The story begins with a man on high. He is an old man, a warrior, and the guardian to the gates of a city. Two miles below his mountainous perch, he observes a dojo, where a group of young men train night and day. Eventually, the old man expects a challenger to emerge. He hopes for the day of his destruction, for this is the cycle of life. Finally the doors fly open and three young men burst forth to challenge the old master. The first man is quick, but not strong enough. The second is quick, and strong, but not wise enough. The third stands tall, and overtakes the master. The Changing of the Guard has at long last been achieved. But then the old man wakes up. He looks down at the dojo and realizes he’s been daydreaming. The dojo below exists, but everyone in training is yet a child. By the time they grow old enough to challenge the old man, he has disappeared. This is, in essence, both a true story and a carefully constructed musical daydream, one that will further unfold in May of 2015, in a brazen release from young Los Angeles jazz giant, composer, and bandleader Kamasi Washington. The Epic is unlike anything jazz has seen, and not just because it emanates from the boundary-defying Brainfeeder, which isn’t so much a label in the traditional sense as it is an unfurling experiment conducted by the underground producer Flying Lotus. The Epic is a 172-minute, three-volume set that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. Pulsing underneath is an otherworldly ten-piece band, each member of which is individually regarded as among the best young musicians on the planet – including bassist Thundercat and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., bassist (yes, there are two) Miles Mosley, drummer Tony Austin (of course there are two), keyboard player Brandon Coleman, pianist Cameron Graves, and trombonist Ryan Porter. Patrice Quinn’s ethereal vocals round out the ensemble. The band are all from Los Angeles, mostly South Central, and its members – who call themselves variously “The Next Step” and the “The West Coast Get Down” – have been congregating since they were barely teenagers in a backyard shack in Inglewood. Washington, 32, has known Bruner since he was two. The rest met, at various stages, by the time they were in high school. The hours they have put into the music, playing together and practicing alone, total cumulatively in the tens of thousands. "Nothing compares to these guys," says Barbara Sealy, the former West Coast director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, who has championed Kamasi and his compatriots from the beginning. “I challenge any group to go out on stage with them and see if they can keep up with it... Kamasi is at the top of his game, and only getting better.” “These young guys,” the rapper Common says, “remind me of why I love music.” And the story The Epic tells, without words but rather through some combination of magic, mastery, and sheer force of imagination, is the story of Kamasi Washington and the Next Step and their collective mission: to remove jazz from the shelf of relics and make it new, unexpected, and dangerous again. They seek to both honour and alter tradition: as The Epic’s opening track announces, they are the “Changing of the Guard”. The sound can be felt like flames, sometimes waving in the coziness of a fireplace, in other moments sweeping everything around like a backdraft. But Kamasi is always in control of the burning. “He just plays the craziest shit, man. I mean, everything — the past, present, the future,” Flying Lotus says, whose family lineage includes one of Washington’s direct musical forebears, John Coltrane. “It's hard to find unique voices in this music. Especially in jazz, more so lately, everybody is trying to do the same shit. I don't want to hear ‘My Favorite Things’ anymore… What I am hearing is a leader among artists.”
3 x black 180g 12"s in artworked 3mm spined sleeves all housed in a rigid board outer slipcase. Half speed cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering. Includes 2 x 12" poster inserts featuring exclusive artwork by KC Woolf Haxton and story adaptation and calligraphy by Kenturah Davis. MP3 download code also enclosed. The story begins with a man on high. He is an old man, a warrior, and the guardian to the gates of a city. Two miles below his mountainous perch, he observes a dojo, where a group of young men train night and day. Eventually, the old man expects a challenger to emerge. He hopes for the day of his destruction, for this is the cycle of life. Finally the doors fly open and three young men burst forth to challenge the old master. The first man is quick, but not strong enough. The second is quick, and strong, but not wise enough. The third stands tall, and overtakes the master. The Changing of the Guard has at long last been achieved. But then the old man wakes up. He looks down at the dojo and realizes he’s been daydreaming. The dojo below exists, but everyone in training is yet a child. By the time they grow old enough to challenge the old man, he has disappeared. This is, in essence, both a true story and a carefully constructed musical daydream, one that will further unfold in May of 2015, in a brazen release from young Los Angeles jazz giant, composer, and bandleader Kamasi Washington. The Epic is unlike anything jazz has seen, and not just because it emanates from the boundary-defying Brainfeeder, which isn’t so much a label in the traditional sense as it is an unfurling experiment conducted by the underground producer Flying Lotus. The Epic is a 172-minute, three-volume set that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. Pulsing underneath is an otherworldly ten-piece band, each member of which is individually regarded as among the best young musicians on the planet – including bassist Thundercat and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., bassist (yes, there are two) Miles Mosley, drummer Tony Austin (of course there are two), keyboard player Brandon Coleman, pianist Cameron Graves, and trombonist Ryan Porter. Patrice Quinn’s ethereal vocals round out the ensemble. The band are all from Los Angeles, mostly South Central, and its members – who call themselves variously “The Next Step” and the “The West Coast Get Down” – have been congregating since they were barely teenagers in a backyard shack in Inglewood. Washington, 32, has known Bruner since he was two. The rest met, at various stages, by the time they were in high school. The hours they have put into the music, playing together and practicing alone, total cumulatively in the tens of thousands. "Nothing compares to these guys," says Barbara Sealy, the former West Coast director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, who has championed Kamasi and his compatriots from the beginning. “I challenge any group to go out on stage with them and see if they can keep up with it... Kamasi is at the top of his game, and only getting better.” “These young guys,” the rapper Common says, “remind me of why I love music.” And the story The Epic tells, without words but rather through some combination of magic, mastery, and sheer force of imagination, is the story of Kamasi Washington and the Next Step and their collective mission: to remove jazz from the shelf of relics and make it new, unexpected, and dangerous again. They seek to both honour and alter tradition: as The Epic’s opening track announces, they are the “Changing of the Guard”. The sound can be felt like flames, sometimes waving in the coziness of a fireplace, in other moments sweeping everything around like a backdraft. But Kamasi is always in control of the burning. “He just plays the craziest shit, man. I mean, everything — the past, present, the future,” Flying Lotus says, whose family lineage includes one of Washington’s direct musical forebears, John Coltrane. “It's hard to find unique voices in this music. Especially in jazz, more so lately, everybody is trying to do the same shit. I don't want to hear ‘My Favorite Things’ anymore… What I am hearing is a leader among artists.”
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.
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2LP Deluxe velvet-backed sleeve with gold typeface and download card. Lapalux knew where and how his sound should change with a second album. As a result, Lustmore feels like a record as compulsively inspired and meticulously crafted as you’re likely to hear in 2015. Lustmore is loosely based on the experience of hypnogogia, a transitional state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. Listeners familiar with his 2011 debut, Nostalchic, will know that Stuart Howard’s woozy, infectious rhythms, enveloping textures and unfamiliarly familiar melodies conjure that territory perfectly. Lapalux attracted the direct attention of Brainfeeder label owner and electronic music icon Flying Lotus in 2010, and was quickly snapped up by the imprint. Acclaimed early EPs were followed by a number of remixes including Bonobo, Andreya Triana, Lianne La Havas amongst others, before his debut album Nostalchic arrived in 2011. On its release Mojo asserted that: “Lapalux has joined the ranks of contemporary electronica's finest, like FlyLo himself.” The album was a high watermark, and a statement of intent by a young producer who was pushing electronic music forward.
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In a world in which upstart DiY talent is flooding the gates of electronic music, a few recent voices have been so strong as to be startling. Lapalux - AKA 25-year-old Stuart Howard - is certainly one such. As singular as a brilliant artist always should be, his instinctive understanding of the atmospheric power of texture grips the ear immediately on listening. 'Nostalchic' is his debut album, mission statement, and the climax of many years of studying his craft. The amalgam of words that make the title is aptly, and perhaps knowingly chosen. The album evokes nostalgia without ever sounding nostalgic, and Howard may have had his tongue in his chic when he added the second half of the title. The album is his most focused document to date, adding his beloved R&B and soul into elements of house and hip hop, all with the trademark Lapalux finish; infectious, lopsided swing and achingly deep texture. Lapalux was raised in rural Essex, midway between countryside and town; the classic, isolated hinterland that's produced many a distinctive British voice. There's a yearning sense to the record that it's tempting to relate to the young Howard's dreams about what his eventual escape into larger life might be. He certainly had a dream start when a shot-in-the-dark email to electronic hothouse Brainfeeder was immediately answered by label head Flying Lotus himself, who quickly moved on to sign him. To this day, Lapalux remains the only British artist on the Los Angeles based label. Having made fans out of Diplo and SBTRKT, remixed everyone from Lianne La Havas via Crystal Fighters to Bonobo, Tawiah, AlunaGeorge and Speech Debelle, as well as supporting FlyLo and playing the main stage at Sonar and in Japan with Clark, it's prime time for Lapalux's debut full length. Happily, it was well worth the wait.
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.
It speaks volumes for how long we’ve been waiting for the debut Brainfeeder album from Mono/Poly that when Flying Lotus first got in touch with him about doing something for the label, it was via Myspace. The wait, though, has been worth it. Specializing in a kind of beat-driven cosmic soundscape which he describes as “electronic-classical-alchemy music,” Mono/Poly aka Charles Dickerson has drawn on the lessons he’s learned from collaborating on last year’s Thundercat album as well as the Flash Bang Grenada hip hop project with Busdriver and Nocando, and made a beautifully realized, endlessly expansive record. From the first orchestral trills of “Winds of Change” you know you’re in for something special. As the track builds the listener notices not only the content but also the production chops – this is a record which sounds exactly as big, glossy and up front as its creator wants it to. Rebekah Raff adds scintillating harp work to “Transit to the Gold Planet,” but it’s the way Dickerson integrates it and builds on it which is really special. “Ra Rise” sounds like sunbathing in space, Niki Randa’s abstracted topline vocal warming you right through. Title track, “Golden Skies” uses a looping piano riff reminiscent of Bach, Thelonious Monk and Wu Tang on E, all at once, without sounding like any of them. Add sternum- thrumming bass to that and you know exactly what’s what. “Alpha & Omega” does something clever with slowed down d&b licks and tweaked vocal snips. “Empyrean” features Mendee Ichikawa (of the band Free Moral Agents), an ethereal, ghostly presence. “Night Garden” sounds like a drive through the dark streets of an alternate LA. “Euphoria” uses a simple, military-style snare and then twines keyboard lines over it until it’s lifted into the sky. Thundercat joins in on last track, “Gamma,” and adds some perfectly-judged low-end riffing to anchor Dickerson’s keyboard swirls. Mono/Poly has been a name to watch since his debut, The George Machine, back in 2009. His 2011 EP release for Brainfeeder, Manifestations, was supported by artists as diverse as Radiohead and Erykah Badu and his work on Thundercat’s Apocalypse established once and for all the quality of his productions. With Golden Skies he has laid down a marker to any other “beat maker” out there. Because with a genuine producer with this much talent, everyone else needs to aim a little bit higher – up towards the golden skies.
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Legendary French producer and Los Angeles resident Mr. Oizo presents The Church, a lavish foray into unexpected sonic dimensions. Limber and chaotic, The Church swerves from gasping intensity to minimal rapture. It is a loose cannon, a bold experiment that provokes outbursts of energy and dance. "Bear Biscuit" crashes through the skull, a forceful debut of Oizo's audio weaponry. Delusional undulations inhabit "Ham", while "Mass Doom" flips from an industrial beginning into an elastic sonic swim. "Machyne" is wickedly alluring, a synthetic tightrope crossing the wild high of technology. "Torero" drops into a thunderstorm, dabbling in the eye of an electrical tornado with a breakdown of flashing lights, shredded walls and colored confetti: pure swirling madness. Built with broken windows on a cavernous bassline, title track "The Church" closes the album with a luscious, geometric melody. Unpredictable and assertive, leaden yet light – Mr. Oizo's unique style and aerobic beats offer listeners an exhilarating aural excursion.
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After amassing a sizable discography of 7″s, EPs and digital releases on a host of platforms, Ras G & The Alkebulan Space Program are Back On The Planet for their most complete demonstration to date. The countless nights at SpaceBase behind the MPC and SP-303 have seen G come fully into his own. On this project past experiments in chest-rattling bass, terse loops and bugged-out field noise come full circle. Ancient Afrikan poly-drum rhythms meet outer-synth splashes of white noise and intuitive experimentation meld with deep sub-harmonics for an otherworldly experience on this 2XLP for Brainfeeder.
Coming out with one of the most anticipated and long-awaited albums so far on Brainfeeder is Samiyam aka Sam Baker. Sam Baker's Debut Album is 40 minutes of pure listening pleasure, a series of woozy, off-centre hip hop instrumentals drawing heavily on Baker's love of electronic funk but never in hock to it. Intensely detailed and carrying considerable emotional weight, this is not Rap Beats Volume 2 but an album of fully-realised pieces of music which stand on their own without the need for an MC's intervention. Ann Arbor native, Samiyam (born Sam Baker) moved to Los Angeles in 2006. In his short time out West, he has become one of the city's most progressive and recognized producers, a man who has spearheaded the revival of interest in instrumental hip-hop music over the last few years. Baker's Rap Beats Vol.1 collection was the very first release on Brainfeeder. He has also collaborated with old friend Flying Lotus as Flyamsam as well as having releases on Hyperdub and Poo-Bah records. Samiyam describes the work contained in his Debut album simply as, "my favorite stuff" - and what could be better than that?
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As music from the Los Angeles area thrives and swells across the globe, one of it's most beloved and deeply rooted members, Teebs, steps out with an LP full of infectious melodies, subtle hip-hop and a kaleidoscope of sound. Music for the imagination.
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Come peruse Collections 01, a menagerie of songs from Teebs on the Brainfeeder label. Like a cluster of exotic birds, anthology of short stories or secret case of sparkling gemstones, Collections 01 further explores the world expressed in Teebs’ previous album Ardour from several new perspectives. While drawing from the universe of Ardour, Collections 01 is more varied with more samples, each song containing specific elements that give it a unique character. Featuring tracks with harpist Rebekah Raff and Brainfeeder cohort Austin Peralta, Collections 01 offers a range of sentiment, always elegantly displayed. From hypnotic, dust-covered beats and languid daydreams to cascading shuffles and bright bursts of color, this beautiful collection is a further glimpse into the world behind the mind’s eye of Teebs, painter of sound. From Teebs:“With this record I’m trying to imagine a side project or group of mine that just so happened to make the same exact music as I’m making now. These records are neither EPs or full albums. Just mini collections of ideas…I hope to release them randomly through my life as if they were paintings in a drawn out series. The vibe I want people to be sent off with is a feeling of going out and buying some kind of rare library record they always wanted and not a “new album/EP.” This will be the first ‘Collections’.”
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In Spanish, the word estar means "to be", but there's more to it than that. More specifically, estar refers to where someone is at - physically or mentally - at a specific moment. Simply put, there's nothing permanent about it, which is a big reason why E s t a r a is the perfect title for the second full-length album from Mtendere Mandowa, better known as Los Angeles-based producer Teebs. In truth, the LP takes its name from the house where much of the record was created. Although Teebs visited a handful of beautiful studios in the hills of Los Angeles in the process of creating the album, he ultimately kept coming back to his modest bedroom studio and the same Fruity Loops-based set-up that he's been using for years. When it comes down to it though, what's changed is Teebs himself. His first full-length, 2010's Ardour, was an effort that came together in the midst of personal turmoil and the death of his father. In contrast, E s t a r a was created during a period of relative calm; more importantly, the LP encapsulates a time when Teebs - who continues to work steadily as both a producer and a painter - has been making art entirely on his own terms. That freedom has not only strengthened his creative voice, but has also enabled him to craft some of the finest work of his career. E s t a r a contains plenty of the breezy melodies, rustling rhythms, gauzy atmospherics, and loose ties to hip-hop that have always been present in Teebs' music, but the LP also finds those elements coming together in a bolder, more cohesive fashion than ever before. Whether he's swirling melodic textures on songs like "The Endless" and "View Point", flirting with leftfield pop on collaborative efforts "Holiday" (featuring Jonti) and "Hi Hat" (featuring Populous), looping guitars on "Shoouss Lullaby" and "NY pt. 2" (featuring his Sons of the Morning partner Prefuse 73), or getting pensive on the shuffling "NY pt. 1" and the melancholy "Piano Days", Teebs sounds sharply focused, impeccably nuanced, and spiritually potent In the end, E s t a r a is absolutely, undeniably a representation of Teebs, but Teebs as he is right now. He may no longer be the upstart beatmaker that FlyLo once took under his wing, but that doesn't mean that Teebs has shed his past - he's simply evolved from it. E s t a r a is a remarkable album in its own right, but it's ultimately just the latest step in what has already been an incredibly fruitful musical journey. We can only hope that every chapter of Teebs' story will prove to be this engaging.
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?"
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.
If indeed "you blows who you is," as Louis Armstrong once famously said, then Stephen Bruner's bass is a mainline to the soul of a man whose DNA was transcribed from the stars onto staff paper. His Flying Lotus-produced debut, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, offers both stone-cold skill and uncanny astrality, picking up where the pair left off on 2010's Cosmogramma and further distilling the jazz current running through that landmark Lotus release. A longtime contributor to others' albums, Bruner, aka Thundercat, is accompanied by an impressive cast ranging from Erykah Badu to members of Sa-Ra and J*DaVeY, to pianist Austin Peralta and his own Grammy-winning brother, drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr. Still, the end result is unmistakably a Thundercat record -- a lush and magical document combining classic jazz fusion, futurist electronic strains and timeless musical seeking. A native of South Los Angeles, Bruner found his instrument at the age of 4. That made him a late-bloomer in the house of Ronald, Sr., who drummed with the Temptations among others. His first bass was a black Harmony, and he practiced to the Ninja Turtles soundtrack until pops played him Jaco Pastorius. School was a blur of lessons, sessions and waking up for zero periods. At 15, he scored a hit in Germany as part of the short-lived boy band No Curfew. At 16, he toured Japan with soul man Leon Ware and joined thrash legends Suicidal Tendencies (he's still their bassist). More road and studio time followed, with everyone from Stanley Clarke to Snoop Dogg to Eric Benét. Eventually the name Thundercat stuck, a reference to the cartoon he's loved since childhood and an extension of Bruner's wide-eyed, vibrant, often superhuman approach to his craft. As one writer put it, he's "a mutant jazz cat," nuff said. Spanning a cosmic stew of players, locations and times, The Golden Age of Apocalypse was years in the making even though Bruner had never planned on releasing his own music. But Lotus spurred him on, and each song became a journey. There's the ebullient "Daylight," a soft whirl of bluesy piano, New Age synth, snapping beats and warm bass. There's "Walkin'," an upbeat soul strutter powered by Bruner's digitally distorted plucks. There are raw, improvised numbers like "Jamboree" and virtuosic bass pileups like "Fleer Ultra." One of the album's most stunning moments arrives with a spacious cover of George Duke's "For Love I Come," a taut beauty spangled with crystalline harp and keys. Bringing this string of divinely unexpected moments to a moody and cinematic close is "Return to the Journey." There, Bruner sings, "Time will pass us by," but listeners needn't worry. Inside of this space, time really isn't a thing.
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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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