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."
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.
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.
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.
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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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