Celebrating Alan Watts’s 100th birthday year, Jas Walton sets early Alan Watts recordings to original grooves. Alan Watts is one of the most important interpreters of Eastern philosophy for his time and ours. If he were alive today, he’d probably subvert social media in the same way he helped to reinvent western culture in his own time—his words are as relevant now as they were then. This year, Watts turns 100. Figure & Ground honors his centennial with this four-track EP that takes the recordings of his early seminar sessions and sets them to original music. Alan’s wit and wisdom were first broadcast on radio stations in the Bay Area in the late ’50s and soon spread across America through public talks, tape recordings, books, and on screen. On his portable tape deck, Alan’s son Mark Watts captured hundreds of hours of his father’s seminar sessions. Alan Watts’s candid spirit comes through in these psychedelic Californian ruminations, intriguing incantations, and compelling thoughts on existence. It’s a trip. A decade later, New York-based musician Jas Walton found these recordings. One day while experimenting with chord progression loops at home in Brooklyn, he decided to drop in Watts’ voice. He started nudging a few words and phrases around, and soon enough got carried away and strict about every word falling in the pocket. On the EP, Watts’s rhythmic phrases are set in time to Walton’s soulful grooves, textured with synth and horns. A top saxophone player in New York, Walton performed as part of the Luaka Bop’s William Onyeabor tribute shows and has played with Antibalas, The Roots, and Superhuman Happiness, to name a few. We offer you here an introduction to the music of Jas Walton and a reintroduction to the world of Alan Watts.
In early 2016, two New York session musicians Miles Arntzen and Jas Walton—who both currently play in the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas—began experimenting with their respective instruments in Miles’s Greenwich Village basement. Arntzen (Will Butler, TEEN, Mark Ronson) on drums and Walton (Leon Bridges, Sinkane, Father Figures) on saxophone, the duo hunkered down to compose demos that were made up of percussion, woodwinds, and the offbeat sounds of everyday objects. The style of recording and manipulating everyday ‘non-musical’ sounds was born in Paris during the 1940s and dubbed “musique concrète.” Recording became an artform in itself as musicians began playing with the possibilities of altering sounds and performances. This revolutionary process seeped into pop music in the mid-‘60s, and is now—due to ever-advancing music technology—a staple of mainstream music. Explorations in Drums & Sax is a hat tip to the novelty of recorded sounds back when they were still weird and way out. As well as experimenting with the early laboratory process of musique concrète, Miles notes, “usually one of us was coming from something else, from a rehearsal with so-and-so right to my basement and just jumping right in. There was no time to think about what might be seeping in influence-wise, but it was always related to all the other things we were doing.” The duo began working together in 2009 when they started the Afrobeat band EMEFE in jazz school. Between each of their sidemen gigs with other artists, they steal time to get together and spin their own creations. While touring with Luaka Bop’s William Onyeabor supergroup Atomic Bomb!, Jas met Beastie Boys’ synth master Money Mark and Sudanese-pop artist Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane, Caribou, Of Montreal, Yeasayer). In March, the four of them convened in Brooklyn to record under the project name Les Yper Sound, titled after Pierre Henry’s 1967 musique concrète EP. This studio-oriented team of multi-instrumentalists—who are all producers in their own right—digested Miles and Jas’s original basement demos and began improvising new works during sessions at Shahzad Ismaily’s new studio in Brooklyn. On November 4, 2016, Figure & Ground releases its sophomore album Explorations in Drums & Sax, an all-instrumental journey through numerous genre-crossing worlds. Comprised of 14 original tracks by Les Yper Sound, the album pulls from the group’s eclectic influences. Surrounded by an array of acoustic and electronic sounds—all rooted in rhythms and pop melodies—it showcases the versatility of percussion and woodwinds and the various and unusual ways of recording their elements. The 12-inch vinyl LP release features coke bottle-clear wax and a digital download code. The process-based sessions were engineered and mixed by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Yoko Ono, Lorde) and produced by Lily Wen (Dust & Grooves). The spring workshop days involved opening up demos and building new songs from found objects such as a tape head stylus, a coffee maker, coins, and a pickup. “It’s all about finding that starting point,” says Jas, “and everything blossoms from there.” As Miles puts it, “we would just start with an improvisational sound, do that for three minutes, build a song around it, and then maybe at the end of the whole thing, you can’t even hear that first thing anymore but it’s a part of everything else that happened around it. When you play a rhythm on a cool-sounding prepared piano, you don’t know what genre you’re in. Maybe it will become a Brazilian jam or maybe it’ll become a soulful groove—and all that happened in the studio. You’re letting the sound of something dictate and inspire you.” Money Mark, who studied with the early electronic instrument pioneers, revealed some of his ‘recording hacks’ that were key to finding the musical in non-traditional objects. Miles recalls: “We went out to lunch and Money Mark was missing somewhere, and he comes back with two TV speakers and says: ‘We could just plug these into an amp and hit them with your fingers—one’s a little broken but maybe it could be the snare,’ and that’s is exactly what happened. We come back from lunch, plug them into a bass amp, and sure enough it’s perfect.”
© 2017 Fat Beats | 8920 Eton Ave. Canoga Park, CA 91304
If you have questions regarding your order please visit our Order Status page before contacting us.
If it's urgent don't hesitate to give us a ring.
Business hours are Monday - Friday 9AM-5PM PST.
Call Us Toll Free: (888) 377-3175
To reach us by email use the form below:
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.
Important information when ordering with Fatbeats.com...
• Online orders are processed within 1-2 business days.
• If you are confused or need to know about an order placed on the site you can contact us
• Order processing time is separate from shipping time requested.
• International orders and orders that require additional credit verification can take longer to process. Please be available at the provided number or email submitted to speed up verification time.
•We try and offer as many upcoming projects available for pre-order when the releases have moved into production. However, due to the nature of manufacturing and production, pre-order dates may change. If your pre-ordered items are holding your package from arriving please email us with a request to ship the in-stock items and pre-orders when they become available.
•If your order contains pre-order items we will hold the package until all titles are available to ship. Please specify in the comments section of the checkout if you would like to: a) hold your entire order until it can be entirely fulfilled or, b) have the in-stock items shipped immediately and the pre-ordered items ship when available. Please note that option B may require additional shipping charges as multiple packages will be shipped.
• Our stock rapidly changes and we try and set in place a system that avoids purchasing items that become out of stock. However, if a product ordered is out of stock, we will reach out and give you the chance to change or cancel your order. If you choose to cancel, you will be refunded in full.
• IMPORTANT: If the address or phone number supplied conflicts with other information provided, i.e. billing information versus shipping information, we may need to contact you to verify your purchase. Please be available to verify or write an explanation in the notes section during checkout explaining the conflicting information.
•Please make sure you give us your correct billing address and your correct billing phone number. Again, it is highly important that you are available at the provided number or email submitted to speed up verification time enabling us to avoid fraudulent purchases.
• All sales are final. However, if the item ordered is different from the item you receive, please contact us and we can arrange to get you the desired product.
• We are committed to protecting your privacy. There is an opt-in policy to receive marketing and other e-blasts about future products available as well as deals and coupons. If you do not wish to receive these emails you can opt out by simply removing the check from the marketing box below upon check out. We will never sell your email or personal information.
• Your payment and personal information is always safe. Our SSL (secure server software) is the industry standard and among the best software available today for secure commerce transactions. It encrypts all of your personal information, including credit card number, name, and address, so that it cannot be read over the internet.
Fat Beats offers internship opportunities. You must be enrolled in college and reside in the Los Angeles area to be eligible for our programs. If you meet these requirements, please paste your cover letter below and we will contact you if there are open positions available.
We are currently offering an internship program that offers an educational experience in all facets of our distribution operation. The intern would have the ability to assist in each of the following departments:
Online Retail / Marketing
Shipping & Receiving
- Enrollment in an accredited college/university that offers an internship program for academic credit
- Knowledge and passion in independent music and culture; with a specific interest in the artists/releases that Fat Beats supports
- Familiarity with Microsoft Office applications
- Positive attitude - no task should be considered too small
- Must be located in the greater Los Angeles area
Resumes/Cover Letters should be emailed to email@example.com