Record Label: Rhymesayers
The music of Grimace Federation reaching the ears of the masses was never a forethought in its creation. Founded on a self-gratifying need to shift sound with friends, vast musical influences and jam sessions that had no boundaries, the ever-evolving Philly unit has always been armed with an arsenal of multi-layered, hallucinogenic beats. Their sonic collages create a symphonic, cinematic, and immense sound. With all their complexities, no words are needed to stir emotions, like a Robert Rauschenberg painting, a scene from a Jodorowsky film, or a drive down Mulholland with David Lynch. Early on as a sextet, which included dueling drums and guitars, bass, keys, and a vibraphone, the band’s musical foundation could be discovered in the grooves of records from post-rock legends such as Jaga Jazzist, Tortoise, and Stereolab. And with the addition of a horn section later on, David Axelrod and Steve Reich became major influences.
Like most bands, Grimace Federation has experienced some serious growing pains along the way, having lost two of its members to mental breakdowns with continual reconfigurations of the lineup. Now, solidified as a three-piece with core members Wes Schwartz bending sound on his laptop/electronic toys and Chris Wood leaving his drum kit bruised and battered, while Jim Calvarese lays down an ominous low-end, you can feel the increased weight of their music as latter day influences, like Mogwai and Black Sabbath, and a lifetime of collecting obscure underground hip-hop records seep into their symbiotic chaos. It’s been an honor for Grimace Federation to continue to shift sound for nearly a decade and a half, finding themselves working alongside renowned artists, such as Aesop Rock and Circa Survive, and landing opening slots with longtime musical inspirations Tortoise and Battles.
The band is currently set to drop its new EP The Measure In Mixture, via lauded hip-hop label Rhymesayers. Combining spastic krautrock beats with the grandeur of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack on a Boards of Canada sonic landscape, the album features two new tracks along with superbly badass, bass-heavy remixes from Aesop Rock. It’s a must-have for crate-diggers all over the world.
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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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