I’m a lover of all things music and all things vinyl, as you shall soon discover…
An electro-funk master
– Stones Throw
– Executive Producers: Peanut Butter Wolf and Leon Sylvers III
– Recorded by Dam Funk
– Mastered by Kelly Hibbert
– Dam Funk’s ‘Toeachizown’ sounds like it’s straight from 1983…and also, in a way, straight from 1993. The sounds and the vibe from this album are 100% authentic – this is electro g-funk at its best. A stripped down Cameo meets The Chronic.
In the liner notes, Dam Funk lists all of the musical gear that he used to create Toeachizown. He’s got an arsenal of synths and drum machines, but a comparitively small collection of recording gear used to capture his vintage sounds. This album shows that you don’t need a Neve or SSL board and racks of Fairchild and UA outboard gear to get a great sound. Great sounds begin at the source with synths like the Roland Juno and Baldwin Discoverer.
This is an excellent party album. It’s track after track of funk jams. There are a few slower songs thrown in to break it up, which is definitely necessary. The one gripe I have with the album (did I mention this is a double album?) is that the tracks have an average running time of close to 6 minutes. If each of them were whittled down by two minutes they would be more effective.
The Severed Right Hands of the Last Men
Web Of Mimicry
Produced by Trey Spruance
Recorded by Trey Spruance, William Winant, Kris Hendrickson, KT Pierce, Jason Schimmel, Jai Young Kim, and Randall Dunn
Mixed by Trey Spruance with assistance from Kurt Schlegel
Mastered by David Cheppa
This is a well conceived album, displaying superb musicianship, written and recorded by a brilliant musician in Trey Spruance. You may know of his work with Mr. Bungle, John Zorn, and Faith No More (his guitar playing on their ‘King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime’ album makes it one of their best albums).
I’m a big, big fan of Spruance’s work. His creativity boggles the mind. He’s a multi-instrumentalist – most of the instruments he plays are stringed instruments from around the world, the names of which I can hardly pronounce. He’s an extremely talented producer and arranger. Check out any song from Mr. Bungle’s ‘California’ or ‘Disco Volante’ albums for proof of this.
Secret Chiefs 3 is Spruances main creative outlet since Bungle’s disbanding. He delved deeper into the extremes that Bungle was famous for – metal, Middle Eastern, surf, jazz. The Middle Eastern leanings are quite apparent in all of his work with SC3. But on this album it is mainly a deep love and respect for film music in the styles of Ennio Morricone and Bernard Herrmann that comes through.
The album consists of one song which takes up two sides of an LP. It’s not an easy undertaking to listen in one sitting, but it is very worthwhile. Listening to the album almost feels like watching a psychological thriller. It’s very dark, moody, and tense. The album moves at the perfect pace to pull you in and have you anticipating its next direction.
The recording is pristine, yet rich, powerful and warm. Recorded in several different locations, but mixed down to tape by Spruance, the sound is consistent throughout. The mastering work is transparent and light-handed, allowing for great dynamic range, a hallmark of Spruance.
Any album that features Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorious is going to be phenomenal. Bright Size Life is Metheny’s first release under his name. That he and Pastorious, two of the best in history to play their respective instruments (guitar and bass), got together for this album is just lucky as hell for us. Most of the compositions here are Metheny’s except for Ornette Coleman’s Round Trip/Broadway Blue’s. While this is Metheny’s album and these are his songs, it’s Pastorious who ends up stealing a bit of the spotlight. Given a few more years, Metheny would have really been going full steam with his sound and technique. But here he seems to be laying back a bit, and Pastorious is all over it. Bob Moses on drums is a perfect match for the two (at the time) youngsters. Moses had played with Roland Kirk in the mid 60’s, and was at the forefront of fusion with The Free Spirits. He knows where Metheny’s head is at in these compositions. Moses keeps them moving in the right direction.
Released in 2004, ‘Romances’ is another one of Mike Patton’s projects that seemingly has no precedent. I, for one, had certainly not heard anyone approach music and songwriting in the way that John Kaada and Mike Patton did for this album. Big, lush orchestration gives way to moments of sparse, delicate lines which in turn give way to an abrupt barrage of guitar, drums, bass and huge vocals. The vocals on ‘Romances’ are astounding for two reasons. The first – Patton’s vocal ability in terms of range, delivery and the way he’s able to emote. Secondly, while each song contains vocals, only one song has actual lyrics. All other songs are sung with wordless melodies and vocals placed here and there for effect, from whispers to gut-wrenching screams. Phenomenal stuff.
The man on the cover of the album is Dan Nakamura, aka Dan The Automator, aka Nathaniel Merriweather. He is the mastermind behind Lovage, a “group” of sorts consisting of Nakamura, Mike Patton, Jennifer Charles (of Elysian Fields) and Kid Koala. Special guests on this album of hip-hop beats, pop music and crooner ballads are Prince Paul, Afrika Bambaataa, Damon Albarn and Maseo (Plug 3) from De La Soul. Patton and Jennifer Charles trade off on songs and duet on several and they have a fantastic chemistry. Two top-notch singers who know how to feed off the vibe being put out by one another. There are comedic moments from the special guests, but mostly this album is about romance, sex and strangers on trains.
This was a collaboration that I don’t think anyone saw coming, though it does make sense. The Dillinger Escape Plan was the opening band for part of Mr. Bungle’s ‘California’ tour in 1999. Dillinger obviously were fans of Mike Patton’s music and style and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. This four song EP from 2002 is a spot-on reflection of both Patton’s various styles and The Dillinger Escape Plan’s intensely fast, heavy and technical style. The three original songs on the EP are full of turn-on-a-dime transitions. These are musicians who are in the very top tier of technical metal. There is seemingly nothing they can’t pull off. The fourth song is a cover of Aphex Twin’s amazing “Come To Daddy” which sounds uncannily similar to the original despite a live drummer playing the frantic programmed Aphex beats. Patton of course pulls off an awe-inspiring vocal performance not only on this song, but also the three original songs. This is a unique offering from both parties involved.
The heavy and weird gets heavier and weirder
Tomahawk’s debut was a 10 out of 10 star release by most measures. Their second album, ‘Mit Gas’ is an 11 out of 10. It’s more aggressive, the crafting of the songs and the style of production are slightly more in-your-face. It’s slightly more dynamic, with the quieter moments very quiet and the louder ones almost distorting the speakers. Mike Patton is as worked up as on any other project I’ve heard him on. It’s really something to hear. Duane Denison’s guitar tone is cutting, squelchy, jangly, twangy, huge, and his off the wall chord choices are perfect. Check out “Birdsong”, “Mayday”, “Captain Midnight” (which may be their absolute best song), “Harelip”, and “Aktion F1413”.