November 27, 2006
One of my favourite records of all time is Brainfreeze, on which Dj Shadow and Cut Chemist show off their infamous skills by only using funk 7"s. The result is, how could it not be, a remarkable set that is both very well crafted as utterly enjoyable because of the selected tunes, which are often great, but hard to find funk 45's. This album combines the best of both worlds: a compilation great funk and some serious scratching skills that never fail to keep it within the flow.
This record already saw the light of day back in 1999 and a lot has happened since then. A whole heap of scratch records were released after Shadows 1996 record "Endtroducing". Some good, but most of them boring. What's the fun of a scratch record when the craft is produced so gently and smoothly you don't hear the difference between actual scratching and a sampler anymore? Though all of them are undoubtly made with true craftmanship, most of the records fail to make an impression on me since they all sound like downtempo, instrumental hip hop or triphop that are build up from small and mostly unrecognizable samples. I like it a bit rougher, like the Brainfreeze album on which you can hear more than a "bassdrum snippet" and find yourself baffled once you find out that you're listening to three tracks running simultaniously. Luckily, there are still artists around that do it "Lock it Down stylee". Here are the ones that impressed us most:
Hailing from California. His solo album "Sunset Scavenger" is pretty good, but Zeph is even better when he links up with others. Must checkout albums are:
- Breakbuilders part 2: the next best thing after BrainFreeze. A serious contender, using discofunk and funk records that are more modern then the deepfunk Shadow and Cut Chemist use. The result is an amazing mix which makes it impossible to stay put. It sometimes sounds like early electro because of the focus on drums. Essential record.
- Hip Hop Bebop 2006: made together with dj Mason of the mighty Haul & Mason duo, this album focusses on jazz entirely. The result is equally impressive as Breakbuilders, but with a total different feel to it. The focus is more hip hop and the album sounds like Guru's Jazzmataz albums at times, but is rougher in every way. The samples, to these ears, are pretty obscure, but can easily be found on the net with a little big of googling.
Has it's base in France. We never heard of him before, but we were utmost impressed when he linked us on myspace. There are good tunes to be found on his myspace site, but you'd better check out his own website, which is full of goodies. Though trying to make "real songs" with his samples, Mister Aul also seems to enjoy the rough edge of which we stated the necessity above. Every track on his site is equally impressive.
ASS consists of Jed and DJ Haul, who also formed Afrodisiac Records. Their reissuing and remixing of some super rare West African funk tracks that Jed had brought back from a 5 month long record hunting expedition through Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, and Mali is splendid. They turn Fela into hiphop and hiphop into afrobeat, with just a flick of their wrist. Great album for afrobeat lovers with a wish to hear some obscure tracks and also great for those hiphoppers/early electro freaks that like to hear a different beat.