Tag: instrumentals

New Audio: Rafiq Bhatia’s Atmospheric and Soulful New Single

Rafiq Bhatia is a Hickory, NC-born, New York-based composter, guitarist and producer of East African Indian descent. Before joining Ryan Lott and Ian Chang to expand renowned indie act Son Lux from a solo recording project to a fully fleshed out band, Bhatia released two critically applauded solo efforts — 2012’s Yes It Will and Strata. As a guitarist and producer, Bhatia has worked with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Olga Bell, Sam Dew, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Hart, Heems, Helado Negro, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, Valegir Sigurðsson, Moses Sumney, David Virelles, Lorde, Sufjan Stevens and others. Adding to a growing profile, he’s recored with the chamber ensembles International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet and Alarm Will Sound, and he’s had work appear on the soundtracks for the major motion pictures The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Air, and Afflicted.  

Bhatia’s third solo album Breaking English is slated for an April 6, 2018 release through ANTI- Records, and the album reportedly finds the renowned composer, producer and guitarist, who has long been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Madlib, as well as mentors and collaborators Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, meshing avant-garde jazz with textured and sculptured electronic composition and production. Because of his experience as a first-generation son of East African-born, Indian Muslim immigrant parents, who can trace their ancestry back to India, and the influence of mentors like Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart, Bhatia sees music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective.  Interestingly, the album’s overall theme and its title were inspired by a 2008 trip to India that Bhatia took with his sister and parents — the first time he had ever seen the ancestral homeland. “We were driving towards the Taj Mahal, and noticed as we approached that there was an alarming number of signs advertising ‘Shooting Ranges.’ We grew increasingly curious and concerned about why these signs, which were written in English, were so prevalent — could they be targeted towards American tourists and their obsession with guns?” Bhatia recalled in press notes. “But eventually, we realized that ‘shooting’ was intended in the photographic sense. We had a good laugh about it, but then my dad turned to me quite seriously and asked ‘Eventually there will be likely more English speakers out here than there are in the West. At that point, who will get to decide what constitutes a proper use of English?'”

“’Breaking English’ is a ceremony of a song,” Bhatia continues. “Its central theme revealed itself to me in an improvised performance, fully formed, as though it had always existed. The cyclical form of the piece allows it to shed its skin and present itself anew in successive iterations, even as the core idea — or problem, or experience — stubbornly persists.”

Breaking English’s latest single, album title track, the atmospheric and soulful “Breaking English” which features skittering drums, a sinuous bass line, blasts of bluesy guitar and a wailing chorus — and in some way, the composition nods at an incredible synthesis of the work of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, J. Dilla and Flying Lotus but with a soulful weariness and ache.

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New Video: Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas Release Surreal and Psychedelic Visuals for “Bastille Day”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, I’ve written a couple of posts on the Boston, MA-based guitarist and songwriter/composer and bandleader Matthew Stubbs. And as you may recall, Stubbs, has split his time as a member of Charlie Musselwhite’s touring band and as a solo artist, who has released two solo, instrumental albums — 2008’s Soulbender released through Vizztone Records and 2010’s Medford and Main released through Chicago, IL-based Blue Bella Records that drew from the  Memphis, TN soul/blues sound. In 2016 Stubbs added bandleader to his resume, with his backing band The Antiguas, which feature Just Lopes (organ), Chris Rivelli (drums) and Marc Hickox (bass)  — and while continuing with the instrumental composition approach of his previously released work, his newest project is influenced by the work of Duane Eddy, Link Wray, and Booker T but meshed with elements of garage rock, B movie soundtracks and Afrobeat, while focusing on putting the energy and vibe of their live sets on wax.

The band’s self-titled debut was released earlier and this year, and as you may recall album singles “Death Grip” and ” Unwinder,” possessed a decidedly retro feel, bringing to mind late 60s and early 70s B movie soumdtracks, complete with a tight groove —with Death Grip” being inspired by the wild, chase scenes in the cult, car racing movies of the 70s while “Unwinder,” found Stubbs and his Antiguas drawing from 60s psych rock and surfer rock and blues, complete with an organ sequence that brings to mind The Castaways’“Liar Liar.” The album’s latest single “Bastille Day” is a greasy and downright funky track that draws from the blues, Afrobeat, dub and rock within what sounds to my ears like a 12 bar blues — and while expanding upon the sound that has caught attention, the composition will further Stubbs’ reputation for crafting slick and trippy hooks.

Directed and edited by Jack LeMay, the recently released video was shot at the Yawkey T stop in the Boston area, and stars Stubbs, waiting for a train when he encounters the absolutely radiant Monishita Ray, dressed in traditional Indian garb. The video turns into a psychedelic experience when the two look into each other — and the rest of the video splits between following Ray as she dances around the train station, Stubbs’ and company’s rehearsal space and other industrial-like locales, adding a surreal sense of beauty to everything in her path, and Stubbs playing the song’s main riff, before getting even trippier.

New Video: Soulive Returns With Soulful and Psychedelic Genre-Defying Composition from Forthcoming Film Soundtrack-Inspired EP

Consisting of Eric Krasno (guitar) and siblings Alan Evans (drums) and Neal Evans (Hammond B3 organ, bass keys, clavinet), the renowned genre-defying funk/jazz New York-based trio Soulive can trace their origins back to when the Evans Brothers began performing in a number of regionally known acts including the jam band Moon Boot Lover and a brief stint with rap act The Elements, which featured Edreys, a.k.a. Billy Drease Williams before they began looking to start a traditional jazz organ trio. And as the story goes, in March 1999, the Evans Brothers invited their high school pay Eric Krasno to jam and record some tracks with them at their home studio in Woodstock, NY, and those sessions wound up comprising their debut EP Get Down! 

Shortly after the release of Get Down! the newly formed band hit the road touring to support it. During that first tour, the trio recorded their full-length debut Turn It Out and the effort, which was released in 2000 through Velour Recordings featured and impressive array of guest musicians including renowned jazz guitarist John Scofield, multi-instrumentalist Oteil Burnbridge, best known for a lengthy stint in the Allman Brothers Band, and saxophonist Sam Kininger, who has collaborated with Lettuce, Dave Matthews Band and others. For an independent act, their full-length debut went on to sell over 65,000 copies, which quickly established the members of Soulive as one of contemporary jazz and funk’s most exciting, new acts. By the fall of 2000, Soulive had signed a record deal with Blue Note Records, with whom they released their sophomore effort Doin’ Something, which featured horn arrangements by the legendary Fred Wesley; their third, full-length album Next, which featured guest spots from Dave Matthews, Amel Larrieux, Talib Kweli and Black Thought. They also collaborated with singer/songwriter Goapele Mohlabane.
Building upon a growing profile, Soulive went on five national tours over the next three years, opening for The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, Common, John Mayer and others, while making appearances at Monterey Jazz Festival and Bonaroo, as well as tours across Japan and the European Union; in fact, one of their Japanese tours wound up becoming their eponymous and highly acclaimed, self-titled live album, released in 2003. And before leaving Blue Note Records, the members of Soulive released the Turn It Out Remixed album, which featured Jurassic 5, DJ Spinna, DJ Krush, J-Live, Wordsworth and The Beatnuts.

2005’s Break Out, the New York-based jazz/funk act’s first album with new label Concord Music Group found the band experimenting with their sound and approach, as they eschewed extended and free-flowing jams for beat-driven instrumentals; but along with that, they collaborated with the legendary Chaka Khan, Ivan Neville, Living Colour’s Corey Glover, Robert Randolph and comedian and multi-instrumentalist Reggie Watts. 2006’s Stewart Lerman-produced No Place Like Soul featured Boston, MA-based reggae/soul artist Toussaint as their lead vocalist; however, after that tour the band decided to return to being a trio. In fact, 2009’s Up Here was something of a return to form for the band with the material mainly being instrumentals with the members of Soulive collaborated with The Shady Horns — the aforementioned Sam Kininger (alto sax) and Rashawn Ross (trumpet) — and Nigel Hall.

Now, I personally became familiar with Soulive with 2010’s Rubber Soulive, an effort that comprised of jazz and funk-inspired renditions of the Beatles catalog — and their annual multi-week residency Bowlive, which featured the band collaborating with an incredibly diverse and dynamic array of artists. Interestingly, the members of the band have been busy with their respective projects — in particular Soulive’s Eric Krasno has been with Lettuce, an increasing production load and his own solo work; however, the members of the band reconvened at Alan Evans’ Iron Wax Studios in late 2017 with a few loosely-sketched ideas and no overarching concept in mind, and began fleshing out ideas as a band. “We trust each other to bring our voices to each other’s ideas,” says Alan Evans, while Krasno adds, “I think Soulive creates our best material using that method.”

The end result is the trio’s long-awaited Cinematics, Vol. 1 EP, which the band will be releasing through their own label Soulive Music on February 23, 2018. Although it’s the first new material from the renowned act in over six years, as you’ll hear on the EP’s first single “Kings March,” Soulive further cements their reputation for a genre-defying sound — in this particular case, the composition draws from 60s funk, psych pop, psych rock, hip-hop and jazz and it finds the band doing so in a fashion reminiscent of El Michels Affair and Wu Tang Clan; but with an incredibly cinematic fashion, as though it could have been part of the soundtrack of a rainy, spy thriller set in Eastern Europe and Miami.

Reportedly, the cinematic quality of the music arose from the trio’s collective instincts writing and recording together. “We didn’t have to talk about anything,” Alan says. “It all unfolded as we were working on it; one song influences the direction of the next, and soon you find yourself going down this path. We want this music to take people on a little journey.” Adds, Eric Krasno, “A cinematic piece of music creates a mood. Film composers like Jerry Goldsmith, David Axelrod, Ennio Morricone and Melvin Van Peebles were all influential in the concept for Cinematics. The idea is to use soundscape and melodic interplay to enhance the feeling and sentiment of a visual and to amplify the emotion that it’s relating.”

The recently released video features rather black and white intimate footage of the band, along with some appropriately psychedelic imagery. 

New Video: Two from Boston-based Cinematic Psych Blues Act Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas

Matthew Stubbs is a Boston, MA-based guitarist and songwriter/composer, who has been Charlie Musselwhite’s touring guitarist since 2007, and as a solo artist has released two solo instrumental record, drawing from the Memphis, TN soul/blues tradition, 2008’s Soulbender released through Vizztone Records and 2010’s Medford and Main released through Chicago, IL-based Blue Bella Records. In 2016, Stubbs, along with Just Lopes (organ), Chris Rivelli (drums) and Marc Hickox (bass) as an instrumental, psych rock-based project inspired by the desire of bringing back popular instrumental work along the lines Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Booker T and others, mixed with elements of garage rock, the blues, movie soundtracks and Afrobeat, — all while focusing on the vibe and energy of the live performance. 

The band’s self-tiled full-length debut is slated for a January 26, 2018 release and from “Death Grip” and ” Unwinder,” two singles off the soon-to-be released album, the material on the band’s self-titled debut manage to have a decidedly retro vibe, sounding as though they could have been part of the soundtracks to late 60s and early 70s B movies but with a tight groove; in fact, as Stubbs says of “Death Grip,” “The song was inspired by the wild scenes in those cult, car racing movies of the ’70s. I wrote it with that cinematic, yet frenetic approach in my mind.” “Unwinder,” on the other hand finds Stubbs and company, drawing from 60s psych rock and surfer rock and blues, complete with that soaring organ sequence — and they do so in a way that nods at The Castaways’ “Liar Liar” but with a subtle nod at shoegaze and dub. 

New Video: El Michels Affair’s Soulful and Cinematic Take on the Wu-Tang

Comprised of founding member, bandleader and primary arranger Leon Michels (saxophone), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Nick Movshon (bass), Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Sean Solomon (guitar), Tobias Pazner (keyboards), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) and Todd Simon (trumpet), the El Michels Affair is a Brooklyn-based All-Star, instrumental soul act featuring members from several renowned, locally-based acts including The Arcs, Menahan Street Band, The Shacks, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Lee Fields and the Expressions. After the release of their 2005 debut Sounding Out the City, the band was paired with Raekwon for a concert organized by Scion and it eventually led to a tour that featured several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. And interestingly enough, touring with the members of the Wu inspired the El Michels Affair’s sophomore effort Enter the 37th Chamber, soul-based, instrumental interpretations of the material off Wu-Tang’s seminal debut Enter the 36 Chambers.

Unsurprisingly, Enter the 37th Chamber has proven to be the band’s most commercially successful album to date, introducing the band to a much wider audience. It’s been several years since the band has released new material, as the members of the band have been extremely busy with their primary gigs, they had some time to reconvene to write and record Return to the 37th Chamber, their breakthrough sophomore effort’s long-awaited follow up. And much like its predecessor, the material will further cement the band’s reputation for soul music interpretations of the Wu Tang’s material for a live band, while paying homage to RZA’s imitable, hazy production; in fact, Michels in his role as producer, recorded the album straight to analog tape, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing. Adding to the album’s overall sound, the material possesses the occasional psychedelic flourish, John Carpenter-like synths, power chord-friendly guitar work, the enormous horn sections and traditional Chinese instrumentation in place of most of the vocals and guest spots from Lee Fields and The Shacks’ Shannon Wise. Essentially, while being a tribute to one of hip-hop’s most interesting, challenging producers and artists and his sound, the album finds the members of El Michels Affair picking up on and expanding the cinematic aspects of RZA’s production.

Of course, while Enter the 37th Chamber paid tribute to Enter the 36 Chambers, the El Michels Affair tackles some of the Wu’s beloved classics such as “4th Chamber” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuck Wit,” as well as deeper cuts like Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Snakes,” Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse,” and Wu-Tang’s contribution to St. Ide’s legendary early 90s ad campaign, “Shaolin Brew.” Now, as you may remember earlier this month, I wrote about Return to the 37th Chamber’s first single “Tearz.” And that single, which featured guest spots from the aforementioned Lee Fields and Shannon Wise managed to sound as though it paid equal respect to the Wendy Rene original song from which the song’s backing sample came from as it did to the Wu Tang’s own use of the sample — but with subtly psychedelic flourishes.

Return to the 37th Chamber’s latest single “Iron Man” is a cinematic reworking of “Iron’s Theme (Interlude)” off Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele, that expands upon the original’s groove to make it a full-length song — but with martial arts and psychedelic film sound effects.

Directed by artist El Oms, who met Leon Michels though The Arcs and has become a fan of the El Michels Affair, the animated video is a fittingly a martial arts, revenge saga, complete with a couple of trippy flashbacks and a shit ton of bloody mayhem — and I bet it would be make Quentin Tarantino proud. As El Oms explains in press notes “Making this video really brought me back to my younger days. I grew up watching martial art movies and listening to Wu-Tang and when I heard El Michels Affair’s Enter The 37th Chamber I was blown away by the way the album captured those elements and still sounded original. So being able to work on Return To The 37th Chamber was truly amazing. I try to capture those same elements on the ‘Iron Man’ video and give it this originality but still have the old traditional martial arts movie feel to it.”

New Video: Watch the Paris Symphonic Orchestra’s Instrumental Rendition of Uppermost’s “Constellation”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four months, you’ve come across a handful of posts featuring the Paris, France-based electronic music producer and electronic music artist Behad Netjabakshe, best known as Uppermost. And as you may recall, Netjabakshe has an internationally recognized profile for material he’s released through a number of renowned labels including Sony BMG, Ministry of Sound, BugEyed Records, Starlight Records and his own Uppwind Records — with singles like “Equivocal” landing at number 3 on Beatport’s electro house charts in 2009, and his Biscuit Factory EP landing at number 1 on the JunoDownload electro-house charts. Additionally, Netjabakshe has received attention for his remixes of Daft Punk, deadmau5, Burial, Crystal Castles, Jonathan Coulton, Syl Johnson, Congorock and others — and he’s had his work playlist by a nubmer of superstar producers and artists including Tiesto, Armin van Buren and Steve Angello.

Last week saw the release of the Paris-based producer and electronic music artist’s latest full-length effort, Origins 2011-2016, a massive 23 song LP, which features some of the French producer and electronic music artist’s most popular songs, including Flashback,” “Beautiful Light,” “Reminder” “Mistakes” as well as a new material including the shimmering and anthemic M83-channeling singles “Thousand Colors,” and “Emotion,” the Pink Floyd-channeling, cinematic “Reminder,” and the 45:33 and Sound of Silver-era LCD Soundsystem-leaning “Alive.” To celebrate the release of the album, Netjabakshe shared a swooningly gorgeous and cinematic rendition of “Constellation” performed by members of the Paris Symphonic Orchestra that retains the lush, cinematic quality of the original.

Karriem Riggins is a Detroit, MI-born, Los Angeles, CA-based hip-hop producer and jazz drummer, who received national attention with the 2012 release of his solo debut effort Alone Together, which was released through renowned hip-hop tastemaker label Stones Through Records. Now, it’s been a little while since we’ve heard from him as a solo artist; however, Riggins has been pretty busy. Earlier this year, Riggins and J. Rocc collaborated on a Stones Throw Records’ Dungeon Session tribute to beloved producer — and fellow Detroiter J. Dilla. Along with that Riggins produced Common’s 11th full-length effort Black America Again.

Reportedly Riggins is working on a new and long-awaited full-length effort, slated for release sometime next year. In the meantime, Riggins released a new single “Bahia Dreaming,” which may presumably offer a taste of the new effort’s sound may be. Clocking in at a little over 2 minutes, “Bahia Dreaming” manages to be slickly produced synthesis of influences as the 3/4s of the song owes a sonic debt to J. Dilla with the song featuring twinkling and cascading synths and keys, skittering drum programming, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, and a chopped up, soulful vocal sample — that is until the last 40 seconds or so when the song suddenly turns into a bop era jazz composition bolstered and held together by tweeter and woofer rocking beats. Interestingly, the single reveals that Riggins has refined his sound — and in a way that possess an easy-going, cool as hell, strutting swagger paired with a dreamily thoughtful feel.

 

 

 

Over the past 18-24 months or so,  Berlin, Germany-based producer, electronic music artist and DJ Lennart Richter, a prolific artist and producer, who has released a series of singles through a number of renowned electronic music labels including Sleazy G, East Project, G-Mafia Records, GUN PWDR, Ensis RecordsBlue Dye, Mondal Recordings and others has become one of a long list of this site’s growing mainstay artists — all while further cementing his reputation across Europe and elsewhere for composing, writing and releasing singles that explored the gamut of electronic music subgenres such as deep house, nu-disco and others with a slick, crowd-pleasing, club-rocking production. And unsurprising, Richter had several Beatport Top 25 releases under his belt, including his Berlin Brawling EP landing at  #10 on the Beatport Indie Dance/Nu Disco Charts.

Earlier this year, the Berlin, Germany-based producer, electronic music artist and DJ released an incredibly slick remix of Yes‘ “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” which retained the original vocal track but paired with a densely layered production that featured handclap-led percussion, slowly cascading synths — and while retaining something of the song’s original feel and spirit, turning the song into a mid-tempo club banger. Richter’s latest single “Still Hawt” is a retro-futuristic, 80s-inspired synth rock instrumental track that has the German producer and electronic music artist employing the use of shimmering layers of cascading analog synths paired with some blistering guitar work by Slync. Sounding as though it could have been part of a John Carpenter movie soundtrack, the duo manage to pay homage to a familiar sound while possessing a subtle yet contemporary slickness.

New Audio: Introducing the Arena Rock-Friendly Prog Rock of California’s Strawberry Girls

With the release of their 2015 release American Graffiti, the California-based instrumental trio received a growing national profile as the effort landed at #22 on Billboard’s New Artist charts, and they followed that with a busy live show schedule that included touring with Dance Gavin Dance and CHON. Adding to a busy schedule, the members of the band managed to begin work on their forthcoming effort Italian Ghosts, which is slated for a February 17, 2017 release. And as the band’s Ben Rossett says in press notes “Italian Ghosts is a testament to how much we’ve grown as a band, and what we believe is our best sounding experience as of yet.” The album’s first single “Vanilla Rainforest,” as the band’s Zac Garren explains “pulls from lots of different influences, like dub reggae, hip hop, electronic and progressive rock;” and while being an arena rock friendly, headbanger, the song also possesses a jazz fusion-like sense of improvisation, as the song feels as though it captures three musicians in complete simpatico jamming as hard as possible.

Led by its founding member Toby Pazner, a member of Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; and featuring Dave Guy, a member of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Band and The Dap-Kings; Leon Michels, a member of The Arcs, Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; Nicholas Movshon, a member of The Arcs, Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; Homer Steinweiss, a member of The Dap-Kings and The Arcs; Michael Leonheart, Steely Dan‘s musical director and a member of David Byrne‘s backing band; Neal Sugarman, a member of The Dap-Kings and The Sugarman 3; Aaron Johnson, a member of Antibalas and El Michels Affair; Evan Pazner, a member of Lee Fields and The Expressions, The Olympians are a Daptone Records All-Star band who can trace their origins to when founding member Toby Pazner recruited a bunch of New York’s finest soul musicians during the 2008 Summer Olympics to record material that would comprise the collective’s first 45, which was released through Truth and Soul Records.

However, as the story goes, it wasn’t until a few years later, when Pazner was touring Greece and the Greek Islands when his true vision for the project materialized. After playing the Acropolis and swimming in the Aegean Sea, Pazner had a series of recurring dreams in which he was visited by an ancient, toga-clad, curly-haired Greek man, who told him to return home and build a “Temple of Sound.” And in that temple, Pazner was to retell the tales of Ancient Greece through music. Of course, considering the strangeness of those dreams, Pazner initially ignored them but since they were recurring and so vividly forceful, Pazner began to feel a decided urgency. When Pazner finished the tour, he returned to New York with a singular focus on completing The Olympians’ full-length debut and he immediately went to work acquiring the best studio equipment he could get his hands on. He then promptly followed that up by recruiting his Daptone Records friends  to help him flesh out the material that would comprise the collective’s self-titled album, slated for an October 28, 2016 release.

The self-titled album’s latest single “Apollo’s Mood” is a smooth, old-school soul inspired composition featuring the Daptone horn players, some of the best, contemporary horn players in the entire world paired with a twinkling, twisting and turning organ chords, a slow-burning and sinuous bass line, and a steady back beat. And although contemporary — in the sense that the musicians who composed and recorded the song are contemporary — the song sounds and feels as though it could have been recorded in 1963.