Tag: instrumentals

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.





New Video: Renowned Director and Composer John Carpenter Returns with an Eerie and Cinematic New Single Paired with Equally Creepy Visuals

Lost Themes II’s latest single “Utopian Facade,” is a moodily atmospheric and cinematic composition consisting of throbbing and insistent bass, cascading layers of shimmering synths, and a staccato, string-based sample in what may arguably be Lost Themes II’s most haunting and eeriest single while nodding at Carpenter’s imitable and familiar sound.

Produced and directed by Gavin Hignight and Ben Verhulst, the recently released video for “Utopian Facade,” is the story of an android’s nightmare, hidden in dark, murky forests, set in an uneasy yet relatively near future that feels and looks dimly familiar. As Hignight explains in press notes “We were instantly haunted upon hearing ‘Utopian Façade’. It conjured images of jagged tree branches, dark woods and things that go bump in the night. Our goal was to explore these feelings combined with the visuals of the electronic synth driven world established in the ‘Night’ video from the prior album.” Unsurprisingly Hignight and Verhulst manage to further emphasize the slowly creeping dread and horror within the song, while hinting at the dystopian future that seems almost inevitable.


Comprised of Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Zubin Hensler (trumpet), Andy Clausen (trombone) and Willem de Koch (trombone), New York-based instrumental act The Westerlies have developed a reputation for crafting compositions that possess elements of jazz, classical and chamber music, done with a self-assured swagger and a mischievous wit. Interestingly, the quartet can  actually trace their origins to their birthplace of Seattle, WA where the members of the band were both childhood friends and occasional musical rivals, competing against each other in local and regional competitions — but despite the fact that they all grew up in the same city,  each performer/composer has a unique and diverse musical background that winds up influencing their songwriting approach. In fact, observers and fans of the act have noted that in each individual composition, you can hear that song’s composer gently pulling the entire band towards his own tastes, with the band following along.

Adding to the uniqueness of the project, each member independently moved to New York, which led to the old friends and rivals reconnecting and performing together while they studied at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music.

Produced by Grammy-winning producer Jesse Lewis, best known for his work with Roomful of Teeth, Brooklyn Rider, Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma and the L.A. Philharmonic, the quartet’s self-titled sophomore effort is comprised of material composed by each member and although the members of the band had known of Lewis through his work, as it turns out Lewis went to the same Seattle high school that three members of The Westerlies went to. And as a result, the connection that the five collaborators had was deep and it allowed the members of the band to further push their compositional talents and the sonic limits of brass instrumentation.

Composed by Andy Clausen, the forthcoming sophomore effort’s first single “New Berlin, New York” is a bold layered composition that manages to possess a mischievous wit and charm and a larger than life swagger, and while being layered, the composition is spacious enough to allow each instrument and each musician to strut and stunt throughout the composition. But just underneath the bold, swaggering surface is an aching vulnerability.





Rwandan-born, Brussels, Belgium-based producer Wantumeni is a self-taught producer and artist, who has started to receive attention in Brussels for production techniques and a sound that’s reminiscent of The Beatnuts, Madlib, J.Dilla and others. His full-length debut, Prima Nocta is slated for release later this year through N.M.L.O.P. Records; and to build up buzz for himself and for the full-length effort, the Rwandan-born, Brussels-based producer and artist will be releasing a beat every Sunday in a series he’s dubbed Meni Given Sundays.  

The fifth installment of the series “Baby Blue Panties” has the producer pairing skittering and industrial-sounding drum programming with a chopped up, warm and subtly soulful sample that features guitar, synths and drums in an instrumental track that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of singles I’ve heard off Oddisee’s latest album, as well as Madlib and J. Dilla. Of course, this track will clearly remind listeners not just of J. Dilla’s massive influence over hip-hop but that hip-hop is truly the lingua franca of the modern world.