Dope Producers Part 1

For those that don’t know, I make music.

I started a while back with a cheap synth I “borrowed” from a high school “friend”. You can imagine how choice my beats were…The next step for me was a drum machine that i payed with money I earned promoting parties ($1,500 – that’s devotion for a then 17 year old). That didn’t last long. My neighbor, upon hearing of my bold purchase, that I wasn’t quite sure how to use, told me about this program – Fruity Loops – and that he could find it online for me for free. So as you can imagine, I returned the drum machine (something I regret to this day because I’ve never learnt how to use one), and got down with Fruity Loops for a few years. Then  I listened to another friend, (regretfully so) that told me I had to “graduate” to Reason.  But I never liked Reason aside from its drum machine. So I finally decided on Ableton, which I have been using for the last few years. For the most part I’m happy with the music I make. I sometimes feel like my creative peaks are behind me but every now and then I get a great idea and the luck to be able to execute it maybe at 65% of what I had imagined.

Sometimes however, I come across a producer/artist who’s music is so good, so crisp, so clean, so personal, so confident and complete and CREATIVE and complex that it discourages to the point of feeling completely shitty and undeserving.

This post is about one of them.

Nicolas Jaar.

Young guy, younger than me. I believe he’s chilean/American. I also believe he was in Montreal hanging out in my friends apartment a few months ago , but that’s neither here nor there.

Nicolas Jaar. He’s damn good.

The thing about Nicolas Jaar’s music is that it is electro-acoustically creative and complex, it is technically advanced, it’s original, it’s electronic but it’s also funky and hypnotic and ballsy. It’s like everything I ever wanted to make but never had the patience/determination or perhaps the talent to. Not ALL his music is great but damn near most of it is.

Another measure of a great artist is his live performances and let me tell you, Jaar does not dissapoint. I saw him in Montreal in the summer of 2012 for mutek with a guitarist and a saxophonist and it was powerful. Despite operating in the 110-112 Beats per Minute, he had the crowd dancing and grooving to every note.

He recently collaborated on an album with guitarist Dave Harrington. Pitchfork gave it a 9 out of 10. But f*#k Pitchfork.

Oh I just got my tickets for his next show in MTL January 14. To be Continued…

Good Songs Under 2:00 AKA What Could Have Been

Songs don’t need to be long to be good. The average pop song usually lasts no more than 3:30 seconds, while early rock n roll songs used to average around 2:20 minutes but left the listener feeling satisfied.

Every once in a while though you fall on a piece of music that you wished had been developed further. A brilliant but condensed melody and structure that is so good, you wish it had been stretched out and expanded instead of leaving you wanting more and having to play it on repeat.

Such are the following songs. Some are intros other are outros and some are just short songs – all 2 minutes long or less. While we wonder what could have been, they are all still excellent as is and contain little nuggets of genius.

I could have added a few others to this list, but the common thread in these next 4 songs is the strong melodic component that grabs you that I have not found in others(or have forgotten).

John Frusciante: Untitled #10

Album: Niandra Lades And Usually Just A T-Shirt

John Frusciante is the genius former lead guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They made their best music with him and his playing can be recognized on songs like Under the Bridge, and Road Trippin. Some great guitar videos of him are floating around the net. You can check out his new stuff on his website.

Lenine: Samba Do Quilombo

Lenine is a brasilian singer/songwriter that I discovered a few years back, at the height of my obsession with everything Brazil, a phase that lasted a good 3 years. He’s not the best nor my favorite but this is a great song and I must’ve played it on repeat a hundred times. As with most Bossa Nova, neither the chord progression nor the song structure is conventional voice yet there is something catchy and exhilarating going on imo. I’m not quite sure what album it is from. Educate me if you know.

The Beatles: Her Majesty

Album: Abbey Road

This song written by Paul was featured at the end of the Medley on the B side of the Abbey Road album. I had read something about the song being placed somewhere else on early releases of the album and I have also seen longer versions of it on youtube. This however is the official version that everyone knows. It’s obviously a classic and a great song as is. However this could have been a hit had it been made into a full song. A typical catchy smooth Paul McCartney acoustic number that you can hear over and over again. However at 30 seconds long it becomes frustrating…

DJ Quik – Outro

Album: Balance & Options

Switching gears to rap music. More specifically, West Coast P/G funk . DJ QUIK is one of the best if not The best rap producer out of California, all time. In 1995, after having been listening to NWA, Eazy-E, Notorious BIG and Wu-Tang, I saw a picture of a dude in a Red flannel shirt and red Phillies Baseball Cap in The Source and he just looked badass, a less flashy, more mysterious Snoop. One listen to his album “Safe & Sound” had me hooked.  This is the outro to his Balance & Options album (my 3rd favorite after Rhythmalism). This song has been my ringtone for 2 years and I’ve never had 1 complaint and i’m still not tired of it. Great beat – could have been a hit, can still be a hit!

 

Hidden musical gems in films – Part 1

Music almost always plays a central role in any good movie. Sometimes the music is discreet and subtle in order to trigger a certain feeling – fear, suspense,excitement. In other instances, the music is more central to the story, with a happy songs (for example) punctuating scenes and helping set the tone while getting the viewer emotionally invested in the film.

Movie soundtracks in the 90’s were used as a platform by big mainstream rap artists to “break out”, such as Warren G with the song “Regulate” on the “Above the Rim” soundtrack or Aaliyah with “Are you that Somebody” on the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack.

Composers (think Hans Zimmer) became world reknown for creating soundscapes that were so iconic that they led to multimilliion dollar sales of movie soundtracks.

But this post is about something different. The song within a movie that is not composed by Hans Zimmer and that does not appear on the soundtrack.

The song you remember after you see the movie but can’t really find it anywhere.

I’m on a quest to find the best ones. Here are 3 that have stayed with me and that I listen to again and again

It seems like these songs have a common theme..

1- From the movie Glory featuring Denzel Washington & Morgan Freeman

2 – From the movie Imitation of LIfe –Trouble of the World -_Mahalia Jackson

3- From “Rio Bravo” – My Rifle, pony & me – Dean Martin & Ricky Nelson