Thursday, January 14, 2010

Filthy Percussion Vol. 3: Malcom Catto

A senior archdeacon in the clergy of dirty breaks and one who's known for creating some of the funkiest drum arrangements ever imagined, Malcom Catto would certainly be an unavoidable name for a blog series aptly titled 'Filthy Percussion.' He's garnered much attention for being DJ Shadows live drummer, as well as providing the chief percussive section for groups such as The Keystones, The Heliocentrics, and Quantics Combo Barbáro. More recently, he's teamed up with Ethio-jazz father Mulatu Astatke for the Strut album series 'Inspiration Information.' Over time, he's contributed to many of todays more significant and fresher-sounding groove acts. With quite a number of collaborations and guest features under his belt, he's also done a few extremely rare singles sought after by only the truest milkcrate mongers. One for instance is a promo 7" released on the Stark Reality label, which is notable for it's unreleased b-side entitled "The Withered Claw." An even more scarcely available Bubblefish 10" was pressed a few years ago; 10 copies in black and 10 in yellow (!). Both have been unearthed - thanks to diggers of mutual interest exchanging information on forums across the interweb. Below are a couple of previews of some of my favorite Catto treats.

The Soul Destroyers: Five Track Extended Play (EP, 2002)

The Soul Destroyers was Catto's first established funk band with fellow Heliocentrics members Adrian Owusu and Jake Ferguson, as well as added vocals by soul singer Sharon Jackson. This EP, recorded at the wonderful Tardis Studio, combines all of their Stark Reality 45s and also includes a previously unreleased track entitled Spartacus, which is sampled here. A fast paced, somewhat dark, bluesy instrumental with aggressive drums and guitar riffs.

Malcom Catto: Copter (7", 2001)

Released just before the album Popcorn Bubble Fish surfaced, the title track Copter remained an exclusive to this orange 7". Gruff brass loops permeates the song with a build-up of tension, creating a jazzy Music De Wolfe style rhythm as if it came straight out of an early 70s British detective film. This is all topped over heavily infectious drums.

Das Goldenes Zeitalter: A Vision (12", 2006)

One of Jazzman's more obscure singles from one of Catto's endless number of outfits, comprised of members from The Whitefield Brothers and El Michels Affair. In fact, the song Breakin' Through was recently included on The Whitefield Brothers' sophomore album Earthology (One of my top albums of '09.) Das Goldenes Zeitalter is a sort of experimental project with irregular rhythms influenced by fusion jazz. The track 'Im Würgegriff Der Schönen Künste' contains woodwind flutes dispersed over acoustic clangs in an avant-garde manner, producing a hypnotically chaotic soundscape.


I was just informed that Malcom Catto is not related to this specific project. There's incorrect information posted on the Jazzman website that says Catto joined Das Goldene Zeitalter, but that was simply a dream that never came to fruition. 'A Vision' was recorded in 1998 and the other 2 tracks were done in 2002. Catto played for The Poets of Rhythm in 2005 and 2006, which is during the same time this 12" was released, and that led to this mix-up. Thanks to Max from The Whitefield Brothers for clearing this up!

Any other corrections, updates, suggestions, queries, flames (no spam though!), can be either posted in the comments sections or e-mailed to

Malcom Catto: Bubblefish Breaks (12" LP, 2002)

This vinyl only LP was released on Mo Wax to accompany Catto's full length debut. It's quite hard to find these days and often reaches up to $75 on a good ebay scrounge.

Side A showcases many short drum breaks to use for mixing or simply for learning Catto's impeccable drum patterns. The flipside contains solo drum renditions of the albums songs, which are much more complex in nature and are very listenable on their own accord.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Filthy Percussion Vol. 2: Skrapez

Skrapez is a crew from San Diego that's bringing some of the hardest and rawest drums to ever be recorded. Label head Tenshun and compadre Deth Shepherd compose the instrumentals and are sometimes accompanied by the lyrics of the Creatures and Kilowattz crew extensions. They also tear up needles with seriously deadly scratching skills. These beats are on some corrupt, adulterated, b-movie horror tip. Experimental noise, distortion, haunted rock and blues loops, death bells, heavy low end…it's a halloween bag full of razor apples and poisoned taffy. The music is pressed in extreme low fidelity to make sure you'll get the most abrasive, grungiest sound possible. Your ears will feel pain.

The Skrapez catalogue runs deep and mostly consist of singles and EPs. Tenshun cuts his plates with his own mono lathe and designs the inner sheets with psychedelic patterns and ink sketches. In the end you get a nice custom, handmade package. It's real dedication and shows how the combination of art and vinyl should be done. The runs are numbered and almost always come in very small, limited quantities. He doesn't believe in represses so once they're gone, i'm afraid they're really gone.

No one's doing this type of thing so you should look out for Skrapez crew if and when they roll through your spot. Samples are provided below in hopes that you'll throw your support their way.

1. Tenshun: Deformed Bodies (7", 2008)

This wax here is cut by Peter King who apparently invented the process of polycarbonate lathe cutting in the '80s. Really dope piece altogether. The caption below the art reads "A freak with legs instead of arms." Very ogreish indeed. A constant low pitch drone carries the track into the mountain of purgatory where 10shun sits, letting loose on the drums.

2. Tenshun: Sight & Sound (Cassette, 2009)

It's very old school of 10shun to continually release music on vinyl AND tape. Both sides are continuous mixes and also re-appear on the accompanying DVD as backing tracks to the visuals. The snippet posted is the grim concluding segment of the track entitled "Coldwind." Beware, the decibels are off the scale.

3. Tenshun and Myself: Skrapez 4 (7", 2006)

The 4th in the series of untitled Skrapez 7"'s is also one of my favorites. Side A contains a hefty load of eardrum terror. The re-occurring piano loop is disturbingly creepy and induces you further into psychosis as the song progresses. This is murder etched into microgrooves.

4. Deth Shepherd: Nam (CD, 2006)

Nam is a mini CD from Deth Shepherd where he proves to match the percussive ability of front man Tenshun. In fact, much of the music provided from Skrapez comes from this symbiotic pairing of disordered brains. Clicks and pops are inherent in the song, providing a billowy fog where a doomed organ repeats itself.

5. Tenshun B/W Psychopop: Skrapez 5 (7", 2008)

The sample posted here is from Psychopop, who is one and the same as Deth Shepherd. The side B track "Heavy Machinery Drogg" is a certified banger, with a middle eastern melody looped over pounding bass. The second part of the song is equally as hard, with the Shepherd going old testament on the drums.

You can purchase Skrapez music from the following sites:

Access Hip Hop

Vulgar Records

Tenshun's Big Cartel (PayPal)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Funky Flipsides: Melting Pot Music

MPM has been making a name for themselves ever since DJ Olski founded it in '02. The German based label consistently releases some of the finest modern day funk/jazz/hip hop instrumental grooves. A quick skim through their catalogue proves this and also shows why the name Melting Pot is so befitting. You got talent such as DJ Day from LA, Lefties Soul Connection from Amsterdam, Kutiman from Tel Aviv, Marc Hype and Jim Dunloop from Berlin...I can keep going. In short, their roster shits on your favorite label. From MPM's discography, you'll see that the good majority of releases are in the form of vinyl singles. If you haven't done so yet, cop both of the compilations which collects a good amount of these singles into 2 full length releases. Melting Pot caters. The following samples are b-sides (not available on either comp.) to some of my favorite wax selections from the label.

1. Upskiboo: Summer Heat (12", 2006)

You may recognize the name from the first 'Nobody Beats The Beats' compilation (great album by the way.) Upskiboo is a producer from Copenhagen, Denmark, and there's seriously not enough material floating around by this guy. This track's called 'Up Is Down', and it can be described as psyche-groove, easy tempo hip-funk.

2. The Phobos Peepl:

Bike Ryder B/W Weightless Step (7", 2006)

Also affiliated with the 'Nobody Beats The Beats' pack is The Phobos Peepl from the same area, Copenhagen. This is actually one of those 'solo artist uses a misleading multi-person alias' type deals, as it's only Martin Dejean behind the boards. He's also DJ Fresco from Stylus Force, and he crafts succulent beats. The B-side here is very spaced out, mellow, and jazzy.

3. The Koliphones: Voyage Into The Sun B/W Jungle Concerto (Moog) (12", 2008)

Check the ill artwork on this donut, you can expect the sound to be crazy. The Koliphones is a trio coming straight out of Israel with some real dirty music. Kutiman handles the percussion - not much else needs to be said. I'll leave you with an excerpt from their page: Joined by our love [for] rare psychedelic grooves, dusty 45's and hard hitting bass, we teamed up to create an all analog experimental funk project, recorded on tape, using 100% analog gear, with mostly moog and drums as instruments.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Filthy Percussion Vol. 1: A.P.E. Records

Here's the first part of Filthy Percussion. As the title indicates, this series is gonna focus on drum heavy instrumental music. It's as basic as that, so without further ado...

Let's get started with one of my favorite little labels, A.P.E. Records (Analogue Production Environment) from the UK. They only released four 12"'s in the span of two years, and all of them are gems. Engineer/producer/drummer Mike Burnham (whom you may know from The Heliocentrics) worked on all of these releases.

The control room in
A.P.E. Studios
- Cheshire, England

1. Redback: More Than Human B/W Brighter Day (12", 1999)

One of my favorite singles of all time is Redback's 'More Than Human' released in '99. Two guys make up this moniker, John Harris and Mike Burnham. Both tracks have incredible, dense and varied production, with rhythm that'll make your neck sore. I've dropped the needle on both sides hundreds of times and neither has lost its flavor one bit. The b side is equally as amazing, so happy hunting.

2. Mr. Chop: Cowboy Massacre B/W Wasp in a Jar (12", 2000)

Before Mr. Chop connected with Now-Again and Stones Throw, he was dropping plastic for A.P.E. and Stark Reality (the sub-label of Jazzman, not the late '60s fuzzy jazz band.) Chop has recently released two widely available EPs ('Sounds From The Cave' + 'Lightworlds') and produced a few tracks on MF Doom's latest full length 'Born Like This.' If you haven't checked out either of those EPs yet, you're dozing. Today I provide a clip from a long lost artifact released a decade ago. It's filled with haunting analogue drones and idiophones.

3. Precinct 47: Evidence (Reinvented Mixes) (12", 1999)

I have no information whatsoever on this artist/group named 'Precinct 47.' Needless to say, this single has alternate mixes by psych-fiends Cherrystones and Mr. Chop himself, so it has to be good. The best mix out of the bunch is done by the club-wielding caveman Chop. He builds up the track for a minute before he hits us with a frenzy of rapid-fire drums.