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.