“Listen To This“ is back after a well earned nap with another special guest contributor revelling in the role of showing me up as a musically illiterate half-wit.
2009 has been a year of mixed fortunes for Father Abraham. On the one hand he’s recently joined the ranks of the non-bailed out unemployed so he’s rapping about his Ford Taurus one week and having to sell it the next.
So far so fed up, but on the plus side he’s in the creative form of his life. The “I Am Not A Sailor, I Am The Captain” album has been widely touted as the years hidden hiphop gem, and his clearly bonkers decision to release a new song every week for a YEAR has been made to look perfectly sane!
Father Abraham – Visit 52Pickup.us to nab a new track every Thursday or all the songs so far in one handy ZIP.
Welcome to Part one of “Listen To This” (Part 2 here).
As ever one persons essential new tune is another’s blackboard scrapping irritation. Read on for 3 new loves from us both, and for the answer to the most important question… can Father Abraham make it through a sentence without mentioning one of his own tracks!!?? (A shameless self-publicist but as long as the music’s good we’ll let it pass!)
PS: Calling yourself Father Abraham causes all sorts of problems when trying to find decent pictures online. Not that I don’t have love for bearded Dutchmen and Smurfing beer.
Alan Wilkis – “Pink and Purple (Black & Blue Remix)” (MP3)
Alan Wilkis is on some Prince shit. Prince Fielder, specifically. He is a portly, menacing, left-handed power hitter with limited range in the field. He plays synthesizers with batting gloves on so as not to get blisters.
It is clear from this recording that Alan knows what women like. Ribbons. Pink. Purple. Evenings of eternal bliss, which by definition warp the fabric of time and space. Tesseracts.
It is also clear from this remix of Pink and Purple that I recently put out as a part of my project to release one song per week for all of 2009 that I have no clue what women like. Yelling. Industrial drum sounds. Frenetic synth breakdowns that devolve into noisy nothingness. Despite all of this, somehow I manage to maintain a somewhat healthy relationship with my girlfriend, who sometimes performs Miami-sampledelic hooks for my songs.
After Mr Abraham sent me this track I did what all amateur scribes do, search the internet for quotes and copy to… well, copy. Describing his musical taste in one interview Wilkis mused: “One day I might be listening to some death metal, next day it’s 80s hip-hop, then Bach fugues, and then it’s Elvis Costello all weekend“.
By all means correct me if I missed Napalm Death’s experimental “Talk Box” album or Bach’s “Well-Tempered Slap Bass” but not all of his influences quite made it into the recording studio.
What we have instead is the kind of 70’s/80’s funky bass loving, Rick James referencing, pop funk Chromeo made before they dropped the glitter ball with their second album.
If this track was a haircut it’d be a Jheri curl, and a sweat drenched one at that.
Wilkis plays a mean synth line and that along with “Pink & Purple’s” unmistakable twanging slap bass lost me an afternoon as I wandered off on an extended YouTube nostalgia trip.
Two “Soul Train” recordings of The Dazz Band’s “Let It Whip” sowed the seed that I might just be able to dance a bit funkier if only I had a basketball as a cool prop, and as for the ladies… its ok to get down while the tassels from your grandma’s tiebacks swish around your nether regions.
Zapp! reminded me that live performances these days would be improved no end by the simple addition of a man in full military regalia playing a machine gun shaped guitar with his teeth. The Gap Band’s fabulous “Dropped A Bomb“ was another highlight but I’m sure this paragraph started out with at least the promise of an Alan Wilkis review.
“Pink & Purple” wears its influences very clearly but its more than just an unimaginative pastiche. The chorus packs an addictive hook and its simply a very likable record.
Even the fact that it contains a keyboard solo Rick Wakeman would consider overblown doesn’t spoil the enjoyment. And you simply have to admire the brazen cheek of morphing that keyboard into the type of squealing guitar solo that’s been outlawed in the uk since the days when Top Of The Pops still used saxophone shaped video wipes to get between performances.
If all that wasn’t good enough Father Abraham himself has turned the track on its head and produced a rather splendid remix (although he doesnt like to talk about it). Letting rip at the cocky girl Abraham rages at her arrogance tearing right down to “you think you look good in those jeans“.
“aint no news at 4 in the morning going to be good ”
Polar Bear post number 43… its got to the stage where I’m such a fan boy Mr Polar should fully expect me to appear at his next gig wearing a ra-ra skirt, doing the splits while energetically thrusting pom poms in the air and demanding the audience “Give me a P… give me an O“.
The name Polar Bear stems from a childhood obsession with said bears prompted by one of David Attenborough’s magical BBC wildlife extravaganzas (Arctic Circle). The ascent of this son of the 2nd city Birmingham has itself been glacial, slow and inevitable but frustrating. Far from making obvious career moves, he seems to wilfully do the unexpected, the uncommercial.
For gods sake if Just Jack can be a pop star, go find a house beat and to hell with artistic integrity, except of course doing what he pleases is one thing that makes Polar Bear such an interesting act to follow.
I could have picked half a dozen tracks or spoken words as my Polar “Listen To This“, each one under a different name or a guest appearance on a previously unheard producer. Clicking around his myspace friends opens up a world of hidden tracks.
“Locked Doors” a collaboration with Octave Mouret is so beautiful it’ll make you weep (or maybe thats just me?) Billy Valves takes his most well known poem “Jessica” and twists it into the dark electronica of “Wow“.
And finally to Afrobear, a new group that’s survived hard drive crashes, lost tracks and several incarnations. Featuring Polar Bear, Afrosaxon, and female vocalist Stac, they say the project combines “Hip-Hop sensibilities, a love for warm sounds and honest lyrics, a need for jokes and a philosophy that anything goes as long as its great.”
If Ken Loach or Jimmy McGovern possessed mad rap skillzz they’d probably sound a bit like Polar Bear. His words describe what some might sneeringly consider mundane lives but the detail, warmth and wit in his lyrics would melt the heart of the sniffiest critic.
“Moves” is a case in point – an entire song based on getting a text message at 4am – it takes in ass whippings on International Superstar Soccer, custard cremes and the weirdness of hearing your own music on the radio. Afrobear is conceived as an evolving online project, tracks, remixes and the like will appear and disappear, and as such “Moves” is available in two versions, the original (as Polarbear) and a Afrobear remix featuring the honeyed tones of Stac.
Polarbear, Afrobear and all of his incarnations and guest appearances are certainly making moves, just dont expect them to be the obvious ones.
I have issues with the despondency of this song.
Look, I’m living a pretty bare-bones life right now, too. I’m losing my job in a month. I count oven pizza and decent coffee as delicacies. I spend an absurd amount of time cold-emailing music bloggers like you and trying to push my weirdo synth-hop on them. I have been around long enough to know that a big break isn’t really a big break until the money is in my bank account. I am faced daily with the paralyzing fear that in a context that extends beyond my studio walls and and my little corner of the internet, I might actually be nothing more than a hack. Shit’s tough, requires thick skin, eye of the tiger, blah blah bullshit etc. However, I try not to let it inform my music, because for me, at its heart, music is a hopeful pursuit.
I guess what I’m saying is that this guy is very talented, and his professional trajectory seems encouraging based on the content of the song, but I don’t often give harbor to music about how hard making music is.
I knew these guys back when they were The Product. No matter. This song is great. Whereas Alan’s romantic style is sweet and saccharine, Electric Laser People are all about that red meat: “I want to get steak takeout with you.” So do I. With them, not you. Maybe you, too.
I saw them play this song live once and the place went insane. Have you ever been at a bar/party when “You Shook Me All Night Long” came on and wondered how it might be possible to leave without finding a willing partner? It was like that.
Did I mention I sampled the opening break to this song in the second verse of Oscillator Blues, the seventh song in my series of 52 songs that I released in 2009 as a part of my effort to produce, record, and release one song per week for an entire year? I didn’t? Shit.
Also, Dan Paluska of Electric Laser People co-authored (co-built? co-did?) this, so everything else he does is cool by proxy.
I hate this song, it ruined my teenage years or at least I think it did? At every school disco it soundtracked my ritual humiliation as the cool kids moshed and made out with the subjects of my teenage infatuations. While they “Locked those lips” I was left standing awkwardly at the edge of the dancefloor sipping my Top Deck cider through a straw.
It’s the slow dance hell of Jennifer Rush’s “Power Of Love” as covered by Rage Against The Machine in the mosh pit. “The Makeout Song” may have only been recorded last year but even on first listen it sounds so familiar your brain subconsciously weaves it into your life story.
Kicking off sounding like the return of Tone Loc and continuing to get noisier and dafter from that point in. The grin inducing lyrics declare “I wanna have an acne breakout while I make out with you” before the bellowed command to “lock those lips” signals what I can only imagine must carnage on the dancefloor.
Is it even physically possible to mosh and make out…? Sounds like a recipe for chipped teeth and dentist bills to me.
The song has been universally loved by anyone I’ve played it to, and what’s more the whole album is available to download for free.
For three more selections read Part Two here.