Part one of “Listen To This saw Jez of Horse Latitudes/Brubekk, and Finger Magazine fame so shell shocked by my selections he started quoting Black Eyed Peas songs. Luckily The Jackson 5 saved the day, and now Jez steps up with 3 of his own choice selections.

Links: Brubekk – “EarthShaker” / Finger Magazine / Horse Latitudes music blog

HORSE LATITUDES (JEZ) CHOICE 1:

Hercules And Love Affair“Classique2” (MP3)

Myspace

Download: Andy Butler mix on Beats in Space podcast (March 21st) – visit for free download or subscribe.

HL (JEZ): I think it is telling that Larry Heard AKA Mr Fingers is the first friend on these guy’s myspace page. Talk about wearing your influences on your sleeve…but that’s not a negative, nor is it the sum total of their sound.

It starts with the lush thuds and bumps of a nice mid tempo groove and some old school cascading vocal samples, a sound Chicago would be proud to call its own. But then the bubbles of a wicked analogue-y hook come through. A hook that if you didn’t know any better would make you say “this band should be snapped up by DFA” – and you’d be right.

I chose Classique 2 purely because it had less downloads, and I like to fight for the underdog (some people just call that ‘being contrary’…) Athene rocks hard too, but this one for sheer head-nod-a-bility just pipped it. Thanks to Jaksoul for the nudge in this direction.

MLD: The opening thud thud of the 4:4 house drum, a burbling acid bassline, snatches of twisted vocal samples and I’m in heaven. Even better god’s thrown some classic Chicago house on the turntable.

Rock has been eating itself for 30-40 years now, and similarly this is a dance sound that could’ve been recorded at any point in the last 20 years, but when the source you’re supping from is as delicious as the glorious house sound of Chicago and Detroit, I for one wont be complaining. On the heavily treated hook lines it even sounds like they’ve dragged Inner City’s Paris Grey out of retirement just to provide a 5 word pleading end to the chorus’s “Do… You… Really… Want… Me”.

I’ve only heard a couple of tracks so far but the debut album from Andrew Butler’s Hercules And The Love Affair is already shaping up to be all over those end of year lists. With guest vocals from Antony Hegarty (of “and the Johnson’s” fame) – a man who provided the stand out track on the My Robot friend album last year – and the backing and kudos of DFA its difficult to see how it can fail. Aside from Bjorks mouth-watering new album featuring Timbaland and the Konono No.1 this is probably my most eagerly awaited release of the year (and to think i hadn’t even heard of it 2 weeks ago when Jez’s mail popped into my in box).

CO

HORSE LATITUDES (JEZ) CHOICE 2:

The Cinematic OrchestraTo Build A Home (Edit)” (MP3)

Buy: Pre-Order the new single “Breathe / New album from Amazon

Watch: Cinematic Orchestra – All That You Give” (YouTube)

Cinematic Orchestra – “To Build A Home” (Live – YouTube)

Read: Interview with J.Swinscoe

HL (JEZ): A human and a piano can be one of the most devastatingly effective conduits of human emotion – bar none. Throw-in a sustain pedal, a tortured soul, and a quartet of strings and I’m practically blind with tears before the music starts!

When you think Cinematic Orchestra you probably think all clever outdoor festivals with beard stroking and silent Russian movies and people who read the Guardian and know more than you about ballet. Me too. The Cinematics went off to the ICA for a while back at the turn of the century and I lost interest. In fact the whole Ninja Tunes operation lost sight of the things that made them legends in the 90s. Sure, everyone has to make a dollar, but you’re not getting mine anymore.

Then this track slid across my desk (how we grow up…I’m not asking the DJ anymore, I’m asking the secretaries…:)) and it is one of the most beautiful tracks I have heard for a long time.

In fact I feel quite spoilt today. This morning I spent listening to Regina Spektor’s ‘Samson’ (seek and find) and now I sit and listen to this. Both tracks borrow heavily from Antony and The Johnson’s, and the tradition goes back before him to Billie Holiday (I’m thinking Strange Fruit) and back further… But a melody is a melody, a hook’s a hook and good lyrics are damn hard to find. Patrick Watson, the Canadian singer, is a perfect match for the music. I trust you will agree.

MLD: As I was both in attendance at the live soundtrack for the Russian silent movie, and by and large have been a Guardian reader most of my life I slightly object to the thrust of Jez’s comments, although I discount myself from the slander on the basis of my lack of beard or ballet knowledge.

Ninjatune have always existed with their feet on the dancefloor but their hands on their beards… that’s their charm. True, sometimes they stray too far into bearded territory, one memorable moment being at the interval to Cinematic Orchestra’s live “Man With A Movie Camera” score, when an wide eyed young man enthused to my girlfriend at the time how “it was breathtaking” only to be informed that she’d slept through the first half so bored had she been (for the record I enjoyed most of it).

2002’s “Everyday” album ranks as one of Ninjatune’s finest releases, if only for Fontello Bass’s tracks, and the colossal genius of Roots Manuva guest spot on “All Things To All Men” so no pressure for the new release then guys!
The fact – and Im afraid it is a fact, not just sloppy journalism – that this track sounds like Coldplay covering Anthony & The Johnson’s has ensured it a tough reception on Ninja’s very own forum. Someone suggested joining a Coldplay noticeboard and posting it as a leaked new track to see how many people noticed it wasn’t Gwynth’s hubby.

When it first leaked late last year I have to admit I wasn’t that impressed either, but once you strip away all the expectation and the music snobbery, and actually LISTEN as George Michael once said without prejudice, what you’re left with is an absolutely beautiful track, that will touch your soul (if you let it)!
Ninjatune have been giving away the radio edit of the track so that’s the one Im sharing. For the full length version complete with sumptuous strings pre-order the album.

Ay Kalimba

HORSE LATITUDES (JEZ) – CLASSIC CUT:

Earth, Wind & Fire“Kalimba Story” (MP3)

Watch: Recent AOL live performance of “Kalimba Story”

EWF – “Got To Get You Into My Life” (from Sgt. Pepper The Musical) – YouTube (Not EWF’s finest moment)

HL (JEZ): The Kalimba is a Zimbabwean instrument, a finger piano that makes the most ethereal sound you’ve ever heard. Used to create waves of repetitious trance like sounds, it is as much the sound of today as of when it was created. You can hear it in The Juan Maclean, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, Joni Mitchell, Nine Inch Nails…and also in Earth Wind and Fire’s fifth album from 1974, ‘Open Our Eyes’.

Ramsey Lewis introduced Maurice White to the instrument when White was working with the Lewis band on the Sun Goddess sessions. White and the whole of EWF had a very Afro-centric roots based approach to soul and funk and this traditional African sound fit right in. I love the fact Maurice sings of how this ancient instrument will help him make “future music“. Damn straight people. This is still future music.

Of course the future for EWF was Boogie Wonderland and massive chart success followed by languishing in dollar bins all across the globe, but hey, in 1974 lots of people were optimistic 🙂 I had ignored EWF for too long, when I chanced across this track. I think we all have. Head back to the early albums and you’ll uncover some gems. This album alone contains ‘Drum Song’ ‘Devotion’ and ‘Mighty Mighty’. Check it.

MLD: As the saying goes “There’s many a fine tune played on an old piano“, and so its equally true that there’s many a funky tune played on a traditional instrument. Recently I saw Ba Cissoko’s 21 string Kora Harp’s out Hendrix Jimi himself while their drummer played a huge traditional drum that made a great booming noise like an 808 at the bottom of a 30ft well. Now add to that the back catalogue of Earth Wind and Fire, thanks to Maurice White’s love of traditional African instruments (although the Kalimba was sort of invented” by an Englishman in the 1920’s, based on the traditional Mbira).

Kalimba Song” takes a very Sly & The Family Stone bassline (“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”?) and perfectly mixes in the plucked sound of the Kalimba finger piano. On the basis of this I’ll be hunting down some early EWF asap, although with the exception of the Kalimba solo towards the end I have to ask if the track would be much different if the Kalimba channel on the mixing desk was faded down? (actually that’s a little harsh).

By all accounts Maurice did for the Kalimba what Rolf Harris did for the Wobble board placing it at the heart of the group, all over the early material, and giving it exposure it would never otherwise have achieved (although I can’t find so much as a sniff of Kalimba on Boogie Wonderland). Personally I just love the idea that a group like EWF would release a song about a Southern African finger piano as a single in the US, and reach number 7 in the R&B charts.