Monday, April 27, 2009

What's Playing on My Stereo? Week 5

First, I wanted to thank everyone who participated in last week's 'Mystery disc' discussion. A person who goes by the name of Freebie6969 guessed that the artist was Stark Reality and the album title was "Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop," so congratulations to them for being able to figure this one out. Since there was such good feedback on this new series, I will continue dropping more mystery discs in the future.

This week's installment of What's Playing on My Stereo? features an the first record from the prolific auteur of folktronica, Four Tet, coupled with Peanut Butter Wolf's eclectic compilation of soul, psychedelia, funk and hip-hop called Jukebox 45's.

Four Tet: Parks and No More Mosquitoes
From: Pause [Domino Recording Company Ltd, 2001]

I don't know who actually coined the term folktronica, but there's no doubt that Kieran Hebden of Four Tet played a part in pushing this genre into the forefront of the collective minds of the listening public. On Four Tet's debut record Pause, Hebden masterfully fuses field recordings of nature with organic acoustic guitars and thumping hip-hop beats, creating a sonic picnic for hip-hop and electronic aficionados to feast thir ears on. Many electronic artists have attempted to imitate the level of musical adventurousness on Pause, but few have managed to pull it off.

On "Parks," Hebden artfully juxtaposes a melancholy groove containing mandolin and woodwinds with the sound of children playing in the background. As the song builds, more elements are added to the heady mix, until the slow, insistent drum kick carries the track to it's inevitable close. The deep, funky bassline and boom-bap beat of "No More Mosquitoes" wouldn't sound out of place on one of Madlib's compilations. The real treat, however, is the oriental sound of the background music as it blends with a child's repeated refrain of "No More Mosquitoes". Overall, the sound of this record is upbeat, downbeat, melancholy, funky and hard to forget.

Peanut Butter Wolf: L.A. Carnival- Color and Fabulous Souls- Take Me
From: Jukebox 45's [ Stones Throw, 2002]

For those of you who are familiar with the hip-hop and cutting-edge funk label Stones Throw, I don't need to explain to you the cultural significance of this mix compiled by DJ Peanut Butter Wolf. There are only a few throwaways on this compilation which makes it a solid addition to collectors of old, vintage soul and cutting-edge hip-hop records. With a wild amalgamation of instrumental funk, old-school soul, hip-hop and psychedelic jazz fusion, Peanut Butter Wolf manages to keep the listeners nodding their head until the final seconds of this record.

The two joints I'm featuring here are so funky that I had to open up the window to let the funk flow. The whip-cracking wah wah guitars, soulful falsetto freakouts and tight drumming on L.A. Carnival's "Color" are the perfect recipe for a summer funk party. The Fabulous Souls "Take Me" mixes female and male vocals, frenzied organ, saxophones and bongos for a joyride into the funk stratosphere. This is an absolutely essential purchase for vinyl junkies and the hip-hop heads.

I hope you have enjoyed the sounds coming out of my stereo for this week. Until next time..

Note: I have received a complaint about the mp3's shared on this post, so to prevent from having my blog deleted, I have opted to take down the music contained in this post. My only intention on this blog has been to share music with other people that they may not have been exposed to otherwise. There are plenty of blogs who share entire albums of artists, and that is something that I don't feel comfortable doing. Best to all of you!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Plain Brown Wrappers #1

Well... I know it's been awhile. I had to regroup and get back to why I started this blog in the first place: to share amazing tunes with as many people as possible. I kind of got lost in a popularity contest, and wasn't doing it for the right reasons. E-mile helped turn my attitude around for the better, by prompting me to quit doing the blog if my heart wasn't in it anymore.

I have to admit that I was a little pissed off about not receiving many comments, and I was contemplating the demise of Eclectic Grooves, but sometimes inspiration strikes when we least expect it. Last Friday I was chatting with an old friend at a concert. She was telling me about an experience she had where she was listening to a record, but she had no idea what it was. It reminded her of an old spiritual free-jazz album from the 60's such as Archie Shepp or John Coltrane. She said that she listened to the record impulsively that night, until the artist's identity was finally revealed to her by a friend. The idea of not knowing was exciting and interesting to her.

She had a creative idea to start a record store that featured all blank album covers so the listeners would have no idea who it was they were listening to. They would just pick albums randomly and go to a listening booth to decide if they wanted to purchase it. After they decided to purchase the record, the original album cover would be revealed to them.

While I was listening to her story about the record store, the idea popped in my head to create a new feature on Eclectic Grooves called Plain Brown Wrappers that would feature a new mystery album every other week. I will write a short description about the music and then feature a link to download the album. I will be looking for the readers to guess what the mystery album is each week. Once I receive ten comments, I will reveal the artist to you. After twenty comments, I will reveal the name of the album featured that week.

Most of these will be extremely rare and out-of print records, so I won't be feeling like I'm taking profits out of the artists' pockets.

Let's get this party started with an extremely rare slice of funky dissonance from this gang of rabble rousers from the other side. It reminds me of what music would sound like if the rulebook was tossed out the window and run over by a steamroller. Each song is an extended improvisation that switches up when you least expect it. It sounds both familiar and other-worldly, like the kind of record that you would put on to impress your record-junkie friends who are constantly searching the bins for dusty grooves. This is groove-based hippie music for the now generation: Fuzzy funk that would make Roy Ayers blush.

Here is the link to this week's mystery album.
Please let me know what you think about this week's selection. I also encourage you to guess what album was featured during this segment of Plain Brown Wrappers. See you next time.