Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Ninja Tune DJ and designer Strictly Kev and Mississippi eccentric Dent May.
Listed: DJ Food + Dent May
The personnel of turntable act DJ Food has changed a bit since its first recordings in 1990. Ninja Tune founders Coldcut got it started, and it eventually came to include Patrick Carpenter of Cinematic Orchestra and Ninja Tune chief art designer Strictly Kev. Now, DJ Food is strictly Strictly Kev, who recently released the moniker’s first proper album since 2000, The Search Engine, a fitting title considering the obsessive collector behind the decks. Kev runs through some of his largest influences in this week’s Listed.
1. Adam & The Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier
Two drummers and a band dressed as pirates and Indians was pretty exciting to my 10-year-old mind in 1981. The percussion was really what hooked me but Adam and Marco could also write a good guitar hook even if they dipped into cheese now and again. My favorite album is actually the post-punk Dirk Wears White Sox but Kings… had a bigger effect initially.
2. Brian Eno & David Byrne - My Life in The Bush of Ghosts
Such an incredible record, both in scope at the time and in the way it anticipated a lot of what was to come in the next decade. It’s a sampling record made without the aid of a sampler, a collaborative collage made at a time that can never be repeated. I like the way I can hear when it was made yet it remains timeless.
3. Malcolm McLaren - Duck Rock
Much the same as the Eno and Byrne record, this is a collage record but this time WITH a sampler. Plus McLaren and Trevor Horn were collaging whole cultures from different continents together here. A supremely uneven record but fantastically exciting for it — there are literally no rules here and it exists on its own in its own world, very much what I want to do with my records.
4. Foetus, You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath, Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel - Hole and Nail
In the ‘80s, music was passed around on cassettes, usually 90 minutes long. Most albums could fit on one side in those days so a lot of tapes people made for each other would have an album each side. My first experience of the music of JG Thirlwell, AKA Foetus, in all its guises, was with the two albums Hole and Nail back-to-back on one tape — and, as a result, they are virtually one album to me. Again, as with McLaren and Eno/Byrne, this is a sampling record — can you spot a common theme here? As in both literally sampling with tapes and parodying different types of music alongside bastardized lyrics and popular sayings as only Jim can do. Swinging from surf music to classic composition, rockabilly to noise — anything goes when a Foetus record hits the deck.
5. The The - Soul Mining and Infected
As above, these two albums came contained on a TDK D90 which saw a lot of use in the mid to late ‘80s and are virtually inseparable. Matt Johnson can write an amazing pop song but has the ability to use lesser-used instruments and make part of his overall sound. I usually hate the sound of accordion or harmonica but when Matt uses them they sound beautiful. Great percussion underpins a lot of his work and his lyrics on these albums never come across as preachy given some of the subjects he’s writing about.
6. Beastie Boys - Paul’s Boutique
Guess what? Another sampling record! Possibly one of the most audacious sampling records of all time, next to De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. The Dust Brothers really didn’t care who or how much they sampled on this and I heard that a condition of the Beasties’ signing to Capital for this was that they got to sample anyone on their back catalogue. Style-wise it’s all over the shop, just how I like it and I was glad they made a record like this after the pop-metal monster that Licensed to Ill became. They kind of ditched all their "new" fans and went back to doing what they do best.
7. Big Black - Songs About Fucking and Atomizer
Another two albums back to back on tape, unfortunately by the time I heard these, Big Black were no more and Albini was kickstarting Rapeman into an unwilling world. The sheer power of these tracks knocked me out, plus the fact that they didn’t have a drummer, only a Roland drum machine that they fed through various effects to change it with each song. I like the precision here — it’s sharp and angular. The beats are like bullets and the bass is loose as hell and all the better for it. It’s perfect teenage angst music.
8. The Orb - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
This is a bit of a switch up from the previous selection (excepting Eno and Byrne) but — again — it’s a sampling record, one charting new territory. It’s unconcerned at the time, with what was happening elsewhere. I think I heard this just before The KLF’s Chill Out but both were an early ‘90s soundtrack in the evenings after college and the weekends post-rave come-downs. I love long tracks and the Orb’s "Loving You" sampling "Huge Ever Pulsating Brain…" was near the 20-minute mark. Coming from a diet of hip-hop, pop and rock, this was a bit of a revelation in terms of club music as the only frames of reference I had were Tangerine Dream and the side-long Welcome To The Pleasuredome on Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s debut LP.
9. Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
It’s hard to pick a BOC record as they haven’t made a bad one but I think their second, Geogaddi, is my favorite as it’s a little darker than the first one and there’s a wealth of hidden detail in it that bears repeated listens. Much like The The, they’ve created their own sound palette, now much copied, but you feel as if you’ve heard bits of it before. Their music was the first time I experienced "nostalgia" upon hearing a new record. They somehow tap into sounds of childhood and evoke a ‘70s I vaguely remember. They were way ahead of the pack in doing this and the whole, so called, Hauntology genre owes them a debt I think, as they pointed the way for a new form of electronica.
10. Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys - Smile
In the late ‘90s I suddenly "got" the Beach Boys, not the surf stuff but I had a burning desire to hunt down a copy of Good Vibrations and Heroes & Villains and set about buying all the late ‘60s/early ‘70s albums I could get my hands on. This inevitably led me to Smile and I tracked down all manner of bootlegs with versions and sessions in no particular order. I was amazed by the whole thing — how a band so huge could fall so near but so far at the peak of their powers. The whole thing was like a huge puzzle just waiting to be put together, but in any way the listener pleased. Songs like "Surf’s Up," "Our Prayer" and "Child Is Father of the Man" are just incredible compositions. When I heard that Brian Wilson was finishing the album off I was apprehensive. I went to see the band play it live in London and it was the most amazing gig I’ve ever seen, they managed to pull the whole thing off and fit all the pieces together as if that was exactly how they should have been all along.
Dent May has an outsize sense of humor. His first album for Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks record label was an exercise in schmaltz and ukulele. Since the release of that debut, The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, in 2009, May has experimented with cold wave dance music, ironic R&B and DJ Screw remixes as Dent Sweat, and performed with hip hop collective Main Attrakionz and Montreal singer/producer Grimes at his home base, a former Boys & Girls Club called Cats Purring Dude Ranch. May proper has a new album coming out June 12 on Paw Tracks called Do Things, which is said to be devoid of ukulele.
1. Three 6 Mafia - Chapter 2: World Domination
I saw Three 6 Mafia for the first time in Memphis when I was in seventh grade. The crowd energy was so intense, lewd sex acts were being performed on stage, and my sheltered Mississippi mind was blown forever. Epic jams "Late Night Tip," "Hit A Muthafucker" and "Tear The Club Up" have been on every party playlist I’ve ever made. People are crazy for Three 6 in Mississippi.
2. Tropicalia - Ou Panis Et Circencis
This collaborative album from Brazil in 1968 strikes that perfect balance between pure transcendent beauty and warped psychedelic weirdness. When I was living in the trailer where I recorded my first album, we listened to this constantly, and I think it really inspired us in all our Cats Purring pursuits down here. These tropicalia artists really changed the way people around them were thinking, and they made some radical sounds.
3. Hot Boys - Guerrilla Warfare
New Orleans is a few hours from where I grew up, and it’s always been a home away from home. Mannie Fresh is one of my favorite producers ever, and all the bounce music coming out of New Orleans now is next level. Sonically adventurous party music really gets my juices flowing, and the bounce stuff is pretty out there. It probably scares some parents — which is a plus.
4. Rev. James Moore w/ the Mississippi Mass Choir - Live At Jackson State University
I actually heard about this album recently when Chad Ochocinco tweeted about it. I grew up in Jackson, and I remember hearing about this gospel supergroup called Mississippi Mass Choir. Then, I read some about Rev. James Moore. He performed in a wheelchair and died pretty young. I’m not religious, but I listen to local gospel radio every Sunday. I need a choir on my next record for sure.
5. Missy Elliott - Supa Dupa Fly
I had this CD back in junior high and was just floored by the sound of it. Timbaland is obviously an insane talent, and Missy’s songwriting chops and inventive raps are unstoppable. Their work together with Aaliyah also changed my life. I can’t wait to hear the new Missy stuff she’s been working on.
6. Steely Dan - Aja
Sometimes I fantasize about never touring again and just spending years in the studio like these guys did. I feel like being good at your instrument became really uncool over the years, but Steely Dan made really complex and precise pop music that’s still highly accessible. There’s a cool documentary about the making of the album, and they bring in like 20 different people to try the guitar solo on "Peg." I played all the instruments on my new album, but I kind of suck at all of them, so I really appreciate someone who can just rip it old-fashioned style.
7. Boyz II Men - II
I picked up this tape when I was in fourth grade, and bumped it constantly. I feel like Boyz II Men and a bunch of other ‘90s R&B groups made a big impression on me with their harmonies. I’m in love with the human voice. Most people don’t exploit it to its full potential, so seeing four dudes go in on some smooth harmonies like that is the best.
8. Weezer - Blue Album
This is just 10 classic pop songs. Rivers Cuomo kind of introduced me to the concept of pop songcraft. I read about how he kept notebooks where he dissected Oasis and Nirvana songs searching for that perfect hit-making formula. A lot of people make albums that are way too long these days, and I definitely cite this album in my decision to keep the new one at 10 songs.
9. Earth Wind & Fire - Greatest Hits
As a kid, I was hooked by Earth, Wind & Fire’s mystic imagery and message of positivity. All the albums are great, so I cheated with the greatest hits. Some of the funky bass lines on Do Things are heavily inspired by this band. Pick up the LPs for the otherworldly artwork alone.
10. Todd Rundgren - Something/Anything?
There’s an awesome picture in this LP’s liner notes of Todd standing in just a mess of musical instruments that kind of sums up my love for his music. His status as this pop wizard left a big impression on me when I heard this album for the first time in college. I feel like so many artists restrain themselves. They pick a niche and stick with it, where I want to explore every aspect of making music that’s possible. Otherwise, this music game would be crazy boring.
By Dusted Magazine