Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: New York DJ Reade Truth and Philly dubstepper Starkey.
Listed: Reade Truth + Starkey
Reade Truth (a.k.a. Reade White) is a producer, DJ and labelhead from New York City. Truth got his start spinning industrial in the early 1990s, but quickly moved over into techno and house. He hit his stride in the mid-1990s, releasing 12"s on the Sonic Groove label while working at the Manhattan store of the same name. He moved to Vienna in the early aughts for four years, but now he’s back in New York and is taking his own productions more seriously. Carl Craig released Truth’s Crimen Excepta EP last year on his own Planet E Communications, and Truth just made his debut on the always interesting Wurst Music Co. label this Tuesday with the Let’s Go To Heaven 12", which also features a Brennan Green remix. And on more of a trivia note, Truth is the son of All-Star outfielder Roy White, who patrolled left field for the New York Yankees.
Here is a list of records that successfully defy classification. I think the best things in life, and that goes especially for music, are those that are the hardest to define and perhaps even completely indefinable! It’s a tremendous achievement to confound the so-called critics, and here I present some hard to find releases from my personal collection that easily escape genrification.
1. Coil – Love’s Secret Domain LP (Torso – 1991)
Before this record came out, I got an advance promo cassette directly from Wax Trax. I was blown away. I listened to it repeatedly for weeks when driving . Coil had always been an interesting outfit from the industrial / intellectual avant-garde school, but earlier releases were less accessible and often dreary or harsh. With this release (which was the first after a 5 year hiatus), they unveiled a change in style, with a concept album based on an acid experience, it’s a perfect mixture of blatant psychedelic and laidback dance floor grooves. This is an LP to listen to all the way through as the tracks evolve and seem to wash over your soul in surges. Standout tracks are the Pink Floydish “Further Back and Faster,” the completely experimental “Disco Hospital,” the slow and heavy downbeat groove of “Windowpane” and, of course, “The Snow,” which was a cult hit for them and also should be considered a classic by deep house or techno standards.
2. Die Form – die puppe LP (Bain Total – 1982)
With die Puppe, French composer Phillipe Fichot came up with some of the darkest, electronic soundscapes imaginable. This early industrial LP from him (in fact, his first) is his most engaging and for me particularly inspiring. The tracks and the artwork deal with many not so subtle references to eroticism, sex, death and anything else taboo. Even though the LP is not that accessible, what really gets me with this LP is its amazing use of the Roland TR808 drum composer and Arp 2600. The texture and atmosphere he can create electronically is unbelievable. His programming techniques exemplify most of what we like today in minimalist electronic music and he doesn’t get much credit for being a pioneer. “Automatic Death” was a great secret track to drop on a good crowd for special occasions and “Re-search” is one of the deepest and emotional tracks I have ever heard. It’s as good as anything on Larry Heard’s Genesis LP.
3. African Head Charge - My Life in a Hole in the Ground LP (On U Sound, 1981)
There are many great dub records out there, but this On-U-Sound release is one of my personal faves. Overall, it’s a hypnotic excursion into African tribalism, powered, of course, by its intense percussion, which is a constant throughout. But most spectacularly, it also contains many complex layers of melody — some of asian/mideastern variety while other tracks possess more of a jazz fusion appeal, which gives the whole LP a unique air about it. Overall, it’s a dub record that really pushes some boundaries. The title is a clever reference to Byrne and Eno’s essential collaboration My Life in a Bush of Ghosts.
4. Arthur Russell – “Let’s Go Swimming” (Logarhythm / Rough Trade 1986)
Easily one of my favorite artists, and my pick for records released during his lifetime, is also one of the hardest in his catalogue to find. In fact, it is next to impossible, a real jewel for a record collector. “Let’s Go Swimming” is a percussive barrage with his unusual vocals and complex chord jabs drifting devotionally above the manic rhythm. It’s obvious why I like this release: It is absolutely hard to categorize with its elements of house and disco equally matched by a tough, edgy electro freestyle groove! Arthur Russell was a real visionary in his time, a classically-trained cellist whose goal was to experiment with all styles of music, stripping them down to their best components and combining all of it into a brand new sound, “Let’s Go Swimming” is a perfect example of this process.
5. Severed Heads – City Slab Horror LP – (INK, 1985)
Tom Ellard’s Severed Heads project was really the most intriguing music around during my youth, a completely experimental anything goes group that experimented freely with tape machines, sampled anything and everything, especially voices from choirs, and manipulating televisions with magnets… anything was possible with Severed Heads, who were able to combine these elements into an underground industrial track or a synth pop tune… somehow! “Dead Eyes Open” is the obvious hit, but here I recommend City Slab Horror, which is best defined as a completely alien musical experience. The darker moments, “Spitoon Thud,” “Voices,” “Spastic Crunch” are very, very weird — much like an out of body experience. “We Have Come to Bless This House” is its defining moment, which is one of the most incredible downbeat tracks created. Mesmerizing synths lead heavily affected choir samples along an 87-bpm groove. It’s a masterpiece in musical history. Also includes “Cyflea Rated R,” which builds an electronic hard techno track from scratch using strange voices and machine noises. I used to play this at the real underground Brooklyn raves in the early ‘90s. It is interesting the way Severed Heads influenced our techno peers (both Richie Hawtin and Carl Craig have spoken positively to me about the Heads experimental style and D-I-Y approach). Severed Heads did what they wanted, one way or another and with or without the record companies support. Truly on the Left-hand Path!
6. 69 – 4 Jazz Funk Classics (Planet E, 1991)
This is probably the best thing to be released on the Planet E label and one of Carl Craig’s finest achievements. When it came out, the reference to Throbbing Gristle caught my attention immediately. As for the music, “Ladies and Gentlemen” is the kind of track that really challenges listeners to accept a broad range of musical influences. It was somehow soulful and deep, but hard and ravey all at once. When Carl’s elastic sounding synths and Detroit drum grooves give way to mysterious, piercing tones, it really has a hypnotic effect on a dance floor. The massive, old-school breakbeat then brings the whole track to a heavenly level before evolving back into its original form. Still sounds great today. This is especially significant when one reflects on the sounds of that techno summer back in 1991. Most raves and clubs were dominated by the sound of hard Belgian techno with more or less a straightforward formula for success that most producers of the time did not really waver from. This was a beacon of light that helped many producers to think more conceptually.
7. Controlled Bleeding – Gag (Materiali Sonori, 1990)
Paul Lemos formed New York–based group Controlled Bleeding in the late ‘70s, and eventually their artistic endeavors would become some of the more renowned forays into agonizingly brutal noise and power-core experiments. Their early discography is filled with many colossal releases of ear-shattering tonal explosions cut onto wax, with names like “Swallowing Scrap Metal” and “Knees and Bones” proving the point. In a shocking move, this flirtation with cacophonous anti-music developed over the years into a serene blend of ambient exploration. It was an original sort of chamber music that really had its own forward thinking identity, often with operatic vocals lending to the atmosphere. Controlled Bleeding proved their musicianship to many critics who assumed they could simply be dismissed as an industrial / art-rock noise outfit incapable of anything else. Gag compiles some of the best of this work, ranging from their cracking noise period to some dark and soothing ambient pieces. Standout cut would easily be “Headcrack Pt. 1,” “Moonshards,” and “Firelight,” with its simple but impressively melancholic electronics.
Philadelphia producer Paul Geissinger started releasing bass music in 2005. He calls his music "Street Bass," but others might deem it a stateside extension of UK grime. He got his break on the nascent Werk label in 2006, which had just released 12"s by Radioclit and Actress, then released a string of 12"s before dropping Ephemeral Exhibits in 2008 on the Planet-Mu label. His "Gutter Music" 12", with grime’s finest MC Durrty Goodz, from last year was the street anthem he always had in him, but he’s already switch directions and gone melodic on his new Mu LP, Ear Drums and Black Holes, which will be released on April 13. Based on his favorite records of all time, you can understand why.
1. The Beatles - The White Album (EMI)
Hands down my favorite album of all time. There’s such diversity in the release… from “Helter Skelter” to “Julia” to “Sexy Sadie” to “Good Night.” A lot has been said and written about the band pulling apart during these sessions and it not being a cohesive album, but I think this actually adds to the intrigue, which is part of the appeal of certain cuts, like “Revolution 9” or “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road.”
2. Radiohead - Kid A (Capitol)
This came out at a time in my life where I was really getting into electronic music full-on. And this was just the perfect blending of the rock and electronic worlds. I remember hearing “Everything in its Right Place” for the first time and thinking, wow, I really hope the rest of the album is like this. Then they follow that up with the title track and… forget about it… I was hooked.
3. Portishead - Roseland NYC Live (London)
Portishead’s records are amazing… but their songs go to a completely different level in a live setting. I’ve got this release on CD, DVD and VHS… it’s that good. Beth’s vocals are amazing throughout and the orchestra is fantastic. The best live concert release of all time.
4. The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour (EMI)
Yes… another Beatles album in my top 10… but one that some people may not rate as highly as they should. There are some amazing songs on this release, plus the movie is essential Beatles. “Blue Jay Way” is one of the best George Harrison songs of all time. “Fool on the Hill,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “Hello, Goodbye”… this is a classic. Such good songwriting.
5. Alpha - The Impossible Thrill (Melankolic)
Alpha somewhat dismiss this album, if I remember reading correctly, as being something they’re not really proud of. But I think The Impossible Thrill is hands down their finest release to date. The recording is ridiculous. Listen to closing track “Fort” for some lush strings and choral-like harmonies and “Wise” for some sick drum sounds, more lush strings and beautiful vocals from Martin Barnard.
6. Aphex Twin - Druqks (Warp)
This double album came out when I was living in London, and it was pretty much the soundtrack for that year of my life. I love the diversity. The prepared piano stuff is great, plus “Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michaels Mount” is my favorite Richard D. James track of all time. Even the soundscape, ambient-ish music on this album is great.
7. Frank Sinatra - September of My Years (Warner Brothers)
The title track is the highlight of this album, but I enjoy it from start to finish. Sinatra, in my opinion, sounds best in a large orchestral setting, and that’s what this album is all about. It’s a collection of chill tunes: songs of love and longing…. ah.
8. Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner (XL)
Dizzee’s debut album is one of the landmarks that defines the grime genre. The track “I Luv U” I could listen to every day for the rest of my life and I would never get sick of it. The production is raw and Dizzee’s flow has a ton of energy.
9. Tricky - Maxinquaye (Island)
I have to include a Tricky album from the 90’s in my list, so I’ll pick the first one. That period between 95-99, Tricky was on top of his game. Maxinquaye, Nearly God, Pre-Millennium Tension, Angels With Dirty Faces and Juxtapose are pretty much always on my iPod. From this album, “Strugglin” is probably my favorite track; it’s the best nighttime driving music.
10. The Beastie Boys - Check Your Head (Capitol)
I remember getting this album for Christmas on a cassette tape from one of my Dad’s friends (who to this day is still a close family friend). It was a tape he put together, one side was The Beastie Boys and the other was Run DMC. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that tape. Check Your Head is so classic… and it’s packed with every genre of music that the Beastie Boys represent.
By Dusted Magazine