Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Balearic producer Ben Williams and funk aficionado Shawn Lee.
Listed: Gatto Fritto + Shawn Lee
Ben Williams, a.k.a. Gatto Fritto, is a U.K. DJ, music producer and remixer who creates luscious Balearic, cosmic disco for the Uruguayan label International Feel. In addition to high profile remixes for bands such as Franz Ferdinand, he has also released music under the names Clemís Bounce, Invisible College, and his collaboration with Sam Weaver known as Hungry Ghost. Gatto Fritto Ė The Album (out in April) serves as the first full length for International Feel. Williams also has his own label, Fritto Morto, with a collaborative release with Soul Jazz artist Subway and more planned for later this year.
Although some of the following are tracks that I donít hear often and in some cases I havenít heard for years, they are the tracks that made me want to make music. Some of them havenít really influenced the sound that I have, but were influential in the way that they transported me out of my teenage boredom and angst and made the future seem like an exciting place.
They make me think of strong ecstasy, cheap lager, ponytails, S.W.E.A.T soundsystem, big earrings on girls, baggy T-shirts, waiting for something to happen, Fleet services, my mate Paulís yellow mini, Jockey Slut, Defunct record shops (Clobber, Fatcat, Pyramid, Kingsize, Vinyl Frontier), Kiss FM, squidgy black hash, Torpedo Town, my mate Mark Chapman (not the one that shot John Lennon), trying to find start and end points on Sam Weaverís Akai S-950 sampler, Colin Dale and Colin Faver, being a teenager and the seemingly limitless possibilities of the future.
I could have written about disco records or krautrock or Afrobeat..or smooth U.S. house, but these records (and others like them) are the ones that inspired me at the start. All the rest I arrived at from here (and countless hours working in second-hand record shops for minimum wage). There is a heavy British slant in this list, not because I think they were better than the music from Europe and the U.S., but because Iím British.
1. Joey Beltram - "Energy Flash" from Beltram Vol 1 (R & S 1990)
This is the beginning for me. It was the first "dance" record I really connected to (previously spending my days stoned and buried in the first five Black Sabbath albums). My mate Markís uncle was a house burglar and ram raider, and consequently had really nice hi-fi separates. He got me and my mate really stoned on buckets and put this on the deck. I was terrified. really stoned, with the haunting string refrain and the whispered ecstasy vocal ringing around my head. The ominous sub bass seemed to burn itself onto my cerebral cortex. I was hooked.
2. Shut up and Dance - The Green Man (Rum and Black Mix)" (SUAD 1991)
Another record that sums up a moment in time for me. Southern, suburban England, my early teens, double-dipped purple ohm acid, smoking "soap bar" and buying records from Clobber Records. A blueprint for jungle with the spine-tingling sample from "Pachabelís Canon," razor sharp beats, rumbling sub bass, and tense ascending analog bleeps. It reminds of Britain pre-criminal justice bill, raves in fields in the South East, being too young to go to clubs and not needing to.
3. Drexciya - "Aqua Worm Hole" from Bubble Metropolis) (Underground Resistance 1993)
Bizarrely enough, a record I first heard on Radio 1. Mark Radcliffe (later a breakfast show presenter) had a show called "Out on Blue Six." The show had an eclectic music policy -- ticked amongst the Moondog and 13th Floor Elevators tracks, he would play some electronic records. He played this (I still have the tape of the show) and I was blown away. This was the first Detroit techno record I bought. I had to order it -- it took six weeks to arrive! Aquatic, romantic, beautiful, funky, unique. Absolutely nobody did it better than these two. R.I.P. James Stinson.
4. Reload - "Le Soleil et la Mer" from A Collection of Short Stories (Infonet 1993)
Another one from the "Out on Blue Six" show. An achingly gorgeous, haunting slice of electronica. Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard made some brilliant records, and this is up there with anything made by any British electronic musician. Again it reminds me of being a teenager, hearing records like this and thinking, "This is the future!"
5. Yage - "Calcium" (Jumpin and Pumpin 1991)
Originally released under the Future Sound of Londonís Yage moniker on the Pulse 3 EP, this also appeared on the Accelerator album. A massively overlooked slice of deep, exotic, otherworldly, subterranean (progressive) house. I loved this then -- and I still do!
6. Liasons D - "Future FJP" (Deconstruction 1990)
Frank De Wulfís finest moment! I first heard this on Future Sound of Londonís legendary KISS FM mix (in character as Yage and Cyberface) and it took me forever to find out what it was (pre-Internet, of course). Equal parts New Beat, Detroit, Chicago and Fleet services (!), this still really does it for me Ö although I completely cleared a dance floor with it last year!!!!
7. The Martian - "Stardancer" (Red Planet 1993)
When I first started going out regularly in London, I heard this everywhere. Lost, Analog City, Vapourspace, Final Frontier, Bloodsugar/ Sabres. Intense, tough, atmospheric, insistent and bigger and better than every other record you would hear the rest of the night. A classic.
8. Stasis - "Point of No Return" from the Point of no return EP (B12 1993)
One of the unsung heroes of U.K. electronic music, Steve Picton made some incredible records in the 1990s, and this is top of the pile. Sounding like a lost Rhythim is Rhythim track Stasis never got the recognition that was heaped on Black Dog and others, but this bona fide classic shows that he fully deserved it.
9. As One - "Isatai" taken from The Philosophy of Sound and Art EP (ART 1993)
Kirk Degiorgio firing on all cylinders under his As One alias here. Haunting, moody and hypnotic. This sounds like a transatlantic response to Octave Oneís beautiful "Nicolette."
10. Baby Ford - "Crashing" taken from the Ford Trax EP (Rhythm King 1988)
The archetypal British charity shop acid house classic. Copies of Ford Trax litter branches of Cancer Research throughout the U.K. "Crashing" is a soothing, melancholy comedown/sunrise companion -- and if you see a copy, itís probably the best 50p youíll ever spend!
Over the course of 10 records as Shawn Leeís Ping Pong Orchestra, multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee has proven himself quite the musical chameleon. The recordings for the California-based Ubiquity record label show Lee paying homage to the library records of yore, with each record combining deft orchestral maneuvering atop a heavy dose of funk beats. He is nothing short of prolific -- in the past year, heís released Hooked Up Classics and World of Funk. For Hooked Up Classics, Lee throws his own spin on the omnipresent Hooked on Classics series from the 1980s. World of Funk has Lee and a band of global collaborators interpreting musical styles from Brazil, Cambodia, Africa, Latin America and more through Leeís noir breakbeat lens to show that all the world is full of funk.
1. Shuggie Otis- Inspiration Information
This is such a special record. An imperfect perfect album. A genius in my book and always welcomed in my ears. Fresh!
2. Money Mark - Markís Keyboard Repair
This was the only album I listened to when I first moved to London. Full of charming skits, great songs like "Cry" and "Sometimes You Gotta Make It Alone" and much, much more, A real lo-fi classic. Seminal.
3. Clutchy Hopkins - The Life of Clutchy Hopkins
One of the best albums Iíve heard in quite awhile. CH is a total genius and a kindred spirit. He has a unique and fresh, distinctive sound. My brother from another mother. CH and Shawn Lee are one!
4. David Axelrod - The Edge
Every great AX track compiled by Egon of Stones Throw/Now-Again fame. Chock full of tremendous drumming by the mighty Earl Palmer and one of my favorite bass players, Ms. Carol Kaye. Essential!
5. Beastie Boys - Paulís Boutique
Totally funky production by my old friends the Dust Brothers and the legendary Beasties. One of the finest sample-based albums of all time; up there with De Laís 3 Feet High & Rising, Shadowís Endtroducing, and Portisheadís Dummy.
6. Ennio Morricone - Everything
Morricone is the maestro. Heís totally in a league of his own. His ability to do both quality and quantity has had a huge influence on me. His work in the 1970ís is beyond prolific. A true master, and one of the most important composers ever.
7. Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire de Melody Nelson
This album kills me from the very opening notes of one of my favorite bass players, Herbie Flowers. Sparse but dramatic string flourishes from the great Jean Claude Vannier and soft but rocking rhythm section throughout. A true masterpiece.
8. The Beach Boys - Holland
One of my fav Beach Boys albums. Brian Wilson was pretty much absent from this one, but the boys really pulled it together. With the help of Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, this album is both soulful and funky. Standout songs include the majestic "Sail On Sailor," "Leaving This Town," "Funky Pretty," and "Only With You." More dopeness from 1973.
9. Eugene McDaniels - Outlaw
Eugene is one of the unsung greats. This album manages to blend social/political lyrics with a musical mix that includes country, jazz, funk, soul, blues and proto rap to great effect -- sometimes all in the course of one song! A man of many talents to be cherished.
10. Sly & The Family Stone - Thereís a Riot Going On
This a dusty lo-fi gem from Sly and gang. It boasts some of his best songs --: "Family Affair," "Running Away" and "You Caught Me Smiling." Also featuring the talents of Billy Preston and Bobby Womack. This album is a beautiful, funky mess!
By Dusted Magazine