WARMER MIXTAPES #670 | by James McIntosh [Utrecht]
1. Portrait | Honey Dip
Portrait released a brilliant eponymous album in 1992, but it was at the tail-end of the New Jack Swing era when the market was saturated - as such their highest charting single, Here We Go Again only ever reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Honey Dip for me is the best song on the album; an album which, like Damian Dame's self-titled effort from the same year, should have got a lot more Love than it ever did.
2. Nikka Costa | Like A Feather
When I was about 10, in 2001, I used to religiously watch the Music channels in the UK - I'd spend all day going from MTV2 to MTV Base; Kerrang to VH1. I remember that MTV Base used to have little idents in between programmes, where they'd play a bit of Music and have some Advertising graphics. One of them featured Artful Dodger & Michelle Escoffery's Think About Me, and another one of them was a song that had an absolutely fantastic bassline. I spent 12 years trying to find what the song was, and for a lot of the time I thought it was a Hip-Hop song, maybe by Foxy Brown, or another one of those Brooklyn rappers. Anyway, just last week I found out that it was this song - it wasn't the Rap song I thought it was, but it's got some lovely melodies, and the sudden introduction into the chorus is fantastic. The turn in the chorus from the A7 to the A♭7 reminds me for some reason of The Beatles' Old Brown Shoe, which was a song written by George Harrison, and his I Dig Love is alluded to, if not sampled by, Like A Feather. Everything comes full circle, which is I suppose an aphorism that Harrison would have approved of.
3. Bernard Herrmann | Scene D'Amour (from Vertigo)
I've just handed in my first big assignment of my third year at University, and it's on Bernard Herrmann's score in Psycho, another Hitchcock film. The 9-year relationship they had coincided with both men creating their best work - certainly nothing Hitchcock made since Marnie, their last collaboration, was as good as the films in that golden period (with the possible exception of 1972's Frenzy). Although Psycho is the film I'm writing on the dissertation on, it's Vertigo's soundtrack that I prefer - a fantastic, Wagnerian homage to Obsession and Romance. The Scene D'Amour cue occurs at the best moment of the film, which I won't spoil here for anyone that hasn't seen it. I'm normally too concerned with form to care about Raw Emotion in Music, but the D-C-B-E melody line is excellent, and captures Scottie's obsession with Madeleine perfectly.
4. Cassie | Long Way 2 Go
Of all the mid-2000s female R&B singers (see: Jennifer Hudson, JoJo, Amerie, Ciara et al.), Cassie appeared to have the most personality, and the songs to back it up. Bizarrely, after two brilliant singles and an album full of more potential ones, she disappeared, reappearing briefly in the later 2000s with the average Official Girl. That one was produced by Danja, so to me it seems that since she parted company with Ryan Leslie (who himself has never quite reached the heights of his earlier career) she's lacked Direction and Focus. She's just released a new three-part mixtape, but for me it just doesn't match that first album. I'd love to write and produce her next album, she's got such a perfect voice for Minor Key Electronic Music. Anyway, Long Way 2 Go came after Me & U, and is probably the better of the two songs - it's got a little bit of that Ryan Leslie Addiction sound, but with more Pop scope. Fantastic song, and one that I constantly go back to as a reference point whenever I'm stuck writing Electronic Pop.
5. Steely Dan | The Caves Of Altamira
Steely Dan are probably my favourite band of all time. I've never heard such great chord voicings and inflections of Jazz in Pop Music. I got into them, like a lot of people, through tracks like Do It Again and Reelin' In The Years from Can't Buy A Thrill, but for me 1976's The Royal Scam is the best album and shows their Song Writing ability the best. I'd love to come out one day and make Music like this, but unfortunately I'm not sure it would sell very well. And it's all about the coin. $$$
6. Urban Discharge | Drop A House (feat. She)
I was looking up The Tamperer - Feel It (ft. Maya), which is a terrible song, but found out that it sampled the vocal line from Urban Discharge's Drop A House, which is a great song in a similar vein of the Strictly Rhythm guys. Super Bouncy, early Garage 4x4, with a good catchy vocal line, and nice and a nice and Moody organ.
7. Weather Report | Teen Town
Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, and Jaco Pastorius is a Thrilling combination of Forward-Thinking musicians, like Steely Dan, and the chord structure in this shows it - Straight Major-sevenths with a Flattened fifth all the way through. Pastorius' bass part is brilliant. I've tried to learn it a few times but some of interval jumps he does are too far and Complex. Marcus Miller did a great slap bass cover of it, which is floating around on the Internet. When I was about 16 I made an awful Dubsteppy Hip-Hop version of this. Truly Terrible.
8. Audiojack | Polka Dot Dress
This song came out in 2011, and I completely slept on it until my friend showed it to me. Really strong House organ bass line, Nice and Bouncy drums. I like a lot of Audiojack's stuff, but this one stands out for me because of its Simplicity and Drive. A lot of the artists getting released on 2020 Vision are making Quality House Music like this, so it's good to see that it's around in such a big way at the moment. Obviously these things come in peaks and troughs, it wasn't long ago that Overtly Maximal Electro House was huge. So we should savour a smoother tip while it lasts.
9. Polkadot | Wasn't Like That
From one Polkadot to another: this kid (and I say "kid" loosely, he's only 3 years younger than me...) is making some great music at the moment. His remix of Amerie's One Thing is top class, and he's got a real ear for a good R&B sample. There's a lot of this Atmospheric UK Bass Music around right now, which means its sometimes harder for the Real Quality to push through, but Polkadot's done it. This particular song has got some lovely Minor 9th chords in, but it's the sample and swung drums that make it a big one. I think it's getting released on MadTech some time soon, so look out for it.
10. Alt-J | Breezeblocks (Romare Remix)
I first heard Romare because of my managers, who were friends with his manager. As soon as I heard the flute part in The Blues (It Began In Africa), I knew it was going to be a really special song. The whole Meditations On Afrocentrism EP is a real slice of Quality Sampling and Production. This remix of Alt-J is pretty fresh, but the tempo shift is brilliant, and the Detroit Minor-sevenths (I think they're Minor-sevenths) complement the melody in big new ways. Romare should be Massive in the Future, he's certainly more Innovative than most producers nowadays.