Friday, August 26, 2005

INTERVIEW WITH APSCI

Apsci, which stands for Applied Science, is merging the worlds of Hip-Hop, Electronica and World Beat with a combination of their own ingenuity and Quannum Records. The brainchild of Dana Diaz-Tutann and Raphael LaMotta, the opening line of the bio on their website (www.apsci.net) says it best “It’s a modern love story. Boy meets girl. They fall in love and buy laptops. They travel the world, sleep on floors and make a groundbreaking record.”

The beginning:

No joke, that’s what they did. LaMotta gives more details on the birth of this beat manipulating band. “Diana and I met in New York seven years ago. We just had some mutual friends in common. I had heard some of her recordings; we didn’t hit it off at first. We had so many friends in common and were constantly in the same place at the same time. While she was here, we ended up in the studio together and… found that we worked together very easily. (Then it was) seven months of being pen pals and emailing. I finally packed up and went to Australia and we’ve been writing songs from then on.”

At first it was LaMotta and Diaz-Tutann producing the beats and singing and rhyming. After awhile they decided to add a dj and live drummer to their set up. Dj Big Whiz and Guy Licata then came on board. “As time went by it just seemed much more effective programming our own tracks and we decided to do it shorthand. Through that process we’ve met some really good musicians, Big Wiz and Guy Licata, they just really took to the music as well. Guy found us online and just called me up and said ‘When are we playing?’ I think what he brings to the table is really phenomenal,…he’ll study whatever I come up with and add his own things to it.”

Getting signed to Quannum Records; one of the most respected indie-hip hop labels in the business, was also a combination of tight musicianship and luck. “We were going to Australia where Diana’s from. She…got some work to help out with the Blackalicious tour, but she didn’t really talk about the music at all, she just stuck to business end and made sure things were going smoothly with the shows. When I came in and met everyone they were like ‘So what’s up with your group?’ I was … able to say ‘Check out my video.’ they were like ‘You’re going to give us a cd right?’. Four months later I got a call from Blackalicious saying ‘I love this record I’d like to put it out.’’, explains LaMotta.

Making the beats pop:

Drummer Guy Licata; professor at the Collective in New York City and downtown electronic drummer extraordinaire came to Apsci with an open approach. Licata had to go through some trial and error before finding the fit that would groove underneath all the computer production. “I really didn’t even know where to start or what exactly they were looking for. Obviously, RA’s production can be quite left of center, especially in the hip hop world. At first, I tried to reproduce all of those little bells and whistles that you hear on the tracks, the blips and bleeps. That’s something I really take pride in, being able to reproduce those kinds of things. When it came time to rehearse, they were definitely impressed with most of what I was able to cover, but overall the feel was too claustrophobic, I was really trying to nail EVERYTHING, lol. After that I went over a video of them playing in Sydney with another drummer, Rory. I saw his approach, and though different to mine, it worked.”

When Licata jumped on board he was well-immersed in the drum and bass and underground hip hop worlds which easily prepped him for immersion into the world of Apsci. “When I got involved with APSCI I was listening to a ton of electronic music. Mostly Jungle/Drum n Bass, Nu Skool and Funky Breaks, UK Garage, IDM, a healthy amount of Hip Hop. I had really abandoned the idea of being in “a band” and making as a drummer in the traditional sense. I had just started my own Drum N Bass record label, and was completely immersed in the NYC nightlife/club scene. So it was quite a good fit when everything started coming together.”

Live, the band has been mostly well-received. “Sometimes people don’t react the way you’d like, or sometimes they don’t react at all. We’ve been on the road for a bit now on the east coast and some places we expected to be great were miserable and vice versa. What we’re constantly reminding ourselves is that this is something new. APSCI has never really been about falling into cookie cutter hip hop or electronic templates. We’re signed to Quannum Projects, which is one of the biggest and most respected indie Hip Hop labels around. In most cases that should make you a shoe in for a new moderately built in audience, but we sound nothing like the rest of the catalogue. Most people would guess we’d be on Warp or something like that, but it’s too hip hop for them. We’ve created something new, and it’s growing and evolving. To me, that’s what it’s always been about.”

Apsci is busy breaking down musical barriers with the genre/beat blend on their Quannum debut entitled “Thanks for Asking”. Some in the business have criticized that they aren’t doing anything new but the innovation is obvious from Dana and Ra’s lyrical take on the state of the music industry as well as making music across date lines. Currently on tour with Blackalicious, they’ll be able to introduce themselves to a primarily hip hop crowd and gain some head-nods that way. Kick ass musicianship and a strong label will get you everywhere in this business as will constantly looking to innovate. Apsci has that concept on lock.

Monday, August 01, 2005

DJ Language: Real Music for Real People (BBE, 2005)

Dj Language: Real Music for Real People (BBE, 2005)

DJ Language wants you to get your soul education on and begins by posing the question: What is Black Music? His current compilation entitled “Real Music for Real People” answers that, imparting underground hip hop, neo soul, old school hip hop, seventies soul and remixes of it all with this bag of chips. In the liner notes Dj Language states that “This mix is a testament to rich diversity of soulful music being made right now, and I’m also glad that I could mix in some tasty vintage treats to make plain the continuity that the newer artists here have with the past” and that’s plainly accomplished here. Soul classic “Haven’t You Heard” by Patrice Rushen (best known for widely sampled soul jam “Forget Me Nots”) complete with pulsating cowbell chills out on Tony Maneros dance floor in tandem with Pete Rock and C.L. Smooths’ word-to-the-comeback-track “Appreciate”. Platinum Pied Piper takes a stab at covering ‘Fifty Ways to Leave your Lover” and vocalist D’Nell name checks her sources of inspiration over flute and hip hop beats on “I’ve Read About”; giving shout outs to Sonic Youth, Ghandi, Brian Eno and the slaves of France and Africa, just to name a few. Nas even grows up, rhyming about his love affair with his wife and kids on the seventies soul classic “War”. All of this ass-shaking madness begins with DJ Mitsus' blunt “Intro” with Miwa’s ‘it’s not sugar-coated, it’s not hot-stepping or nothing, it’s just Dope’ delivery over his pulsating beats. With this disc out there’s no excuse for not stepping to this beat, this is the next wave of hip-hop history, all laid out on 21 delicious tracks

Breakbeat Science: 005 (BBS Recordings, 2005)

Breakbeat Science 005: mixed by Clever (Breakbeat Science Recordings, 2005)


Drum and bass somehow went the way of the rock-rap phenomenon the past few years, with aggressive ‘hit you over the head with a hammer’ drumbeats and tightly compressed melodies, which really don’t fare well on the dance floor. The guys in the Breakbeat Science crew have been steadily drifting away from that road, injecting melody and soul back into their tunes making the listening and the live performance more enjoyable for all. Clever does on this on the 5th installment of the Breakbeat Science series by choosing and mixing tunes with just the right balance of melody to take you on a journey and the drums to get you there. There are tracks on this disc that could easily become new dance floor anthems such as Deep Blues “Do You Voodoo”, “Steel” by Seba and “Oshima” by Klute. Graphic mixes MC Beans hip-hop delivery into his vocal mix of “I am Metal”. Ezekeil Honig’s “Love Session” brings back memories of master DJ DB’s ‘Secret Art of Science’ with its sparse calming melody and squishy sampled drums. 15 tracks long, there’s a few aggro tracks to add tension but Clever always takes it back to the soul mechanism, meaning if drums are the limbs of the operation, then melody is the heart.