Late Night Endless: Pinch, Adrian Sherwood

Bass pioneers interviewed…


Adrian Sherwood x Pinch

Bass has a timeless quality. From the trumpets which demolished the walls of Jericho to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark, bass is a constant thread binding the universe, an amorphous, ever-influential quality which can move the body in subtle, mysterious ways.

In this fashion, the title of Pinch and Adrian Sherwood’s new album ‘Late Night Endless’ is only appropriate. The culmination of a creative relationship which kicked off with a pair of 12 inches and now spans more than two years, it’s a fusion, a singular document which unites dub with dubstep, On-U with Tectonic, Sherwood with Pinch.

“We spent about two years finding out the right sonic we wanted to be represented on an album,” Adrian explains, “because if you see the two 12 inches they’re kind of more song-oriented and they’re kind of more… half Tectonic, half On-U. Whereas the album I think sounds like a combination of the pair of us, rather than a bit of each.”

Developing their ideas across a burst of 12 inches, the two producers were able to use their astonishing live show to create an artistic feedback loop, aiding them in tracing the correct direction for the project. “Interestingly, ‘Run Them Away’ was the first one we started on but it was also the last one we finished. It sort of saw the journey,” Pinch explains. “There was an element of learning and re-introducing tweaked ideas as a result of playing things out live and there was a sort of element of feedback relating to that side of things as well.”

Invited to perform at Sonar in Tokyo, Pinch and Sherwood knew they had to go full throttle into the live arena. “It wasn’t just a debut gig, it was on the main stage at Tokyo Sonar after LFO and before BoyzNoize! It was straight in the deep end so there was a lot of preparation which went on,” the Tectonic producer continues. “Essentially, we were effectively building a studio onstage The live shows have been a good sort of experimental playground to test the material.”

“Part of the nature of the live set is that everything is pretty much interchangeable,” he continues. “I think that was part and parcel of an evolutionary process of us working together which started off with the simple ambition of knocking together a few exclusive dubplates which we could hold back from anyone else and run in our DJ sets. What’s evolved into ‘Late Night Endless’ is a kind of mutation of our combined sonics rather than a collage of our sound, if that makes sense.”

A bold document, ‘Late Night Endless’ feels very much like an ‘album’ in the classic sense. A journey split across two sides of wax, the way the material ebbs and flows, rises and falls feels extremely organic, unforced – as though this were simply the natural means of conveyance for the ideas therein.

“I wanted an album for my record collection!” chuckles Adrian. “I love albums, I absolutely love ’em. I love the fact that I’ve got a finished vinyl and CD version of this record in front of me, as opposed to a mixtape. We’re doing Sherwood and Pinch mixtapes at the moment but this is like a little statement and it’s something that we both hope will sound good in five, ten plus years as a record from this time we’re in now. It will still sound listenable, very cool in whatever environment you plunk it in.”

“I think it’s a format which is unfortunately becoming less valid in the increasingly more digital age,” sighs Pinch, “but it’s a different experience. It’s like watching a really good film rather than following a series, for example. So what we’re doing is that there is an element of distinction between the live sets and the album insofar as the live sets are a bit heavier, a bit more full on and bit more suited to that environment but at the same time we’re conscious of the fact that albums are listened to in a different environment so hopefully there’s a nice balance in the expression of that on the album.”

Making full use of Adrian Sherwood’s exhaustive bank of samples, ‘Late Night Endless’ is an album that simply sounds amazing. Through headphones or on speakers, on a system or at home the sheer attention paid to sound, the art of listening is breathtaking. “We it was a great achievement when we got the finishing line,” Pinch explains. “Sending off the final versions for mastering Adrian’s studio engineer pointed out that since we started working together in the Sherwood & Pinch folder on the On-U computer there was a total of 269 mixes and versions. There’s a lot of experimenting that’s gone in there and lots of different versions of tracks and whatnot. The point being: it’s quite a journey to get to where we’ve got to in terms of finding a shared sonic.”

For Adrian Sherwood, the infinite possibilities harboured within technology – and within themselves – sits in a clear lineage which stems back towards classic dub reggae innovators. “We’ve modelled it on a lot of the old Jamaican soundsystem operators, where you record sessions and then you record several versions. There are versions flying around of all the tracks on this album that only I and Rob have got. We very much are into the idea of versioning all our rhythms. If the rhythms are good enough you can put a singer on and a DJ, an instrumental version or dub cut. And that still, I’m absolutely obsessed by. That’s why we’ve got so many mixes. We could have put different versions on the record but we felt this was the best version.”

At times bordering on the politcal, ‘Late Night Endless’ is a continually meditative work – through tumultuous waves of bass, the production pair seem to challenge the listener to burrow inward. “Well, I think anything that puts you in a contemplative headspace, let’s you make your own mind up, is a good thing. And I’ve always liked that about music which – like a good book – invites you to paint half the picture yourself. So I definitely feel that there’s a lot of aspects of that to the album. But then, that’s up to the listener to make up their mind, really.”

Which, of course, leads us straight back to the title itself. Both definitive and open-ended, the pair admit that there’s no strict meaning behind ‘Late Night Endless’. “I guess some of the music just fits night time listening,” states Pinch. “For me, anyway. And I like the idea of music existing in infinite contexts, a perfectly existing environment which can loop around. That was part of the idea of it.”

“Again, it’s something which invites interpretation relevant to the person looking at it or listening to it,” he says, “and I think ‘Late Night Endless’ could be anything from insomnia and anxiety to an endless pilled up night listening to techno through to the weird stuff which is on telly late at night. There’s a lot of situations it applies to.”

“We’re both kind of BPM conscious as well,” Adrian admits, “and when you’re playing you try to create a journey. Meditative is the thing. The whole record. So if you are listening to it on your headphones or you’re playing it in the background it works but then if anybody wants to check the BPMs they can literally drop those tunes in the set or begin and end an evening with it. The idea is that it will flow. If I put it on in the afternoon or something it will sit really nicely as a flowing piece of background music.”

“Aiming for an element of timelessness was one of the intentions of it,” adds Pinch. “The point is the show is constantly evolving and constantly dynamic. It’s going to be something that develops and progresses and develops – an ongoing process.”

– – –

‘Late Night Endless’ is out now.

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Adrian Sherwood









Source: ClashMusic

Idlewild Everything Ever Written

…a bold and profoundly independent return


'Everything Ever Written'

Idlewild’s reformation was handled with typical grace. Stirring some warm memories – those live shows were pretty much a coming of age ritual for a while there – the band went back into the studio to work on fresh material.

‘Everything Ever Written’ is the result. Fans emboldened by their return may have hoped for a re-run of ‘Captain’ or even ‘100 Broken Windows’ but the reality is that Idlewild is no longer that band – with new members, new influences and the benefit of experience they’re making something stronger, more mature. Not better, per se, but certainly different.

Not that the new material fails to rock. ‘Collect Yourself’ finds Roddy Woomble operating in rare abandon, while ‘Nothing I Can Do About It’ has a glacial sense of grit.

Often, though, the band are working in introspective, folk influenced climes perhaps more in keeper with latter albums such as ‘Make Another World’ and Woomble’s own solo releases. ‘Every Little Means Trust’ has an affectionately Celtic slant, while ‘So Many Things To Decide’ even finds Idlewild utilising a Hammond organ wash under their bracingly sympathetic songwriting.

An expansive, at times daring, return, ‘Everything Ever Written’ works best at its most direct. ‘Come On Ghost’ was a fine comeback single, tailor made for those emotional Scottish shows while ‘All Things Different’ boasts a wonderfully edgy vocal.

Acting both as a summation of their career to date and an expose of potential future paths, ‘Everything Ever Written’ finds Idlewild relaxing into the process of becoming Idlewild once more.

Re-capturing the fire of that initial run, the band are able to point this energy in fresh directions, accepting new challenges in the process. A warm, endearing release, ‘Everything Ever Written’ is a bold and profoundly independent return.


Related: In Conversation – Idlewild

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Source: ClashMusic

Public Enemy It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back / Fear of A Black Planet

Chuck D amd co’s political, lyrical and downright pioneering peaks re-released and expanded…

It’s received wisdom now, but in the late ‘80s, when things weren’t quite so clear-cut it felt revolutionary to declare that Public Enemy were the “greatest rock’n’roll band in the world”. If the comment, often spilling from the pens of earnest music-crit types, feels like the kind of hype PE were urging us to disregard, drilling further down into Public Enemy’s history, motives and influences reveals its wisdom. Producer Hank Shocklee set his sights on rock’s energy and mid-frequency range, and created a noise to reflect the chaotic nature of the times.

Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back / Fear Of A Black Planet

With It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Fear Of A Black Planet, and indeed their precursor, 1987’s Yo! Bum Rush The Show, Public Enemy managed the near-impossible: music that convincingly, articulately, held a mirror up to its multi-faceted, complex, media-saturated times, speaking with equal measures of righteous fury and retribution. Shocklee and leader Chuck D came up and met through studying at Adelphi University – Chuck D earned a degree in graphic design – but they were also involved in New York’s hip-hop underground: an early effort from Chuck D, the Shocklee brothers and Eric Sadler, Spectrum City’s “Lies”, led Rick Rubin – whose label, Def Jam, is celebrating its 30th anniversary, hence these reissues – to headhunt Chuck D, desperate to sign him to his label.

With the benefit of rewritten history, early Public Enemy comes across as invincible, inevitable – and yet, their debut album, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, for all its daring and innovation, only sold 300,000 copies in its year of release. Perhaps the production’s deceptive minimalism, pulsing noise, threaded together to create The Bomb Squad’s “sonic walls”, was a too distilled for broader consumption. Yet this approach to production would become Public Enemy’s sonic imprimatur, something they’d ramp up on subsequent albums.

Indeed, listening back to It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and Fear Of A Black Planet, the eloquence of the production still startles. The Bomb Squad’s manipulation of noise is a process of alchemy, transmuting base elements through careful distillation and arrangement. This also echoes the intensification of the mass media-scape that Public Enemy both reflected and were part of. Before Public Enemy, Chuck D was a radio broadcaster, presenting the Spectrum City Radio Hour on university station WBAU, and Public Enemy’s albums come across as deftly woven broadcasts, using samples as earworms, pulled together with a jump-cut logic that suggests musique concrète just as much as it does the magpie aesthetic of hip-hop. Not unreasonably did Chuck D claim that rap was “black America’s CNN”.

Feeding into this was Chuck D and the group’s canny reading of the political turmoil of the time, and their ability to historicise this political awareness. As Shocklee says, “There was so much going on with the black community, a lot of tension, racial tension was happening amongst the races at that time, and crack had devastated our community… [So] that was a big part of it, to give black people a sense of hope, a sense of pride, a sense of the fact that we can get through, and we can become greater than what we’re being programmed to be.” This understanding of the complexity of race relations in the United States was further cross-wired with an in-depth reading of histories of black criticism, leadership and activism, from the Black Panther Party and Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey, through to the Nation Of Islam organisation and its leader, Louis Farrakhan.

It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is in many ways the defining moment for Public Enemy, often considered their classic set, and the one that brought them their first taste of wider success. In truth it lacks some of the pure shock factor of Yo! Bum Rush The Show, and the concept of a one-hour album, no breaks, thirty minutes each side, which plays out with the heavyweight implications of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On, doesn’t always convince. But these are minor criticisms, and Millions has a number of PE classics in its armoury, and if anyone needs convincing that Public Enemy rocked harder than 99% of rock music of its time, just turn to the breathtaking “She Watch Channel Zero”, whose scaffold is built from Slayer’s “Angel Of Death”.

Elsewhere, “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”, later queered by Tricky, is stentorian and unrelenting, while “Bring The Noise” is all sparking noise, a magnesium flare of a track. Throughout, Chuck D fine-tunes his vocal delivery: drawing from a rich black oratory tradition, it’s a voice that has the same wall-shaking authority as Prince Far I. But if the reality of Millions, at times, is overshadowed by its legend, there are no such problems for Fear Of A Black Planet, which is even more tightly constructed. It allows Flavor Flav to come into his own, particularly on “911 Is A Joke”, has the group playing at a heightened pitch on classics like “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” and “Burn Hollywood Burn”, and features their most thrilling five minutes, with the panic rush drone – almost Wild Pitch in its powers – of “Welcome To The Terrordome”.

Closing down the first, wildest phase of Public Enemy’s career, Fear Of A Black Planet was a peerless summary both of the possibilities of hip-hop, and of the conflicts and intensities that the group manifested through their music. Reflecting on Public Enemy in their prime, music critic Simon Reynolds once wrote that they “did what no rock band… could: not just comment on, but connect with real issues and real stakes in the outside world: aggravating the contradictions and making the wounds rawer and harder to ignore.” It’s hard to disagree with such an observation: but just as much, Public Enemy were the weapon salve, the powder of sympathy applied to the powers that created the wound.
EXTRAS: Each album comes with an extra disc of contemporaneous remixes, b-sides, etc. 8/10
Jon Dale

What can you tell me about the pre-Public Enemy days – your time with Chuck D at Adelphi University, for example…
I had a DJ outfit called Spectrum City, and I was DJing for years. I ran across Chuck when I was throwing one of my events. He was interested in doing design work for the flyers. From that point we developed a relationship, at least from a friendship perspective. I didn’t ask him to join my crew until later. [Eventually,] I wanted to add an MC component to my DJ crew, so I was on the hunt for MCs. I went to Adelphi University, and they’d have these parties late at night. These parties were a magnet for attracting a lot of wannabe MCs, because at the time, that was the only place you could go where you could grab the mic. There was a whole herd of people who was trying to show their skills. I heard a lot of MCs who weren’t really all that good, but then I heard this guy grab the mic and make an announcement for an upcoming party that was happening. He wasn’t MCing or anything. I just heard his voice, and fell in love with his voice. I approached him to be part of my DJ outfit. It took me two years to convince him!

Chuck was a graphic design major at Adelphi, which makes sense given the visual impact and importance of presentation for Public Enemy.
Chuck and I did the Public Enemy logo. I did the letters, Chuck did the logo… Originally there were two separate group logos that we made, one was Funky Frank & The Street Force, one was Public Enemy. Public Enemy had a different logo, and Funky Frank & The Street Force had the target. So Chuck said, “You know what? I’m gonna take this target, because it works better, and put it with Public Enemy.” So Public Enemy came from the concept first, before it became anything else. At the time, there was a black consensus that hip-hop was being targeted, by mainstream America, mainstream radio, mainstream press. It was being targeted by the musicians, who said that it really wasn’t music, it was a bunch of kids sampling and stealing beats, the chord structures were wrong, the fact that there were no melodies was wrong. Everything was wrong about rap. There was this big thing about rap not lasting, “It’s a fad, it’s gonna die out”.

The Bomb Squad called their production style “organised noise”.
I started working with Eric [Sadler] first, and I started coming up with sound design concepts, ideas for a sound. I brought Eric up because he was a musician. He could play a little guitar, a little drums. I needed somebody that had an understanding of chord structure, musical scales, because I had ideas of sound. Since I had a library of over 10,000 records, I started experimenting with creating ideas and tracks, because the records that I had gave me the knowledge of understanding a lot about intros, breakdowns, turnarounds. I ripped records apart in terms of how they build up their arrangement structures, what is the most exciting part of the record… I wanted to take this rap thing and push it. I wanted to push it almost to the point where you keep the pressure on it – kind of like if you look at something being pressed against glass: I wanted to create a sonic signature that represents something being so pressurised that it’s being pushed up against the glass, and has no room. I didn’t want too much relief – I wanted all tension.

How did you feel about Public Enemy being called the ‘greatest rock’n’roll band in the world’? Because you drew inspiration from rock’n’roll for your production…
Nobody could sound like Public Enemy, because it doesn’t sound like a dance group. It comes from my rock’n’roll background. I didn’t want to produce rock’n’roll that had guitars in it, because that would be clichéd. I wanted to create the same kind of intensity, going back to the pressure – because that’s what rock does, rock is real compressed, and the pressure is constant. I wanted to speak that language with other instruments.
There are two things that Public Enemy was patterned after, there were two main groups I loved the most. One was Iron Maiden, and the other was Megadeth. The reason why is because those two particular groups, every record that they put out was a continuation of the last. So they created, in my mind, sequels. Every record, to me, has to have a sequel event. So, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, the sequel to that would be, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. After we bum rush the door, it’s gonna take a nation of millions to hold us back. Now that we’re taking over the spot, now it’s Fear Of A Black Planet, now we’ve taken it over.

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Rating: 9 / 10


Source: Uncut