Track by track with Lack of Afro

Future Music - - FILTER | CLASSIC ALBUM -

Intro

“At the time I was deep into

Endtro­duc­ing. That was a mas­sive al­bum for me. I love DJ Shadow and that whole in­stru­men­tal hip-hop thing. I also loved all the Grand Cen­tral and Aim stuff. He was a big in­flu­ence, as well, with his al­bum

Cold Wa­ter Mu­sic. They all had in­tros so I had to have one on mine.

“I found a nice spo­ken word sam­ple about a guy mix­ing a James Brown tape. He summed up where I was at the time. If I wasn’t lis­ten­ing to mu­sic I was try­ing to mix it and write it at the same time. When I heard that sam­ple I knew it would be per­fect for my own intro.”

The Out­sider

“I’ve got a lot to thank this track for. This is prob­a­bly the one that peo­ple most know – Peo­ple still sing that horn line at me!

“It’s based around a nice horn riff sam­ple, then it went from there. It’s one of those tracks that came to­gether quickly, too.

“I was lis­ten­ing to funk 45s a lot, so riffs would slip in as I was mak­ing tracks. In The Out­sider there’s an alto sax that ref­er­ences Soul Power ‘74 by Maceo & The Macks. Later on in

Mon­grel Strut there’s a ref­er­ence to The Champ by the Mo­hawks. When you’re writ­ing an al­bum and deep into it you put lit­tle bits in for your own amuse­ment.”

Rusty

“I loved this drum loop. At the time I had all these sam­ples and cuts, try­ing to make them work to­gether. I was just try­ing to sound like Cut Chemist with this track, I think. His track

Les­son Six. I loved that. “I re­mem­ber record­ing the bassline was a real strug­gle as I didn’t re­ally play much bass at all back then. I would just pick up in­stru­ments up and learn stuff as I went along.

“There’s some strings on here, as well. I knew I wanted strings on the al­bum, some­how. I was big into film com­posers and sound­tracks. I knew that was some­thing I wanted to do in the fu­ture so they had to go on.”

Touch My Soul

“This fea­tures a sam­ple of Steve Mar­riott who was in the Small Faces. My pub­lisher cleared that with his es­tate and EMI. He did a lot of leg­work to get that one, so hats off.

“The Small Faces are one of my favourite bands, ever. His voice was just in­cred­i­ble and for me it stacks up against some of the great­est soul voices, and it came out of this lit­tle five foot white cock­ney.

“My dad got me into the Small Faces. The track I sam­pled it off,

Af­ter­glow (Of Your Love), was one of my favourites, but I only wanted to use it if I could do jus­tice to it.”

For You

“I got a friend of mine, Nick Rad­ford, to play some gui­tar on here. He was re­ally good. I met him when I was putting a band to­gether for a wed­ding. I’d been through a few gui­tarists by this point. Ei­ther they didn’t get it, over­played, or were just heavy in­die rock play­ers.

“Nick plugged in and started play­ing and he just... got it. I was just after some­thing nice. I was lis­ten­ing to a lot of down­tempo stuff at the time like Bonobo and Quan­tic, so I knew I wanted to rep­re­sent that and get away from the whole dance­floor funk breaks stuff for a bit.

“There had to be a bal­ance. I re­mem­ber think­ing that I needed to make these types of tracks to break the al­bum up.”

Pure Filth

“The drums were a sam­ple of The New Master­sounds. That band was pretty in­te­gral to Press On as a record be­cause a cou­ple of the tracks con­tain drum sam­ples from their drum­mer, Si­mon Allen.

“I’d seen them at uni­ver­sity back in 2001, live, and I was blown away. I got their de­but al­bum [ Keb Darge Presents: The New Master­sounds] and just went through it and I came across these drums.

“I knew I wanted to clear them prop­erly so I hit up their pub­lisher, who has been my pub­lisher now for over ten years, and got them. So, through this track I met the band, my pub­lisher Pa­trick Meads, and even got Ed­die Roberts from The New Master­sounds to play gui­tar later on on this al­bum.”

Wait A Minute

“This was my first sin­gle and the track that ini­tially got me signed to Freestyle Records. At the time I was in a DJ crew called The Root Down, led by a friend of mine called Heavy Sty­lus and un­be­knownst to me, he had up­loaded this track to the Ninja Tune fo­rum where Jon Shep­pard (A&R at Freestyle Records at the time) had heard it and it all went from there.

“This track fea­tures Char­lie Hearn­shaw (my sax­o­phone teacher at the time) on alto sax, and Toby Mentz on bass. I’ll leave it to the sam­ple spot­ters to fig­ure out where the open­ing vo­cal sam­ple comes from.

“This was one of the first tracks that I started ex­per­i­ment­ing with

drum lay­er­ing – a tech­nique that I learnt from Quan­tic’s Will Hol­land.”

Live At The Club

“One of my favourite Can­non­ball Ad­der­ley al­bums is called Live At The

Club. They recorded it live in the studio in front of an au­di­ence. I wanted to make a track like it was a band play­ing in a club, in front of an au­di­ence. So I got ap­plause sam­ples and crowd noises and mixed them in.

“I re­mem­ber record­ing parts for this track and stack­ing lots of stuff up, like the alto sax, and adding lit­tle horn sec­tion stabs over it and record­ing in live gui­tar. I played keys parts on here that I never would now. It was just a nice lit­tle track that I re­ally wanted to do at the time.”

Mon­grel Strut

“This has Nick Rad­ford again, play­ing gui­tar. It ref­er­ences The Champ by The Mo­hawks – ev­ery­one thinks that’s a sam­ple, but it’s ac­tu­ally me play­ing.

“It also has a spo­ken word sam­ple on it of Bob Moog talk­ing about syn­the­sis­ers at the end, just be­fore some synths come in, played on my only synth, the No­va­tion K-Sta­tion.

“It’s just one of those tracks where I’m in­ter­weav­ing sam­ples and live play­ing. It was about half and half. It was al­ways a strug­gle to get the bal­ance of crusty sam­ples and live mu­si­cians right, and then make the two worlds gel.”

When The Sun Goes Down

“This is an Arc­tic Mon­keys song. I love them and could al­ways hear a funk track hid­den in there. All of a sudden it was some­thing I just had to do. It’s my only ever cover ver­sion.

“This track is com­pletely live. No sam­ples, noth­ing. I was re­ally ner­vous as Ed­die Roberts from The New Master­sounds is on this. I was on drums. I didn’t con­sider my­self to be a great drum­mer, but I knew enough.

“On bass was a guy called Neil Innes, who brought down a Fos­tex R8 eight-track, reel-to-reel tape ma­chine, and some Neu­mann M149 mics to use as drum over­heads.

“We ar­ranged it on the spot, and just jammed it out. Ed­die was a band­leader so took over in a way and I was happy to be led by him.”

Roderigo

“This was the sec­ond sin­gle off the al­bum. I wanted to make some­thing beat-heavy. Drums were re­ally im­por­tant to me; cru­cial for the whole al­bum.

“A guy called Fl­e­vans, a good friend of mine who was signed to Tru Thoughts, had a track called Spooked that I re­ally liked. It was all based around cut up jazz drums. The jazz drums sec­tion in Roderigo is a lit­tle nod to him.

“Bonobo, who would go onto mas­sive things, was part of the scene back then and he used to play

Roderigo out a lot. It was good to get val­i­da­tion from peo­ple who were signed and pro­duc­ers at the time.”

Where’s It At

“I was just try­ing to be DJ Shadow on this track. That was my re­mit. It had the spo­ken word thing in there, and then the heavy drums with the quite mel­low sam­ple.

“I was a big fan of spo­ken word stuff – they helped set a scene. I wouldn’t do it as much now. That whole thing is of its time. I used a lot of them then be­cause I didn’t have vo­cal­ists, and DJ Shadow and Aim were do­ing it.

“Then we added some Nick Rad­ford gui­tars. It all gave it a nod to

Endtro­duc­ing, as if there hadn’t been enough [laughs].

“The la­bel wanted to end the al­bum on Roderigo and I wanted it to fin­ish on a down­tempo track. I don’t know why, but I re­mem­ber we had an ar­gu­ment about it. I think it had a bit of sym­me­try with the intro track. It just felt right.”

“Drums were re­ally im­por­tant to me; cru­cial for the whole al­bum”

“At the time I was work­ing at Sky TV and they had lots of voiceover stu­dios, so I snuck in and recorded some strings there. Each studio had Neu­mann U87 mi­cro­phones in it, and preamps and com­pres­sors, so it was al­most im­pos­si­ble to make any­thing sound...

News just in: Press On will be re-pressed on spe­cial edi­tion gate­fold, hand-num­bered and signed, heavy­weight vinyl on LOA Records in 2019. Bonus ma­te­rial will in­clude track-by-track notes and pho­tos. Also, the full Lack of Afro band will be tour­ing the...

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