There is no getting around the fact I love Daft Punk. There is also no getting around the fact that their music gets more and more convoluted and unfocused the more time goes on. I have a very distant relationship with their 2 later albums. Homework is in my opinion, one of the greatest albums of all time. Discovery is not my favourite, but it’s obviously everybody else’s favourite – and it is a masterpiece in sample-based house. Human After All, and Random Access Memories I think are great ideas, but they just lose their way for me. I think there are moments on both that show where they wanted to go was a beautiful place, but there are things that stop them getting there in my opinion. Make Love is the closest thing they have got to perfection over both of those albums, and it’s the track that links them the best. It’s probably the closest thing to a demo they have released too – a snapshot of where they wanted to go with the instrumentation, but still retains some of their incredible programming that makes their early work so magical. I still hold so much hope that they reach the hallowed ground they are sailing toward, because they are still my favourite band of all time, and I still think they have the ability to make some incredible music. Make Love, for me, is not only such a pretty and perfect moment, but also holds the weight of my expectations of Thomas & Guy-Man’s entire career moving forward. Maybe I’m just holding on to the idea of what they could be, and now they are just too deep into Hollywood and celebrity to ever deliver the incredible music they had the potential to make. If at the very least they please just stop with the drum solos, that would be something.
2. Prince – The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
Whenever I speak to somebody who says they are a fan of Prince, I always say The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker is my favourite track, and they usually don’t know what I’m talking about, which is mental considering it’s on one of his most popular albums. Maybe I need to stop speaking to people about Prince at parties. It’s a strange little song, that doesn’t really have anything to do with Dorothy Parker; apparently he didn’t know anything about her – he just picked the name, oddly, for the name a sharp-tongued waitress. I love the mixture of the wobbly chords, and really hollow bass and LinnDrum sounds – it just sounds so flat. I think I read somewhere that it’s because they hadn’t set the new desk at Paisley Park up properly, and this was the first track recorded on it. The whole thing is a massive mistake, and it just makes it more beautiful.
3. Moodymann – In Loving Memory
I was just getting into DJing when Silentintroduction was released. I had heard a lot about Chicago house and techno, and NY/NJ house from my friends, but I heard so little about Detroit House. I was record shopping with my mate Rick in 3 Beat records in Liverpool, and something compelled me to pick up the purple and white record with next to no info on it. It was like nothing I’d ever heard at that point. Nobody was talking about Kenny or Theo back then. They weren’t the huge stars they are now – and they weren’t for many years. I was lucky enough to pick up 3 Chairs, KDJ and Sound Signature records for not much money just because nobody else was buying them. I even got some in bargain bins before Discogs was big. Silentintroduction is still my favourite Moodymann album, even though it’s a compilation. He created his own language in his music – often reusing the same loops in different tracks, and doing multiple versions of the same track. That 7 year period of KDJ was just so special.
4. Brother Jonah Thompson – Get Involved
I don’t remember where I first heard this – it’s some weird little souly gospel record that just slipped into my rotation somewhere. Jonah Thompson is fairly unknown, but he had a few other tracks out there, which are a bit more straight up soul – this is a cute little quirky oddity. I listen to quite a lot of gospel, and any gospel record that uses synths is obviously going to be amazing. I know very little about it, and there is not much info online. I know it’s some super rare self-released 7” that got reissued in 2013, and the version that’s out there is a shaky vinyl rip, which makes it sound even better. I love to collect records, but I’m not a “record collector” – I collect stuff that I like to listen to, but so many people collect stuff because it’s rare, which is one part of that world I really have no time for. I’ll pay money for a record I like, but I’m not going to spend money on a record because it’s worth money. So much of what’s ingrained into record collecting is rare is better, and I really don’t care how popular a record is. I listen to music I enjoy, and I don’t care who made it or how many people have it. I hear a lot of DJ’s playing crappy records because they’re rare. Yawn. Also when I used to DJ with actual records, I used to play super rare vinyl out – which I probably shouldn’t do, but who cares. Records are for listening to and enjoying.
5. Rhythm & Sound with The Chosen Brothers – Making History
I could have put so many Rhythm & Sound tracks here, so much of their music is perfect, and nobody really does what they do. They created the space they occupy – I love any artist who creates their own language and landscape – and nobody does that like Mark Ernest’s and Moritz von Oswald. I was going to put Smile or Never Tell You here, but I thought this was a bit more of an interesting choice. It’s always a beautiful moment to drop a fathoms deep Rhythm & Sound track in the middle of a set.
6. Fatback Band – Going To See My Baby
I don’t have much to say about this, it’s just fucking great. The fact it came out in 1972 is pretty nuts – so ahead of it’s time. Fatback obviously went on to have some huge tunes, but this, along with Wicky Wacky are my favourite tracks from their catalogue.
7. Man Friday – Love Honey, Love Heartache
I was obviously never able to directly connect to Larry as a DJ. Now, looking back, with somebody like Ron Hardy, I think it’s easier to connect to the spirit of his mixing with those awful quality recordings that are about, because rawness was such a big part of what he contributed to house. With Larry, I feel like so much of him is tied up in the sound of the Paradise Garage, and feeling he created in the room – so recordings of his sets I just can’t seem to connect with in the same way. The only way I have really been able to connect with him as a DJ is through things I’ve read. However, one way we can easily connect to him directly and viscerally is through his production. His use of reverb and delay is so beautiful – he creates such amazing space in his tracks and remixes. He was more prolific as a remixer, but this is one of his own, and it’s so simple. Loads of dub delay, piano, synth bass, splashes of organ, LinnDrum, tons of random percussion and effects. There is also a beautifully muddy demo version of this released recently which you should look out for, too.
8. Closer Musik – One Two Three (No Gravity)
I think this is an early Matias Aguayo project. Right in the middle of the micro-house thing that I was really into – it got a bit of bad press at the time, but I think it’s about time we started revisiting those records again. I almost put Villalobos’s What You Say Is More Than I Can Say here, but I decided to go with No Gravity as it’s probably a bit closer to what I’m trying to do now, both with Girls of the Internet and Tableland, and fits this brief a little better. It’s just a pretty little tune – the little flourishes of guitar, and that synth that comes in at the end. So lovely.
9. Kate Bush – Cloudbusting
Okay, so here it is – this is probably my favourite song of all time. I usually have a problem with giving examples of favourites of anything, because it changes from day to day, so please appreciate what a grand statement it is for me to say that. It’s obviously about some book that I know nothing about, but who cares. Music is about your personal interpretation and connection with it. I take different meanings from it whoever I listen to it, and it’s made me cry on more than one occasion – just those combination of words, then the synth strings sweep in, then the marching drums! Gets me every time! I don’t like to play it too often so it always retains that spark of magic to me. I think Kate Bush is somebody every creative person should look up to. If you like her music or not, just to see the journey she has gone on, and the places she has pushed herself, and without influence of the music industry – which is not a nice place sometimes. It’s really breathtaking. Let’s put her face on the £20 note.
10. Billy Paul – How Good Is Your Game
We sadly lost Billy a few years ago. He has such a beautiful voice and amazing spirit in his music. This is a track from his time with Philadelphia International, who are obviously responsible for so much amazing stuff. I first heard of this track after Koushik sampled it for their debut single on Stones Throw in the 00’s sometime. It’s just a sublime little tune – straddling disco, psychedelic, soul, rnb – and a lovely way to finish this list.
The Tableland imprint started late last year and made a quick impression with its first two releases picking up support from the likes of Laurent Garnier, Dan Curtin, rRoxymore, Machine Woman and many more. The man behind Tableland is also the producer behind the timeless project Girls of the Internet who have put out various 12”s, a fine full length on Drab Queen and is due to release a 2nd album entitled ‘Girls FM’ this November.