Sorry, I lied. No garage, yet. Today we talk, “Yesterday’s New Quintet”
Apart from being ridiculously badass, YNQ is a great example of rhythmix deviance working it’s way into new music and different genre’s.
That’s YNQ covering you-know-who (Stevie Wonder, if you don’t 😉 ) YNQ is all Madlib, a well-known Dj and producer, playing drum machines and all sorts of rad vintage gear to make sick slidey slanky jazz music. The project occasionally has guest musicians, but it seems to me like Madlib’s excuse to play his Rhodes, Clavinet, and synthesizers without other cats bothering him or (god forbid) trying to rap over them.
What gets me immediately is his Rhodes (the electric piano) playing style. I know he does but the style makes it seem like he doesn’t know how to play keyboards. Juvenile in the most sincere way, this cover is paying tribute only to the melody of the original song. He imbues it with his own wild chains and shakers, sliding all over his keyboard like a drunk. Great stuff.
This one’s an original, and it certainly sounds so. A prevailing feature of wacky beats and contemporary rhythmic exploration is the spirit of experimentation. This track sounds like he’s walking around his studio, wrecking a tad on each keyboard then moving on. It’s interesting how he’s taken the odd-but-consistent broken swing of Dilla’s music and applied it to his live instrumentation. He’s using mostly drum machines for percussion, but he’s playing everything else instead of sampling it. So instead of having slices of samples, putting them together, and coming out with weird choppy rhythms, he’s hearing weird choppy rhythms in his head and executing them on record. It’s unclear whether Dilla, Doom, or Madlib (YNQ, rememba) are/were capable of playing mathematically in time, but if they are/were, they certainly aren’t/weren’t worried about it.
So are they doing it conciously? Probably so, but when isolated groups of kids hear this stuff, especially when they don’t know anything about how it was made, the style becomes the new goal for imitation. Kids will be (and def already are) practicing how to make their drums sound fucked up, how to make the parts of their songs almost fall completely apart but still keep the funkiness and danceability. I wonder if the fans and proponents of slanky jams will be forever cursed with the inability to play with other straight-laced musicians. That’s a dramatic example, but my point is that today’s generation is becoming desensitized to “off” rhythms. Pretty sweet.