Alphabethead: Proper genius
Wellington-based turntablist Alphabethead is a genius. For real. Genius is an unavoidable word in music - everyone's a genius; far too many people think they are, or think someone is. And I'm convinced Alphabethead is.
I first saw him perform nearly a decade ago, as part of a big-band jazz ensemble. He was playing his turntables.
Alphabethead is a musician, a visionary. From hip-hop to punk and psychedelic rock by way of Mongolian throat singing, TV soundtracks and classic soul, funk and jazz, nothing escapes him. And everything that he touches he spins into new, fresh gold. No two sets from Alphabethead are the same either - I've seen him doing tricks, scratching and doing behind-the-back manoeuvres, but I've also had to pick my mouth up off the floor after hearing him play the best - loudest - metal, the spookiest, weirdest, spaced-out rock and free-noise washes of sound and he can play it straight. In fact it can get a little David Lynch in the Alphabethead world - as in the straighter it gets the more bent it actually seems.
I thought to mention him to you all - many of you will know of him but just as many will not - because his blog is a wonderful place to visit. He regularly offers up his music free; giving open-minded music fans a chance to revel in fresh sounds that have been created from his choice selections from an eclectic vault. And he offers some great writing too - inspiration behind his various projects, a little of the method behind the madness and the madness behind the method.
Late last night I was tipped off by a fellow fan that Alphabethead was giving away his album Electricity.
I reviewed this album for The Dominion Post a few years back. A five-star classic as far as I'm concerned; I heard my old Santana and Captain Beefheart albums filtered through the instrumental hip-hop approach of the likes of RJD2 and DJ Shadow. And it's a strange and beautiful trip. A real sonic journey.
And if you like that album (or want to check it out) - and I truly believe that he is making musical shapes for anyone who really does love music - then you might want to check out some of his mixtapes too. If you want to hear a turntablist/DJ who has an ear for the obscure - and for extracting the magic from the obscure - then try his Music from the 1960s & 70s and its Volume II. Or his film soundtrack mix.
These are amazing samplers from a rare talent, and they take you back to so much wonderful music - or introduce you (for the first time) to new stuff from the past.
Alphabethead is also part of The All Seeing Hand - a group that has wowed with its live performances; try the album (it's easy to see why people have been stunned by the combination of sounds live).
That's it for today. Just wanted to introduce you to the musical worlds of Alphabethead; actual genius. Maybe you've met his music before. If this is a reminder to head back and find out about some new sounds he's conjured or pick up on some of the older material you missed then I'm hopeful and happy that some of you will have your mind blown.
I know I did. And I regularly check in at his site to find new and interesting music that has been created from old and interesting sounds.
And if this is the first time you've heard about this guy - and you're taking the plunge - a whole new series of strange and beautiful music is ahead (and behind, and all around) for you.
Hear anything you like there? Are you an Alphabethead fan already? Or willing to dive in and try the Electricity album for starters?
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