Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The blog has moved!

For anyone following this blog, please make your way over to http://www.shelltoesmusic.com, my new home.

All the Mushroom Jazz mixes I've released are available for download and streaming, including the latest:


01. The Shelltoes – Duet For One
02. Bjork – Unison
03. Dave Douglas – Unison
04. Little Dragon – Twice (Aaron Jerome Remix)
05. Katalyst – What About Us?
06. Atjazz – One
07. Fat Freddy’s Drop – Big BW
08. DJ Stix – Yesteryear
09. Mark De-Clive Lowe – Quintessential
10. Sir Menelik – 7XL (Instrumental)
11. Ursula Rucker – Circe (Jazzanova Remix)
12. Space Hopper – Find Yourself
13. Interfearance – Vari Happy
14. Illa J – R U Listening? (feat Guilty Simpson)
15. De La Soul – Trying People (Instrumental)
16. The Shelltoes – I Miss You (Acapella)
17. People Under The Stairs – Schooled In The Trade
18. Mica Paris – One (White)
19. Jurassic 5 – Freedom
20. Red Hot Chili Peppers – If You Have To Ask
21. D’Nell – Lace (Nicolay Remix)
22. Unknown – Jacked Bouncy Business
23. Bobby Womack – How Could You Break My Heart?
24. Mama Oliver – East / West (Stoned Remix)
25. Noodles & Noel Boogie – Spiro (Tipper Remix)
26. 7 Samurai – Marvin
27. MED – Can’t Hold On (Instrumental)
28. DJ Spinna ft. Phonte – Guaranteed
29. Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek – Love Speakeasy
30. Bahamadia – Philadelphia
31. Janet Jackson – Got Till It’s Gone
32. Jazz Liberatorz – Clin D’Oeil
33. Common – Song For Assata (Instrumental)
34. J. Boogie’s Dubtronic Science – 1.4.U
35. Nujabes – Battle Cry (Instrumental)
36. Black Star – Yo Yeah
37. Pete Rock & 9th Wonder – Class Is In Session #6
38. The Roots – Act Too .. The Love Of My Life
39. Presto – Smooth Flow
40. Flying Lotus – Tea Leaf Dancers
41. Scott Lark Da Sensei – Razzle Dazzle
42. Cee-Lo – All Day Love Affair
43. Pete Rock – More Petestrumentals #14
44. Jose James – Save Your Love For Me
45. Colonel Red – Pave The Way (Mitsu The Beats Remix)
46. Quasimoto – MHB’s (Instrumental)
47. Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love
48. Sadat X – Eternally Yours
49. Slum Village – Fall In Love (Instrumental)
50. Common – Come Close (Dilla Remix)
51. Flying Lotus & The Life Force Trio – Auntie’s Lock
52. Mark De Clive-Lowe – Naima (Instrumental)
53. John Coltrane – Naima (Alternate Take 1)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jose James taking names

Just a quick one after a long absence from the blog. Got turned onto this cat by a friend's tweet about a week ago and have been reeling ever since. Resurrecting jazz, hip-hop and good music all round.

Baby I'm calling out to you oh oh oh ...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mushroom Jazz 6 splashes down

After a more than three year wait, the next instalment of the Mushroom Jazz series has just landed. I've loved the MJ series since the first time I heard it and it's probably my most significant musical influence of the last half-decade. I am also a big fan of Mark himself, as amongst other things, he was responsible for pushing my first house record into the public eye and getting it signed to Greenhouse. That's why it is so hard to say this:

After about three listenings, I think MJ6 is probably the weakest of all the official releases.

Admittedly, after the unbelievable zip-locked freshness of MJ3, MJ4, and MJ5, the bar was set stupidly high for the next instalment. Think Godfather Part III. With older brothers like I & II, you're born knowing that you're going to look like a pants-wetting club-footed retard by comparison.

MJ6 marks a return to the heavily jazz-sample-based sounds of the original MJ, that 90s acid-jazz sound that you can hear on just about all the unofficial MJ tapes. If you are still feeling that sound, then you'll find a lot to like here, but if you liked the moodier direction that the MJ series had been heading in, then prepare for a slap in the face-hole and a poke in the nads; gone are the hard-hitting yet soulful sounds of Pete Rock's A Love Thing, Nicolay's Nic's Groove, Gripper's Jazz Cop, stuff from The Strange Fruit Project, DJ Spinna, Bahamadia, etc etc ... i.e. stuff that I like to steal for my own glory.

MJ6 has a much happier and more harmless sound; looped-up piano samples that hark back to the MPC-is-god era of production, the kind of stuff that would be great as background tunes whilst knocking back Coronas on a Sunday arvo, but nothing that's really gonna have you breaking your neck or taking the time to write a know-it-all wankfest of a blog post about it.

Looking at the tracklist, part of the problem might be that it looks like a big majority of the tunes are Om records. Obviously, it will probably help them sell more records, but the old "variety is the spice-rack of life" rule seems to have been forgotten. If you can't reach out to BBE for a couple tracks, then you are Cheney'ing yourself in the foot.

Having said all that, it's still beats out 90% of the dog balls on the shelves today for your hard-earned food stamps, so go check it out, and if you haven't heard the earlier records in the series, then get ready for the best history lesson you'll ever have ...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

M-Audio 410 to MOTU UltraLite to TC Konnekt Live and back again .. a review, of sorts ..

The audio interface of choice in my studio for the last 4 years has been an M-Audio Firewire 410. Like most other successful manufacturers that emerge from niche markets, M-Audio has no shortage of haters willing to drop a steaming verbal turd on it at the drop of a hat.

When I bought it, I did so because it was all I could afford in a firewire audio interface. Succumbing to both the generally negative perception of the sound quality of the 410 from gear heads and my own gear splurging tendencies, I have now twice tried to replace my hardy and faithful 410 in the last year. I am one treacherous bastard.

MOTU UltraLite

Firstly, I tried to replace it with a MOTU UltraLite, which is generally considered to be a minty fresh piece of gear by those in the know. What is not generally known is that it doesn't work on a Mac under BootCamp.

I mean, at all.

And this was after Leopard had been released and BootCamp was no longer officially in beta. The firewire hardware in a MacBook Pro is amongst MOTU's list of officially supported chipsets. Seems like it should work, no?

Writing and calling through to MOTU got a very smart-ass response asking why on earth I thought it would work in the first place. I don't know, perhaps because I was trying to use it with an officially supported OS and firewire interface? I must have been crazy. How embarrassment for me!

TC Electronic Konnekt Live

I own a TC PowerCore Compact and have been very happy with it. I use it on every track I produce. Generally pretty happy with the TC customer service, I thought I'd give their Konnekt Live interface a run. After being told by one of their support staff that he was running one on his desk with a 15" MacBook Pro "without any problems", I thought things looked good.

Apparently, the fact that a Konnekt Live will not power up on bus-power on a MacBook Pro (15" or 17") is not considered a "problem" by TC. I can't imagine how a product like this even went to market.

"Hey Jonny, this thing we're selling to people for live performance is bus-powered, right?"

"Yeah sure boss, should work with most laptops that have bus-powered firewire."

"Hmmm, only Mac laptops have bus-powered firewire. Most photos I see of DJs and live acts seem to be with MacBook Pros. I'm assuming it works with them right?"

"Ehhhh ... how about we just ship it?"

"It's Friday, do whatever you want. I'm going whoring."

410, can you ever forgive me?

Sure it might not be the best sounding interface on the market, but I can say of the 4 different machines and 2 operating systems I've connected it to, which includes MacBooks, MacBook Pros, HP laptops, and self-built PCs, it has never had a driver conflict ever (and that includes when BootCamp was in its early beta stages) and has never refused to bus-power.

  • It has two distinct headphone outs with separate volume controls, which neither of the other two more expensive interfaces have, which proves extremely valuable when recording vocals.

  • It is a lot smaller than a TC Konnekt, which as it turns out is freaking massive and heavy as shit. Not exactly what I expected from something marketed as a gig interface.

  • The few hundred dollars difference between a 410 and these other interfaces can be spent on getting better monitors which will have way more effect on your sound quality. Like, for instance, moving from Tannoy Reveals to Event ASP8s. Boom bap never kick clapped my medulla oblongata so nicely.

If you like making music and don't think you'll notice a 2% difference in sound quality, then stick with something that works and spend your time jamming.

If you like beating your head against a wall made of pointy sticks, axes, and Kathy Griffin, go with a company that thinks BootCamp is "way out there" or one that thinks inability to bus-power is "not a problem".

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Akai MPD32 for TriggerFingerers

If you know anything about making beats, you know that the Akai MPC is the tool of the trade that you cannot make teh mad beatz without. You know that if you buy one, Dre will kick the ball to you at soccer practise and you can expect crazy R'n'B B.I.'s in thongs to materialise in your bedroom studio.

If you are from the current generation of producers, you are probably stuck ten feet deep in software and MIDI controllers, which means the only way you can bask in the historical fuzzy glow of the MPC is to grab one of Akai's MPD units. With one of these babies under your arm, you're virtually guaranteed to at least look like the credible producer you think you are.

Having a serious credibility deficit myself, I picked up one of the new MPD32's last week, even though I already had an M-Audio TriggerFinger. I'm sure there are already a thousand reviews on the internet saying how dope the MPD32 is, but this is why the MPD32 does soggy brown ones all over the TriggerFinger, and why (as a DJ'ing tool) it's worth every penny of the $299 it cost me:
  • Bank Selection: The MPD32 has 3 banks of controllers and 4 banks of pads, which is actually less than the TriggerFinger, however, you can switch between them with a single keypress and because they each have a dedicated button, you can always tell which damn bank you're on. Very important when you're drunk in a dark club and have a tendency to forget things like that. Also, lights make you look cool and will get you chicks.

  • Channel Switches: The MPD32 has assignable switches on each channel, which are great for bypassing effects, e.g. filters or delays. Also, the switches are lit which makes you look cool and will get you chicks.

  • Endless Pots: This needs no explanation. Controller snap is annoying and makes you look uncool. Endless pots mean switching between controller banks actually works the way it's supposed to, and also it controls a cool looking bar in the display area which will get you chicks.

  • Velocity Control: Dedicated buttons for full level and 16-level velocity response are much better than the byzantine sequence you have to bash out on a TriggerFinger if you want to activate the same thing. Bashing out beats at a constant 127 velocity is also the mark of a cool dude and will get you sweet mamas.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unsplit mixes for you ghetto bastards

Due to the number of peeps who have requested that I post the unsplit MP3s of my mixtapes, I have uploaded them to the archive. Each mix now has a download link for an unsplit MP3.

I think all 5th gen iPods will correctly play back split mixes without gaps, but I guess it was a tad harsh of me to expect everyone to have one of those sexy pieces of kit.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Laidback Daze'End

If you've ever listened to one of my mixtapes and thought "this isn't as terrible as everyone's been saying", I would suggest you have a another listen and maybe certain truths will become apparent on the second lap.

If at that point you're still listening, you should definitely check out the latest downtempo mixtape by my old chum Mo Funk, which is posted here.

I'm not going to post the tracklist here because there are almost 100 tracks in a 2 hour mix and aside from the space it would take up, posting a tracklist like that from someone else gives me the DJing equivalent of shrinkage.