Listed: Slicker + Ewan Pearson
Forever damned to be known as the son of filmmaker John Hughes (with no help from us in ending this damnation), Hefty records founder and Slicker's alter ego John Hughes III has made quite a name for himself purely on his own merit. While Hefty has release some of the more exciting electronic/etc. releases of the past few years (including the first records by Savath and Savalas, A Grape Dope, Telefon Tel Aviv), Hughes has also made a name for himself with his own bands. His early work with the rock-leaning outfit (but unfortunately named) Bill Ding earned him his first fans (among them ½ of Dusted’s editorial staff), but it wasn’t until he shifted more heavily to electronics with the birth of Slicker that Hughes began to earn widespread respect as a musician. Slicker’s latest album, We All Have A Plan is one of the year’s most original and exciting electronic releases, blending the offbeat quirkiness of Matmos with surprisingly fluid and lush orchestral and vocal arrangements. The sample-less album was created “"to make something that was rootsy, filled with universal concepts and primitive sounds. Sounds that on their own would catch even my daughter’s ear. A futuristic and forward-thinking record that captured the traditional spirit from snippets of old music," and unlikely as it may see, it succeeds terrifically. We All Have A Plan comes out in April on Hefty Records.
1. Kanye West – Putting Chicago hip hop on the map. This guy is the real deal and reps Chicago so hard it made me feel guilty. Maybe I can get Bernie Mac to do some skits on my record? "Oh girl, your breathe is harsh. Cover your mouth like you got SARS."
2. David Black – Up-and-coming and just about there photographer based in NYC. I worked with him on my new album's photo shoot and it was sick. Shooting live animals could only be a breeze with Dave. His laugh when the cow pissed on the carpet was legendary.
3. The Office Christmas Special on the BBC – Sometimes after pulling my jeans up to my tits and dancing around the Hefty office I wonder if my employees think I'm David Brent.
4. Perrier Lime – I wasn't sold on fizzy water until I squeezed a lime in it. And then I got sick of cutting up limes or getting dried up ones at restaurants. But Perrier saved me when they added lime right into the bottle. Writing about it makes me thirsty...
5. Steve Sullivan – Escaping the slimy chokehold of Bill Wirt$ and the rotted Chicago Blackhawks organization, Sully scores a hat trick in his first game after being traded from Chicago. I already miss his bottom row of teeth.... Oh, and that cute little scare tissue on his upper lip.
6. Vanilla Skim Lattes – Slicker fuel. "Can I have a medium vanilla skim latte with two squirts of vanilla, extra foamy, extra shot," I ask. And I wonder if the person making it is going to say, "Why don't you just fucking make it then?"
7. Elmo Fruit Snacks – I just can't turn my daughter down. "Lemon Big Bird or Lime Oscar, please."
8. Spanova – No disrespect to other modern Japanese musicians dabbling in Soul music, but these guys do it best. Musicianship at its best.
9. iChatStatus – It makes me feel like I'm in the Star Trek fan club, but this little Mac OSX plug-in is fun. It syncs your iTunes with iChat letting your online pals see what you are currently listening to. I have to remember to the turn the extension off when I listen to Linda Ronstadt.
10. My Siamese Cat, Winslow – When I'm stressed out he finds me and purrs on me. He sleeps under the covers and even though my body gets stiff at night I don't roll over because I don't want to disrespect the man. Is it strange that I refer to my cat as a "man"?
Ewan Pearson has been producing records since 1996. He has released artist albums and singles on labels such as Soma, Giant 45 and Out of the Loop and completed some 50 remixes for the likes of Sony, Virgin, Source, Output, Classic, Klein, F Com, Versatile, Rough Trade, Mute, Grand Central, SSR and Junior / Parlophone.
His remix of Freeform 5’s "Perspex Sex" for Classic won best remix of 2002 in the German Dance Music Awards. Recent remixes include Playgroup “Make It Happen”, Goldfrapp “Train,” Ladytron “Evil,” Chemical Brothers featuring the Flaming Lips “The Golden Path” and The Rapture “I Need Your Love”.
Ewan DJ’s regularly in the UK and Europe and is resident at Come Shake the Whole in London and Watergate in Berlin. He is currently working on his second artist album for Soma Recordings. Ewan makes a rare American appearance tonight, Feb. 27, at APT on W. 13th Street in New York.
1. Gillian Welch - "I Dream A Highway" (Acony) – I've loved every record that Welch and Dave Rawlings have done, but last year I became kind of obsessed with her album Time (the Revelator), in particular the closing track "I Dream A Highway" which I played on repeat for weeks on end without somehow becoming either bored or deranged. It's 14 and a half minutes long and I wish it were longer.
2. Black Strobe - This Is Not Our Album – A 'the-story-so-far' compilation from my absolute favourite of the current crop of european dance producers. Ivan Smagghe and Arnaud Rebotini have updated EBM and Belgian New Beat and produced a run of fantastic singles and remixes. After being largely ignored at first it's now getting to the point at home that 4 out of every 5 'electro/house' records sounds like them. None are ever half as good.
3. Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis (Rhino) – My favourite album ever, I think. Certainly one I seem unable to tire of. Every song is wonderful (barring "Windmills of Your Mind," the exception that proves the rule), the arrangements and playing are immaculate but as always it's her voice - so full of longing and desire - which makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The day she died I was walking home from the library along Kingsway in London and it was front page news on the London Evening Standard. As I tried to buy the paper my eyes started to well up and the vendor looked at me like I was completely mad. Much as I hate canonisation and definitive aesthetic judgments about the 'Greats' - when I talk about things that are 'great' I mean 'things which please me' and that's it - I am tempted to say that hers was the finest white soul voice of all time. I'd better not though.
4. Trevor Horn. – Maybe weird to put a producer in a list like this but I'm a massive fan, and much of his work and that of the team he had around him in the 80's like Steve Lipson, Andrew [?], has influenced me greatly. I like the grand scale, the pompous orchestrations, the endless 12-inch re-versions of lots of the records that they made - Propaganda's A Secret Wish, Frankie Goes To Hollywood's first album, Grace Jones' Slave To The Rhythm, Pet Shop Boys Left To My Own Devices and even Yes Owner of a Lonely Heart (yikes!). Despite being mini-epics they are all still fine pop records. The Fairlights and Synclaviers and all that technology which cost several millions of pounds being pushed to the limit - it could all be done on a laptop today. Not too many people seem to want make 'big' records at the moment. In dance, certainly, minimalism has ruled the roost for too long. I'm definitely a maximalist when I'm doing a remix or something - I like to have as much music and orchestration and the full vocal and a danceable groove if possible. I want to have my cake and eat it.
5. Closer Musik – A duo that released two singles and an album on Kompakt and then promptly dissolved. The singles in particular are really good - "You Don't Know Me" is hilarious and menacing at the same time and there's a great pay off in the chorus. Their first single "1,2,3 (no gravity)" is a really beautiful post-E record that some friends in Paris introduced me to. My friend Hamish at Out of the Loop Recordings managed to license it and I'm trying to remix it at the moment. It's taking ages and I should be getting on with my own album but it's too lovely to fuck up.
6. Richard Thompson – British folk guitarist and songwriter that I've grown up with since I was tiny. My mum and dad are both big fans - in fact my dad used to sing in a folk group - something I was most embarrassed about as an idiot teenager. Now I'm older of course I'm returning to lots of the music I heard then and loving it - Martin Carthy, Nic Jones but most of all Thompson. He's made so many great records - all the stuff he did with his wife Linda in the 70's right through to the Capitol records of the 90's that he did with Mitchell Froom. He is an incredible songwriter, darker than pitch at times, and also a virtuoso guitar player prone to going off into strange atonal solos that shouldn't really work. I once saw him play in a barn in a tiny village called Kinver near where I grew up and the place was captivated - he somehow managed to make a single guitar sound like a much larger accompanying band. Apparently he did a '1000 Years of Popular Music' show last year in which he played Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did It Again." His ex-wife Linda made her first album in years in 2003 (called Fashionably Late) which was really good also.
7. Anita Baker - "Rapture" (Elektra) – Another all-time favourite that manages unfailingly to put me in a great mood. I often listen to it as I do the housework in the morning and sing along really badly. I've heard it so many times that I know every tiny ad-lib and and warble. I just moved to Berlin and so far my neighbours have been too polite to complain. It's either that or Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows" but it's difficult to vacuum and air-drum at the same time.
8. Neil Young - "Will To Love" (Reprise) – My friend Jeb Loy Nichols first played me this. It's on American Stars and Bars but I think was originally a track from the Homegrown record that was never released. It's basically Neil Young playing everything in his house - guitar, drums, piano. You can hear a log fire crackling along there too somewhere. It's haphazard and beautiful and analogue and the vocal - a rambling love song whose organising metaphor is fish swimming home to spawn - is swamped in tape modulation which does make it sound as if he's singing underwater. Odd, but genuinely affecting.
9. Colors - "Am I Gonna Be The One?" – One of my favourite 12"s from that weird early 80's hinterland post-disco and pre-house. It's a great song and a brilliant mix from Shep Pettibone. I love so many of his mixes - in the last couple of years I've tried to use an old-fashioned 'extended' remix structure when it's been suitable for a project, keeping as much of the original as possible and opening it out; toughening it up enough to make it into a dance record without losing what made it special in the first place. This model of remixing kind of got thrown out at the end of the 90's where instead we got the new track with a tiny snippet of the original in there somewhere. "Am I Gonna Be The One" is an example of the extended mix at its best and a cracking song to boot.
10. Justice v. Simian - "Never Be Alone" / Franz Ferdinand - "Take Me Out" (Morgan Geist remix) – "Never Be Alone" is a remix of UK band Simian by a French duo that I know nothing about. Franz Ferdinand are being pronounced the 'next big thing' in the UK, but seem on the evidence of this first single and their album worth making a fuss about. Morgan Geist has done a fantastic job with his the remix, too. Both of these records have become end-of-the night anthems at our club in London: both are great for an exuberant sing-a-long before everyone goes home.
By Dusted Magazine