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Listed: Motor City Drum Ensemble + Chrissy Murderbot

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Dusted Features

Each Friday, Dusted publishes features from artists we admire exploring their record collections. This week: Acclaimed producer Motor City Drum Ensemble and Chicago juke enthusiast Chrissy Murderbot.

Listed: Motor City Drum Ensemble + Chrissy Murderbot

Motor City Drum Ensemble

Taking his name from both the city that birthed the automobile and that techno sound was an apt choice for producer Danilo Plessow. His production style and musical taste as a DJ show a deep reverence for the Detroit techno scene, but his roots go much deeper. On his recent mix for !K7’s DJ-Kicks series, in addition to using Detroit mainstays Theo Parrish and Moodymann, Plessow lovingly mixes and reconfigures tracks from a variety of jazz, house, disco and soul sources. A choice bit of Chicago house via Mr. Fingers is a logical selection, but as Plessow digs in to his musical collection, we’re also wowed by tracks from Sun Ra, Aphex Twin, Arthur Russell, and even some Tony Allen Afrobeat. If you’re up for the journey, you can catch him on a DJ tour for a brief period before he gets back into the studio to perfect the first Motor City Drum Ensemble album. There are also plans to emerge as a live act – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

1. The Awakening - Mirage (Black Jazz)
This was one of the first three records I bought, and not only was I incredibly lucky to find something so sophisticated right from the start, but this album influenced me to do what I do today. It was the very first “real“ record in my collection. Mirage is super funky, yet really deep ‘70s fusion jazz. Just listen to “March On“ and you’ll get an idea of how raw and far out this band was!

2. John Coltrane - My Favorite Things (Atlantic)
The hardest thing with Coltrane is to pick a favorite record. For me, it’s either this, Love Supreme or Giant Steps. Coltrane is a big source of musical inspiration and I always come back to his records.

3. Nas - Illmatic (Columbia)
Still my favorite hip hop record of all time. I got into hip hop through jazz and vice versa, finding samples or the original songs a hip hop track sampled, etc. Basically, Illmatic and some other hip hop LPs from that “golden age“ inspired me to get deeper into doing my own beats.

4. A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders (Jive)
Take Q-Tip -- the MC with the illest flow on this planet -- and the dopest beats you could find in ‘93, and that basically gets you Midnight Marauders.

5. Elecktroids - Elecktroworld (Warp)
Back as a teenager, I had a job as a paperboy every Sunday. I would get up at 8 in the morning, smoke some weed and then listen to whatever Warp CD I could get in my tiny city’s mall while carrying out the papers. Elecktroids was one of the many highlights. Usually, I returned at 10 and worked on beats all Sunday. I miss these times a bit!

6. Moodymann - Silent Introduction (Planet E)
When I bought this in ‘99, I really didn’t like it all that much. Why was it so repetitive? I did like the samples, but what I couldn’t see at the age of 14 was how reduction to the bare elements can create magic. When I heard “I Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits“ two years later at one of my first nightclub visits, I suddenly understood just how incredibly good this was.

7. Loose Joints - Is It All Over My Face? (West End)
For me, this is the perfect disco song, period. There is so much feeling, sexual energy in this track it still gives me goose bumps.

8. Chez Damier - KMS049 (KMS)
If Loose Joints was the perfect disco 12“, this must be the perfect house 12“. Ever since I found a low quality, totally anonymous mp3 of the A side somewhere in the early 2000s, I had been after this. Took me about five years to find it, and when I heard this through the headphones at the store, I had one of these indescribable moments of joy.

9. Bobby Vince Paunetto - Paunetto’s Point (Pathfinder)
It was the summer of 2005. I chose to do civil service instead of going to the army and this was the soundtrack of my first summer living in Stuttgart. Walking through the big parks in Stuttgart, watching old men play chess, kids having fun etc - listening to this Nuyorican Latin jazz gave me a little bit of a New York feeling in my new hometown.

10. Joki Freund Sextet - Yogi Jazz (CBS)
In recent years, my addiction to jazz records, especially modal and spiritual Jazz, became more and more intense. This record is a prime example -- my favorite German jazz LP and unfortunately very, very rare, and therefore an original might cost you up to 1,000 Euros. It took me years to find an affordable copy and the thrill of the chase after this one was definitely something that fits this category -- inspiring!

Chrissy Murderbot

One of the big advantages to becoming a music producer from multiple angles (be it a fan or as a DJ) is that you can already see much more of what’s going on around you, which allows you to contextualize it within your own music. Chrissy Murderbot is a prime example of an artist who has spent a lot of time as a fan, and worked his way through the glut of electronic music in the early 1990s as a DJ and a labelhead to emerge with a decidedly different approach to some classic sounds. A resident of Chicago, his sound on the new Planet-Mu disc Women’s Studies owes much to the city’s juke and footwork craze, but added in to the mix are a whole host of other influences that many other young producers might overlook, such as acid house, U.K. Grime, R&B, and even that ‘90s New Jack Swing. Considering fellow Chicago jukers BBU have already declared that “Chi don’t dance no more,” it’s nice to see that Chrissy Murderbot is not afraid to get buck and throw down to the contrary. Murderbot represents his city proper as one of the very few “hometown” acts at this weekend’s 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival.

1. A Guy Called Gerald - Black Secret Technology
This is basically the best jungle record ever made. I bought this when I was 13 and it absolutely changed my life. The drum programming, the composition, and the production techniques were all MASSIVELY influential on the music I would go on to make, as well as the concept that you don’t have to sacrifice the legitimacy or authenticity of this singles-based dance music world I come from in order to make a solid album that works as a whole.

2. Devo - New Traditionalists
Sometimes I get flack from people for this one, seeing as the hipster-approved Devo albums are really Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and Freedom of Choice. Don’t get me wrong, those albums are great, but this one is more up my alley. It’s thumpy, driving, almost completely electronic, and it opens with "Through Being Cool," perhaps the best "it’s OK to be weird" manifesto ever written. That song, in particular, was really helpful if you were a super-odd 8-year-old growing up in Wichita, Kansas. Additionally, this album (and Devo’s early work in general) has a kind of self-aware sarcastic sexism to it that’s mocking men as much as it is women, which really informed my album Women’s Studies.

3. Erasure - Chorus
This is maybe my favorite band ever -- it’s not often that you hear a heterosexual male say that, so savor it. Seriously though, they had an unbelievable run of phenomenal pop singles in the’80s and early ‘90s, and several of those classics reside on Chorus. More importantly, I’d say Chorus is their only album that’s really perfect from start to finish -- there aren’t any missteps, even the non-singles are super-catchy and memorable, and I can’t pinpoint a single moment where I’d do it differently if it were my album. Still something I listen to on a regular basis.

4. Lime
Remember how I said Erasure was "maybe my favorite band ever"? I said “maybe” because Lime is PROBABLY my favorite band ever. Lime was Denis and Denyse LePage, a husband-and-wife duo from Montreal (with eerily similar names) who did everything -- they wrote, arranged, produced and sang on their own music (as well as a slew of other Hi-NRG disco hits by other artists). Think big, cheesy, synthy disco pop with huge 808 drums backing them up. Denis kinda sang like a leather daddy, and Denyse always sounded like she’d been huffing helium in the back room before her take, but still they were responsible for a lot of the changes in post-1979 disco that eventually led to house, techno and all these other new-fangled genres we have today.

SIDE NOTE: In a truly surreal experience, I was recently connected with personal hero Denyse LePage through my blog My Year of Mixtapes. She saw one of her tracks in one of my mixes and got in touch. She tells me that she and Denis are divorced now. They no longer speak and she says that Denis is a tranny. I don’t know if that’s a fact or the idle gossip of an angry ex...

5. Gamble & Huff
This Philadelphia songwriting & production duo are responsible in one way or another for nearly every awesome soul or disco song ever made. Seriously, like "Me & Mrs. Jones," "If You Don’t Know Me By Now," "Back Stabbers," "The Love I Lost," "Bad Luck," "Love Is The Message," "Do It Any Way You That You Want To" -- I could go on with this but I’ll just end up with three pages of Gamble & Huff songs and nobody wants that. Anybody who fancies themselves a writer or producer of popular music could benefit from a steady diet of these dudes. Oddly enough, despite the fact that these guys were obviously talented songwriters, their careers got derailed by a huge payola scandal. CRIME DOESN’T PAY, KIDS.

6. Patrick Cowley
A San Francisco-based synth genius who produced a TON of Hi-NRG bathhouse jams (pearl jams?) from about 1978 until his death from AIDS in 1982. First off, if you died of AIDS in 1982, that’s pretty much proof of how old school you are in the disco scene. PATIENT ZERO didn’t even die of AIDS until 1984. BUT I DIGRESS. Mr. Cowley was the man that gave Sylvester all his best hits, and he also had a couple of excellent solo albums before he passed. His last album, Mind Warp, seems like just a really catchy space disco LP with some spooky sci-fi vibes, until you realize he wrote and produced it from his deathbed and every seemingly innocuous song has an eerie double meaning about him struggling with his impending death. A really good example of how you can make a work of art with two totally different appeals based on the context in which it’s being consumed. Additional awesome points for his remix of Donna Summer’s "I Feel Love," which is so good that it makes Giorgio Moroder seem like he was half-assing it the whole time (which he wasn’t, for the record -- go listen to "The Wanderer" if you wanna hear Giorgio really half-assing it).

7. Maurice Engelen
The Belgian composer/producer behind Lords of Acid, Praga Khan, Code Red, Channel X, Antler Subway Records, Kaos Records, and Beat Box International, Maurice Engelen was the seed around which the whole New Beat / EBM / Belgian Rave scenes crystallized. His tracks are corny as hell and sound hopelessly dated today, but this was the soundtrack of my formative years and had a HUGE influence on what it is that I do. Additionally, he really proved that the whole control freak micromanager DJ/producer/label owner ethos was feasible for indie dance music.

8. Remarc, DJ Krome & Mr. Time, DJ Dextrous, Jay D’Cruze, 4Hero
All jungle producers from London in the early/mid ‘90s, all groundbreaking pioneers in drum edits and massive bass frequencies. I really wanted to pick just one of these guys, but I can’t, so fuck it. They’re all fucking legends in my book. HUGELY influential on everything that has come in their wake, from dubstep to IDM to grime to even electro. Anything with intricate drum editing, skittery DSP effects, or massive bass frequencies owes a profound debt to these guys -- literally the first to do any of those things the way they’re done today.

9. Orbital - Orbital
The second of Orbital’s two self-titled albums (the one with the Brown cover art). Not something I listen to as much these days, but still an album that had a huge influence on me as a musician. Contains one of my favorite tunes to this day ("Impact"), and another great example of how an album of solid standalone dance floor tunes can simultaneously be an organically flowing concept album that makes sense as a whole.

10. The Beatles - The White Album
Just kidding! I fucking hate The Beatles.

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