Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cool All Over with Al Lover

note: the following is taken from part two of the HEAD MEDICINE exclusive Reflections of Austin Psych Fest 2013 (read Part One HERE, and the complete Part Two HERE).  I felt it was important to isolate this piece on it's own as well as within the larger context of the APF article in order to give it it's own life.  enjoy.  ~kojak


     One of the most memorable performances of Austin Psych Fest 2013 came from a guy who wasn't even officially on the bill, yet had a profoundly subliminal influence over the entire weekend's festivities.  instead of performing for a sea of attentive eyes, his performance came from behind an invisible veil on the main Reverberation Stage as the roadies tore down and set up the various bands' gear.  his booming, psyched out trip hop grooves provided the relentlessly badass soundtrack for the smiling, laughing audience as they milled about having the time of their lives, waiting patiently for the next band to take the stage.  These sounds were a thread that strung through the festival, keeping everything moving and never allowing the mood to grow idle or stagnant.  numerous times throughout the weekend i would be lost in those grooves, asking out loud, "what the fuck are we listening to??" and being almost disappointed when it would fade out to make way for some incredible band onstage as they were about to begin.  it turns out these mesmerizing beats were produced live, cut up and spontaneously assembled onstage by the San Francisco producer/dj Al Lover.  It was a performance that was anonymous to all but a small handful in attendance, but helped dramatically color the mood and atmosphere of the festival, more than any other single performer on stage that weekend. 

     Once i had a name to pin onto the sounds, i jumped head first into the Al Lover back catalog and quickly found myself falling down the rabbit hole.  this dude has a ridiculous amount of music to sift through, a good chunk of which is available for free download:  original recordings, remixes, mix tapes... all of it working at a very high quality level.  This guy's sound is right up my alley, too... languid opium den grooves and scuzzy drunken fuck beats...  a unique mix of new and classic fuzzed out, reverb drenched psychedelia with those long gone narcotic Bristol trip hop beats and the mid to late 90s mind melting cut-n-paste hip hop collage sounds of San Fran's Glue Factory luminaries like Dan the Automator and DJ Shadow.  it's a perfect blend of musical ingredients, and is, in my opinion, one of the more original and fresh sounds out there.

You can listen to most of Al Lover's music on his Bandcamp and Soundcloud sites, and there are plenty of treats to find when digging through his old Blogspot.  i have downloaded HOURS of stuff, and i still don't think i have all of it.  and, remember, it's all hot shit stuff.   pay special attention to the lovingly ruthless deconstruction of Captain Beefheart's first album on Safe As Milk Replica... "Woodsist Remixed," the unauthorized remixing of artists from the Woodsist Records stable... the classic Distorted Reverberations of Reverberating Distortion, reworkings of modern psych masters... Heavy Hippies - Cheapdrugsfreelove which sounds exactly like you would think from the title... and his free mixtape downloads for Austin Psych Fest with Elevated Transmissions Volume One and Volume Two.

Head Medicine is very excited to sit down and learn more about Al Lover from the man himself.

HEAD MEDICINE:  at the Austin Psych Fest this year, i was blown away by all of the between-band muzak that was coming from the main stage.   the big instrumental trip hop grooves  were among the most brilliant performances of the weekend, and gave the Fest a very cohesive thread that ran through the three days. can you tell us a bit about how you became involved with APF and how the mixes came together?   were the tunes coming from the main stage new tracks or from your previous releases?  will these mixes be available for purchase/download?  i need them.  all of them. 

AL LOVER:  first off thanks so much, i'm glad you dug them. i was curious to see how they would be received. i got involved with apf, so i'm told,  through the remix of the night beats song h-bomb that i did. apparently they played it for the black angels and they dug it and reached out to me about procuring some mixes for the 2012 festival and playing the festival as well. since then i've kind of been put on as the "official" dj for psych fest i guess. which is quite an honor. most of the stuff i was playing at psych fest was live re edits and remixes of old and new psych songs done with looping, adding extra drum breaks and effects. then i would just play some regular songs here and there. i think i only played a couple of my own tracks. the mixes are not available anywhere right now, but i plan on releasing some stuff like that when i have some time in the near future.

HM:  how have you been influenced by the past and present San Francisco music scene?  you are an unusual concoction of the old 60's psychedelia mashed into the mid-90s DJ Shadow/Dan the Automator Glue Factory sound collage  and twisted  with the current psych sounds being produced.    what other music has had a profound influence on you?

AL:  the bay area, since the sixties has always had cool stuff going on, i try my best to soak up and research all the local music that's happened here. i grew up on rap and punk, but my dad alway had the stones playing and is a big velvet underground fan, so that had a big influence on me as well. it's funny, i remember this profoundly. when the judgment night soundtrack came out back in the days it was so cool to me to see hip hop and grunge/punk/metal being mixed together. the song with de la soul and teenage fan club "fallen" is one of my all time favorite songs. i still find myself humming it to myself on a regular basis. i rocked that tape all day everyday.  edan's album beauty and the beat was a big influence on me as well as early rza production. thee oh see's have been a big influence to me as well since i moved to sf. too many to name.

HM:  i am curious about your creative process(es).  how do your tracks materialize?  what kind of digital/analog equipment are you using?  how spontaneous vs. pre-planned?

AL:  up until very recently everything i did was made on an mpc 2000 xl, i just got ableton though so the mpc has been collecting a little dust unfortunately. that is going to change soon though, it's been calling out to me. i usually start with a sample. i'll hear a part of a song and then chop it up find some drums that fit, then run everything through too many effects till it's all blown out and ruined, then i'll track it out for a mix. a lot of my favorite stuff that i've done, initially is because of spontaneous inspiration. the basic idea materializes out of nowhere then i plan accordingly.

HM:  what was the inspiration behind the complete deconstruction and reassembly of Captain Beefheart's first album, Safe as Milk, into Safe as Milk Replica?  any other albums you have the itch to take apart and collage back together?  what are your thoughts on honoring source material vs. complete artistic reinvisioning while remixing?

AL:  that was one of those things that was just a spontaneous thing. the day that beefheart died, the idea just came to me as kind of a tribute, in my own way. in my mind it was a kind of energy transference. i have heard a couple albums that i consider remixing in it's entirety but i kind of want to focus less on "remixing" and focus more on making actual albums right now. as for honoring source material, i think both are cool. i want to give credit where credit is due, especially when remixing current artists. but some things i want to keep a secret. it's a cool feeling when you are listening to an old record and you hear an original of a sample. that's one of my favorite parts of listening to old records, so i feel like keeping it hidden can be a good thing too.

HM:  you have released hours worth of material and mixes online for free, and got into a bit of trouble  for your free remixes of artists on the Woodsist record label.  what are your opinions on piracy laws and releasing music for free?  have your thoughts changed since you are now releasing formal albums on a record label and this is now a loss of income?

AL:  not really, as i see it right now, artists make money from touring and licensing. i think music is to be shared, not profited from. obviously an artist wants to be compensated for his or her efforts and i respect that. when i start bring ing in large sums from record sales i'll be glad to pay royalties to other artists. it's the labels that are most concerned with this because they're a business. i am really into the idea of how folk music progressed in the past, songs getting passed down through generations, modernized and changed to fit the current conditions. i think remix culture operates on these same principles.

HM:  your debut album, "space magick" will be released soon on PNKSLM.  What can we expect with this record?  how does it fit into the overall body of your work?

AL:  it's a lot different that anything i've released. i made it as an offering to the spirit world and the ancient gods, so we'll see how people on earth dig it.

HM:  you have been asked to create a monthly mix series for the Austin Psych Fest called Elevated Transmissions.  can you tell us a bit about this project?  any hint of what you might have up your sleeve?

AL:  yeah, really stoked on this ongoing project. the idea is to showcase current bands the guys at psych fest and i are feeling, promote bands on the reverberation appreciation society label and spotlight lesser known bands coming up. it was an idea they had, which i'm really stoked to be a part of, plus it helps me to discover new music which is my favorite thing to do.

HM:  as if you aren't busy enough, you recently announced that you are working on a 12" remix of the mighty Goat from Sweden.  that's a pretty exciting project.  how did that come about?  who will be releasing it once it is finished?  can you tease us a bit with what you have in mind for the project?  i'm curious what you are hearing on "world music" that has you licking your chops and ready to dig in and slice it all up.

AL:  Well my buddy luke who runs PNK SLM works with them a bit and kind of had the idea. I had actually thought about it myself before hand because my natural inclination when i hear something amazing is to sample it, ha. but when he mentioned it and said he'd like to put it on wax. I figured, why not? I'm pretty sure we're gonna do a limited run of it on PNK SLM. Can't go into too much detail about it yet, but it's gonna be pretty crazy, building off the afro beat rhythms they do with a lot more layers of effects and a healthy portion of 808s.

HM:  you seem to be very conscious of weaving a narrative or cinematic view through your mixes.  in your opinion, what are the most important elements of a good mix?

AL:  well, coming from hip hop actual "mixing" is one of the most important parts. but aside from that i think the flow of the mix, yeah the narrative, how the mix develops. it's supposed to be a journey, so that people can enjoy the ride.

HM:  in an age of splintering political and social ideologies, music has been moving in the opposite direction, most notably in the psych music scene.  wildly different genres and styles are seamlessly merging into a new global sound, international borders are falling away as bands and artists from all over the world are now all on the same stage,  and there is a renewed interest in consciousness expansion and connection with music.  your merging of hip hop and drugged out psych is a prime example of this.  thoughts?

AL:  i think with the internet the amount of exposure to different cultures, genres, ideas and the like is inspiring people to try new combinations of ideas that they might not have thought of due to a lack of exposure before hand. it's really great, so many interesting things are happening right now due to the ability to search out and connect with new ideas online. i think the renewed interest in consciousness expansion is due to a similar exposure to new ideas and revealed truths with the internet to an extent, but i also think that humans can only exist in such an artificial, shallow, greedy environment for so long before the unconscious mind or higher self starts urning for more of a connection to nature and an pure state of being. i also think civilizations have cycles of these types of enlightening movements and we're shifting towards one now. in my opinion it's nature's way of putting us back on track and reconnecting with natural law.

HM:  under what conditions should the music of al lover be played for maximum enjoyment?
AL:  i alway make my stuff with the idea of it coinciding with motion. i feel like it's headphone music for a bicycle ride or bombing a hill on a skateboard. loops are alway good for drug rituals too, so there's that, ha.

HM:  any other projects/collaborations on the horizon?
AL:  yeah, so i got the 'space magick' lp coming out soon. no official date yet but hopefully before the end of the year. i have a remix project for a friend's cassette label 'headway recordings', which i'm really stoked on it's a more synth, bass heavy project, a really a new direction for me personally so that's really cool, that should be out maybe fall? 

Al Lover has also recently released through PNK SLM his first official release, the Vodun Moon 7".  it is in very limited quanities so contact PNK SLM for one now.  follow Al on Facebook for any updates


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