Alphabethead – Quartz Plumage
It takes a pretty damn good album to have woken me from my blog hibernation, and this is that album. It’s from one of our club house leaders for best Q&A ever, Mr Alphabethead, of Wellington, New Zealand. His epic solo album Quartz Plumage to be precise.
Taking time off from his Tibetan throat singing meets punk meets chaos outfit The All Seeing Hand, Alphabethead has crafted a polished, diverse, eccentric and ultimately satisfying sonic exploration. It could be broadly defined as a worldly cut and paste affair, but is much more than that. For me it evokes the best of Ribongia and Clap! Clap!‘s recent Afro-Tropical adventures, a smidge of Suff Daddy and Betty Ford Boys‘ low slung growling grooves, a dash of beats for beatheads from the likes of Hermitude and Sandstorm Dynasty, with a lashing of good old fashioned Cut’n’Paste Ninja-esque samplitude, aka most of my favourite things. I couldn’t ask for a more enticing combination, and it has been repeat fairly constantly, in the car, on the train, on a run, at the gym, truly music for any occasion.
Alphabethead has been a fixture on the NZ beats scene for many a long year, showcasing both his DJ (a former NZ DMC champ) and his production chops. Steadfastly eccentric, his music is equally likely to feature sampled frogs, large slabs of bass, twee nods to yesteryear and just about anything else you could shake a sampler at.
This album, released both digitally, and on genuine C60 audiotapes, is a real revelation. It’s a collection of short snatches of immaculate beat constructions, taking in a wide variety of sample sources, taken from his travels through dusty record stores the world over. Just a few of my favourites; ‘Hinterland’ with its dreamy patchwork of vocals, throbbing bass, snappy beats and lush pianos; ‘Search’ all staccato sitars and swirling leads; ‘Little Grass Hut’, chock full of kooky tribal flavours, to my ears the sonic equivalent of a psychedelic ride down 1950’s river Congo in a parallel, happy universe. And that’s but a few, there’s 29 little slabs of lovely eclectic, evocative beats, modern, yet heard through the prism of Saturday morning kids television of yesteryear.
Well worth your time, then.