Klaus Layer : For The People Like Us

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Klaus Layer’s modern reinterpretations of the Golden-Era sound continue to improve with every new release Redef presses to wax. His ear for memorable loops and dedication to granular, low-bit breaks ensures his beats stay dusted, and while the sample sources that distinguish his sound might be vintage, his approach to sampling is anything but. The title track picks up where The Adventures Of Captain Crook left off with a hefty helping of filtered loops and swinging snares; but it’s on Kool aka Resurgent Branch where things become interesting. There’s more vocal cuts than before, more focus on the bassline, and shorter chops arranged throughout to accentuate phrases, it seems Klaus is living up to that surname, with sequencing that shows more variation this time around. Washed-out notes linger in mid-air then cascade over raspy drums on Sun Is Up, while Dreams Of Yesterday subtly breaks up the boom-bap, before Animals Garden brings that bump back with head-rocking kick patterns under a neat guitar loop.

Lounging keys recline against neck-snapping snares on Be As You Are, then Klaus switches sample source and flips some eighties electronic ambience on No Pantomime, before No Joke kicks with hype vocal cuts and a break so dusty hitting play might make you sneeze. The sweeping strings of Watching Fireflies soon fade into Coming Into The World‘s summertime vibes as an ethereal Rhodes loop fizzes amidst mellow pipes on this highlight; while the smooth, Madlib-style vocal chops of Symbol Of Tomorrow end another quality collection of instrumentals from Klaus Layer; if his diggin’ continues to expand in musical scope, and his flirtation with other genres continues to be reflected in his arrangements, there can only be many more flawless instrumentals from the Berlin-based producer on the horizon.

Buy it here.

Peace.

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Damu The Fudgemunk : Public Assembly

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Redefinition Records co-owner and prolific Washington-based producer Damu The Fudgemunk never fails to bring the heat, and with a sound that passionately embraces Hip Hop’s roots yet always brings something new to the table, his latest LP is no exception. Re-mastered by veteran producer K-Def, Public Assembly merges previously unreleased songs with hard to find versions of his more popular tracks, and although the vinyl release was originally intended to coincide with the WFMU record fair in New York, with a street date of July 8th; the label are shipping orders online right now.

Hole Up comes draped in the 90’s sound, with vibraphone lines flowing over lazy horns and a song structure that holds more in common with free jazz than it does your average boom-bap-beatsmith; furthering Damu’s recent move beyond linear song progression to form meandering, musically progressive sections over rugged breaks.Truly Get Yours treads the line between subtlety and heavy-handedness with agility; while his Wings Remix of the Union & Elzhi track stands out for it’s dusted drum hits, and Madvillain Revision takes Madlib’s original to smooth new plains; replacing the goofy charm of the DOOM version with echoing horns, melodic vocals and a bubbling crescendo that had me reciting Guru lyrics.

Streamline is one of his freshest instrumentals so far; with so many serene sample choices you’d think every chop came off the same record; while Overthrone showcases his skill for layering complimentary sounds, as he cuts classic rhymes into this hazy blend that smoothly transitions into the lounging ballroom jazz of Same Beat. His 2010 Supply For Demand LP provides the OG mix of Bright Side, continuing the chilled vibes with complimentary chord changes and constantly inventive snare hits; leaving Yes We Can to close this dope compilation with a shuffling hi-hat pattern amid infectious vocal cuts and winding sax lines. Unsurprisingly, Public Assembly is rock solid from start to finish, serving as a perfect introduction for the newcomer, and a handy re-issue for the vinyl-eager Redef completist.

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Get the brown or black vinyl editions here, or the digital download here.

5/5

Peace.

Klaus Layer : Play Me An Old Melody

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Since Klaus Layer dropped his Adventures Of Captain Crook tape on Redefinition Records last year, fans have been clambering over themselves for a physical release from the German beatmaker. Never a label that disappoints, Redef have dropped an exclusive 45 featuring two previously unreleased tunes; both of which require a firm neckbrace for repeated listening. Play Me An Old Melody captivates with an understated approach as ascending scratches echo over granular drum loops, and Come Back brings balance to the 7″ with Blu and ScienZe gettin loose over faded horns that sail through the mix; capturing Klaus’s undoubtedly appealing old school leanings. If you’re patiently waiting for new beats from the MPC masters over at Redef, this 45 and the recently reissued Crook tape on green wax will tide you over nicely.

Grab it here.

4/5

Peace.

Klaus Layer : The Adventures Of Captain Crook

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Redef Records continue to put out high quality Hip Hop with that Golden Era Boom Bap feel with the new Klaus Layer release. The German producer has combined his love for old cinema, surrealist art and 90’s Hip Hop to make a beat tape that sounds natural and unforced; his samples are clear, his beats thump with that airy MPC sound and his composition allows your mind to wander within each track as he inconspicuously builds the mood. All Of The Time gets your head nodding from the outset as flute harmonies make up the refrain and clever use of group vocals fill the low end. The song moves quickly from section to section, keeping it simple with the main elements then getting more technical on his percussive lines; the shakers and hi-hats alone could form another wholly interesting song.

Company is the zag amidst the two zigs tracks One and Three provide with their more classic sound. On this more meandering number, Klaus wades his way through a deep lake of sound and paddles about down the bottom for the song’s duration. Every sample has an electric warmth that is washed over by an aqueous tide that makes you feel like you’re scuba diving with Pete Rock. The drums are harder than on the first track and employ that time-honoured pattern of the boom and the bap to back up the more experimental sampling. It’s a cool change of feel with some shrewd placement.

Into A Sky employs more traditional instrumentation; smooth horns ride soft piano loops, and the echo of the snare plus a lot of swing equals another solid song. Again the producer perfectly captures a sound that has been mimicked to the point of parody, but never fails to be enjoyable when executed well. Blu seems to been going through a transitory period recently, his flows on the new EP with Nottz and again on Klaus’s Illest In Charge are more assertive and cocky, and his new tone is more in line with the raspier side of Kendrick than the mellow cool of Q Tip. He spends most of his verse talking about flashy shit in a grating tone, making the instrumental at the end a more chilled listen. In My Mind delves into 60’s rock psychedelia with relish to bring things back on track and re-expand the musical horizons Klaus is reaching for, ending the first side of his new tape on a strong note, even if it is a bit muddier than his other samples .

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Side 2 starts strong with Truly‘s minimal drum breaks, old school bass lines and nebulous trumpet stabs as they fade in and out, vibrating against the gloom he’s creating; this is the type of song that the cassette player combo was meant for; zoning out, riding a night bus through the city to these sounds. Any DOOM fans will recognize the sample on Touch,  and no doubt it takes balls to flip something so dear to many underground heads; when it came on I had to stop what I was doing and wait like; ‘Alright then, what you got?’ He didn’t disappoint. The drum sound speaks volumes about how he was coming at this one, he’s swinging for the fences with an aggressive take on the source material that’s a great listen. 

Things stay funky but on a calmer tip with Slow It Down. His vocal chops and ear for good melody are brought into focus again by some really nice selections, the expert use of vocal lines especially setting The Adventures Of Captain Crook apart from it’s contemporaries. Many people go as far as to find a loop and some drums; less find vocals that match a mood being created then arrange many elements to form a full sound. The second vocal track Come Back is one of the catchiest beats on the tape, the horns and scratches of the chorus easily compensating for the song falling slightly flat once more on lyrical content, although the bars do carry a lot of style. Klaus’s new tape is perfect listening to kick back or travel to, and now with Damu and Redef behind him, the man formerly known as Captain Crook is set to continue onto new musical heights.

You can buy the album on Cassette, Vinyl or CD here. Or grab a free digital download here.

4/5.

Peace.