Seefeel are one of my favourite 90s bands, and I got to see them live for the first time recently as they reformed and played at the ICA.
I've never heard any band/artist create ambient textures anywhere near as luscious or genuinely breathtaking as Seefeel - search out their 'Quique' and 'Polyfusia' albums, you'll see what I mean. Their live show is equally as fascinating as their sound - using a traditional band set up of two guitars, bass and drums to create otherworldly electronic music that is as inspired by techno and dub as it is by shoegaze and the Cocteau Twins, without a single keyboard synth or drum machine sequencer in sight.
My friend put me onto this recently and I’ve enjoyed listening to it this summer. Side B is my favourite, produced mainly by Kan Kick & Asthmatic. When I first heard it I thought it was early Madlib, but it turns out Kan Kick was friends with Madlib back in the day and actually became the fourth member of Lootpack for a short while. Kan Kick (AKA Kanzulu) produced in the same hot climate as Madlib, in their home town of Oxnard, CA, and these beats are saturated with the same summery charm as the recent documentation of the latter’s early recordings, History of the Loop Digga, 1990-2000, the fifth instalment of Madlib’s monthly Medicine Show series.
Here’s an interesting insight into the production process behind these beats:
As for DJ Babu's Comprehension (1995), this isn’t your average mixtape; it’s an eclectic, cut up affair, with plenty of surprises (look out for Guru’s vocals, R.I.P.). This tape is raw, and it crackles and hisses in just the way we like.
This tune is from my favourite Herbie Hancock record, Sextant, which was the last he recorded with the Mwandishi band.
From this one record you can find references to a lot of great 60s/70s musical developments that the band have mashed together - early electronic music, jazz, african rhythms, modernist composition, free improvisation....
By taking advantage of (then) current technology and compositional ideas, the recording produced a listening experience that sounds wildly futuristic and outlandish, but also maintains a very human and traditional/ritualistic feel through the band's performance. Both of these aspects anchor the record to the time it was made and, due to it's widespread lack of popularity when first released, allow it to retrospectively serve as a "what if?" for the future of music from that point on.