Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Art of Koi Keeping: The Better Sounding Version + Instrumentals

If you downloaded the album before this blog post went up, DOWNLOAD IT AGAIN, because it sounds much better now, and better for the ages.

Here's what happened: I spent so much time mixing this record that by the time it was "done" I just put it out there not thinking much of it, and it wasn't until several days later that I actually sat down and listened to it. And oh my god did the mixing suck. Some tracks were OK, some only had minor problems. But some were just horrible, it was all a big mess.

So for the past couple months I basically went temporarily insane and remixed the whole album track by track several times over until (to my ears at least) it sounded better. I felt like I would be doing a disservice to the Wu had it not been otherwise. This wasn't so much of a perfectionist thing really as it was the result of a common studio problem, which is what can happen when long hours are spent mixing and a type of tunnel vision (or tunnel "hearing") develops. Anyway I'm declaring this project "done" done.


The instrumental version is now available as well, sans goofy dialogue samples:

Much respect to everyone who was feeling the rough tracks, koi videos, beat previews etc.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Art of Koi Keeping



01 - The Artform (Intro)
02 - Third World (GZA/RZA)
03 - Criminology (Raekwon/Ghostface Killah)
04 - Labels (GZA)
05 - The Anthem (RZA/Tech N9ne/Eminem/Xzibit/Pharoahe Monch/Kool G Rap/Chino XL/KRS-One)
06 - The All Japan Show (Interlude)
07 - Apollo Kids (Ghostface Killah/Raekwon)
08 - REC Room (Inspectah Deck)
09 - The Champ (Ghostface Killah)
10 - 3 Bricks (Notorious BIG/Raekwon/Ghostface Killah)
11 - Cross My Heart (Killah Priest/Inspectah Deck/GZA)
12 - Cuttin It Up (Raekwon/Ghostface Killah/Polite/Chip Banks/Trife/Killa Sin)
13 - House of Flying Daggers (Inspectah Deck/Raekwon/GZA/Ghostface Killah/Method Man)
14 - Daytona 500 (Raekwon/Ghostface Killah/Cappadonna)
15 - Bizarre (U-God)
16 - Publicity (GZA)
17 - The Journey (Outro)

Liner Notes:

Sourcing Wu-Tang acapellas turned out to be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  But I used what I was able to find to put this together, which ended up including some collabs and features.

This album represents a bunch of beats and beat ideas which all fell under the Asian Style category.  I had an entire bank of samples from records and tapes left over from a while back which were predominately Showa era Enka type Japanese pop songs and other things.

I love that style of music.  It sounds hip-hop and a lot of it was made in like the 50s-70s.

I was watching koi and koi keeping videos and the thought occurred to me to start sampling some of the dialogue to mix in with the beats.  To keep everything Koi Themed.  When I was flipping through various acapellas I stumbled across a couple Wu tracks and that became the beginning of it.

This album is the result of that.  It's been on the backburner and survived a broken drum machine and lost beats but I think it came out basically how I originally envisioned it.  I know on Daytona 500 I cut the hook because it didn't go right with the beat.  ODB and Masta Killa don't make an appearance, I just couldn't find the right acapellas that would have worked.  There's a lot of Ghost on the album, not a whole lot of RZA.  But also some rare and unexpected flavor.  I worked with what I had.  A lot of Wu stuff has already been remixed many times, of course.

Other than that the process was more or less randomly playing acapellas against beats to see what sounded dope.  A lot if not most of the tracks on here sound completely different from the originals.  Re-contextualized in a funky Malakai Beats way, with a weird theme for the album.

After I did the Derbyshire DOOM EP I knew I wanted to do another remix project eventually.  I didn't know it would be a Wu -Tang joint, let alone a theme album.  But here it is.    

-December 2018

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mole People Instrumentals

In 2012 I started producing a concept record that never materialized in the ideal fashion I would have hoped for — perhaps this was just as well. Much elaboration went into it, every track was supposed to be like a Lord of The Rings movie.

But this was too much for what we were doing at the time. We were already releasing a plethora of group and solo albums.

This project was an Ambient Abstractions quasi-thematic supergroup called the Mole People.

The idea for the Mole People came not only from the cheesy flick but also the entire idea of being underground, perhaps in a more literal sense.. as well as metaphorical.. It was to be a classic Hero's Journey, in which the protagonist (in this case the listener) goes into the underworld, meets the inhabitants, and emerges with an even greater understanding.

This was where the thinking was at the time. Sort of like AA's answer to Army of the Pharaohs. Except maybe more story driven.

A little over a year later the instrumentals were complete. By this point a couple of the original beats were scooped up and used for other purposes, but the original flow of the album remained the same.

Interest in the project simmered and fizzled for several years, and only one track actually ended up being recorded. Which is not to say that Mole People will never drop material. Only time will tell when and in what ways the Mole People will re-emerge..

For the present I decided to preserve those instrumentals here. Throughout the past 5 years I've dropped little snippets here and there, but I figured it was time to archive those tracks as they were originally recorded ("in situ" as the archaeologists would say), including some bonus flavor.

Making music in 2012 was like a lightning rod — many great things came to fruition. The Mole People was a rush idea that was too big for its britches. In an alternate universe or my own imagination it would have popped off simultaneously with everything else that was happening at the time, which in reality was an impossible task. It was simply too much to ask. Of anyone.

I hope you enjoy these beats, for whatever they're worth. The Mole People represents many things. The fear of the unfamiliar. The process of going through and integrating experience. And the undaunting courage of those willing to make the journey.

I recorded most of these beats on an MPC 1000 through a Mackie DFX series live mixer to an E-MU Systems PCIe card to Cubase 5. Minimal mixing was done. A couple beats were made on FL Studio. It was planned to incorporate further media samples from various sources (documentaries, etc.) as the songs begun to take further form, combined with effects. Madlib was an inspiration here, especially with the Quasimoto Unseen album.

No additional remastering was done.

Lastly, I dedicate this record to Lake Merritt and psychedelic mushrooms.

I sort of feel like these beats were a kind of magnum opus, at least at the time and for the period in which they were made, as "incomplete" as they are.

released May 29, 2018

Ambient Abstractions 2018

Friday, March 2, 2018

Still DOE - Blockhead prod. Malakai Beats

Head over to the brand new Still DOE website, On the main page look for the audio player and peep the exclusive track 'Blockhead' from the upcoming album Elevator Music For Different Dimensions.