Be With introduce us to an absolute gem of a record, with serious serious riddims flowing from the inside to the far reaches of space.
When it comes to reissue pedigree, Be With Records has it in spades. A label not afraid to reach out into history and pick out forgotten gems from across the board, they have released some superb reissues throughout the years, that are as diverse as they are eclectic. Diving into their discography, you come across some brilliant gems from a wide variety of places, genres and artists, with an emphasis on good vibrations, intricate tones and melodies, and effortless musicality, with a particular look towards the legends and perhaps forgotten geniuses of the funk, soul and disco genres. Leon Ware, Willie Hutch, Eddie Hazel, Logg, Skyy, Buari, Pink Rhythm, Raw Silk, Letta Mbulu, Ahmad Jamal…..and that’s just to name a few. All of their selected reissues highlight the very best of these heavyweights careers, cornerstones of their various genres and albums that resonate throughout history. An absolute highlight of their discography is the 2016 reissue of Kimiko Kasai’s ‘Butterfly’, that contained significant inputs from a certain Herbie Hancock. Alongside their impressive levels of outputs, Be With have certainly endeared themselves to collectors and music enthusiasts for their impeccable mastering and their undying love of classic music that exists at the crossroads of music and time.
Now we turn our focus to one of their late 2019 releases, ‘The Now Generation’. A joint venture between producers Peter Ludemann and Pit Troja, the record popped up originally in 1983 on the German label Coloursound Library, an experimental label that focused on tonal exploits for a wide variety of scenarios and soundscapes. While neither of them were prolific in their numbers of releases, this record will forever remain their biggest mark in music. The record itself reads and feels like a pure expression of rhythm, cuts that jump and grooves and move from their layered density. The vibe created remains high throughout, with differentials between the cuts being the emotional and tonal textures permeating from the considered and pulsating synth work. Given the time it was originally released, the record feels very much like it draws from the work of soul, blues and funk artists from the 1960s, but leans towards the progressive stylings of new dance music coming out of the early 80s. It is this blend that is so intoxicating, the dance fevers running high, as you prepare yourself for nothing but the very best in rhythmic ecstasy. Its one of those unique records that places the emphasis on riddim as the absolute backbone, its reasoning of the highest priority, as it provides the ground for which everything else falls away, grows from and develops from. Each tune may be fairly short, but they act as if they will never go away, constantly being fed into by joy itself. so lets take a dip!
The opener, the title track, gets the ball rolling in some style. The drumming style is upbeat, hi hat heavy, over some steady as hell kicks and toms. The bass line revolves around a series of two notes, jumping up the frets with energy for days. Little guitar lines persist in the middle, hidden somewhat towards the back, but complete the holy trinity of this god like beat section. And then we arrive at the synths. Fuck me the synths. This sea of sound, tone and texture just unravels itself on top of it all, copious amounts of exaggerated and drawn out chords give this tune the extra touch of magic that moves the tune into hyperdrive. The layering of pads just create this truly hpynotic instrumental piece of heaven, where the listener is locked so intently into its message of groove. What an opener! Up next comes ‘Panama’, and the message transfers across superbly. The drums once again start proceedings, with pounding bass lines interlaced with high line slaps that add to the range perfectly. Congas and other percussive elements join in the never ending train of groove, that as a song only stands at 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. But it leaves a lasting impression, one that will forever bounce between our ear drums. Sheer beaty bliss. Next comes ‘Inorganic Matter’, that begins a bit more downtempo than the previous two tracks. Delayed background guitars signify the introduction of light weight drumming, that then is proceeded by interludes of rhythmic guitar work. The track has a much more trippy vibe to it, dipped in acid or something, as it works its way slowly, taking its time to unravel and reveal its goodness. This one certainly chugs away beautifully, content in its slowed down pace to display to us its warmth, depth and persistence in beats. Next comes ‘African Nightclub’, and here the beats get elevated once again. Bringing in more of a swing, with a hell of a lot more variety, the beat remains the full focus on this one. High levels of musicianship are all across this one, from the layering of the bongos and congas, the high octane hi hats and cymbals, through to the undertones of kicks and snares, it makes up to one beautiful beat. Seriously. Melodic elements are kept to the bare minimum, as drum elements act simply as the melody, their introduction reading like chord progression and little note lines. The distorted vocal sample remaining as the only non beat element, but it is blended so beautifully into the track that it just becomes one with the drum kit.
‘Grease Plant’ follows up, and the vibes get down and dirty very quickly. The drums blend a bit further into the background, in order to accommodate the edgy chuggy bass and keys that reverb into the picture. The bass line holds down proceedings, allowing for various elements to jump in and out of the picture. Chiming pads and dense sounds fill up all the space, to create a track that fills up to the brim with sound and noise. The drums come up a notch half way through, with dramatic sounds and pads signifying this switch up marvellously. Certainly a late night hip swinger. Next comes ‘Southerly’, and the beat is strong in this one. High octane beats start off the journey, containing lively kicks, snares and bass drums, alongside intricate hi hats and other percussive elements. Towards the end, beautiful soft tonal guitar and synths are layered over, making this song all the more dramatic considering its incredibly short length (only 2 fucking minutes!). What an absolute belter. ‘Mechanical Heart’ comes next, and we begin with some lovely guitar work to kick things off. Moving between the lines, the chords move through the motions, showing off some serious chopping action. Light and delicate drums come into play, before a strong ass bass line plods along as a perfect compliment. This intro keeps on going, the layering absolutely top notch, moving through the notions and motions effortlessly, as other percussive elements keep on adding to the intrigue. 3 minutes in, we are still locked in, this melody just so damn infectious. Its amazing how all the elements, such as bass and the drums, follow the guitar lead, for it to then descend into a fully blown boogie monster. The drums and a little guitar lick add further, the song now come full circle into a mind blowingly good piece of music. Jesus christ.
To finish things up, we have ‘Chemical Threat’. This one opens up with some eerie and haunting yet warm synth work, that falls away in favour of some more rhythmic key and drum pattern programming. It descends into this very spaced out cosmic soup sort of thing, as the groove descends into some weird and wonderful places. The computer came to life on this one, the tones of the synths taken from some very far out and distant locations. Super stuff. ‘Steady Going’ comes next, and we return to more familiar territories. The groovy tropical beats start off proceedings, and you know what, it just goes off from there. Once again, the duo craft a break of the highest order, working around the concept of a steady kick and tom to give balance, before injecting every kind of rhythmic element they could get their greasy mits on. Fucking amazing. Finally, to round off this absolute masterpiece, we have one final excursion into the realms of blissed beats. ‘Nepal Trek’ is a fitting end to a record brimming with light and life, tonal excellence and beats you could listen to for hours on end. Its a perfect balance, blended tones of kicks and high end percussive elements coming together to wrap around your soul one final time.
A record that stands alone as a groundbreaking exploration of how layered drumming can be blended with groove. Its something to behold, where beats are layered, expertly considered and powerfully delivered, where melody is sacrificed for the essence of groove. Not to say the melodies are lost or insignificant, oh no. They become the backbone of the album, fitting in where needed to really emphasis the brilliant drumming work, thrown in to add colour and texture to the beat masterclass going on. An album that sounds so undeniably fresh, an album that will forever bounce through time, a testament to its enduring legacy. What an absolute stunner.
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