The following is a story of little import to anyone but myself and is probably not relatable to anyone who does not have a penchant for forming emotional bonds to inanimate pieces of musical equipment. It is the tale of this album, which itself is inconsequential, but if you are curious about these sounds and the story behind them, read on.
In 2005 I acquired a secondhand MPC, and while computer-based digital audio workstations (DAWs) had already well surpassed the abilities of these machines, I was curious about the legendary sampler that had figured prominently in the development of hip hop and electronic music. I wanted to experience producing on one first hand and welcomed the limitations as a creative challenge. Ultimately, due to the myriad benefits of computer sequencing, the MPC never became central to my workflow, but when I was tired of looking at a screen I would switch it on for a night and make music in my dimly lit bedroom studio like I used to with a Boss Dr. Rhythm drum machine, a Casio keyboard and a Fostex 8-track recorder in times before I knew what a DAW was. I loved those nights.
I even acquired the smaller, battery powered MPC 500 as a means to produce while on the go during daily commutes or weekend travels. The 500 didn’t have much to offer besides battery power, and in about a year it had made it’s way out the revolving door of studio gear. The 2500, however, held sentimental weight for me, and despite the fact that I rarely turned it on I could never bring myself to part with it, plus the dozens upon dozens of half finished beats that had amassed on flash drives over the years. I lent it to friends, or occasionally dusted it off and scrolled through the old projects, but by about 2012 I had stopped starting new sessions on it.
In 2016 I moved into a new studio space and in an effort to streamline my workflow and declutter my environment I decided it was time to part ways with my old friend. At the suggestion of an acquaintance I buckled down to bounce stems from every unfinished project it held, so that in letting go of the machine I was not letting go of my musical history, but only a tool. It took a long weekend to record all the stems and they sat on a hard drive for another year. In 2018 I transferred them to a laptop with the intention of undertaking the tedious work of combing through, doing some arranging and heavy handed editing to separate the wheat from the chaff, hopefully I did a decent job but self editing has never been a strong suit of mine.
"Do I like this because I’ve heard it on loop 200x and so have brainwashed myself into thinking it makes musical sense?"
"Do I hate this because I am hyper focused on a flaw I perceive but it’s actually one of the better ones and nobody else will even perceive that thing as a flaw?"
They are hard questions to answer. I digress. Slowly but surely, 10 minutes here, 30 there, I whittled away the noise and was left with this modest collection of beats.
They aren’t masterpieces, some of them don’t even slap, but they are a part of my journey and evolution and I have catalogued them here. They might be made with original recordings, they might be made with packs, most of them are made with sampled vinyl, chopped and collaged. This is not the most cohesive album, but that incoherence is what gives it unity in my eyes. My production on the MPC was very much exemplary of my inclination to tire of trying to finesse the finer points, pressing the Next Seq[quence] button habitually, always on to something new and never finishing anything, it was how I worked for the better part of a decade. I’m proud to say I have come a long way in changing that behavior and this release, as with all my releases, is a testament to that. By finishing these projects and formalizing them as "released" I can clear my slate and move on to the Next Seq.