DUCT TAPE-LESS WE CAN.
DUCT TAPE-LESS WE CAN.
Back in the fifties and sixties, some of the greatest jazz albums were recorded over the course of a few days. Miles Davis recorded Kind Of Blue over the course of two days in 1959 and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme was recorded over just one day in December 1964. However, it wasn’t just jazz artists who recorded albums quickly.
The Beatles took just a fortnight to record their 1966 classic Rubber Soul. Beggars Banquet was recorded by the Rolling Stones over the course of eight days in 1968. Both albums became classic albums. Recording albums quickly, it seemed, was a winning formula.
Into the seventies, some producers and artists continued to work quickly. Soul producers Thom Bell and Gamble and Huff had a formula for working quickly. They used the same songwriting teams, arrangers, producers, house band and backing vocalists. Even the same recording studio, and engineers were used. This worked, for a while within the soul genre. However, in other parts of the music industry, the recording process was slowing down during the seventies.
In rock music, especially within art rock, Krautrock and prog-rock sub-genres, groups like Can, Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Queen and Yes took longer to record albums. They were utilising the advances in technology. With twenty-four and thirty-two tracks available, groups were keen to push musical boundaries. Soon, albums were taking six months, even a year or more to record. Critics accused groups of being self-indulgent. However, often, it had been time well spent.
After Pink Floyd spent seven months recording their 1975 classic album Dark Side Of The Moon, it became one of the best selling albums in the history of music. However, as time and technology progressed, taking seven months to record an album was seen as working quickly.
Fast forward to the nineties, and computers are starting to play an important role in the recording process. So are digital audio workstations. Both would become game-changers in the 21st Century music industry.
Early digital audio workstations became more popular as the new millennia dawned. This just happened to coincide with the advancement of the digital audio workstation. For an aspiring musician or producer, suddenly a home studio was much more affordable.
All they needed was an Apple MacBook Pro and a copy of Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase or Ableton Live. Add to this an audio interface and if they want, a mixing desk, and the possibilities become endless. Now it’s possible to record a million-selling album without leaving home. While this is progress, there is a downside.
Nowadays, artists don’t work as quickly as they used. There’s many reasons for this. The main one, is many artists don’t attach a value to their time. As they’re using their home studio, they don’t see it as costing them anything. So, they take their time to record an album. It becomes like the great unfinished novel. Suddenly, a year becomes two, three and in the case of Duct Tape, four years.
That’s how long it took Duct Tape to record their debut album Less We Can, which was recently released by BBE Music. It’s a collaboration between producers Wynton Kelly Stevenston and Batsauce.
Wyton and Batsauce first met in Berlin, Germany, one of Europe’s cultural capitals. That was the start of a firm friendship. Before long, the pair decided to collaborate on an album. This was the birth of Duct Tape. Their first album was four year in the making.
Nowadays, that’s not unusual. After all, producers might be working on several projects simultaneously. It’s a case of finding time around the two participant’s schedules. That’s the case with Duct Tape’s debut album, Less We Can.
Over the last four years, Duct Tape put together a rather unorthodox setup. They don’t use a collection of vintage Fender or Gresch or guitars or basses. Nor will you find a Fender Rhodes or Hammond organ in Duct Tape’s set up. They certainly didn’t rely on Shure E357 microphones to record Less We Can. Instead, Duct Tape’s cheap and cheerful setup includes cheap keyboards from the 1980s, various guitar pedals, a beat machine, a bass and a cheap microphone. This was how Duct Tape recorded over a hundred jams. From this long-list of one-hundred jams, Duct Tape set about choosing the sixteen tracks that became Less We Can.
Essentially, Duct Tape were looking for tracks that grabbed their attention. Often, these tracks were a either work-in-progress or a starting point for Duct Tape.
The two members of Duct Tape then started got to work. They began to take the tracks in new and unexpected directions. Wynton added vocals and keyboards, while Batsauce took charge of beats, bass and arrangements. Eventually, sixteen tracks penned by Duct Tape were completed. They became the genre-melting Less We Can.
From the opening bars of Start The Show, which opens Less We Can, it’s obvious that Duct Tape are about to combine a disparate selection of musical genres. Over sixteen tracks, everything from electronica, funk, hip hop, Nu Soul and psychedelic soul. The result is a captivating album where surprises and hooks haven’t been rationed.
Playing an important part in Less We Can’s success are Wyton’s tender, soulful vocals. Accompanying him are Duct Tape’s unique arsenal of musical instruments. They’re augmented by a healthy supply of samples. The result is an album that’s variously cinematic, dark, dramatic, ethereal, funky, soulful, trippy and wistful. Other times, the music takes on a laid-back, blissful, sunshine soul sound. Given Less We Can’s eclectic sound, choosing highlights isn’t easy.
Start The Show opens Less We Can, sounds like a 21st Century soul. With its mixture of crunchy beats, samples and Wynton’s soul-baring vocal, you’re hooked. From there, Don’t Stop, a mixture of electronica and Nu-Soul sounds like a homage to D’Angelo. The D’Angelo comparison continues on Party, where Wynton’s vamps his way through this hook heavy fusion of electronica, funk and Nu-Soul.
Both Times Are Changing and It’s All Love have dark, moody, electronic arrangements. However, on Times Are Changing Wynton unleashes one of his finest vocals. It’s his hopeful call for change. After that, It’s All Love takes on a moody, atmospheric and futuristic cinematic sound.
The best way to describe Above The Clouds is a slice of lysergic sunshine soul, with a hip hop twist. Get Up And Groove may be a mid tempo track, but it’s also funky and soulful.
Bad Man is another short musical interlude from Duct Tape. Although it’s just over a minute long it’s irresistible. The same can be said of Lost My Mind. It seems as Less We Can progresses, you’re drawn in to the album. Songs become captivating short stories. An example of this is Help, a truly haunting and memorable track. After this, You Can’t Find Me is a mixture of drama, mystery and soulfulness. Then It’s Bad features one of the best vocals on Less We Can. It’s a powerful, emotive mixture of despair and loneliness.
It’s Not Enough sees Duct Tape take Less We Can in a different direction. A myriad of sci-fi sounds and crispy drums create the backdrop for a vocal full of frustration and confusion. I Don’t Care, just like It’s Bad, features the lyrics of Rudy Stevenson, the legendary jazz pianist. They’re delivered against a genre-melting arrangement, where hints of electronica, jazz, hip hop, Nu-Soul and rock melt into one.
Fittingly, Adhesive closes Duct Tape’s debut album Less We Can. It’s another genre-melting, soundscape with a cinematic sound. Elements of avant-garde, electronica, experimental, psychedelia and rock create a track that’s ambitious, hypnotic and captivating.
It’s not just Adhesive that’s captivating, it’s Duct Tape’s debut album Less We Can. With each listen, you hear something new on Duct Tape’s debut album Less We Can. Some subtly or nuances shows its secrets. That’s no surprise. After all, there are sixteen tracks of multi textured music on Less We Can. However, Less We Can isn’t just an album full of subtleties, surprises and nuances. No. Less We Can is also a genre-melting album.
Armed with their low-budget setup, Duct Tape combine everything from avant-garde, electronica, experimental, funk, hip hop, jazz, Nu-Soul, psychedelia, pop, psychedelic-soul and rock on Less We Can. Musical genres flit in and out, sometimes only making the briefest of appearances. They all, however, play their part in the sound and success of Less We Can, an ambitious and innovative album that’s been four years in the making.
That’s the way that music is made nowadays. No longer do artists head into the studio and record a classic album in a couple of days. Far from it. Nowadays, albums are taking longer to record. That’s down to the new music industry. No longer are albums the money making machine they were. In the age of streaming and giving music away for nothing, an artist has numerous income streams. Recording is just one of them. This is the case with the two members of Duct Tape.
Batsauce juggles his solo career with parallel careers as a producer, remixer and songwriter. Earlier this year, Batsauce produced Lady Daisey’s album Music In My Headphones. That’s partly, why Duct Tape has taken so long to record Less We Can, which was recently been released by BBE Music.
However, it’s been worth the wait. Less We Can, Duct Tape’s debut album is a captivating album. It was recorded over the space of four years, using Duct Tape’s cheap and cheerful lo-fi setup. Lo-fi it Duct Tape’s setup may be, but it produces sixteen genre-defying tracks.
During Less We Can’s sixteen tracks, musical genres and influences melt into one. They create Less We Can an ambitious album of 21st Century soulful soundscapes, from Duct Tape.
DUCT TAPE-LESS WE CAN.