Written by on December 16, 2014


Adrift in the sonic cosmos, somewhere between the constellations of Hip Hop, Free Jazz and Experimental Rock exists Alphabethead; a tea-drinking, turntable musician from New Zealand. For over 10 years, using the techniques of scratching Alphabethead has breathed life into the skeletons of redundant vinyl. Once New Zealand’s Champion Turntablist, Alphabethead is now an explorer of sound. His attraction to the turntable as a musical instrument was the endless possibilities that manipulation of sound on vinyl offers. A turntables colour palette is essentially the entire recorded history of music! Previously unheard combinations of sound can be melded together to form new musical landscapes. Sitar and Theremin can duet with Tibetan Monk chants and a Mingus horn section, all atop a rhythmic backdrop of voodoo drumming and bowed double-bass! Expect to hear wonderfully strange sounds coaxed from the turntable, untried aural unions and mechanized, scatterbrain beats. | SOUNDCLOUD | BANDCAMP 

I’ve just realized that beat tapes function as ambient music for me these days! Some see Hip Hop instrumentals as skeletons of songs missing the focal point of a human voice. I view the absence of vocals as open-space; space for mind to wander and paint!

In reference to his ambient music Brain Eno wrote “(the music) must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” I love this concept; what a legend he is!

This is exactly how I ingest the beat tapes of Madlib, Dilla, Oh No, On-Ra and the rest. More often than not I totally zone out and the music becomes a glorious rhythmic wallpaper; colouring and enriching any activity, however menial. However, if I do focus my ears the music shifts into the foreground and I unearth subtle textures and hidden intricacies within. I really hope the contents of Quartz Plumage will offer the same; both in-focus and out-of-focus listening.

Regarding the actual music I think you know my modus operandi; search the land for vinyl, scratch records and layer samples to make beat! I do not discriminate; equality for all vinyl regardless of genre, age or race! I sampled everything this time not limiting myself to just ‘good-music’. For example “Smart Bucket” is populated by bubbles from a BBC Comedy Sound FX record and it’s percussion is colliding billiard balls from a “How To Play Snooker” LP! Another awesome instructional vinyl discovery was a record called “Conquer The Video Craze” where a chap explains in soporific tones how to beat Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and the top video games of the 1980s! An excerpt from this shows up in “Human To Mutant”…

You can download Quartz Plumage below. To encourage sequential listening this is going to be released on cassette too. I expected the tapes to arrive today but alas, they did not. Gah! Every creak this old house made had me imagining knocks and sprinting to the door in hope of courier! No luck, but soon I hope. I would be over-the-moon if you could give it a listen. – Alphabethead

DOWNLOAD: “Quartz Plumage”

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