One thing I always liked about Madlib was that while his record collection is roughly the size of France, it never stopped him from being a musician. Otis Jackson Jr can string together samples in his sleep, but he’ll also lock himself in the bomb shelter and form a fictional jazz band. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know how to play certain instruments – music runs through his blood, he’ll make them work. This is central to the Stones Throw ethos, its dedication to unearthing unique live sounds as important as the label’s more celebrated crate digging history.
While not formally on the Stones Throw roster, I’d be surprised if Paul White’s vinyl doesn’t weigh at least a ton. Like Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf before him, though, he’s also not afraid to set it aside – instruments are always part of the thinking. On last year’s Watch the Ants EP he played finger cymbals, conga and kzink kzink – and if you know what that last thing is I’d suggest you’re probably too high to be reading blogs right now.
None of those instruments feature on ‘Honey Cats’, the first single taken from Shaker Notes which will be released on the esteemed R&S records. At least I don’t think they do – there may be some kzink kzink in there. What’s most prominent is his voice, which howls along to a marching beat like Gonjasufi in a wind tunnel. A bluesy guitar sets the tone throughout, joined by another which threatens to unsettle the first with groaning feedback. The repeated lyrical motif is just the right side of incomprehensible; its cracked, intoxicated delivery telling you everything you need to know. This is music made for a dark, smoke-filled bar – stand in it for too long and you’ll need a friend to carry you out.