#1: “Vitamin C”-Can (Album: Ege Bamyasi, 1972)
Jaki Liebezeit, drummer for the legendary progressive and krautrock band CAN died earlier this month from pneumonia, aged 78. Before he joined the band, he was a skillful jazz drummer, and his experience with funk drumming shined through when he took on the role as the drummer of CAN. Their early 1970’s album run of Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days were indubitably great. They were probably the most prominent band in the 1970s when it came to krautrock, late 60’s german fusion of rock, funk, groove and jazz. Their progressive rock influence played a key part in contributing to the popularity of the genre which, in turn, resulted in some of the best music ever made from notable bands like Rush and, of course, Pink Floyd. Liebezeit had what Rolling Stone referred to as an “otherworldly groove” which is extremely apparent on the band’s most popular and arguably best song “Vitamin C” on which Liebezeit’s funk pattern drumming offsets lead singer Damo Suzuki’s vocals perfectly. It’s this unique playing style that ensures his recognition as one of the greatest prog rock drummers ever.
#2: “Camel”-Flying Lotus (Album: Los Angeles, 2008)
Not going to lie. I’ve been bumping this track like crazy ever since I’ve gotten obsessed with Flying Lotus’ work. And after hearing this track, along with several others, “Los Angeles” may just become my new favorite over his acclaimed 2010 effort “Cosmogramma.”
This track is catchy, and not far beyond that, but catchy in that the minimal elements of the instrumentation are pushed to their maximal potentials. We have a bass-heavy kit bumping off to start the track only then to be accompanied by an ensemble of muted bell sounds. This beat anchors the track before the synths and vocals are layered on, finally completing this track. It’s short (less than 2:30) so there’s not much to say other than it’s a very solid and entertaining track and definitely identifiable with the Flying Lotus style of electronic music. And because it’s so catchy, it’s easy to understand why I’ve played this track.
#3: “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”-Sampha (Album: Process-2017)
The album “Process” has been anticipated ever since Sampha’s arduous feature work on tracks by Kanye West, Solange, Frank Ocean, and Drake, to name a few. But it’s uplifting to see Sampha starting to make bigger waves in music and it’s pretty justified with this new single “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.”
Like earlier tracks in this article, this one contains minimal elements that play a huge part in forming a very cohesive track. In this song, there is only Sampha’s vocals, a brief bass drum pattern, an acompanying synth and a repeated piano riff. There’s not much more that Sampha needs, really.
His lyrics chronicle events in his early life about the piano in his old home, one he played religiously following the news of his mother’s cancer diagnosis. This song paints that picture brilliantly. It captures the raw emotion of the lyrics with the vocals being the main focus of the track, hence the stripped-down and simplistic instrumental. It is by far one of the most passionate and soulful tracks I’ve heard in a while and it makes me even more excited to hear Sampha’s debut studio album, which came out today coincidentally.