London based label Strut embark on an exclusive new studio album series this autumn exploring some mouth-watering one-off collaborations. Entitled Inspiration Information, the series involves bringing contemporary artists and producers together with their musical heroes, artists that have directly inspired their own careers. They then lock the studio doors for five days of intensive writing and recording.
The collaborations involve an open A & R brief with the focus on spontaneity and a true fusion of styles rather than the marketing-led restrictions of a traditional artist album. Each album can take any form that the artists choose, from three-minute song structures to more extended freeform pieces.
The series aims to keep styles and sounds fresh and to represent a snapshot of each artist’s sound at the time of recording. Once each album is mixed, the promotional schedule begins immediately, with most albums released within three months of the sessions.
Sly & Robbie / Amp Fiddler - September 2008
The series kicks off with a heavyweight soundclash between Detroit soul maverick Amp Fiddler and reggae legends, Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare. “This is monumental for me. I’ve been a fan of their productions, their work with Grace Jones – her 'The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game’ – that’s an old Detroit Motown track!” recalls Amp. “Their Compass Point productions with Wally Badarou, ‘Boops’ too, that’s how I discovered their music."
"We heard of Amp from our manager Guillaume,” says Sly. “I didn’t know he was so funky! When I first heard him play in the studio, I thought, ‘wow, this is rude stuff!’ We were right into the Parlia-Funkadelic band. Their brand of funk was so different. I loved it from their first record. Me and Bootsy Collins are good friends – he played on our album - and I always loved Motown too, ever since I was a kid. That all brought us closer to Amp and the musical groove just stuck. We hit it off from the first song.” Arriving at Anchor Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, armed only with a handful of acoustic vocal ideas, Amp and the Riddim Twins recorded the album in just three days during June with overdubs laid down a week later in Detroit. The results are a confident, laid back set that bring a whole new twist to Amp’s trademark vocal style: Sly builds innovative digital and live rhythms, Robbie underpins the tracks with solid bass foundations and original generation guests “Sticky” Thompson (percussion) and Dalton Browne (guitar) add plenty of colour. The tracks are never predictable, at times echoing Sly & Robbie’s ‘80s days with Island Records at Compass Point studios, at others forging new directions from the dancehall template. “It’s been amazing – the level of musicianship is sky high,” explains Amp. “It’s magical because Sly & Robbie work so well together – everything has happened really smoothly.” Within the sessions, the trio also revisited select tracks from Amp’s ‘Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly’ album, giving them a full Jamaican makeover. To complete the Island connections, the album is currently being mixed by another original studio regular, Godwin Logie.
Horace Andy / Ashley Beedle - October 2008
Fresh from his mesmerising vocal work touring with Massive Attack, original Studio One legend Horace Andy embarks on his Inspiration Information sessions with Ashley Beedle (X-Press 2 / Ballistic Brothers) this August. Veering away from well-worn reggae arrangements, Ashley builds on the template he has created with his Warbox All-Stars releases, mixing heavyweight, angular digital beats with a deep roots sensibility, drawing on his early days with London’s Shock sound system. “When I talked through the album with Horace, he said, ‘It’s all about the drums.’ I have about five r