LiveHuman has always been many things to many people: A real-time meeting of technolog and analog, a kick-ass rhythm section with one of the baddest turntablists in the game, a free-improvising collective that channels bebop freedom with the audacity of hip-hop, and a pocket orchestra comprised of DJ Quest, drummer Albert Mathias, and upright bassist Andrew Ross Kushin. Fêted by British tastemaker John Peel, signed to Björk’s subsidiary label Fatcat Records and then onto Matador Records, the San Francisco-based trio has put out 15 releases since 1997 and given celebrated live performances at Montreux and Rotskilde, that document their no-holds-barred search for a turntable jazz synthesis, a journey that reaches its apex on the new ScratchBop [Cosmic].
Now, just in time for the 20th anniversary of their first album, LiveHuman is back with ScratchBop, a 66-minute “no rehearsals, no repeats, no overdubs” journey. Things get started with “A is 4 Ambient: The Intro,” a heavy duet for bowed bass and turntable, then transitions to the cop-show chase music of “Miles from Miles” before giving way to the laid-back “Rotten Rainbow,” which proves Quest knows how not to wear out a good idea. Danger and a splatter of clarinet come together on “Magic 4 Beginners,” but for all the options at their fingertips, this trio knows how to leave room, too, on the spacious “Sheep Leap In Repeat” and “The Rub,” with its catchy bass progression.
Elsewhere, ScratchBop flaunts several mind-bending excursions, from the rumbling toms, huge piano, and bowed harmonics of “Pretzel Talk” to the 10-minute “Sleepwalker,” with its drone and virtuosic scratching. Quest moves from subtle to bombastic and back again on “A is 4 Ambient: Reprise,” and the dance between serious and crazy continues on “Death of a Satellite” and into “Birdfood.” By the time the 15-minute “A is 4 Ambient" brings you full circle, you’ll understand why Mixmag called LiveHuman “exceptionally odd… but never, ever dull.”
The flavors each musician brings to the mix—from Andrew’s free-jazz roots to Albert’s tabla studies/performance art background and Quest’s game-changing turntable innovations—comprise a tasty concoction that’s had a worldwide impact on instrumental jazz and hip-hop. Right alongside such live/turntable landmarks as DJ Disk’s collaborations with Praxis (and years before Cut Chemist’s rise to fame with Ozomatli, DJ Logic’s work with Vernon Reid, or Dave Douglas’s High Risk group with Shigeto), LiveHuman was shattering outdated concepts of fingers and faders by bridging hard bop aesthetics and turntable heroics. Along the way, Quest, Andrew, and Albert released critically-acclaimed recordings like LiveHuman featuring DJ Quest, Monostereosis: The New Victrola Method, Elefish Jellyphant, and LiveHuman Live while maintaining successful careers as performers, composers, sidemen, accompanists, clinicians, and programmers.
About DJ QUEST
Turntable mastermind DJ Quest, co-creator of the first battle record, 1992’s Hamster Breaks, was a founding member of Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters/Space Travelerz, pioneers in the art of scratch music; among DJ’s, he’s also known as the originator of the widely adopted “hamster-style technique," which refers to the reverse setup of the turntables into the mixer.
About ALBERT MATHIAS
Audio/video artist Albert Mathias began performing in San Francisco 1991, and his extraordinary career has included study with Pandit Swapan Chauduri and Tony Williams, award-winning compositions for choreographers, membership in groundbreaking multi-disciplinary performance group Contraband, and being musical director of Alternativa.
About ANDREW ROSS KUSHIN
Visual artist/upright bassist Andrew Ross Kushin moved to San Francisco in 1992, beginning a long career that has included two albums with the string trio Closer to Carbon and being an original member of Conspiracy of Beards, a 25-member, all-male a cappella choir that sings the songs of Leonard Cohen.
Truth be told, LiveHuman has never been about the players themselves. It’s true that Albert, steady as a flesh-and-blood drum machine set to “wide dynamic range,” never misses a beat. No one can deny that few jazz/hip-hop players explore the outer edges or use their bow half as daringly as Andrew. And yes, the way Quest “plays” turntable is so downright ferocious and so incredibly human that you have no choice but to accept it as an instrument. But the real magic of this trio is the way these three elements collide and collude, three distinct voices creating chaos that never totally falls apart. In a world full of programmed beats, looped bass lines, and static samples, It’s the sound of three people on fire together, each reacting in their own way, and loving it. It’s the sound of masterful improvisers subverting cold technology and reinstating the human element, three voices in the machine. It’s the sound of LiveHuman
released January 27, 2017
dj quest - turntables
albert mathias - drums
andrew ross kushin - bass
tin castle, san francisco
mixed and mastered by
ear to the ground studios
©2017 cosmic records
all rights reserved