The following are my top 5 retro-futuristic albums of all time. They all have elements of the past but are simultaneously very forward looking. All are prime influences on my own conception of the Retro Future.
HERBIE HANCOCK – HEAD HUNTERS
The prototype for all things jazzy-funky. Of course most people know “Chameleon” and “Watermelon Man” but my favorite part of the record is Side B, with the phrenetic space-jungle funk of “Sly” and the chillout slow-burner that is “Vein Melter”. Equal parts earthy and spacey, Head Hunters is the most complete and magical statement of retro-futuristic jazz-funk that I’ve ever heard.
EDDIE HENDERSON – SUNBURST
This unassuming jazz-funk Blue Note side has never been replicated in its unique mixture of odd meter grooves, gutbucket funk, free jazz, outerspace sounds, and electronic exploration. I’ve used these sides for inspiration in countless of my own compositions and arrangements.
MILES DAVIS – BIRTH OF THE COOL
This record embodies the zeitgeist of the early 50′s texturally yet musically reaches far beyond that time period. Hauntingly beautiful yet understated, these orchestrations, textures, harmonies, and concepts have never been matched since this album.
HUDSON MOHAWKE – BUTTER
Fundamentals of boom-bap but mixed with an excess of 80′s synths and sounds repurposed for a completely new approach to electronic music. He has a swing all of his own, influenced by Dilla but in no ways an imitation. His sense of comedy and timing is hilarious and unparalleled, and unlike a lot of “instrumental hip-hop” there are actually very strong melodies and compositions here. Sometimes this record goes so far over the top that it comes back around the other side.
YMCK – FAMILY GENESIS
Sublime pop music that is beautifully crafted and executed, full of lyrical melodies, creative harmonies and chord progressions, drawing from big-band swing, fusion, contemporary gospel, baroque counterpoint, hip-hop, and everthing in between — yet everything is orchestrated for 8-bit synths and vocoder, giving it a quirky 80′s Nintendo feel. THE silliest, most exhilarating, and musically challenging and satisfying album I’ve heard in years.
Check out Jesse Fischer’s Retro Future streamed here.
Words by Jesse Fischer