Alright, cats– time to revise your list of must-listen-to records. The man himself, drummer Pat Van Dyke (PVD), gives us a track-by-track analysis of his latest release, Technicolor Hi-Fi. PVD blends beats from true-school hip-hop with timbres and textures from experimental electronic music, and nuanced jazz harmonies. PVD’s new record is a sonic collage of multiple styles and genres. Technicolor Hi-Fi doesn’t just show PVD’s chops as a drummer, it shows his prowess as a producer, composer, and bandleader. Listen to full album stream and read his analysis below.
The Business: The opener to side A of the record and a tune I wrote a while back. It features Jesse Fischer on Fender Rhodes & synths and Jordan Scannella (Tortured Soul) on bass. I’ve recorded this tune a few times in the past, but never really captured the vibe of the 70’s CTI records like I wanted to. Jordan and I laid down the rhythm tracks together. Jesse knew the tune already from playing live shows with me over the years, so he came out to my studio in Jersey City, sat down at my Rhodes and played it exactly how I heard it in my head…in one take. He’s a monster. I chose to lead the record off with this track because it really sets the tone of what I was trying to do with this project….mellow vibe, good groove, slick harmonies, but still pretty accessible. I hope you agree.
Motown: Josh David Barrett (Judah Tribe / Q-Tip), Jesse, and I tracked this one together during the second session I had scheduled for the record. Some listeners may recognize the chord changes and melody from the single: “Happy” off the “Lux DeVille” record earlier this year. I wanted to flip the tune a little differently and capture something more gritty for this project. I had been listening to a lot of Menahan Street Band at the time and went for that open drum sound that they have mastered at Dap-Tone. The longer decay of the loose snares and the big room sound help capture that vibe. After we laid down the rhythm tracks, Jesse suggested we lay down the organ pads which really pulled everything together. I played the rhythm guitar parts, glockenspiel, and hand claps and let Jesse loose on the outro with the Moog Little Phatty.
Slow Drag: This is another old tune of mine that I had sitting around waiting for the right project to be a part of. We used to play it live back in the day, but had never had a real outlet for a tune with this vibe. The track ended up capturing a sort of reggae feel, but when I wrote it, I was thinking more in terms of a ballad or even lullaby type of feel. Definitely the most minimalist sounding track on the record, it felt like a good contrast to the more densely layered and produced sound of many of the other tracks. I wanted the grittier sound of my Wurlitzer, so I had Jordan Piper (keys) play that while Jordan Scannella (bass) handled the low end duties.
Walk it Off: This one is another tune from the second session with Jesse and Josh. We tracked out the basic rhythm tracks together live, then I added all the synth, guitar, glockenspiel, and percussion parts later on. The basic composition was something I used to play at shows with (MC) John Robinson (aka Lil Sci of Scienz of Life). After adding the solo section and running it with Josh and Jesse, it felt like a good fit for the instrumental record. Short and sweet, it served as a good closer to side A of the record.
Frequency: The opener to the B side of the record and probably my personal favorite from the album. Frequency is a thru composed tune, and unlike the majority of the other songs on the record, has no real improvised section (with the exception of the short outro). I intentionally produced the song in a way that has different sounds coming in and out through the form, eventually building into a more dense arrangement the second time around. Jordan and I recorded the rhythm tracks together and then Jesse laid down the Rhodes and Moog in another session. Jameison Ledonio played the guitar parts.
Swindle: Another tune I recorded live in the session with Jordan Piper on Wurlitzer and Jordan Scannella on bass. A simple understated melody followed by a longer jam section. Some of the bass lines Jordan plays in the jam are a good example of why he is one of my favorite bass players.
Talk To Em: The 3rd tune from the session with Jesse and Josh. We played the rhythm tracks live and then Jesse and I met up at his studio (Elektric Indigo) in Brooklyn to lay down the synth & organ parts. Funny story….Jesse and I went back and forth deciding on the the rhythms for the organ stabs during the solo section. Time well spent too….Gives it that golden era hip hop flavor reminiscent of something you’d hear on a Pharcyde record. I added some 808 claps and more glockenspiel. You can never have too much glockenspiel! “Talk to Em” is another tune that I used to play live at hip-hop shows, but felt like it deserved the longer arrangement for this record.
Two Sides: The closer to the record and one of the longer tracks in the collection, Two Sides is a tune I wrote almost 10 years ago. I recorded another version of it on my 2005 record: Down for the Get Down. This time it features Josh and Jesse along with Ben Zeff laying down the rhythm guitar part. I overdubbed the congas and hand claps to fill out the groove.
For you vinyl junkies out there, you can cop Technicolor Hi-Fi here. Don’t miss PVD live at the Brightside Tavern for his NJ Record Release Show. It’s gonna be a wild show.