The casual Sunday afternoon bar experience is over. Period. At least until late 2021, we’re told. In, let’s say, ohhhh I dunno, smooth-running times, that type of declaration would come adorned with all types of bang, whiz, zowie points of clamor. But after these six months, the world as a whole, pandemic-purchasing rare jazz, soul and R&B records en masse, vinyl purchases are way up globally in true 2020 bizarre fashion. Home entertaining, tiresome by now, for sure, remains the best worry-free option.
Going into my local, grabbing a stool, ordering a drink or five from any bartender, but especially ones clad in Mission district hipster thrift store Bammer fashion show ensemble (patterns on patterns, shit that doesn’t match for the funk of it) would make life just a bit more whimsical, unfettered. A little sportsball with the volume turned down coming from the flatscreen, a smattering of B.S. talk to the right, an easy on the eyes view of the attractive throng of ladies converging for a Sunday afternoon Negroni or Cadillac Margarita to the left. All underscored with some type of sampled mellow groove featuring snare hits, horn blares, and percussive piano breaks on loop. Not quite the high-tech masterful collages of Pete Rock or J-Dilla instrumental grade, that’d be too exact, overtaking the mood. Something in the neighborhood of an Oceans Eleven score meets a Blue Break Beats record. You know. George Clooney charm without the Oscar thirst. Peak Don Cheadle vibe. Brad Pitt chomp. All Ham with punctuated aplomb, underlying the insular bar experience over the next three minutes to a half-hour. Everybody working with some type of unconscious head-nod energy. Envisioning whatever the hell is on the jukebox as their Sunday afternoon walk-on music, with that extra swag that comes with afternoon sipping.
Yes indeedy, in these times, where Covid-19 spikes are hitting record numbers, that indoor adult play date, flush with drinks, beats, and sports? Bang. Bang. Russian producer LTF (short for Light The Fuse) is a dollar bin crusader when it comes to finding pristine breaks, horns, flutes, double basses, vocal fragments…anything that rides properly along with golden era boom-bap. He credits Large Professor, The Herbaliser, Pete Rock, Damu The Fudgemunk, and dub engineer and producer Scientist as his influences. LTF’s production execution is not as close to those legends, it’s in the culling of the sounds we hear that refined touch specifically attuned to the right masters.
Monolith, his follow up record to 2018’s Jazz Echo, crafted from sampling rare Soviet jazz and funk records from his home country of Russia, starts off regal, mysterious, and downright official and then starts to waver between acid-jazz cyclical and funky break commonplace. The ethos of Monolith is a rousing gaze at the cut and paste era of hip-hop from 30 plus years ago. Using analog synthesizers, dub techniques, and the subtle knob turns on a delay pedal to morph the context of samples makes the sound quality far better than par. LTF’s choice of horn samples remains formidable, causing visions of masterful big-band jazz outfits who used to run dancefloors.
“Give The Horns Some,” the rousing, dark sparkle opener—a stellar chunk of highly crafted instrumental hip-hop-the most bonafide track in the bunch, kicks off with a stirring bass solo, a ghostly staccato horn line drifting about wizardly drums. When those horns blow full over the kick-snare combo, we are off to the races. Bobbing our heads at the bar without unease, soundtracking this one afternoon of luxury.
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to Treble since 2018. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in The Wire, 48 Hills, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK and Drowned In Sound.