“nnnj – monkey straddle”
nnnj brings his debut CD to the Agriculture. These tracks are soft and warm downtempo ballads, which dodge the well-known genres while winking at them. Dub, drum & bass, trip hop, and post-idm programming can all be seen as influences here, but nnnj’s soul breaks free and gives these tracks a life of their own. He uses melody and bass in a unique way, giving the gritty rugged rhythms a beautiful, uplifting jolt. The production has a large dynamic range, combining an intricate comprehension of composition and arrangement with an easy going attitude.
Plumsource.org, May 2006
My personal ‘Album of the Week’ is Monkey-Straddle by an artist called nnnj (pronounced ‘inch’). This album has a gorgeous, warm feel about it, with a touch of summer. The music, a selection of beautiful cruisy tunes, has a dubby/trip hop/soul/downtempo flavour. With the weather warming up in Cairns now, this album is a perfect start to the summer season. I highly recommend this album!! -Jen Teo.
Gutterbreakz.com Music Blog, Sept. 2005
First up, the latest CD from The Agriculture label. “Monkey Straddle” is the debut album from a Brooklyn-based artist called nnnj (pronounced “inch”) and it’s been my top chill-out CD during the holidays. Waaay mellower than the sort of thing I usually listen to, but very agreeable on a warm summer’s evening with a few cans of Red Stripe and a bit of herb (or in my case 20 Lambert & Butler – I’ve been off the silly stuff for ages, apart from when Pinch offered me a hit on his spliff recently. It would’ve been rude to refuse. Good gear too – I only had a couple of puffs but I was sailing!!) . nnnj’s vibe is warm, watery soft-focus dubby electronica, drenched in atmosphere but with some pretty groovy downtempo beats keeping the head-nodding facture at a high. This is my idea of a good easy-listening record, apart from those spooky intro bits where it gets a bit dark ‘n’ droney. Immaculately produced, tastefully arranged, ‘roof music’ at it’s finest.
3hive.com, Sept. 2005
Lately, while certain technological gadgets of mine randomly play my music collection for me, I’ve heard unfamiliar, electronic, yet warm compositions capable of producing pleasant states of relaxation and reverie. It’s occured several times. Each time, as I’ve awakened from this other world in which I’ve found myself, I glance down at the guilty party, and it’s been Nnnj. Nnnj (pronounced “inch”) relies on many sounds: global rhythms, glitchy programming, and trip-hop, but is beholden to none.
Fatplanet.com.au, Sept. 2005
there’s no defining the sound of nnnj, familiar yet collectively untraceable. listen to ‘goop scoop’ for example, dub-driven downtempo funk at its core, yet layered with a vocal (eastern or asian?) that sits outside of those genres. ‘demeter’s pupil’ opens with an eastern strings and devotional chants, anchored with a rolling hip hop beat. like much of agriculture’s output, this is world music for people who don’t like world music.
Textura.org, August 2005
‘Gotta keep it flowing’ a voice repeatedly intones in “Close the Loop,” a phrase that generally encapsulates the presiding spirit of Monkey Straddle, the 46-minute debut disc by nnnj (generally pronounced ‘inch’). The album’s an exotic polyglot stew that straddles multiples genres though its groove emphasis and general sensibility aligns it closest to dub. Bolstered by rich percussion textures (shakers, blocks, congas, tablas) and deep, propulsive bass lines, nnnj’s ‘world’ music touches down in Arabia, Jamaica, Asia, and the US; though a song title like “Fiji Geesus” suggests its pan-global purview, it’s the cut’s lovely African wooden flute call (whose keening warble resembles a bird cry) that conveys its geographical breadth. Elsewhere, vocal interjections give the warm mix of soul, dub, and hip-hop in “Goop Scoop” a Middle Eastern flavour, African chants and Indian tablas animate “Demeter’s Pupil,” and flute and exotic percussion transport “1205‹–›180a” to Eastern climes. Boosted by the taste of ‘70s soul that emerges in its funky guitar figure, the best piece might be the bumping “Close the Loop” though the atmospheric electro dub-funk of the title song impresses too. Ultimately, the set’s twelve outings are more atmospheric grooves than songs, yet what sparkling, textured grooves they are; though “Überamkin,” for example, might amount to little more than buoyant soul-dub rhythms, it’s ravishing nonetheless.
for Electroid, fall 2005 edition
Not your average chillout or downtempo drum & bass. Released by the Agriculture out of Brooklyn, NY, it has the eccentricity of NYC written all over it. nnnj (pronounced “inch”) mixes dub, drum & bass, trip hop, and all kinds of ambient samples and sound effects into a smooth set of glistening mind funk. One thing can be said, without a doubt nnnj is a unique artist in the realm of ambience, his music strangely uplifting and detaching at the same time, but overall, arranged like a true master of composition. Supposidly this disc was left on the Agriculture doorstep with just a note, but those rumors cannot be verified. Perfect for the party chillout, or a country drive after a big spliff.
Damn solid! Whatever “Monkey-Straddle” means, consider that monkey straddled! Nnnj (generally pronounced “inch”) throws down and comfortably walks the line between artistic freedom and musical convention with a combination of cut-up breaks, mellow moods, deep, dubby grooves, and cinematic moodiness highlighted by near-Eastern intrumentation and very sparse female vocal work.
Stylistically, “Monkey-Straddle” is a hybrid of broken beat, IDM, near-Eastern fusion and downtempo that come together to form the kind of album you can put on, kick back, relax with friends and just move with it, whether it’s a standing-room only head-nod affair, or just a few of your closest for cool drinks and comfy chairs. As always, The Agriculture keeps it fresh, edgy and blissfully spicy. Nnnj’s “Monkey Straddle” is audio chutney… whatever your dish, it’s gonna make it better!
The Agriculture has already begun to impress me with their great artist roster and keen sense of what isn’t quite now but soon will be A&R ear. The debut from nnnj is no exception from that rule, finding an artist who dares to be different in a world of electronica sameness. With IDM’s freakish nature of collage art and drum&bass’s knack for merging both low-end and squeaky clean drum loops and Amen breaks, nnnj is one of the few masters of the nu-circuitry known as New Millennia electronica that so many artists have been trying to squeeze their tight-assed heads into but can’t seem to find the bridge. Outstanding. (J-Sin, Smother.Net)
New York’s The Agriculture label has an amazing roster made up of Badawi, DJ Wally, DJ Rupture, Sub Dub, We, among others, all of them have an important background in the more experimental dub/ambient and hip-hop scene, styles that this imprint promote. nnnj is a musician from Montreal that collaborates frequently with artists of the Brooklyn scene in the likes of DJ Olive and Bruno Amstad, with those who participates in LUNCHBOX. What we found on ‘Monkey Straddle’ are smooth pulsations of bass lines and rhythms that are closed to hip-hop, dub and ambient. Per moments nnnj creates samples with Eastern landscapes using tablas, didgeridoo as it can be hear on ‘Fiji Jesus’ or the percussions on ‘Monkey Straddle’ that also it has magnificent guitar arrangements. Many of the samples are digitally processed therefore their original sound it’s substantially transformed. This causes that there are lots of timbres, resonances, sometimes subtle, diverse percussion, but its common denominator is the atmosphere created and the captivating groove in where different sonorities are mixed and blended into a coherent mood thanks to the skills of nnnj? that just put on time the harmonies and arrangements at the precise moment. For more info. go to www.theagriculture.com and to nnnj’s interview in the home page. (Guillermo Escudero, Loop.cl)
Oh god, thank you for Brooklyn Rooftop Hammock Phatness! (Dotshop.se)
find the Original at: http://www.loop.cl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=125&Itemid=26
nnnj [pronounced “inch”] is based in Montreal, Canada who showcase different genres as dub, hip-hop, soul and downtempo. His music is sprinkled of samples and processed sounds through software that are reconverted giving suggestive shades. His influences are other musicians who belong to the Brooklyn scene in the likes of DjOlive and Bruno Amstad, with whom he participates in the LUNCHBOX project. Also he’s into the improvisation with no regular groups and he is member of a quartet called ‘Tourette’ which is in the electronic/punk vein. nnnj’s music has a warm feeling and a distinct flavor in a mid way between urban sound and Eastern culture. The forthcoming album of nnnj’s ‘Monkey-Straddle’ to be released in June is a good example of it.
‘Fiji geesus’ it has gorgeous melody lines and an Eastern music influence. Do you have any special interest in the Eastern culture?
“I wonder what the original sample is. Sometimes I’m really amazed how short-lived my brain cells are I actually can’t even tell you where the original source of the flute is taken from, but I totally ‘see’ what you hear. It’s an unusually long sample I use there, it kind of just happened to be in there somehow. The track ‘Fiji geesus’ to me is more about that funny snare drum in the back and the guitar and also the weird instrument that sounds like a goat in the intro. Some 1.5 years ago a friend of mine was so amazed that Björk uses a ‘Ravelian-bolero-snaredrum’ on one of her tracks. I actually never quite got his point and what should be so great about it but I’ve tried out to also use a file that has the same feel [not with a Ravel sample by the way], that’s how this track started to get together. By now I actually can’t imagine anyone really hears the snare drum anymore. The flute came into the track at the very end, and it actually doesn’t quite match the rest which gives it a nice and slightly strange taste. It’s such a clear melody it just fly’s over the backing track. Yes, I really love Eastern music.”
‘Monkey Straddle’ has interesting guitar arrangements and a wash of ambient keyboard lines. How these two sounds blend together. The song title has a special meaning?
“The keyboard ain’t keyboards though, but now what is it then? Most of the samples usually take a long journey through lots of DSP [digital signal processing] before I use them. I love to tinker with sounds for a long time before I put them in arrangements. these ones I really can’t tell what they originally where- Oh!, some of the ‘wash’ was in fact a male choir. I try to figure out how these two sounds blend together [I’m listening to the tracks while answering the questions] and I can’t think of anything but the plain fact that they do quite well. The song title ‘Monkey straddle’, which is also the title of the album has a meaning to me now, but a different one than it had when I picked it. The artwork of the CD is all close-up scans of my skin, and as you can imagine, it was quiet a straddle to get certain parts like the inner side of your knee or your back on the scanner without moving for a while. So that’s when the monkey had to straddle ;-) But when I picked the name it was more about how I like to stretch and straddle sounds and samples.”
How did you get into producing?
“Did I really? I’m just playing ’round. It’s maybe like the computer game I never played. When I was a young kid I never liked the whole video-game thing, and I still can’t relate to it. Tetris is about the only computer game I can spend more than 20 minutes with. Maybe producing music on the computer is a compensation for this lack of culture. Some transformations between different parts of tracks is like the key passages in computer games. In the beginning it doesn’t sound right at all, so you have to find the door, the way to get over it. It takes hours, even days sometime. I can imagine it’s the same energy you have if you try to fight the dragon that guards the princesses dungeon in the castle’s tallest tower.”
What kind of sounds are of your interest in order to sample them?
“Wow, that’s a tough question! – there was a time I had the iron rule of never use samples which I did not record myself. Obviously this time is over (ha-ha). Maybe now it’s more that I have some unwritten rules what not to sample and everything else is allowed. I don’t like to sample music from records I love too much. I guess DjOlive once said he used to sample only from records he doesn’t like. Or DjOlive said someone once said that. It’s more a laptop producers Urban Legend I guess, but a good one! the idea of taking a sample from a cheesy record and make something new with it is like rescuing a sound and giving it a new life. And then one day someone might think the same about my record and give the sample yet another life. But if it’s for the same reason I hope I won’t be sampled too often. Lots of sounds I produce myself.”
Do you have any side-projects?
“Everything I do is a side project in a positive sense. I don’t do anything I like less. If that happens I’d stop doing it right away! I do many different things. ‘Monkey-Straddle’ is a project which is ‘scientifically computed to make you think you can dance’ [as Label fella David Last says]. It fit’s right on theAgriculture’s [www.theagriculture.com] catalogue. I love to produce for this label ’cause those guys let me do what I love, the way I hear it. For the same label we produced a record with LUNCHBOX [www.lunchbox.li], a trio with Bruno Amstad [vocals] and DjOlive [turntables]. I guess we created a nice downtempo record which can’t be really described with any genre name. To work with DjOlive and Bruno Amstad felt like taking classes with my gurus to me. These two guys have such a great sense of music. Besides the downtempo thing I’m also strongly interested in improvised music. To improvise is like hanging out with some friends, order a drink and start a conversation. If you connect you suddenly find yourself in an interesting conversation with no distinct goal but a lot of options where it can take you, and if you don’t connect you might go home and think ‘what was that guy talking about??!!’. Then there is also a project which could be described as semi-electronic-punk, a quartet called ‘Tourette’ comprised of Urban Lienert [bass], Lionel Friedli, who also plays on one of the ‘Monke-Straddle’ tracks [drums], Suddeninfant [www.suddeninfant.com] [turntables] and myself [electronics and screams]. It’s a really loud and funny band.”
Text Guillermo Escudero May 2005