What’s good boys and girls, it’s Trav back from my self imposed blog hiatus while I’m on exile to South America. After about two weeks here, I finally felt the need and desire to post a blog. It was a much needed rest, now if I can get past a shitty ass internet connection from the hotel I’m staying out, I’ll be in some kind of business.
Anyway, I didn’t come out of my exile to post about just any album, I’m taking time from scoping out hot Argentine women, sucking down beers, and enjoying the great South American food for an artist who happened to have one of my favorite albums last year and quite possibly my favorite instrumental album with For Corners. Producer Diego Bernal dropped that album early last year and made some noise on the internet circuit, as it should have. Well Diego is back, and has an album that is quite possibly even better.
His latest adventure comes in the form of Besides, which comes with a direct and to the point approach. Containing eleven short and precise tracks of thick bass lines, thumping drums and obscure, dusty samples, Besides contains a little more hip hop flavor than the last project may have contained. Tracks like “El Corrido de Chico B”, interlope a traditional (and I’m talking late 70′s/early 80′s) hip hop vibe that sounds like some break dancing shit on steroids. It’s got a gang of sounds going on it, but it still keeps that vibe together with a wicked drum track. The deep rumbling bass found on “Blue Neon”, is perfect for riding around with the roof blown and some twelves in the trunk. While it’s an instrumental album, it’s all about the songs. This is no random beat tape that you are listening too, they have structure, changes in sounds, moods, and would stand on their own just fine.
The album dropped April 27th, and leaked even earlier than that, but I’ve been jamming a lot of these songs for quite sometime as I was lucky enough to be one of Diego’s guinea pigs, he would bounce a new track off me every now and then. I’ve seen this coming, but I’m still in some kind of awe when I play this as a complete project. I feel there is something for everybody on this album and lovers of instrumental albums will have to feel this.
Artist: Diego Bernal
Album: “Besides…” (Vinyl + Digital)
Release Date: April 27th, 2010
Civil rights crimefighter by day and beat producer by night, Diego Bernal, returns with “Besides…” his follow up album to 2009′s successful, For Corners. On the album, Bernal sifts through untapped and long forgotten South Texas crates to create a musical ode to the classic era of hip hop. With “Besides…” we see a more straight foward take on hip hop but the production has matured and the beats have grown more into full songs. This release is available as a very limited edition blue 7″ 45 vinyl with “A Long Second” and “Blue Neon”. The vinyl also includes a download card for all songs in any format including high MP3 or lossless FLAC.
01. Intro – All You Can Do (Parts 1 & 2)
02. Lunch Money (Brown Paper Box)
03. Blue Neon
04. A Long Second
05. e.g., (for example)
06. 2nd Degreed Bern
07. Clear Lifts
08. West Quad Lottery
09. El Corrido de Chico B
10. Cumbiatches Brew
11. Outro – Card on a Loss (All I Did)
Be sure to support by copping the limited edition 7″ 45 vinyl with “Blue Neon” and “A Long Second”, and oh yeah, it’s blue…..
Out of my own curiosity, I asked Diego about the tracks on the album, and he was polite enough to hook us up with a little write up. Here is Diego’s take in his own words…..
Words of Diego
Thanks for asking about my recent record, “Besides…” Initially it was going to be a collection of ideas that didn’t quite make the cut, or fit, with the concept I had for my last album, “For Corners.” The “b-sides,” if you will. The switch from creating and arranging songs in Reason to Ableton, however, resulted in much more developed and, in my opinion, deliberate music. Once I realized this, I kept the title, which I liked very much, and forged ahead. “Besides…” is a collection of the results.
1. Intro- All You Can Do (Parts I &II)
This is the first song I made for “Besides…” and the first song with Ableton. To me it sounds like effort and aftermath, whatever that might be, victory or loss. The loud, bassed-out organs and dramatic syths, plus the pulsed breakbeat made me think, “This is the first thing people should hear from me since the last record. Welcome.”
2. Lunch Money (Brown Paper Box)
The horns reminded me a little of M.O.P.’s “Ante Up,” and since I’m not rich, all they would get from me is my lunch money. I purposefully made this beat more up-tempo, and when the bass and conga sounds fell into place, it sounded a little break-dance-y, so I linked the lunch and break-dance themes – “Brown Paper Box.”
3. Blue Neon
My tribute to 90’s East Coast hip-hop and dirty, nasty, vulgar drums. I always wanted to make a beat with upright bass, but it never really happened until I discovered the crazy bass sound here. Coincidentally it’s also one of my most bass-heavy songs; I always associate bass with riding around San Antonio in my boy Frank’s little blue Neon coupe, replete with chrome rims and ungodly-sized speakers. That car was like an adventure chariot, a mischief machine.
4. A Long Second
One thing that is noticeably different about “Besides…” is the song structure. In this case, there are several breakdowns and pauses- long seconds. I extended the last portion of the song, a bonus beat of sorts, because the people I played early for liked it so much. It’s literally a long second part to the track- a completely separate, but connected, piece.
5. e.g. (for example)
This to me this has a very old school sound from both a hip-hop and Latin oldie perspective; it’s a beat with some tradition in it. I wanted to demonstrate that I can rock those old sounds. In legal writing, “e.g.” means “for example” and that seemed to make sense to me. Plus, my friend and label boss is named Ernest Gonzalez, and he’s always schooling me on this and that, so that also adds a little dash of significance to the title’s meaning.
6. 2nd Degreed Bern
I loved ghosting the flutes in and out of this one. Those soft, subtle touches are what beat nerds live for. Although the track is short and simple, I included it because I liked the mood it conveyed. As for the title, my sister is in college right now and mean on the spoken word front. This sounds like something she would use, so I named it after her.
7. Clear Lifts
I love when the organs go double-time-chop on this one. I admit I was pretty pleased with myself when I played that back for the first time. Hahaha. My sister said the song sort of reminded her of Outkast’s “Elevators,” and said that right as the double-time organ part dropped in. I then had the image of glass capsule elevators moving up and down in my mind- “clear lifts.” Someone else then said the beat was sort of sexy and reminded them of something that a DJ might play in a strip club. The image in my head shifted from the glass elevators to clear heels- still “clear lifts.” I kept it.
8. West Quad Lottery
This is just a silly little beat I made in college that I dug up recently and decided to use for the project. I don’t remember anything about it except that I made it during my sophomore year at the University of Michigan when I lived in the largest dorm room in West Quad Residence Hall. My roommates and I won the WQ lottery at the end of our freshman year, which earned us first dibs on rooms for the next year. We chose the largest one, which allowed me a little more space for a drum machine and turntable.
9. El Corrido de Chico B
This is my break-dance song. Essentially, a corrido is a sort of narrative ballad of Mexico. This beat tells a story, it takes you places. Chico B is the main character (it’s my rough translation of “B-Boy”). This is my song for the b-boys and girls. Have you ever seen these kids, especially in smaller or remote areas like San Antonio, New Mexico, or Alaska? There is so much heart and effort there. They want to be just as good as the NY, Cali, European and Asian breakers. They want to be great. I made it for them, with as many different elements as I could muster. I think my third record will follow this longer, multi-pronged format. I really enjoyed it.
10. Cumbiatches Brew
I’m from San Antonio, TX. I’m proud of it. I don’t treat it like a liability. The sounds of lowrider oldies, Latin funk and other Latin and South Texas music are just as much a part of my musical DNA as A Tribe Called Quest or Dilla. I owe them all a debt that I repay every chance I get. I think of all the songs on this album, “A Long Second” and “Cumbiatches Brew” communicate that best. Since the beat uses cumbia percussion and I love Miles Davis, as well as a little profanity, I thought the title was completely appropriate.
11. Outro- Card on a Loss (All I Did)
This song just sounds like it’s the last song of a record. Nothing can really come after it. How would you follow it up? I had the elements of it ready to go well before I made “All You Can Do,” but I hesitated. As arty and contrived as it sounds, I honestly couldn’t work it until I ready. It’s about loss, clearly, and to me it sounds like just that: loss and exhaustion from trying to remedy that emptiness. With bass.