Inspiration from Strut


Strut embark on an exclusive new studio album series this Autumn exploring some mouth-watering one-off collaborations.

Entitled Inspiration Information, the series involves bringing contemporary artists and producers together with their musical heroes, artists that have directly inspired their own careers. They then lock the studio doors for five days of intensive writing and recording.

The collaborations involve an open A&R brief with the focus on spontaneity and a true fusion of styles rather than the marketingled restrictions of a traditional artist album. Each album can take any form that the artists choose, from three-minute song structures to more extended freeform pieces.

The series aims to keep styles and sounds fresh and to represent a snapshot of each artist’s sound at the time of recording.

Once each album is mixed, the promotional schedule begins immediately, with most albums released within three months of the sessions.

SLY & ROBBIE / AMP FIDDLER - September 2008
The series kicks off with a heavyweight soundclash between Detroit soul maverick Amp Fiddler and reggae legends, Sly Dunbar
& Robbie Shakespeare. “This is monumental for me. I’ve been a fan of their productions, their work with Grace Jones – her
‘The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game’ – that’s an old Detroit Motown track!” recalls Amp. “Their Compass Point productions
with Wally Badarou, ‘Boops’ too, that’s how I discovered their music.”
“We heard of Amp from our manager Guillaume,” says Sly. “I didn’t know he was so funky! When I first heard him play in the
studio, I thought, ‘wow, this is rude stuff!’ We were right into the Parlia-Funkadelic band. Their brand of funk was so different. I
loved it from their first record. Me and Bootsy Collins are good friends – he played on our album - and I always loved Motown
too, ever since I was a kid. That all brought us closer to Amp and the musical groove just stuck. We hit it off from the first song.”
Arriving at Anchor Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, armed only with a handful of acoustic vocal ideas, Amp and the Riddim Twins
recorded the album in just three days during June with overdubs laid down a week later in Detroit. The results are a confident,
laid back set that bring a whole new twist to Amp’s trademark vocal style: Sly builds innovative digital and live rhythms, Robbie
underpins the tracks with solid bass foundations and original generation guests “Sticky” Thompson (percussion) and Dalton
Browne (guitar) add plenty of colour. The tracks are never predictable, at times echoing Sly & Robbie’s ‘80s days with Island
Records at Compass Point studios, at others forging new directions from the dancehall template. “It’s been amazing – the level
of musicianship is sky high,” explains Amp. “It’s magical because Sly & Robbie work so well together – everything has happened
really smoothly.” Within the sessions, the trio also revisited select tracks from Amp’s ‘Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly’ album, giving them
a full Jamaican makeover. To complete the Island connections, the album is currently being mixed by another original studio
regular, Godwin Logie.

Fresh from his mesmerising vocal work touring with Massive Attack, original Studio One legend Horace Andy embarks on his
Inspiration Information sessions with Ashley Beedle (X-Press 2 / Ballistic Brothers) this August. Veering away from well-worn
reggae arrangements, Ashley builds on the template he has created with his Warbox All-Stars releases, mixing heavyweight,
angular digital beats with a deep roots sensibility, drawing on his early days with London’s Shock sound system. “When I talked
through the album with Horace, he said, ‘It’s all about the drums.’ I have about five rhythms on the go at the moment – there’s
one with a nyabinghi percussion base and another which heads more into dubstep territory.” The upfront exchange of music
includes some unexpected cover ideas from Horace – the main sessions take place during the third week of August in London.

The original Ethio-jazz legend enters the fray. The Ethiopiques album series has steadily gathered steam in recent years,
culminating in two huge shows during June 2008 at Barbican and Glastonbury. Raiding the archives of small studios and radio
stations in Addis Ababa from the ‘70s, the series has been a revelation, unearthing a true fusion of funk, soul and jazz with fivetone
Ethiopian scales and traditional instrumentation and vocals. The ringleader of those recordings, vibesman and percussionist
Mulatu Astatke, now embarks on his first studio album for over 20 years.
The collaboration follows a sell-out gig at Cargo and a Gilles Peterson Maida Vale session earlier this year with The Heliocentrics
(Stones Throw Records). Responsible for backing DJ Shadow, laying down beats for Madlib and Yesterday’s New Quintet and
for fusing influences as diverse as Sun Ra, Axelrod, James Brown and Morricone on their debut album, the Helios, led by
drummer Malcolm Catto and bassist Jake Ferguson, have fast become a unique powerhouse of free-thinking beatsmithery.
At Cargo in London, they backed Mulatu on a full set of his Ethiopiques classics, brought together and presented by Karen P’s
Broadcasting and Red Bull. Since then, the process around the new recordings has been in full flow with Mulatu now back in
Addis Ababa armed with a Heliocentrics CD of groove ideas and riffs. As well as writing his own vibes and keyboard parts,
Mulatu is using the project to build in some of the stunning indigenous sounds from Ethiopia, inviting tribespeople to record
local instruments and vocal parts for the sessions. “I have always wanted to involve Ethiopian cultural instruments in Ethio-jazz,
playing Western 12-tone music,” explains Mulatu. “We’ll be experimenting – the musicians in The Heliocentrics are so great
and I think we will make a wonderful album.” The project culminates in a full recording week at Heliocentrics studio in London
during the first week of September and a full live tour during Spring 2009.
For further information please contact Strut is part of the !K7 label group.