Drummer/producer wunderkind Adam Deitch and Crown City Rockers founder Headnodic have connected on a ground-breaking new album of analog-future hip-hop entitled First Takes. With an avant-garde approach to creativity and recording, coupled with a shared affinity for the golden-era of Boom-Bap, this dynamic duet has the power to usher in a new exploratory era in beat-making. By embracing a no-rules philosophy First Takes has Deitch and Headnodic reimagining the (former) limits of hip-hop production, employing improvisation as a state of mind.Download the record here, and check out a review and interview below.“T’s Departure” is 1970’s blaxploitation vibe personified, a hard-driving funk groove thumping beneath dramatic strings and a big swirling hook. “King’s Town” transports you to the yardie spot, an organic, bare bones romp through the jazzy dancehall, runnin’ tings with rudebwoy swagger, as Deitch’s jungle rimshots and astounding hi-hat sizzle set a frenetic pace. Headnodic matches colors and sonics with Blunted in the Bomb Shelter-type aplomb. “Data Decimator” unleashes tribalized b-boy riddims with a nod to DJ Shadow, while at the same time hopping the pond to dip in the slowly oozing late 90’s Bristol UK Trip Hop ethos.The tragically short “Swivel” is a Creed Taylor wet dream, with luscious boom-bap breaks, Bob James Rhodes action, Headnodic bringing a flair for flamboyant like his name was Big L. “Neferttiti’s Theme” unveils a grown n’ sexy, the vibe akin to the Madlib Blue Note rare groove old-school; yet Headnodic’s lyrical, musical approach to on-the-fly sample-craftmanship, and the resulting future bass madness, undermines any period specific elements by catapulting the listener to newfound galaxies in sound.“Wamp Rats” is a class in new school blues, a track that locks into an undeniably hip hop format, only to be sliced to shreds with an eargasmic harmonica solo scratched to the surface by Pretty Lights turntable henchman Chris Karns. “The Stage” delivers the dearly departed Shaolin heyoka Ol’ Dirty Bastard to the forefront of a decidedly pimpadelic throwback sample, Headnodic spearheading an excursion to the depths of a chamber at once familiar yet unclaimed. “Nyx” is a clear and present nod to a generation sublime; Pretty Lights Music and it’s ever-evolving diaspora. A classic kick-snare Deitch beat powers the emotional, colorful lament filled with wah-wah guitars, triumphant horns, and soulful R&B crooning.With bombastic Adam Deitch beats storming the soundscape with both reckless abandon and military grade precision, the songs have more bounce to the ounce than your average quasi-loopdigga, or drunken-monkey beat tape. Headnodic’s exotic, imaginative sample collages, engineering mastery and a sixth sense for making heads bob like emergency brakes, the stage is serendipitously set for a wild ride to an even furthur side of lysergic synth dreaming. The duo can hang their fitteds (or five panel) on the fact that they have served the Blue Note and CTI legacies, showing love to Rudy Van Gelder, Creed Taylor, as well as the likes of Derek Vincent Smith (Pretty Lights).Deitch and Headnodic have done Madlib, J Dilla, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Evil Dee, and countless other forefathers of the NY’s golden era proud, not to mention modern purveyors of sound design like DJ Shadow, Prefuse73 and Flying Lotus. A potent blend of sample-based collage culture, one-take studio magic betwixt virtuosos of the new millenium, and a chance capturing lightning in a bottle, First Takes is beyond merely just a successful mission; it is a tomorrow promised on this never-ending search for new land. On a day when we may need reminding of artistic and cultural freedom, principled bravery, and affirming ourselves a nation that holds one fact to be self evident: Deitch beats definitely don’t quit.Hot Takes with Berklee brothers in Boom-Bap: A Conversation with Adam Deitch and Headnodic. L4LM: Adam. Thanks for the making the time, and sliding L4LM this dope record for the premiere. Tell us more! Adam Deitch: I just did the album with Ethan (Headnodic). I went to Berklee with him back in the 90’s, he was the dopest producer, even way back then! Check the credits.[Founding member (and often producer and engineer) of the acclaimed Hip-Hop bands Mission: & Crown City Rockers. His career includes collaborations with indie Hip-Hop heavyweights MF Doom, Jr. Gong Damian Marley, Brother Ali, Mr. Lif, Lyrics Born, DJ Shadow, Zion I, Chali 2na, Moe Pope, Del The Funky Homosapien, & more. He is also one-third of the Hip-Hop supergroup The Mighty Underdogs with Gift Of Gab (Blackalicious) and Lateef The Truth Speaker (Latryx).]L4LM: So you recently connected with him in the studio? AD: He put together a bunch of sampled loops, and then I recorded live drums on top. He then came back and added the live bass, moogs, and other sounds. All of my drum tracks were First Takes, thus the album title. Really thing the Pretty Lights kids will love this analog tasty treat.I would like to add that Headnodic was, to me, representing the new breed of musicians, who were also capable of producing records and had knowledge of samplers, sequencers, mixing techniques etc. as well as a deep understanding of many styles of Hip Hop. He is going to give you a greater understanding of how this project came together.[note: Deitch then connected L4LM to Headnodic, live and direct from the Bay Area.]L4LM: Ethan (Headnodic), thanks for making some time for Live for Live Music. Please tell us a bit about how you dreamt this up? And then brought it fruition? Adam is a very busy cat, always gigging, always moving. And you are out here on the West Coast, so couldn’t be easy. Headnodic: Adam’s band Lettuce was out here playing a several day run at the Fillmore in SF and I invited him to come record at my spot. I thought maybe I would get a handful of 2 bar drum breaks to loop up, maybe he’d track a full structured drum take to one of my “works in progress”, maybe even two.L4LM: I bet this session was a power hour personified. Tell us, what ended up going down when he came through? Headnodic: This dude came to my house with only an hour to play with (he was late for a flight to somewhere). Luckily, I prepped the night before and laid out a ProTools session with 15 or so beats that I had done (with the programmed drums muted). He walked in and we skipped the “hello hi” stuff, and he just threw on the headphones and sat down at the kit. The mics were prepped and the pre-amps were all warmed up. I hit play/record and the beat came on. What he did is what you hear on the record.L4LM: So it was like a jam session, with samples. And you just left them as is?Headnodic: I’m an editor and I love to chop and loop and fly and sample and yatta yatta, but I didn’t want to do sh*t to this drum take. It was game tight. By the time that song ended in his headphones, I had already slid the next one into the ProTools session and in real time he hit it in one take… Threw on another… First Take… Another… First Take… We only had an hour or so, but what he did is what you hear on the record… all first takes.L4LM: Philosophically, please tell our readers about what the First Takes record is all about. Kind of reminds me of Hov, just going in the booth, bars off top, letting it fly. Headnodic: I really wanted to produce this project with the feel of this session in mind. There’s a vibe to this collection of songs that stems from the narrative of it’s creation. This sh*t was live in the studio, dude was on fire and the excitement of that needed to stay on tape. Anything he played, I left as is.To structure the song, I edited the samples and instruments that I laid around his performance and even that editing was minimal. He naturally knew where my all of beats were going. A lot of that intuitive speak comes from the fact that we share the vocabulary of the same era of hip hop beats, but another good chunk of it is that I saw him play back in the late 90s when we were both at Berklee College in Boston and I began to steal his drum fills for the drum programming on my beats, so I’m guessing my tracks & arrangements felt a little like home for him.L4LM: The drums are mic’d so ILL. I mean, it’s has the juiciest, warmest analog feel, so loose and Jay Dee-drunk but still tight as nails. It goes so hard, too. How did you go about getting Adam to sound so right, Ethan?Headnodic: “I use a lot of mics on the kit, keep the drums dead and room dry, and spend a good amount of time dialing in the sound in post. Each track has a distinctly different sound and I wanted the drums to sit comfortably in each landscape, but I also wanted Adam to stick out in the mix and take a starring role. I made a bus of all of the room mics and overheads, and then another with the close mics with effects and coloration (a lot of gating & compression, but no sound replacer or anything like that). I then went back and forth with levels and side-chaining and all that good-good to really find the balance on each one. I go for that analog 70s feeling, and I’m glad you feel it came across on “tape”, but it’s actually all plugins and digital flim-flammerey. I pride myself on making stuff sound good on a budget.Our homie (drummer) Max MacVeety and I spent a good many dead-broke years experimenting with drums trying to make em sound like a million bucks.L4LM: Yes! Love Max. Got hip to him through Karl Denson but I know he runs with Lyrics Born these days. And he’s in that new D.J. Williams krewe Shots Fired! Shout out to Max MacVeety! Headnodic: As far as mixing, I pushed myself to keep the drums very human and push them way into the front. Often I’ll mix to get the Boom & Bap to dominate and it sets a pedestal for the emcee, but since this project is intentionally instrumental I wanted to let that polyrhythmic aspect of rhymes fall on the ghost note work on the snare and the hi-hat. Then push the Boom Bap back in a bit. It’s a delicate balance.”L4LM: Rest assured, every element is lining up right on this record. Great balance, on so many levels. There are a few features on the record. How did they come about? Headnodic: We were blessed with some amazing performances on this project. Chris Karns came in and laid down an amazing harmonica solo, made even more amazing when you take in the fact that he did with a turntable (it’ll make sense when you hear it). We also got some of my Crown City Rockers family Kat O1O & Raashan Ahmad as well as DJ Cutso (from the Bangerz) on a joint. As for the future, who knows? It’s just good to know that we only need an hour or so to get busy like this.L4LM: Adam Deitch, with some final thoughts on Headnodic, the First Takes album release (premiering on Live for Live Music), and the big question everyone wants to know: can the people hold out hope for some kind of live performances of this material with Ethan? AD: Most competent musicians I knew in the mid 90s weren’t even thinking of making their own tracks. Ethan was already doing that. His production aesthetic was an influence on my style of beats and it was a total honor for me to collaborate with him in this way. For this release, we decided to drop it for free, we were inspired by the “Pretty Lights method” of releasing music. And we absolutely will try to play a few shows in 2017 (schedules permitting).Words/Interview: B. GetzPhotos by John Coyne, Leo Docuyanan, B.a.D. PhotographyDon’t miss Adam Deitch pulling double duty at the upcoming Fool’s Paradise, playing with host band Lettuce as well as an exciting collaboration between Break Science and Manic Focus dubbed Manic Science. More information about the festival, which is held in St. Augustine, FL from March 31 – April 1, can be found here.