A musical polymath, D moonlights as the impossibly tight drummer in Ralph Lawson's live house outfit 20:20 Soundsystem. Having honed his chops on the road, he was also the warm-up DJ on many of the dates of their recent world tour. The new album is the fruit of both his streamlined seasoned playing and the myriad of influences absorbed as an unrepentant music nut. "I'm really just a mad music head and record junkie," he grinned. "I buy jazz records, funk, soul, loads of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban stuff, reggae, hip-hop, soul, house, techno, funk - anything which grabs me with swing and groove." Which, of course, is the way it should be, especially if that translates to such a strong and varied album as 'Playin' Out'.
One of the finest moments is the bittersweet hip-hop bump of 'Still Love You (J.Dilla R.I.P.)', in which D doffs his New Era cap to the futuristic, star-gazing hip-hop producer J Dilla, who died last year from a long-term debilitating disease. Characterised by the clipped, sample snippet style of his hero, it's as funky as it is affecting. "The death of J. Dilla was a tragedy. I'm really glad that he's seen so much recognition in the wake of his passing," said D. "Over last summer we hammered his album 'Donuts' when we were on tour and it was an inspiration for this album in so many ways, as well as specifically for this track."
A million miles from the wistful feeling of that tribute track is the electro funk boogie of 'Woof'. With its live drums, synth bass and funky guitar licks, it marks a turning point in the album towards a more upbeat sound. 'Wriggle' is a sub-acid house mover that does what is says on the tin, and 'Coleman' dives deep into the Detroit pool with mysterioso pads and Theo Parrish vibes all over it. "Now, and always, the jazzier Detroit-esque sounds are doing it for me," D opined. Of course, D's live drums and percussion are an important factor of his style and they can be heard all over 'Playin' Out'. "This album actually has a lot more 'live' playing on it than the last one," he reflected. "I'm better set up to record now and have been having fun mixing up the playing and the programmed elements."
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