Rapper, producer and activist Sammus has a new album, Pieces in Space, coming out October 28 via Don Giovanni Records and NuBlack Music Group. To celebrate the release, Sammus created this playlist of some of her favorite instrumental tracks. Enjoy!
–Dave Lucas, Talkhouse Marketing Manager
I was producing beats long before I ever began rapping, so I will always have a special place in my heart for a beautiful instrumental track. When Talkhouse hit me up about putting together a playlist, I decided to gather some of my favorite instrumentals and put them in one place for your listening pleasure. While some of the songs reflect my deep love of the bleeps and bloops of video game music, other songs were included because of their ability to take me on a unique journey.
Com Truise – “Brokendate”
As someone who has largely drawn her production influences from the music of video games, I feel a deep connection to Com Truise’s production style. His music updates many of the ’80s-era sonic elements that reflect the aesthetics of early Nintendo in a way that still manages to evoke a deep nostalgia. His song “Brokendate” makes me want to simultaneously cry, dance and melt into a puddle of pixels
Ellen Allien – “Open”
I’ve been listening to German electronic producer Ellen Allien since a friend burned me a CD copy of her album Berlinette in high school. Allien’s music always pulses with dynamism, rich with unexpected flourishes. “Open” — a song that makes me want to run as determinedly as the main character in the famous German movie Run Lola Run –is probably my favorite track of hers.
Suzi Analogue – “Style Warz”
Suzi Analogue is a master producer. Her sound ranges widely from classic r&b jams like “Smoke” to more jungle-influenced tracks like “#000000 Nn da Club.” But it is her execution of drum and bass music that makes her one of my favorite producers. From the theme of Bomberman Hero for the N64 to much of the music in the Playstation game Ape Escape, drum and bass production has been a large part of the soundtrack of my life. Her track “Style Warz” could easily provide the backdrop for any number of video games — I’m thinking the boss theme in an intergalactic video game starring yours truly as a bounty hunter.
Daft Punk – “Revolution 909”
Daft Punk was one of the first artists that I ever gravitated toward independently of the influence of my older brother. I still recall purchasing their debut album Homework on cassette with my allowance money after falling in love with the music videos for “Da Funk” and “Around the World.” Although most of the other songs on the album were quite jarring to me at the time, I gravitated toward “Revolution 909.” Even as a fairly shy child, I had an intense urge to dance for hours whenever I played the song (just remember not to play it while you’re driving as the sirens at the beginning of the song can be quite distressing).
DJ Shadow – “High Noon”
The next selection comes from DJ Shadow, an artist whose production prowess is maybe only topped by his ability to perfectly name an instrumental track, the difficulty of which is certainly not lost on me. Although it was hard to settle on sharing just one DJ Shadow track, I selected “High Noon” because I’ve always loved the way the unrelenting drums and orchestral flourishes combine to truly paint a picture of a New Age Western culminating in a deadly midday shoot out.
The Cinematic Orchestra – “Flite”
I don’t think I need to say much more about “Flite” by the Cinematic Orchestra other than that you should listen to it over and over again.
Yellow Magic Orchestra – “Rydeen”
While we’re on the topic of orchestras, I first learned about the Japanese electronic pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra during my first year in graduate school. A friend of mine who was studying Japanese hip hop introduced YMO to me as a group with an unmistakable influence on much of the video game music that had come to define my adolescence. When I first heard the song “Rydeen,” I cried as though I was being introduced to long lost family members.
Todd Terje – “Delorean Dynamite”
Todd Terje’s 2014 project It’s Album Time is the only thing I listen to when I go to the gym. The album leads me smoothly through a warmup into my ideal running pace and then back into a nice cool down. In particular, I can’t get enough of the song “Delorean Dynamite,” a song that makes me feel like I am actually transforming into a DeLorean in a Kung Fury-like sequence across a classic ’80s virtual reality grid.
Dâm-Funk – “Fantasy”
Many people know Dâm-Funk’s “Fantasy” as the production underneath Theophilus London’s 2010 jam, “ACCEPT THE NEW.” No shade to Mr. London, but when I first heard the track I was far more interested in hearing it sans vocals. After a first listen of Dâm-Funk’s project Toeachizown, I became obsessed with his unique brand of futurist g-funk. It was the song “Fantasy” that deserves recognition here if only because it’s been stuck in my head for at least a month per year since 2011.
D Nilsz – “Patience”
Full disclosure: D Nilsz is my NuBlack Music Group labelmate. But I promise that even if he were not I would feel compelled to include his music in this playlist. As far back as I’ve been taking music very seriously, D Nilsz has been making smooth, bass heavy remixes and jams that provide the perfect backdrop for any kickback. In fact, my decision to partner with NuBlack Music Group in 2012 was largely because of my knowledge that D Nilsz was a part of the label. Listen to “Patience” and then try to have some as you wait for his next drop.
(Photo credit: Zooloo Brown)