In 1956, composer John Cage predicted that “in the future, records will be made from records.”
I came to that philosophy via bassist, producer, and theorist of-sorts Bill Laswell in 2016, and it’s changed the way I listen to music. The thought can be used and perceived in terms of sampling or repurposing an idea, sound, or concept—or simply falling in love with a particular production style or arrangement.
I am still moved by the way Prince, an artist who certainly made records from records, ruled over all the possibilities associated with the Linn LM-1 drum machine. Nobody has been able to replicate his mastery of that tool, evident in the cold blip of “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” to the rhythmic tap-bang of “The Beautiful Ones.”
Let’s add that people who like records make great records.
Madison McFerrin is one of them.
The San Francisco-born, Los Angeles-based, singer-songwriter McFerrin released her debut album I Hope You Can Forgive Me a couple of weeks back. She will be performing here in SF at The Independent on June 2. The LP represents an evolution in her career, a moment in which she has stepped up and taken the reins to self-produce, ultimately doubling down on her own ideas, and trusting her impulses. That’s her arranging, playing bass, and synth.
She produced 70 percent of the album, and it shows her talents at their peak. Made during the pandemic, the project is a showcase for her at-times tender and uncrowded vocal intonations, looping refrains, and sophisticated charts.
Her father, the jazz-folk vocalist Gawd who is Bobby McFerrin, is the only feature on the project. Their collaboration “Run” makes a symphonic blend of two inventive vocalists from different generations, joining to form a stylish bumper of jazz, funk, electronic, and soul.
A low-key bop—family-friendly too, it goes. Stuff of legends.
She took time out of her busy tour schedule to talk with 48hills about five albums that inspired her. We are forever grateful.
HIATUS KAIYOTE, TAWK TOMAHAWK
“I heard this the day it dropped and listened to nothing else for a week straight. I instantly fell in love with the production blended with Nai’s vocals.”
STEVIE WONDER, INNERVISIONS
“Some of my all-time favorite musical moments are on this record. The last minute of ‘Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing’ alone is unbeatable.”
RADIOHEAD, KID A
“The sound design on this record is incredible; it is equally simple and complex. I find something new with every listen.”
ARTHUR VEROCAL, S/T
“Flawless album from start to finish. The string arrangements are definitely some of my favorites—they make me feel like I’m on the beach in Rio.”
ERYKAH BADU, NEW AMERYKAH PART TWO
“The songwriting on this album is amazing. Erykah has a way of painting such vivid pictures with her lyrics. It’s good every time.”
MADISON MCFERRIN with Lalin St. Juste and DJ Wonway Posibul. June 2, doors 8:30pm, show 9pm. The Independent, SF. Tickets and more info here.