- Megaton b/w Classical Homicide - ole-483 - 2000-11-14
A chance meeting and subsequent college friendship starts the dälek story. As classmates at William Paterson College, Will Brooks (dälek) and Alap Momin (The Oktopus) began a musical partnership that would spawn some of the most progressive Hip Hop music ever heard. dälek’s sound is instantly reminiscent of Public Enemy, Beach Boys (a la Pet Sounds), Eric B and Rakim, Gang Starr and My Bloody Valentine. Although the references may sound schizophrenic, there is a beauty to the groups ostensible coherence. Fusing their sound from elements of Rock, Psychadelica, Jazz, indigenous South Asian and African music has brought dälek a loyal following and praise as flagbearers for a new, vital generation of Hip-Hop.
Growing up in Newark, dälek had the benefits of growing up in a multi-cultural environment. At home, Merengue and Salsa provided the soundtrack of family life. Fantastic rhythms, talented voices and charismatic instrumentalists made an indelible impression upon him early on. At school, he felt the powerful insurgence of hip hop as an urban art form. Friday and Saturday nights belonged to the radio. DJ’s like Red Alert, Marley Marl and Mr. Magic kept everyone in touch with the latest jams and helped create the landscape of the genre and set the groundwork for the phenomenal talent which emerged to create the East Coast sound. dälek’s open-mindedness allowed him to merge these somewhat obvious influences with his love of less obvious artists like Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, King Crimson and Slayer.
dälek took to performance at an early age. In the 7th grade he was the DJ in a neighborhood group. He started to buy records and perform at house parties. He first picked up a mic at 13 and sharpened his skills in groups like Sounds, Second Verse and Head Shrinkers. His switch from DJ to MC came suddenly. At a party, some kid asked him if he could take over the wheels for a few minutes. The skills of Rudy Chicata, later to be known as DJ Rek, showed him that he was in the wrong game in some other league. This rivalry turned into a friendship that has lasted for years and led to dälek’s introduction to the SP-12 sampler and track production.
College marked an important period for dälek. He had an opportunity to widen his tastes further to include Jazz pioneers like Coltrane, Monk, Mingus and Miles Davis. This is where he also first met his eventual collaborator, The Oktopus. Working on early demos at Oktopus’s studio, they soon discovered that they had a great deal more in common.
As their relationship grew, they both realized that they needed to make a decision, finish school or concentrate on music now. dälek chose the latter, he used his college grant check to buy an MPC-3000 sampler. The pieces were in place for these two to start working together on an album. Originally, The Oktopus was to engineer the record, but this role expanded rapidly. dälek realized that his own forte was pre-production, specifically beat manufacture. The Oktopus took one of dälek’s first creations on the MPC and arranged the disparate samples and beats into an intelligible structure and added additional samples and overdubs. Once arranged, dälek would then let this finished track inform his lyric writing. These two developed a musical brotherhood, separate talents, one mind, no boundaries.
This relationship inevitably led to Negro, Necro, Nekros (Gern Blandsten Records, 1998). This record, praised as a contribution to the next wave of Hip-Hop was lauded by Alternative Press, Hip Hop Connection (UK), Time Out NY, Thrasher Magazine, and The Cleveland Scene, to name but a few. It was raw and unbound. This five-track collage established them as risk takers, not afraid to include a track consisting of nine minutes of feedback (“Praise Be The Man”) alongside the straight-ahead “Three Rocks Blessed.” They toured to support this release and moved diverse audiences with their innovative live show that transcends the ordinary “two turntables, hands in the air” vibe of most Hip-Hop shows. These shows grabbed the attention of Melody Maker and New York Press, along with a host of college and underground press outlets.
Matador will be releasing a new 12" recording where dälek collaborates with Techno Animal and utilizes the turntable skills of DJ Rek on “Classical Homicide.” This track, a testimonial, of sorts, directly addresses their quest to create eclectic music that moves, informs and challenges while remaining pure to its influences. Their remix of Techno Animal’s “Megaton,” exhibits the group’s eclectic sound as it is a more ethereal, spacious track.
Since the Matador recording, DJ Rek has gone on to pursue a solo career in House music production. As such, the group has picked up Long Island native, Turntablist/Producer Still (Hsi-Chang Lin). Still, who shares the group’s open minded love of music, was a long time fan who impressed dälek by stepping behind their turntables on stage before the band performed in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Although he is the youngest member of the group, Still is a mature musician who holds under his belt an impressive contemporary musical knowledge base, as well as over 12 years of classical training on the String Bass.
dälek share a musical philosophy which breathes a new life in the increasingly stagnant world of sampling. The group is constantly finding new ways to appropriate and reconstruct, rather than record and replay, the individual pieces of their sonic collages. In the complexity of their pastiche lies a genius born of diverse referencing with a remarkable breath of musical knowledge. Considering their musical influences, it becomes too easy to label the group “fusion,” or to attempt to label their sound after a list of “post’s” and “quasi’s.” The truth is that dälek reinforces, rather than challenges, the experimental imperatives which gave birth to the sub-cultural sound of hip hop. dälek are masters of sampling, for their music is consistently inventive, raw and fiercely unpretentious.
09/21/00 —dälek & Techno Animal
The first Matador release from Techno Animal will be a split single with Newark, NJ’s dälek, “Megaton” (T.A.) b/w “Classical Homicide” (dälek), coming on November 14. Although this single is part of our ongoing Hip Hop 12" Series, you could say that Techno Animal & dälek are hip hop much the way the neutron bomb was a big firecracker. This is hip hop... and everything else that matters. Both groups will commemorate the release of this single with an October/November 2000 tour of Germany and Switzerland (please check our tour dates section).