Live Human

Full Discography

  • Elefish Jellyphant - ole-425 - 2000-07-11



Elefish Jellyphant 
July 11, 2000

"This makes so much sense you wonder why nobody’s bothered to try it before." — Hip Hop Connection 

Live Human is Carlos Aguilar (DJ Quest), Andrew Kushin and Albert Mathias. Their critically acclaimed "pocket orchestra" of turntables, double bass, trap drums and samplers was born in 1996 in San Francisco. 

The music of Live Human occupies a unique niche in the genres of both free-improvised sound/music and instrumental hip-hop. All three musicians bring to the ensemble a strong sense of tradition from their own experiences playing and performing in diverse musical situations. Live shows consist not of sets of written "songs," but make use of "live sampling" in which they freely draw from original compositions to recreate and perpetually recontextualize their own music. This is spontaneous improvisation without the utilization of overt jazz idioms. Live Human, in their name, reflect the honesty of their musical intentions: to subvert the old, impersonal sample and reinstate the human element -- the voice in the machine. 

In 1997, Live Human produced their debut LP, Live Human featuring DJ Quest, on Cosmic Records. The recording was compiled from a single studio session and released as a vinyl-only, limited edition of 1000 copies. Later that year, London-based Fat Cat Records licensed four of the tracks and released them in the UK and Europe as Live Human: Improvisessions. The 12" received widespread critical recognition which contributed to the realization of the trio’s second LP, Monostereosis: The New Victrola Method, released in Europe on Fat Cat in May 1999 and subsequently in the US on Hip Hop Slam in March 2000. 

Their most recent studio recording, Elefish Jellyphant, was recorded in two weeks last winter in Oakland by Kae Gregor, and was mixed by the group and Christopher Forrest. Consistent in method with their previous recordings, the compositions on Elefish Jellyphant were drawn from live studio improvisations which were then further shaped through the processes of improvising overdubs and mixing down individual tracks. 

The approach towards Elefish Jellyphant, in respect to content and arrangement, was that the whole album should play as a continuous mix, conceived as interconnected movements rather than individual songs. The emphasis was on creating tracks that were not only internally engaging, but which worked together as a whole to transport the ear of the listener. This is a living, improvised hip-hop-grown music that draws its own landscape -- a terrain from filmic to funk to fucked -- to provide contour in the flatland of breakbeat. 

Carlos Aguilar (DJ Quest) is a founding member of the world-renowned DJ crew Space Travelers (formerly Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters) and co-author of Hamster Breaks (the original breakbeat record made specifically for scratch DJ’s). His style is virtuostic and he is able to use the turntables to ’speak’ with the same degree of precision and expression as one would expect from the master of a more ’traditional’ musical instrument. He performs and records as a soloist and ensemble musician and appears as a guest on numerous albums. 

Albert Mathias is a multi-percussionist whose innate understanding of the relationship between pulse & time is what truly ’humanizes’ the beats all too often left to the inarticulateness of drum machines. His credits range from producing solo recordings and compositions for live movement to classical North Indian percussion and hand drums to performing and touring dance festivals and universities as a guest accompanist/teacher and composer. 

Andrew Kushin employs his knowledge of the double bass to keep the instrument up to date, so to speak, drawing on a compendium of extended technique and spacious grooves to communicate like glue in collusion with the turntables, samples and live drums. He is a member of the experimental string ensemble, Closer To Carbon, and co-founder of Out Of Round Records. Prior to Live Human, Kushin and Mathias performed together in the interdisciplinary performance group, Contraband, and the "free jazz" trio, Thread, with saxophonist, Charles Sharp.

Pre-blog News

07/21/00 — Live Human — 
’cause Peter Shapiro said so.
The trio proclaimed by The Wire’s Stone Cold Peter Shapiro as “ass-kicking” will be doing their non-violent thing live this Saturday, July 22 on, from 4pm-9pm Pacific time. We don’t know exactly what time the Live Human performance will begin and end, but we can’t think of a better excuse to stare at a screen for several hours. And while we’re on that subject, all of these so-called “reality” tv programs are just a pathetic attempt to cripple the actors’ union. What would you rather see, Robert Urich emoting, or some nobody trying to start a campfire? Take your time with this one.

Live Human — Glad we got to the bottom of this.
“KUSF/Live Human moratorium — an update for the gravely concerned: A trustworthy and (some would argue) handsome, source has confirmed that the reactionary, and (some would argue) severe sentence that was levied against Live Human several months ago by the notable radio station KUSF, has been repealed. For a review of events leading up to the recently lifted ban see News Item: ‘Things Are Getting Sticky’ (April 24, 2000, just below). Due to an overwhelming demand for the offending stickers, please limit one per customer — while supplies last.”

Downloadable on the double 
Starting today, “Elephants’ Bliss” from the jaw-droppingly brilliant upcoming Live Human album, ‘Elefish Jellyphant’ is available from this site in MP3. Enjoy it, learn from it, and most of all, get ready to buy it. 

Live Human will be performing at Amoeba Records in San Francisco (Haight Street) on Friday, July 14th, 2000 at 7PM, to celebrate the release of ‘Elefish Jellyphant.’ Some did mention that maybe drinks with friends and a quiet evening at a nice restaurant is also a good way to celebrate, but it’s too late now. We’ve booked the advertisements and rented the P.A.

Live Human - Things Are Getting Sticky 
A moratorium on playing the music of Live Human has been put into effect at KUSF (University of San Francisco). Allegedly, someone of great influence was offended after discovering several tastefully placed, self-adhesive decals bearing the band's logo on or near the control room. There is currently no information on the proposed duration of the ban. Free stickers available upon request. Send a SASE to 134 Steiner St. San Francisco, CA 94117 Limit one nuisance per customer. 

The 2nd full-length from San Francisco’s Live Human , ‘Elefish Jellyphant’ has just been completed and is scheduled for Matador release this summer. Albert, Andrew and DJ Quest’s previous full-length, ‘Monostereosis,’ has just been reissued in the U.S. by Hip Hop Slam. If you'd like to read about Live Human (and you know you would), there's a fine article about them that can be found at the San Francisco Weekly. If you’re pressed for time and feel like trusting us, here's the scoop — Live Human obliterate musical divisions and serve as superglue between elements of improvisational jazz, experimental hip hop, daredevil turntablism and live sampling. Their previous releases on Fat Cat and their own Cosmic label have set pretty high standards to match, but we sincerely doubt anyone will be disappointed in ‘Elefish Jellyfant.’

Live Human 
are toiling away in a place they like to call “the studio” working on their Matador debut. Prior to this monumental release, Hip Hop Slam will be reissuing last year’s Monosterosis on March 12. No less an authority than Damon Albarn has called Live Human his favorite new British band, which is no small achievement seeing as they are from San Francisco. 

You might’ve guessed this was in the works, especially if you caught Live Human’s amazing guest appearance at last September’s Nice Weekend in London concerts. But now it is official, the San Francisco trio of drummer Albert Mathias, bassist Andrew Kushin and DJ Quest, collectively known as Live Human, have signed with Matador. A new full length album is planned for 2000. If you haven't heard their previous recordings (one self-released LP on the Cosmic label, a devestating pair of 12"’s on Fat Cat “Improvisessions” and “Orange Bush Monkey Flower,” a Fat Cat LP/CD called “Monosterosis” that might be the best album of 1999), you’re missing out big time. Live Human are destroying whatever barriers exist between improvised jazz, underground hip-hop and experimental rock... and creating a category or 2 no one has named yet. We'll have more info, pictures and music for you to wade through before long. In the meantime, for more information about Live Human's previous releases, check out Fat Cat Records.

One week to go before our first nice weekend — this one in London. We have some line-up changes to report. Pole will not be appearing due to a scheduling conflict. Filling in, graciously, will be a mindblowing trio from SF, CA by the name of Live Human. Their 2 12"’s and recent LP, Monostereosis (Fat Cat) are among our recent favorites.Live Human’s startling combination of live sampling, scratching, upright bass, all-improv., etc. pretty much wipes out whatever divisions existed between free jazz, hip hop and avant rock. But check them out and decide for yourself.

Music & Video

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