July 11, 2000
makes so much sense you wonder why nobodys 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 trios 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
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.
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 DJs). 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
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.