Eric Kamen (a.k.a. E)
CD Label: etraxxx.com
Eric Kamen lives in two worlds, as a producer in Hip Hop and R & B and as E with his own recording endeavors on an album called Native Unit. All tracks were composed, produced, engineered, and played by Eric Kamen on the new release. When you read something like this its-ok, people do this all the time, all you have to do is mix it, right? Well, there is a little more to it than that. First, you must be very diverse, knowing all your instruments are obviously a key component even if they were produced electronically. Putting together a composition, then pulling all of it together with today's technology is the final step. This man did it all; I congratulate him wholeheartedly because the results are nothing less than superb. Besides the guitar, there is a lot of midi music, and to my surprise, it sounds very good. It all has a nice body and texture to it and I think the guitar is what makes it all sound so colorful. Far be it me to put down electronic and processed music, hey, if can sound this good, go for it! I guess it all depends on who is manipulating it. It is definitely the Spanish Guitar that lays the foundation though, everything else is the bricks to build the house on.
The music on Native Unit is all-instrumental. Actually, I like to call this instrumental bliss-when I refer to a CD in this light it means I loved it. Instrumental jazz fusion is the modus operandi here, and it comes at you from all corners of the globe. I heard African rhythms, Middle-Eastern moods, Latin, and Flamenco guitar, World, all of this and more with an underlying foundation that I believe stems from the blues. It makes sense that it all started with the blues, although this music does not sound anything like it, I know that most music of this nature was the offspring of the genre, and so was jazz, so when you put that all together you have steaming brew, a multicultural musical delicatessen.
I work with young rappers, R&B and neo-soul singers, day in, and day out. I love it and I am becoming increasing successful at it. We have deals on the table with a number of the majors as we speak.
But, today's music is so formulaic, in terms of chord progressions, beats, choice of sounds, etc. that it does not give me enough opportunity to push myself anywhere close to my playing abilities. As you well know, today's formula is all about coming up with a catchy 'chicken scratch' riff and a catchy hook and then looping the shit out of it for 4 minutes.
I simply got an irresistible craving to really play-like I used to when I was a kid-so I put aside 12 tracks that I had developed for various artists and instead of recording their voices, I laid in a few tracks of Spanish guitar or acoustic piano (both of which I have played since I was around 9 years old). All the guitar and piano playing was improvised - literally first takes — because I did not have enough time in my schedule to compete with paying customers. I believe that part of what makes the project feel so cool is that you (me too!) can feel the excitement of hearing it come out for the first time.
I never envisioned that anyone would ever hear it (other than my wife — the woman on the cover). I asked the bartender at the restaurant around the corner from where we live (West 90th Street, NY) if he would play it, late one night — just so that I could hear how the mix sounded in a larger space. To my surprise, three people immediately came up to the bar and asked what it was. I gave them all free copies (no artwork, nor even a title, at that point, just CDs I burned in our studio). I then started to ask other Upper West Side restaurants, which my wife and I frequent, to play it and, across-the-board, it was a big success and they are still playing it! — Many months later.
It is always so fascinating to hear what and who is behind the music you are hearing. The commentary from the artist closes the circle if you will on this review. Eric Kamen is an interesting individual with music that matches his personality.