ALI LOVE BRINGS LATE NIGHT VIBES BACK ON P.U.M.P.
ALI LOVE BRINGS LATE NIGHT VIBES BACK ON P.U.M.P.
By DJ Pangburn MTV Iggy
If you’re not already acquainted with electronic music artist Ali Love, then get on it. While crafting a vast array of dance music over roughly the last decade, he’s also lent his vocals to the Chemical Brothers on “Do It Again” and Justice’s “Civilization.” Always moving, always shaking, Love is a one-man club soundtrack machine. His latest album, P.U.M.P., is, as Love noted, the fruit of six or seven years of mayhem and parties.
“All of the tracks I’ve been making with people all have got this late night, slightly weird and hedonistic feel, and they’re all quite fun. In a way, I didn’t know I was making the album. It was making itself,” says Love
Conceptually,P.U.M.P. coalesced over three years of recording sessions. What could be a random collection of tracks instead effortlessly fuse into Love’s late night dream. It’s all a bit tongue-in-cheek, with Love insisting he’s not bearing his soul to anyone. As a party album, the presentation is light. Think of it as a bonus album for those already following Love’s musical trajectory.
With his band Hot Natured, it’s always something of a contest to lay down the best bass line. There is, as Love explained, a definite competition among he and his bandmates. But, whenever Love gets a chance to do it all himself as the multi-instrumentalist, as he did on P.U.M.P., he relishes the opportunity. “It’s meditative, but also sort of dictatorship,” Love says, in describing his solo writing and recording process.
Though Love serves as the unequivocal multi-instrumentalist “dictator” on P.U.M.P., he emphasized that a lot of people hung around the flats and studios where he lived and recorded. So, in a way, it was still a collaborative effort. “Obviously these are dance-orientated tracks, some of which were recorded above a club in East London, On the Rocks (now Basing House). The club is downstairs, and people were coming in and out, and there were parties going on all around. Three or four of these tracks were also recorded with Drew McConnell from Babyshambles in our house in North London a few years back. It was an indie rock place, but still really inspirational,” he reminisces.
Love said the title cut was recorded while looking out on the Hollywood Hills. “It’s been kind of a journey, as I’ve been to a lot of different places in the recording process,” he says.
There is also an undercurrent of funk coursing through P.U.M.P., especially on “Deep Into The Night,” a track that, like the record as a whole, runs counter to a lot of the minimalist, maximalist, and experimental electronic music of recent years. This funk DNA also flies in the face of the garage aesthetic recently popularized by the likes of Disclosure. “I basically learned to play guitar and bass playing along to ’70s and ’80s funk and reggae records,” Love said. “I guess it’s the music I like the most, so it kind of comes through, though there are a lot of housey tracks on the album, but they’re something of a hybrid,” Love reflects.
This swimming against current dance trends likely has something to do with Love making music for his peers and friends. So, when he plays “Deep Into The Night” at an after party, it creates his ideal late-night atmosphere.
“I think that was the mission objective withP.U.M.P., and I’m happy with it on an artistic level,” Love said. “Albums these days are kind of like calling cards, and they just keep you in the mix. After the last album I did [2010’s Love Harder], I got to work with Justice because they’d heard the record and liked it. This helped with the next steps I took for P.U.M.P..”
When he finished “Deep Into The Night,” the rest of the album just came together naturally. Four or five other tracks could have made the cut, but what exists on P.U.M.P., in Love’s opinion, flows quite nicely.
A quick glance at the album’s tracklisting also reveals Love’s penchant for jokes. “Jesus On Acid” and “Pussy,” to name just two, don’t exist simply to provoke but to reveal the producer’s prankster tendencies. “There’s this old rave tape, and the MC from the mid-’90s was clearly out of his mind. All he said over the really hardcore beats was ‘Jesus on acid,’ and it always stuck in mind,” Love recalls.
The sample was taken, as Love explains, from some recording of a “’60s hippie guy taking peyote.” So, it made sense to Love to call the track “Jesus On Acid.” As for “Pussy,” it’s pure silliness. There is no grand meaning, and Borgore he is not. “I like it, but I don’t know if it’s offensive, and I don’t care,” he adds.
This whacky workflow can also be found on Love’s choice of instrumentation for P.U.M.P., including the flute with its jazzy harmony lines, and the presence of a kazoo.“A lot of the record was made on a 24-track recorder, not on a computer, so I was quite limited in what I could to do. Instead of a saxophone, I used a kazoo with a lot of delay effects. I like the challenge of limitations. How can I get an indie version of a G-funk track in London with hardly any equipment? That’s the challenge,” he says.
This silliness extends to P.U.M.P.‘s cover art as well, inspired as it was by Mills & Boon books. These kitschy covers for books from the ’70s, as Love put it, visually represented the “really tacky love stories” that lay inside. So, Love decided to take one of these covers and superimpose his face on a turbaned figure. The result is something that almost resembles an old cinema poster for Lawrence of Arabia.
While that movie was an obvious inspiration for the album sleeve, Love said it also grew out of his love for Terry Gilliam (Brazil, in particular) and Monty Python films. The figure’s turban, on the other hand, grew out of Love’s preferred headgear for parties. “When I get really high and party, I’m usually wearing headware, headbands, or turbins,” he reveals.
For album closer “Ride On,” a smooth blend of house and R&B, Love collaborated with Art Department’s Kenny Glasgow. Given the track’s ease, it’s hard to believe Love recorded it the night the two met at producer Jamie Jones’ house, a meeting ground through which the likes of Seth Troxler, Soul Clap, and others would pass. Love calls it an “international melting pot of tribes,” and a focal point for the new house scene that is currently emerging.
“Glasgow and I just stayed up for 24 hours and made the tune, and it was a really inspiring night,” Love recalled. “At the end of the night, we all looked around and said, ‘Wow, what’s this?’ A little bit later on, I got all of the parts and pieced it all together because it was kind of rough obviously. Since then, Kenny has been a really good friend.”
It’s this “Wow, what’s this?” vibe that animates P.U.M.P., and sets it apart as one of the better dance releases of 2014. With the album out now, Love said he’s about to play some live shows. He admits he’s nervous, but if he can translate late night vibe found on the album for a live setting, then it’s hard to imagine the artist and his fans having nothing less than a rollicking, early morning good time.