Things Done Changed: Madnice Marauders present Abstract Orchestra Does Dilla
Written by Tom Lye on 22nd February 2017
Madnice Marauders have been promoting all things soulful for some years now… 5 years to be precise. It seems very apt that they return to the premise of their inaugural party, way back in February 2012, as they pay homage to the late, great J Dilla, a producer who has arguably influenced and informed all of the parties that they have put on since.
After seeing the likes of Nightmares on Wax and Tall Black Guy join the Madnice Selectors at their last party, it’s fair to say that expectations were high for their birthday celebrations in collaboration with Bam!Bam!Bam! This milestone took place on Saturday 18th February, when they invited the sensational Abstract Orchestra to perform a 16-piece interpretation of J Dilla productions down at 24 Kitchen Street. Accompanying this skilful ensemble was Sound Signature affiliate Ge-ology and KAT Records owner Ste Hodge.
The party was a clear example of the ethos behind Madnice, one which pays respect to the past, with eyes and ears very much focused on the present and future. As we sat down with the Madnice Selectors a few weeks back, they said ‘We certainly don’t try to pick our gigs around historic moments in time’. This one, however, was very much established in order to pay homage to the untimely passing of James Yancey aka J Dilla in the same month, 11 years prior. This classical interpretation of his productions had one foot in the past, with another firmly in the future.
Beginning the night, the KAT Records owner Ste Hodge treated the growing crowd to a selection of funk, balearic and disco edits from his label before stepping aside as the magnificent 16-piece Abstract Orchestra took to the stage. Many exclaimed that they had never seen such a sight, with the Kitchen Street stage (and sound engineer!) used to accommodating a vastly smaller set up. However, the ambience was spot on, and the stage set-up foreshadowed the size of the spectacle about to be witnessed.
There were vocalists, guitarists, a drummer, keys and a fantastically diverse brass and woodwind section. With their instruments fine-tuned, the group began to meticulously recreate some of Dilla’s best known beats. Led by saxophonist Rob Mitchell, the big band played memorable productions such as Slum Village’s seminal ‘Fall in Love’ and his 2001 classic re-fix of Donald Byrd’s ‘Think Twice.’ With the capacity crowd happily dancing to the early pieces, the orchestra was joined on stage by the band’s emcee, and they moved on to some of Dilla’s lyrical numbers including Love and So Far To Go, from The Shining LP.
The celebration marked the 11th year since James Yancey’s passing, but the atmosphere was wholly positive. Not only did the Abstract Orchestra do Dilla and his music justice, they brought people together. Guests of all ages and backgrounds stepped and swayed together on the dancefloor, brought together for a night in celebration of true music. It really goes to show the influence that the man has had on our music culture.
Despite an understandably lengthy crossover period as the Abstract Orchestra departed the stage, the Madnice Selectors held it down with an informed collection of classic hip-hop records before New York’s very own Ge-ology took to the decks with his own selection. The Rawkus affiliate gifted the sadly dwindling crowd to an impressive Liverpool debut. With percussive obscurities (no ID on that one unfortunately) mixed in with better known releases, Ge-ology took us on a real journey. Following the release of Moon Circuitry, the NYC OG came correct, donning a Sounds Familiar tee as he moved through breakbeat house and grooving disco. Sounds Familiar are certainly one to look out for as they continually maintain a critically acclaimed roster featuring some of the most respected artists around today including Dego, Alexander Nut and of course Ge-ology.
As the night came to a close, something just felt right. Whilst many were rightly enticed by Dilla, many others had also come to witness a city debut in Ge-ology. Others, still, came simply because they know and trust that Madnice have a good vibe. Consistently in collaboration with other heads in Liverpool, their next party sees them team up once again with Bam!Bam!Bam! to bring Grammy Award winner Thudercat to the Invisible Wind Factory.
Not one to miss.