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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ellis D - Free Your Mind

Name: Ellis "D"
Album: Free Your Mind
Year: 1989
Style: Techno, Dance, Electronic, House
Similar Artists: Shep Pettibone, C + C Music Factory, Manuel Gottsching, Nu Shooz, Bjork Remixes
One Word Review:
Based Out Of: New York City (from Lancaster PA)
Label: Minimal Records, Criminal records
 Free Your Mind - Cover & Record

Free Your Mind - Back & Record
Free Your Mind (1989)
  1. Gotstobeadrag - 5:08
  2. You Got Me Burnin' 5:29
  3. Jungle Jam 5:04
  4. Took My Love Away 4:12
  5. Acid Rain 5:00 /
  6. I Will Survive 6:10
  7. Cum On U Can Git It 4:34
  8. It's Paradise 8:19
  9. Just Like a Queen 6:06
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Junior Vasquez (Donald Gregory Mattern) - Producer, Writer, Realizer, Vocals, Drum Programming, Mixing, Editing, Cover Concept (The Factory Kids, V-Men, too many credits to mention)
Mark Plati - Engineer, Drum Programming, Keys (Janet Jackson, BEF, BADII, David Bowie)
Steve Wellner - Asst. Engineer
Steve Doria - EAsst. Engineer
Wendy Paff - Cover Concept
Tracy Mostrovoy - Photography
David Bronstein - Photo Asst.
KFC - food
Empire Szechuan - food
Jane & Duffy - Management

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this project. I see on the back the name Junior Vasquez is mentioned as being the man being Ellis D, and I have heard of him as a DJ and techno artist. It is a weird juxtaposition, with the name being an obvious play on the drug LSD, yet there being lots of anti-drug, and goddy verbiage on the back. I assume it will just be some decent electronic, sampling and club music.

Album Review: Junior Vasquez, originally from Lancaster, PA, has been a DJ in NYC for many years, and still will spin a s a DJ around the world. This era of his career as Ellis D has been attributed to creating the sound of House music, and more specifically gay house music, so says Wikipedia.
“Gotstobeadrag” begins with a creepy castle organ note, and the sampled phrase “got to be a drag” is skipped and scratched over the top. A variety of jungle deep bass and percussive elements are bonded together, along with early 90’s synth. The momentum of the title hiccupping carries the song along. About half way through there is a skipping female vocals sample plugged in, that eventually smooths out to a soulful “Stand up tell everybody I’ve got it”
“You Got Me Burnin’” begins with a steady bass drum, with layers added in one at a time, including hi-hat, cowbell, electronic drum effects, and other club sounds. The vocals are a deep, echoing monotone voice. Mixed in are female disco vocals, singing the song’s title.
“Jungle Jam” features as you can imagine wood block and bass jungle beats, along with stuttering vocal samples, and skipping synth dance beats, including a Nu Shooz sounding scratch. The vocals samples are quite varied from female disco, to whispering, to a choir call and response. Some chanting is added as well as a flute melody. But the base percussion and maraca beat carries on. The call and response choir finishes the song.
“Took My Love Away” was a single. It starts as a mix of the now-familiar soulful female vocals singing the title, reminding me of C+C Music Factory, and a deep monotone vocals singing “baby don’t be that way.” Another male vocal is sampled, and added in is the famous traffic/streaking late 80’s EDM techno effect. Later a female vocal is sampled that is reminiscent of Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations.”  Like dancing in a round, a couple bars of a variety of effects are spotlit, and then disappear back into the fray.
“Acid Rain” begins with a rubber band strummed effect, and the deep monotone house vocal repeats “acid rain will drive you insane.”  The female vocals are added in to balance the monotony with soulful singing. A shuffling percussion is layered in underneath. The repetitive nature and echoing vocals create the trance like attribute.

“I Will Survive” was released as a single, and is a monotone spoken vocal rendition of the Gloria Gaynor hit. A three-note, downscale synth bass line starts with a drum machine track overlayed. More elements are added, carrying the dance floor groove along. Some of the sounds remind me of EMF.
“Cum On U Can Git It” begins with a simple drum machine track, and the vocal reminds me again of “Good Vibrations,” particularly the “come on swing it” lyric. Robotic synth effects are added, and there is some scratching and hiccup stuttering. Rather than build, sections are introduced and get a chance to play out, and then are removed. There are a few basic effects that remain throughout. But the showcasing of individual sections is key song motivation.
“It's Paradise” used elements of Manuel Gottsching’s epic album, like the glass jar ping, and relaxing waterfall effects and jittery synth melody. I believe it is an artistic homage to the album. As the longest track on the record, it sprawls out, and allows the individual melodies and elements mix in and out of focus. Flutes, female samples and spoken word male vocals are just some of the repeating effects.
“Just Like a Queen” was a single. Tidal waves of synth flow in and out, as dancey drums, wood block percussion, and vocal samples (female of the title track) are added. The streaking siren EDM effect is employed, as well as other female vocals, and the straight-man deep spoken word. Later on a toy piano tinkers out a melody, interplaying with the steady percussion backing track. 

Stand Out Track: Took My Love Away


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