Recently I have been thinking about rhythm and what can be done with it as a driving momentum, texturally and to identify moments in a song. Here are some songs and tracks where I think not just the drums but all the aspects contribute something interesting rhythmically.
Mercury Rev – Goddess on a Highway.
A good beat is easy to find but this drummer (Jeff Mercel) does something subtle to the beat pushing it and pulling it around and it really holds the tune together. He adds some really nice ghost notes and subtle pushes to the verse before going into a full on chorus while holding back at the same time.
Matmos – Three Guitar Lessons.
No drum kit here but plenty of rhythms, counter rhythms and counter – counter rhythms. All the sounds are sampled from individual guitar noises. I like sampling when it’s used like this. The layers and the textures of the sounds are also used to convey a sense of timing which is a neat touch.
The Good the bad and the Queen – Herculean.
This is my idea of a rhythm section because the whole band is the rhythm section. Tony Allen drums, Paul Simon bass with Damion Albarn on Keyboards with guitars by Simon Tong. Just one album by this band but its a classic. Produced by Danger Mouse (Brian Joseph Burton)
Beastie Boys – Super Disco Breakin’
Big beats – I chose this because its bombastic. Nuf said
Art Blakey and the african beat – Tobi Ilu.
After the Matmos track which uses counter rhythms I figured I would go with a polyrhythmic track that uses drums and percussion. This hits the nail on the head. It’s a cacophony which is exactly what makes this such an exciting track. Traditional African drum patterns with improvised drum set by one of the most creative (rather than straight technical) jazz drummers of all time.
Xenises – Concert ph.
Texture is also rhythmic. This is an extreme example made from layered and treated recordings of hot coals, charcoal fire etc. Cant dance to this one very easily though. (unless your standing on hot coals, ironically)
Loose but tight is hard to do. This is another example of a band being mainly rhythm led. A more refined continuation of the Art Blakey track. Two drum kits and two great drummers. This is always a good thing unless both kits are just doing the same beat. You get all sorts of interesting textures, movements and lifts happening when this is done well.
Oceansize – Music For A Nurse.
I really like this song. The musicianship is impressive but without being deliberately showy. The drums are playing around the pulse effectively soloing on and off while the guitar delay effectively plays the pulse which is also the main hook for most of the song. Then there are various other rhythmic elements like the arpeggio synth and picked guitar that hold the rhythm together. The drums are then free to lift each melodic idea as it comes in, these are also counter rhythmic. I would have liked to see this live. Anyone who did see this band live where very lucky indeed.