Dive into Lance Ferguson's complex new album Raw Material with a track-by-track walkthrough
The Melbourne maestro swerves between sounds and styles in his lengthy debut under the alias, which enlists a horde of special guests.
For those currently unacquainted with Lance Ferguson and his generally quite soulful sound, it's time to get to know him. The Melbourne-based songwriter - perhaps more well-known as the leading guitarist and founder of The Bamboos - has just released his debut album under the Lance Ferguson alias and simply put, it's pretty damn complicated and interesting. The album embraces his lengthy love affair with vinyl, crate-digging and sampling, with Ferguson re-inventing the remix album concept for Raw Material, enlisting a whole heap of special guests along the way. Basically, Ferguson recorded twelve singles from the album, which were then shipped out to some of his favourite producers (Late Nite Tuff Guy, Javelin and a couple of more feature on the album) to remix and sample, with the final products being added onto the album's final tracklist. It creates quite a varied release, with a whole heap of different sounds and styles at play across the album's whopping 25 tracks and edits.
To help wrap our heads around the album a little more, we got Lance Ferguson himself to walk us through eleven of the singles from the expansive Raw Material, detailing the partnerships and collaborations that come with each single. Check it out below:
I wanted to make something in a house-mode that was pretty deep but also a little bit dusty and raw, to reflect the spirit of the project. I recorded some noise from the dead wax of one of the originals and that runs through Vantage Point from beginning to end. The strings from Voyage To The Future slowly fade in at the end of the song. It felt good to make music in this style after a little while between drinks (I think my last house-esque release was a remix for Nostalgia 77) – I think I am going to do a whole EP in this flavour very soon!
Voyage To The Future
The touchstones for this song were the music of David Axelrod and Rotary Connection. Those epic 60’s/70’s Psych/Folk tunes with big string arrangements that I’m really into. I recorded and layered up all of the vocals myself with endless amounts of doubles and harmonies to even out the tuning! I have sung on a few records over the years but have often treated the vocals quite heavily so it’s not really a ‘natural’ sound. This might be the very first song out there where you can actually hear my ‘real’ voice (whatever that is).
One of the ‘originals’ that is very much in the mold of a Soundtrack record by someone like Lalo Schifrin in the 70’s. It was very important to me that the originals – even though they were created to be sampled – should stand up as fully functioning pieces of music without the ‘weight’ of the whole concept affecting the listener's experience. I also walked a fine line with not being too gratuitous in throwing in ‘sample-friendly’ moments every 30 seconds.
Back To You ft. EMRSN & Mose
One Above is one of this countries most talented producers and I was really thrilled that he could come on board for the project. He took the original tune 2+1 and looped it into a solid, shuffling Boom Bap beat that is a highlight on the album. I got together with EMRSN, Mose and Maribelle in my home studio Melbourne to write and record the vocals and it became the first single Back To You.
Lanthology w/ Ennio Styles
Ennio Styles is a legend of the Melbourne scene who has had a long running radio show on RRR as well as releasing loads of his own remixes and productions. He has a particular eccentricity to his work that I really love and I knew he would be a great collaborator for the project. In classic Ennio Styles fashion, he went the extra step of constructing his rework from not only the record I sent him but also from a bunch of old records from my back catalogue! A master of the pun, he also named it Lanthology. Pure genius.
Make Up Your Mind ft. Kylie Auldist
If I had to call it I might say that this is my favourite song on the album. It is a Chic-esque disco tune with a little bit of a Chaka Khan influence running through it too. Kylie Auldist was the obvious choice to get it across the line, her performance here is completely uplifting and just soars. This track was sent out to House don Late Nite Tuff Guy who filtered, edited and reworked it into something completely new but which also kept the emotional spirit of the original.
Don’t Stop ft. Jace XL
I sampled elements from several different ‘originals’ to put the basis of this one together. The long vocal line in the chorus is from Peuple de la Nuit and the string line at the end came out of Yoshiko’s Theme. I built this track up in my home studio and then called in Luke Hodgson on bass and Luke Saunders on keys to record their parts. Jace XL is an incredible singer who works with Hiatus Kaiyote and also his partner in crime Silentjay. He really delivers one of my favourite vocal performances across the album on this one.
Outer Excursion w/ Javelin
Javelin are a duo from Brooklyn, NYC who I have been a massive fan of for many years. Definitely listen to their albums if you haven’t already checked them out. We got them to do a remix for my other band The Bamboos a while back, so there was a connection already and with their obvious penchant for sampling I knew that they would be perfect for Raw Material. Outer Excursion is one of my favourite re-works on the album. It’s a beautiful fusion of 80’s Boogie with that kind of deep melodic, emotional quality that I have always loved in Javelin’s sound.
Spiral had its start as a song I wrote for my jazz group Menagerie. It seemed like it would also fit in really well as a Raw Material original so we recorded a version of it in the same session. It’s inspired by all of those great records on labels like Strata East and Black Jazz that I end up spending way too much on in eBay auctions. Check out Simon Mavin’s (Hiatus Kaiyote) Rhodes solo in the middle section – this guy can really take you on a trip.
Make Somebody Mine ft. Kylie Auldist w/ Lack Of Afro
U.K Producer and multi-instrumentalist Lack Of Afro has been a firm favourite of mine for many years and continues to put out amazing records. I knew he would really get into the concept of the project so he was one of the first producers we approached. He came back with a thoroughly inventive, soulful treatment of the source track Somebody To Hold, re-harmonising the chord structure and adding a whole new live band underneath the vocal.
From Lil Mont. ft. Clairmont The Second
I can thank my manager Andre for making the connection with the amazing rapper Clairmont The Second out of Toronto. Andre sent me some Soundcloud links and I was blown away with his sound. I think that we are all going to be hearing a LOT more from this guy so I feel super lucky to have worked with him on a piece of music in 2017. I took the breakdown from the original Spiral and put together a more stripped-back kind of a beat, which Clairmont really ran with and turned into something totally fresh. It’s a great way to close out the record.
Lance Ferguson's debut album Raw Material is out now through Warner Australia. Grab it HERE.
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