The fourth fivefivefive in the continuing series of passionate theming, Scaramanga Silk serenades us over 5 tracks, with his ode to Paul Hunter...
(Love from Scaramanga Silk)
In recent years, DJing and musical tastes have become blurred and eclectic. Access via digital formats, the internet and media have all contributed to this great shift. However, when it comes to creators of aural delights, more often than not, they are normally confined to one or two specific areas.
I have always been fascinated by chameleons in the world of electronic music. When I discover a producer / artist who has the ability to create tracks across a range of genres, it is often fascinating and intriguing. How does somebody go from being a house expert to a downtempo guru and then onto a dub specialist? The knowledge, skills, mindset and talent needed to be that diverse are immense and not many people on this planet possess this combination of attributes. Only a handful of gifted individuals appear to have successfully pulled this incredible achievement off by covering a selection of styles, to a high quality and over a significant period of time. A couple of the greatest would be Mark Pritchard and Luke Vibert. Their back catalogues are enviable and are the stuff of legend. But, I am going to focus on a man that is far less well known (and who shouldn't be). You may or may not know his name, he is, the enigmatic mystery, Paul Hunter...
Google and the net offer up little as to who Paul is. What we do discover is that he has worked under a wide range of pseudonyms over the years. The culture of electronic music loves an alias. Often used by artists for explorations in an alternative field, Paul Hunter has quite a collection to choose from that few can match. Furthermore, this Glasgow based artist owns Red Hook Recordings but has released on a host of leading labels in order to showcase his talents. If I recall correctly, there may have been a Fabric DJ residency during the early years of the club too. No photos appear online of the man and social media does not appear to be a place that he chooses to reside. The fact that Paul does not crave the limelight only serves to make him more intriguing, more credible and more of a hero. He lets his music do the talking...
1. Brother Of Soul - 'Eyes Of Love' (1998, Guidance Recordings, Celebration Of Life EP)
Possibly Paul's best known alias but that is debatable given his pedigree. Guidance Recordings often released deep house of a fine pedigree and this is no exception. 'Eyes Of Love' is a sweet, soulful, funky dancefloor gem that is infectiously catchy yet remains classy and credible. It contains samples of Vance And Suzzanne - 'I Can't Get Along Without You' and a vocal from The Edge Of Daybreak - 'Eyes of Love'. The use of sampling may divide many but when you realise how obscure both records were when this was made, we soon realise that the man behind this is a true crate digger! Furthermore, it does not appear that an accapella was available for the vocal. The engineering skills to make that work require scientific knowledge. All of Paul's productions are refined and elegant and illustrate years of craft. This record was recorded in Brooklyn, NYC and gives us further insight into the influences behind the man.
2. Poets Of Thought - 'Samba With J.C' (1996, Earth, LTJ Bukem - Earth Volume One)
LTJ Bukem is a true visionary and the Earth series offered a superb downtempo, exotic and jazzy alternative to Good Looking's Drum & Bass sound. 'Volume 1' is a major highlight and our man has three tracks featured under this 'Poets Of Thought' moniker. 'Samba With J.C' is a perfect fit for the Bukem sound. It oozes Latin heritage with its driving rhythms and jazzy licks. You would be forgiven for thinking that more than one man was behind this track. It is so full and rich with instrumentation. Twenty years on, this could be dropped today and would be perfectly at home in a Gilles Peterson set. Paul's music really is timeless, I still revisit it over and over again. With this release we also see that outside of disco, soul and house, our man also has a huge love of Latin, jazz and downtempo.
3. Small World - 'I Believe' (2005, Red Hook Recordings, I Believe)
Paul's Small World project saw him release downtempo / trip hop material on Leftfield's Hard Hands label. Tracks appeared on revered compilations such as Dope On Plastic, DJ Kicks and Back To Mine and found favour with the likes of Kruder & Dorfmeister and Morcheeba.
'I Believe' surfaced in 2005 on Paul's own label and is an underrated gem. This is a fantastic, woozy, summery, feel good track with a pitched up soulful vocal that you just cannot ignore. The Avalanches and Lemon Jelly fans will adore this! If this track were on a bigger label with the right video and promotion, things could have been very different for this missed nugget!
4. Dual Tone - 'Atom (Dub Massacre 2)' (1995, D.C Recordings, Dub Radiation)
When Paul pops up on a label, it is never an accident. Dual Tone appears on Depth Charge's label and rightly so as this track is a fine slice of dubbed out electronics. 'Atom' (Dub Massacre 2) feels reminiscent of Leftfield from the same era. Producing this style is not easy as the sound is very particular and the equipment needed is highly specific. Mr Hunter clearly appreciates the history of dub, understands club culture, is a disciple of electronics and is supremely adept in the studio. With this many strings to his bow, archery would be no contest!
5. Paul Hunter - 'Paul's Pal' (Peace) (1999, Guidance Recordings, Red Hook Project 1)
And the mask is off! Here with a track from Paul under his own name. Also released on Guidance, this sees Paul in superb form with a cut of lounge, beats, downtempo on a jazzy tip. A classy offering that could be heard in any bar or rooftop the world over. This really should feature in film soundtracks - it has that quality.
Paul Hunter. A man of many aliases. A producer who has released on some of the finest electronic labels around. Yet, his place in history deserves greater standing. A big label should step in and re-release his back catalogue. This man should be celebrated amongst the top of the eclectic electronic elite.
If you look, you will see that Red Hook Recordings have quietly re-released selected material from the archive in a digital format in recent years. This includes some material that was not available previously...
Rumour also has it that a Brother Of Soul album is on the way...
Paul Hunter - I salute you sir. Thanks for the inspiration and enjoyment. I hope we can have a beer some day...