Badge Époque Ensemble :: Painting With Mood (A Mixtape)

Badge Époque Ensemble is the latest project from the madcap mind of Toronto’s Maximillian Turnbull. Formerly known as Slim Twig, he’s spent recent years focusing on production, writing, and wah-wah guitar shredding for U.S. Girls, alongside offshoots such as heavy rock group Darlene Shrugg and galactic out-jazz octet The Cosmic Range. But Turnbull has now re-emerged as the leader of the largely instrumental BÉE, joined by a murderer’s row of local players, 4/6 of which make up the U.S. Girls backing band.

On Badge’s self-titled debut LP, available from Hogtown’s Telephone Explosion, they drift through dusted funk moves drawing inspiration from library music records, electric Miles, and the spaced-out hip-hop productions of Madlib, Dilla, and Edan. Flautist Alia O’Brien, from Toronto’s witchy folk-metal group Blood Ceremony, adds signature trills to the grooves laid down by Turnbull on clavinet and Rhodes, while the rest of the group struts in step.

Watch Badge’s video for “Undressed In Solitude” featuring R&B singer James Baley and directed by Alex Kingsmill below, and read on for a list of inspirations from Turnbull’s heady crates

Miles Davis: Get Up With It

My approach to instrumental music-making begins here, in admiration of Get Up With It by Miles Davis. The notion that through music, you can paint with mood in the imagination of the listener was opened up for me by listening closely to this record. The mood combinations are eclectic and singularly heady – sensuality and dread, tension, and sleaze.

EDAN: Beauty and the Beat

My musical pallet was informed at a young age by listening to underground hip-hop and studying what producers like Madlib, Dilla, and Edan used as source material. Because they were making records at a stage when a lot of the classic jazz and funk stuff had already been flipped, their productions started to make use of psych, prog, electric, and international jazz lps, as well as library records all of which informed my sense of musical atmosphere. Records like this and Dilla’s Donuts were like road maps to raw shit.

DANIELA CASA: America Giovane No. 2

This was my inadvertent intro to library music. Early in my music-making, I made a song that sampled Madlib’s flip of Daniela Casa’s “Spiralys, not knowing what the original source was. This little two-bar loop was the dopest thing I’d ever heard, and yet at the time I didn’t think to dig any further. A ship passed in the night, because as it turns out there exists an entire galaxy of this essence. It wasn’t until many years later when I was trying to hear all the library stuff I could find that I discovered the original. The echo of my first blind encounter made me feel that I was somehow predisposed to love this music…

Jay Richford and Gary Stevan: Feelings

Finding out about this classic library LP (composed by Sandro Brugnolini and Stefano Torossi under pseudonyms) is what precipitated my immersion into the weird and wonderful world of library records. The basic premise of much of these records is a European composer infatuated with American jazz and funk, but not knowing how to translate the feel ‘correctly.’ The mistranslations result in records with spectacular drums, lush arrangements and vibed out productions, which feel somehow off. Mistranslations are the happy accidents that jumpstart new movements.

Lloyd McNeill Quartet: Washington Suite

I love flute as a lead voicing, and love flute records as a collectible vein. I’m humbled to be a small part of this lineage (thanks our fantastic flautist Alia O’Brien). McNeill is probably my favourite jazz flautist. Washington Suite is deeply funky and free, and yet tightly arranged. Each instrument entirely distinct and un-subtract-able from a spiritual whole.

Annette Peacock: X-Dreams

Annette’s approach as an artist is something I draw a lot of inspiration from. Reading about how she cultivated and protected the idiosyncrasy of her style has helped me to actualize a positive image as a self-taught instrumentalist and producer who collaborates with some highly refined players. Being yourself is the most humanizing, and expressive thing you can aspire to in music. Annette is the essence.

Alessandro Alessandroni: Ritmo Dell‘Industria No. 2

Alessandroni may be my favorite library composer. That this record is so anonymously, even generically presented, and also that it remains a relative obscurity is testament to how unassuming and mysterious the library world is. Ritmo is a true marvel of composition and arrangement and the fusion of those building blocks. A record that a number of us in the Ensemble really bond over.

Alain Goraguer: La Planete Sauvage

Encountering ’70s French funk has had a massive tonal influence on my writing and sense of melody. There’s a distinct aspect to the sense of arrangement and harmony in this world, which you can trace through contemporary French artists like Daft Punk and Justice. This soundtrack retains a very modern flavor in its combination of American crime-funk and ornate Euro orchestration… basically arriving at the feel of a rap loop, which waited decades to meet its purpose. I love records that exist anachronistically, jarred loose from the space/time continuum of recorded music.

Monk Hughes & the Outer Realm: A Tribute to Brother Weldon

Pure dank vibe. Jazz as an act of sonic imagination and world building through production. I think this record really articulates informed listening as an active musical virtue. Madlib uses deep record scholarship to produce visionary results rather than pastiche. It doesn’t matter if he’s making loops or live jazz records; the distinctness of the voice is the same.

Zacht Automaat: Za

A part of my musical awakening was playing in a psych cover band with Carl Didur and Louis Percival of Zacht Automaat (Tony Price, who co-produced the BÉE lp, was the fourth member). We re-arranged cover tunes from the culty crevices of the ’60s and ’70s, but a big part of our getting together was also to play each other works in progress, which was very formative. Carl’s aesthetic approach to instrumental keyboard music made a big impact on me, as did Louis’ endless archive of warped rap beats. Zacht Automaat combine prog, jazz, and imagination in wonderful and resourceful ways. I feel lucky they formed in my corner of the world. words / j locke and m turnbull

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