Stones Throw has a reputation as being one of the world leaders in underground music with quite a wide-ranging variety of genres nurtured under its umbrella. Having said that, they do tend to veer strongly towards soul, R’n’B and hip hop, most notably the almighty Madlib (including the majority of his aliases) and J Dilla, his final album Donuts in 2006 being a release that pushed Stones Throw to the forefront of the underground music scene.
The label recently sprung a Kickstarter campaign for a full-length documentary centering around the label and its endeavours. It showcases the history of the label and all its champions past and present. Label boss Peanut Butter Wolf features heavily in the documentary, which is entitled “Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton (This is Stones Throw Records)”, and is apparently in post-production and seeking further funding in order to take it to the next stage.
Chrome Canyon is the latest offering from the L.A. label. The electronica producer otherwise known as Morgan Z hails from New York City and has previously been in involved with crazy glam-rock outfit Apes & Androids (also based in NYC). Chrome Canyon’s recently released Stones Throw full-length Elemental Themes follows up on last year’s Body Music EP (On The Fruit Records).
Morgan Z enlisted the expertise of sound engineer Nilesh Patel for production duties on this LP, a man who had previously worked on albums by Air, Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers to name but a few. Sadly, Nilesh died in December of last year, leaving behind a legacy of having worked with the finest artists in electronica and afar. Presumably, this must have been one of the last projects he worked on.
Chrome Canyon’s love of vintage synthesizers and dramatic sci-fi scores from years gone by is quickly evident on the first listen, bringing to mind ’80s movies such as TRON, Bladerunner and Escape from New York. The overall mood of the album is one of a dystopian future, but with a warm and steady, dreamy feel.
However well-produced Elemental Themes is, it is not your typical Stones Throw release, which tends to have a slick, modern feel. It sounds quite like an album made by a man lost in the wilderness of analog and synth. You just have to admire the way the songs are put together and the clarity of sound produced from these old vintage instruments. The album exudes cinematic quality.
All in all, Elemental Themes is an interesting listen and the ideas are executed quite well, but it feels like an experimental soundtrack for a movie that doesn’t exist. It will be interesting to see how Chrome Canyon’s live show progresses and how he delivers the album in an auditorium setting.