Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"High Desert Crunch Meets City Life Punch" On Clutchy Hopkins & Fat Albert Einstein's Visionary Folk-Funk Instrumental Hip-Hop Album, high desert low tide (Aural Tradition Records)



"Clutchy Hopkins is the son of a Motown recording engineer. As a young man, Clutchy traveled the globe exploring exotic music, rhythms, and mysticism. He worked at recording studios in Bombay to Cairo and studied musical techniques of the Cahuilla Indians, Rinzai Zen monks in Japan, and Tribal drummers in Ethiopia. Returning to the US in the 90's, Clutchy worked as a session musician on obscure Funk and Jazz records; he was rumored to have collaborated with Moondog," reads the introductory paragraph of Clutchy Hopkins' Facebook-published Biography. Hopkins, by his own submission, "is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, covered in tape hiss, and deep-fried in a pot of melted Funk" and the story goes that although he recorded music throughout his travels over the years, his music only first saw a wider release as recently as 2005. The Life of Clutchy Hopkins was likely culled from "a crate of reel-to-reel tapes discovered amid boxes of old, home-made musical instruments and electronics at a flea market outside Los Angeles" and seemingly cleared for release on Crate Digler by Clutchy's daughter, Kelly Hopkins.


Since first appearing on the Instrumental Hip-Hop/Folk-Funk scene around 2005, the question has often been raised, "who is Clutchy Hopkins?" and many investigative journalists, like myself, have hypothesized that Clutchy Hopkins' true identity may, in fact, be that of producers and multi-instrumentalists like Madlib, Cut Chemist, DJ Shadow, Money Mark, Beastie Boy Mike D, DJ Nu-Mark, Danger Mouse, Beck, DOOM, or frequent Clutchy collaborators like Shawn Lee, Lord Kenjamin, or Fat Albert Einstein. I, myself, tend to tend to believe that Clutchy Hopkins' true identity is either that of frequent pseudonym-using producer Cut Chemist, Madlib, or recent collaborator Chris "Fat Albert Einstein" Vagnoni—case in point, WHO IS CLUTCHY HOPKINS? SIGHTING NO. 9: "yeah, so, I met Clutchy... like, at this show... this random, like small show down in Arizona and um, he went by Chris Hopkins or somethin' like that" recounts an aspiring young producer-DJ at about 2-minutes into Ubiquity Records' Walking [Sdrawkcab]-promoting Clutchy Hopkins - Northwest Sightings (2008) documentary-style video. CHRIS HOPKINS?!!!??!


"Clutchy & Fatty... High desert crunch meets city life punch for this collaborative project in sound. Instrumental elements of Soul, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Rock, and more resonate throughout the record. Acoustic and electric instrumentation set the tone and in their individual [styles]; Clutchy & Fatty navigate your journey through Psych-Folk caverns of cactus dust to bloodshot rust-covered marine layer Funk. It is distinctive, original, and fresh, paying homage to the past, present, and future. Visionary Folk-Funk," reads a rather vague album description attached to Clutchy Hopkins & Fat Albert Einstein (or "Clutchy N' Fatty")'s Bandcamp page. Their collaborative album, high desert low tide, was quietly released last Friday, March 3rd on Aural Tradition Records and Crate Digler Publishing. It's Clutchy's first widely available collection of music since his 2010 Ubiquity Records album, The Story Teller and The Life of Eugene Harrington—a record effectively released by an artist with a pseudonym under a different pseudonym—released on NOECHO Records in June of the same year. high desert low tide's sessions likely date back to about 2009 and showcase the talents of a wide array of Clutchy N' Fatty's friends and players including: Brendan Willard on tenor and baritone sax, cellist Peter Jacobson, Estin Lipscomb on guitar, organ and banjo uke(?), and flutist Juice Brock. high desert low tide was mixed by Fat Albert Einstein and mastered by Benjamin Tierney, who has previously provided instrumentation, production, or engineering/mixing assistance on records by De La Soul, DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist, The Gaslamp Killer, Kamasi Washington, Sa-Ra producer Shafiq Husayn, and Vox Populi! & Pacific 231 (presented by Cut Chemist). high desert low tide is now currently available for streaming and purchase in a number of formats ranging from standard or limited edition signed vinyl to cassette, CD, and digital download on Clutchy & Fatty's newly-launched Bandcamp page.

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