The Wilkis Polish

Every so often, it’s worth checking in with Alan Wilkis, an artist/producer who’s been featured several times on this blog . You can read a little more about his music in my previous posts here and here and here.

Beavering away in his Brooklyn laboratory, Alan seems particularly busy at the moment producing remixes for all sorts of people. I particularly liked his latest project, a remix of Phantogram‘s “Mouthful of Diamonds“:

Once again Alan takes some unlikely raw material (in this case, the trip-hoppy, slightly industrial-sounding Phantogram original) and given it the “Wilkis Polish”: he turns it into a little drop of Orangina-flavoured dance pop that says “There’s a party in my iPod and everyone’s invited!

Music for Commuting

The last time I was a regular commuter, (other than getting to work on foot), I had a car and battled down New North Road in Auckland every morning. That was five years ago, so being in Paris and catching the train every day (either métro or RER, depending on strikes and my mood) is a novelty.

One of the few advantages of commuting is it gives you time to listen to music, if you’re inclined to take your mp3 player with you. This is pretty much what everyone does in Paris, unless they’re reading Frédéric Mitterand’s La Mauvaise Vie or a copy of 20 Minutes while the graffiti whizzes past outside.

Somehow I’ve ended up with a bunch of new electro-dancey type stuff on my iPhone playlist, and so my trips through the bowels of the City of Light have been accompanied by whiteboy disco. Apparently it’s what the kids are into these days. Allegedly.

Download Ali Love - Diminishing Returns (Extended Mix)

Ali Love sang on the Chemical Brother’s single Do It Again from a few years back. He’s now launching a solo career. The vinyl single of Diminishing Returns is due out in the UK on 16th November. The video is here.

Schwayze – Get U Home (Alan Wilkis Remix)

Meantime, our friend Alan Wilkis is back with a remix of Schwayze‘s Get U Home – it’s currently the most re-tweeted track on Hype Machine. Other artists asked to remix the tune include Paul Oakenfold, Italy’s The Bloody Beetroots, LMFAO, and Travis Barker, (I’ll pretend I’ve heard of all of these names, in a vain attempt to prove I’m still plugged into whatever scene I’m supposed to be plugged into). So Alan’s moving into the big league now. Just remember, you probably heard him here first.

So that geeky looking dude on the RER at Les Invalides station in the morning, trying not to dance? If it’s not Stéphane Guillon coming home from Radio France after his breakfast show slot, it’s probably me.

Alan Wilkis, Back to the Future!

Alan Wilkis – Snuggle Up to Nail Down
From Pink and Purple EP [Buy] [CD Baby]

Last year we reviewed Alan Wilkis‘ slightly eccentric début album Babies Dream Big, and adored its big-tent mix of pop stylings. In 2009 the Brooklyn-based musician and producer is back with an EP entitled Pink and Purple, a deep dive into the synthesised swamp of Reagan-era soundscapes and electrolysed beats.

Wilkis always sounds like he’s having a great amount of fun, whether its dressing up as Rick James backed by the Nintendo Sisters on Snuggle Up to Nail Down (complete with ridiculous-but-appropriate autotuned vocals), or filtering percussion through a DeLorean’s flux capacitor on the EP’s title track.

On N.I.C.E., Wilkis’ white-boy disco fiend is out on the town looking for his material girl, and everything on the scene is pitch-perfect: the swirling synth pads, the rap outro and “Ooh boy, show me whatcha got” female BVs. You could argue that it’s pastiche, but these days, pastiche counts as modernism. And with music as wilfully wrought as this, Wilkis takes it to another level.

Perhaps Wilkis’ choice of 80s schtick sounds a little insincere on the sub-bossa ballad Time Machine, but when Pink and Purple focuses on filling the dancefloor, the EP works very very nicely indeed, and comes across as a more coherent work than his 2008 album. Check it out on Wilkis’ site, or listen on MySpace.

Alan Wilkis

Alan Wilkis – It’s Been Great
Alan Wilkis – Milk and Cookies

From Babies Dream Big: Independent [CD Baby]

Alan Wilkis

Brooklyn’s New Power Generation? (Photo: Alex Marvar)

In our continuing search for intelligent life on planet Earth, we have found some compelling evidence in the form of Alan Wilkis, a multi-instrumentalist and independent musician from Brooklyn.

His début album Babies Dream Big references a whole spectrum of pop, funk and soul from the 1960s onwards, and comes out sounding pretty darn awesome. White soul moments burn out of I Love the Way, and we get a deep-down Sly Stone-style singalong in the chorus of It’s Been Great. The acoustic guitar underpinning Astronaut (Would You Be One?) is such an obvious reference that you expect Major Tom to splash-down inside your stereo.

The Wilkis aesthetic is best exemplified in the meisterwerk of the album, Milk and Cookies, which is built on successive episodes of 808 drum loops, synth-laden power pop and an 8-bit Sega-style break 2’25 that sounds like its lifted from Super Mario (or should that be Sonic the Hedghog?). The hedonistic mix provides a reminder of Beck’s Midnite Vultures (1999), but Milk and Cookies is such a blast that I don’t think anyone will mind.

Wilkis plays almost everything on the album, apart from Eric Biondo on trumpet (Antibalas Orchestra) and Jason Treuting of So Percussion, who plays drums on a couple of tracks. For more of this soul-and-funk tinged fun, the album is available from CD Baby (CD and mp3), and songs can be heard on Wilkis’ myspace.

Album cover