043 - Emanative

Emanative is a project from Nick Woodmansey, a British percussionist, producer and Jazz musician who splits time between London and the beautiful Sussex countryside. His most recent full length titled 'The Light Years of the Darkness', came out on Giles Peterson's Brownswood label, and was the debut release in association with the Steve Reid Foundation. A project founded in the wake of the legendary drummers death by Peterson which aims to help support and showcase musicians around the world . It's a wonderful collaborative release featuring a whole slew of excellent contributions from Four Tet, Rocketnumbernine and Ahmed Abdullah among many others. A musical statement that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of both Reid and Woodmansey's endeavours, with collaboration and freedom of expression at the centre of the sonic universe.

Whether as a catalyst for the increased influence of Jazz music in the mainstream and underground, or simply as a bi-product of this cultural shift, London continues to foster an expansive collection of extremely talented, interconnected, musicians. Nick is a key creative figure at the heart of this constantly expanding scene, most recently collaborating with fellow London based artist Sarathy Korwar (another Métron favourite) producing his brilliant debut LP for Ninja Tune. It's best to think of his Emanative project as an elastic band wrapped around the bundle of talented musicians, ideas and tracks involved. And it is his work as Emanative that stands as his strongest creative output. His latest release, a wonderful 7'' on his own Home Planet Recordings imprint, is yet further testament to that notion. 'Ominous Shanti' features two wonderful pieces of groove heavy Jazz with both Afro and Eastern influences, adding to the producers impressive discography.

In support of the new release Nick has put together a mixtape of his own works, featuring two versions of the title track from his new release. It's a hazy trip through his brand of spiritual, free flowing Jazz, taking in sounds from all manner of cultures from all over the world. Eerie desolate tabla is set besides wonderful full band renderings and live recordings, with Nick's phenomenal percussive skill steering each track towards outer-space.

Be sure to check out 'Ominous Shanti' which you can order on bandcamp here and keep your eyes peeled for live dates and DJ sets throughout the rest of the year.

I got a chance to speak to Nick about his new release and plans for the rest of the year. Check out what he had to say below.

Can you tell us about the new release ‘Ominous Shanti’?
"Ominous Shanti" was recorded at Malcolm Catto's studio The Quartermass Sound Lab. The Heliocentrics have collected some lovely vintage analogue gear and a nice old desk. Obviously Malcolm definitely knows how to get a great drum sound, so we did the rhythm section, Tabla and Rhodes all there with him behind the desk. Initially I had just wanted to lay down some stuff to sample and make a few tracks out of, but Malcolm was dead set on recording an actual take of something, so I just kind of rolled with the enthusiasm and willingness and we all kind of created on the spot.

A bit out of my comfort zone perhaps, but it seemed to really pay off. This was a real unified band effort! This approach only works when you have such a high calibre of musicians involved. And I think me and Malcolm really hit it off, we DJ-ed together for a night around that time, he's got some serious records! Selling some of his rare collection of 45's is partly how he was able to afford a bunch of this outstanding equipment in the first place.

Then the horns were recorded at the Ibibio Sound Machine studio - thanks to Ben Hadwen who has been known to be part of their amazing horn section on many an occasion. So yet again - these guys know how to get an amazing horn sound which all added to the vibe I was after.

What does the name mean?
"Ominous Shanti" means whatever you want it to mean, perhaps it's referring to a pursuit of peace despite an impending sense of unrelenting doom! A personal reflection upon recent worldwide events, and how confident one can feel in a rational and empathetic outlook and conclusion, beneficial for all yet not the one reached by particular people you thought you could rely upon?

In the same vein, the flip side to this 45 is called Black Enchantment. And back in 2012 when we created it I described it as that dark cloud like curse or spell upon mankind which when magically lifted would bring peace to earth.

Collaboration seems very much at the heart of your musical aesthetic, and jazz music in general, whats the key to good collaborative music?
Collaboration is something I've always loved ever since the beginning of this project and even before then. The idea of creating together, is something I've always loved.

Part of my reason for starting the project in the first place came after the frustration of working with several selfish or at least uber controlling, over confident and self involved individuals and bands, where I felt suffocated and stifled creatively and I fundamentally disagreed that this was a necessary way of creating together. I always had the urge to work with other people and allow them their space and the freedom to bring something to the music and to allow everybody some creative input.

This applies to the members of the Emanative band, which for this release is currently (but not limited to) Tamar Osborn, Jessica Lauren, Ben Hadwen, Suman Joshi, Simon Finch and Sarathy Korwar. But this also applies to other artists, musicians and vocalists we've had the pleasure of working with.

Everybody gets their space and I think artists really appreciate that their input is valuable and encouraged. I hope that we'll continue to collaborate with others. My production skills and abilities are hopefully improving the more I work on things so there are all sorts of things I'd still love to do.

There seems to be a lot of momentum around Jazz music in London right now, it’s always interesting when a lot of music and musicians in the same location all seem to break through together. As somebody who is a part of that scene, do you think there’s something in that?
Absolutely! Well there has definitely been an expansion of London based jazz music.
There's some young blood, which is always a much needed ingredient. And there are scenes evolving around the various club nights and certain labels all at street level. We have Jazz Re-Freshed, Rhythm Section, Brownswood Recordings, On The Corner Records and many other scenes all keeping things fresh here.
And the influences are everything from underground club music to African, eastern or whatever. Culturally aware and interested; experimental yet groove laden music, which is perhaps our collective group effort of naturally fighting back artistically even if subconsciously at current world affairs, politics, racism etc

How did you get into playing the drums?
My dad who is also a drummer got me interested in the drums (he played for David Bowie amongst others). There was always a kit around and set up. He taught me some basics and then left me to it. I feel like I'm more interested in producing and creating music than simply playing drums these days - but I'll always be a drummer at heart.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2017?
I'm not 100% sure yet. The 7" is just about to come out, I'm self releasing it. I have some interesting DJ bookings, some cool festivals and a support slot with the Sun Ra Arkestra that I'm looking forward to. Not being offered much in the way of live band gigs, so I'm focusing on the DJ stuff as I'm really enjoying it. My taste is very varied and eclectic so I can go in all sorts of directions musically; Jazz, Soul, Disco, Afrobeat, Eastern, Electronic, Funk, Dub & Reggae...

After working on albums for Collocutor and then Sarathy Korwar last year I'm looking forward to getting in the studio with Jessica Lauren and her band very soon. She'll be recording her second album for Freestyle Records and I'll be involved with mixing and no doubt some production. I've also recorded something with my original horn player Ben Hadwen which is featured in this mix! I have an amazing bunch of musicians and good friends involved in this project.
I hope you enjoy it, as well as the rest of the mix. There's some live recordings, studio sessions and the new single and also a first play of a remix of it by Black Classical.

Can you pick a few records that you think we should check out, ones we might have missed?
Well obviously I highly recommend the Sarathy Korwar LP on Ninja Tune. The recent Collocutor record on On The Corner is mind blowingly good. And another record that literally just came out is the Brownswood "Versions" double LP - Gilles Peterson, Emily Moxon & co celebrating 10 years of the label with cover versions done by their artists. I'm happy and proud to say that our version of Sun Ra's Love In Outer Space with Ahmed Abdullah features as the opening track (well a remix I did of our live studio session).

Introduction: Ahmed Abdullah (Sun Ra Arkestra veteran & Steve Reid collaborator - writer of the track)
Lions of Judah - Emanative
Resonate - Emanative Percussion Ensemble
Oshi Ha Puri - Ben Hadwen (Produced by Emanative)
Mantra - Emanative Percussion Ensemble
Ominous Shanti - Emanative
Ominous Shanti (Black Classical Mix) - Emanative
Interstellar Outerlude - Bed Hadwen / Emanative

Words & interview by Jack Hardwicke
Métron Records 2018. Hampshire, UK.