Amp Fiddler
Waltz of a Ghetto Fly

By Masta G

Joseph 'Amp' Fiddler hails from Detroit – a hub of musical creativity – and that city's traditions of both electronic and organic soul are audible on his new album. A session musician who was a member of George Clinton's band, Amp Fiddler's maturity and vast experience (check out the list of people he's played with on his website) are evident on this coherent and convincingly polished modern soul album, which takes in jazz, funk, hip hop and house. His background as a session musician strongly informs his work as a producer: making music is a collaborative process for Amp Fiddler. He utilises the talents of producer J Dilla on You Play Me and on Waltz of a Ghetto Fly to add the crispness and crunching bass heard on last year's Jaylib project. It is a testament to his integrity as a musician and a human being that he met the slum village producer through music-based community work in his native Detroit. He asserts his belief in being able to change the world in Love and War, co-produced with Detroit techno legend Moodyman, a sweet jazzy house number which brings to mind the laid back vibes of St Germain.

I Believe In You is another standout which employs female harmonies and a squelching bass line to create a heavy, psychedelic soul feel. He also calls on the talents of neo-soul producer and sometime Tribe Called Quest collaborator Raphael Saadiq on Dreamin. Throughout the album Amp Fiddler creates a consistent sound from disparate elements which suggests a man who knows his own mind, while being open to new influences and ideas. Refusing the cartoonish obsessions of some of his hip hop contemporaries, his lyrical focus is on the everyday, concentrating on love and relationships in the best soul tradition and, in the title track, offering a timeless image of cool and self-possession in the face of life's challenges.

Perhaps the most appropriate comparison which offers itself is with jazz-funk legend Roy Ayers – Amp Fiddler has a similarly soulful vibe and multi-instrumental talent to the man whose back catalogue seems to provide a living for numerous record companies. Just as Ayers' timeless sound rode the wave of funk and disco in the seventies, Amp Fiddler seems to incorporate house and hip hop into his production without fixing it in any particular style or era. He's playing live in London at the end of this month and the buzz surrounding his live shows and the evidence of this album suggest that it will be a gig not to be missed.
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