Have Mercy! This album from beat guru extraordinaire Shawn Lee is the shiznit. It’s called Music and Rhythm and is not to be slept on.
What you’ll find on this masterpiece is 25 instrumental tracks all around two minutes in length. Taking the format of classic 70’s style library records- Lee’s album is basically a barrage of beats and funky jams. His recent, self-admitted obsession with Library records inspired the concept of his new album, as he explains – “Original library records were mostly instrumental mood pieces written and performed by top studio session musicians for background usage in T.V. and film. It was a cheaper way of getting music rather than paying a composer to do a soundtrack.” The tracks on Lee’s album feature a wide variety of different sounds, including hot bollywood breakbeats, psychedelic rock, and straight up raw funk.
An impressive side note- Shawn Lee self-produced the album, played all of the instruments, and sang all the vocals. This in no-way compromises the quality of the tracks as Lee’s musical abilities shine throughout the album. Regarding the process of creating this album completely on his own, he notes, “it was an absolute joy. I see playing and producing as part of the same process. It was a very much back to basics approach, just start at the beginning of the track and play to the end – get a performance. That felt really refreshing because in modern recording everything is (so) cut and pasted.”
In the CD’s sleeve you find a hilarious breakdown of each track- typical of original library records. For instance, on the cut “Bongo Fever,” “Bongos battle for supremacy against a bad-ass breakbeat backdrop of furious proportions. Tambourine and triangle join in the fight as a funky bassline referees the skirmish.” Shawn Lee has emerged from underground obscurity and dropped a completely unique and entertaining album. Like it says in the liner notes, “Saddle up y’all, and prepare to wrangle some of the meanest spaghetti and meatballs you ever laid eyes on.” Yep, not sure what that’s all about but one’s thing is for sure- Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra delivers the funky goods.