DUTCH maestro Mason last month dropped his third album, Frisky Biscuits on Mark Knight's Toolroom Records.
The long player is a genre hopping collection which delves deep into his influences. It's not often that Toolroom put out artist albums which goes some way to underline how much they like this piece of work.
Ignoring prevailing trends in the electronic music sphere, Mason effortlessly weaves between house, funk, disco, and the type of impossible-to-define sounds which have seen the Dutch artist consistently walk his own path in a 25-year career in electronic music. The 13-track album is littered with guest vocalists such as Jem Cooke (Camelphat) and Shingai (The Noisettes), all bringing their unique talents.
As Mark Knight (founder of Toolroom Records) comments, “As an artist, Mason sits in his own space - he doesn’t follow trends, and he has his own identity. When we sign talent at Toolroom, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. This album is a really creative and cohesive body of work – it’s a real listening journey, an experience.”
Created wholly in lockdown conditions this album is an antidote to the Covid era. Realising that people needed something to smile about Mason crafted a record that smacks of positivity and joy. This is not heads-down fuel for a dark Berlin warehouse but a soundtrack for dancing on picnic tables in the sun. The Amsterdam-based producer has created a typically eclectic selection of tunes designed for sound tracking all activities of life and not just sweating in a nightclub. In that sense it is very much a lockdown album.
Mason comments, “I wanted to turn these weird times into something productive so I locked myself in studio like a true hermit. I'm hoping with this album to bring my share of warmth and positivity to this world, which I like to think we can all use these days.”
We caught up with Mason this week and asked him to talk us through some influential tracks and some music from the new album.
B.W.H. - Stop
"In dance music ‘sound’ and ‘mixdown’ is part of the creative and composition process really. This track is one of my all-time favourites in that aspect. It’s dusty, funky, positive and has a certain production sound that isn’t easy to create. In the past mixing was just a necessary evil for me. Nowadays I’m a mixdown junky and spend an insane amount of hours on getting a hi-hat sounding a certain way. I do realise nobody cares but me and it’s just for my own joy. I just really appreciate the craft of getting something to sound really good. Sometimes people assume I sample a lot of disco loops, but I create them from scratch, trying to make them sound like they were from the 70s and have that dusty sparkle."
Les Rhythmes Digitales - About Funk
"‘Darkdancer’ by Les Rhythmes Digitales’ was definitely one of the most influential albums for me. The no nonsense fun(k) and no compromises struck a chord here and I feel I’m somewhat musically related. I think the world is serious enough as it is, and I like my dance music to be fun(k), original, fresh and different. This album was just all of that and much more."
The Moments - Girls
"My corona soundtrack by The Moments. Maybe it’s the lyrics that I can identify with :) Or the soothing vibe of the track in general."
Ry Cooder - El UFO Cayó
"The man, the hero, the legend. Versatile, always exploring new territories, always original. This is one of my many favorite Cooder songs, taken from his ‘Chávez Ravine’ album. The album tells the true story of a mexican-american community demolished by a housing project in the 50s. If someone hasn’t built a statue for Ry Cooder they damn well should. Preferably in a mexican-american community that is. Vocals by Juliette Commagere by the way (lead singer of Hello Stranger)."
Horowitz playing Schumann ‘Traumerei’ in Moscow
"81-year old Vladimir Horowitz returned to his home country Russia in 1984 for this somewhat controversial concert, after being away for 61 years. As an encore he played the lovely ‘Traumerei’ by Schumann, with such a finesse and unmatched timing, it made a room full of grown-up men cry. Afterwards mobs outside gathered and police had to get involved as was the custom in the USSR. I’ve always felt Russians have a way better understanding of the true meaning of melancholia."
LA Priest - What Moves
"As any DJ I follow new music releases every day neurotically, and this is the last album I really enjoyed. Different, fresh, go check it out kids."
Germans - Cruel
"I grew up in the 80s and have a soft-spot for smooth ballads. What can I say? Slow-dancing with girls on school parties may have caused it. This song might not actually been from the 80s, but a fake that's got that decade’s signature all over it. Tried to find out more about this act, but googling for ‘Cruel Germans’ got me to all sort of other interesting websites."
Mount Sims - How We Do
"I can honestly say this track somewhat changed my career. Up until then electro was a weird little niche thing I liked a few things of, but usually quite cold and industrial. All of a sudden I was introduced to the warmer cozy side of electro with this in 2003, so I started to go to these electro(clash) events in Amsterdam to find more of that sound. Within months I became the resident DJ at one of the main electro events in the Netherlands called Electronation, and we did a crazy amount of shows with a group of artists that felt like a musical family. It became a scene that was positive and fun and it led to me creating music to accompany it, like ‘ xceeder' - which again changed my life. However around 2009 when electro moved towards EDM I totally lost interest in the genre it had become, so I moved on to different things."
Eric Vloeimans - Hyper
"Eric Vloeimans is a dutch jazz trumpet player and composer, who rides on filmic melancholic waves. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him live a few times, which consists of him dragging a whole audience down one trippy and super epic rabbit hole you don't wanna get out of."
Mason - Loosen Up
"So I have an album out. It’s called ‘Frisky Biscuits’, and it’s fully made in lockdown conditions. It was really nice to turn this period into something productive, and the album turned out quite playful and positive. I hope you guys enjoy it!"
Mason ‘Firsky Biscuits is out now on Toolroom Records. Listen, stream and download from HERE.