House songwriter/production guru Willy Washington and Lo Fidelity Allstars’ DJ/innovator Phil Ward team their two-man talent pool on the uncompromisingly edgy, experimental and danceable electronica of an EP and album project that is Lorddd and Master, writes Andy Stevens.
Don’t you just love that catch-in-your-throat metallic tang when an unholy new musical alliance clangs together? Those fate-smashing moments when the unexpected hurtles earthwards and crashes through the skylight; a superheated lump of magma wrapped in a fireproof note emblazoned with the command: “Listen to this.”
Zapping your delirious selves with salvos of high-voltage zingers to arrest your inner and outer spaces is rough and tumble electronic dance amalgam Lorddd and Master. Yes, that is three Ds there on Lord(dd). It’s its thing, you see – and you won’t forget it.
Lorddd and Master is an instantly iconoclastic duo with a capacious and leftfield dual dance music pedigree, currently argy-bargying through the EDM swing doors without a ticket and a secure line plugged into the top tunesmith twilight zone.
Go-to new record label Knoziz is properly choked to give Lorddd and Master the full run of the house in their ever-expanding stable of searing sounds, with both the new Another One EP and the A Life Once Lived album up on the board and primed to give you a permanent primal poleaxing.
At first glance, Lorddd and Master’s double-up dance love match is no copper-bottomed Tinder testimonial. But look deeper and you’ll clock that this excitable creative clustering has broadly speaking been rubbing along quietly in both the background and from the sidelines for that recognised international unit of time known as ‘yonks’.
Now belt up and see who’s bristling for action in Lorddd and Master’s blue and red corners. Bringing a clear-sighted club-conscious vibe out of Berlin comes that house production dynamo of legendary leanings Willy Washington, tearing it up in a terrorising studio twin-set with Phil Ward of Lo Fidelity Allstars’ big beat fame and music mythology.
Phil and Willy: that’s Lorddd and Master for you. Both of them. Half each. We’ll be testing you later (possibly).
Skew-whiff scion of the Lo Fidelity Allstars, Phil’s peripatetic six-piece remain feted for their blistering ram-raid blitzes of Brighton’s erstwhile big beat boutique scene in the flinty days of Skint Records doing rough trade on the make do and mend, at the pinnacle of Norman Cook-dom when Fatboy Slim’s fame soared higher than Devil’s Dyke and made him the undisputed king of dance music’s South Downs and sunny uplands.
Unlike Phil and the Lo Fidelity Allstars’ Leeds and environs roots, which then led them to London, Brighton and beyond, pre-Berlin Willy’s top-notch house/dance production and writing rep as the-man-who-can was carved out in his native New York/New Jersey.
Willy’s magic touch studio shenanigans have for many years steeped the US east coast house scene in a glittering catalogue of stone-cold classic cuts: sizzling successes to make your spirits soar and spark life anew in your hitherto static leg and feet regions, with tracks which also cut the mustard like a top commission Dijon salesman on the dance floors of the UK and mainland Europe.
The many unforgettable floor-fillers laced deep with Willy’s writing and production class include such time-honoured house barnstormers as Joi Cardwell’s Trouble and You Got To Pray, Jazmina’s Rescue Me (Y Don’t U) and It Ain’t Easy, Losing Control featuring Sha-Sha, Paula Ralph on Ain’t No Runnin’ Away and Mood 2 Swing’s Can’t Get Away.
And top among Willy’s recent ever-expanding litany of bang-on-form club cuts is Gary Adams’ instantly anthemic Can You See My Light?, a recent release on Knoziz no less, which hits more house top-spots than you can shake a stick at, or indeed anything else which may be conveniently at hand.
Willy is the co-creator and joint driving force behind Knoziz Recordings, and you can read tons more about what makes him tick here.
Lorddd and Master’s creative 50 per cent Phil has teenage bedroom kicks – of a fashion – to thank for getting those early sounds off his chest. It was the well-trodden mixtape path that brought the Phil half of the Lorddd and Master firmament to musical fulfilment in his nascent DJ days.
Phil kicked off and then kicked on with his song-spinning capers by making mixtapes using his dad’s reel-to-reel recorder. Just 15 at the time, Phil then cranked up a notch with new gear, graduating to the wonderful world of turntables.
Phil’s skills were already showing through at this formative stage, suggesting that precocious decks-manship was going to prove the righteous path to ful-Phil-ling future shock, rather than a life of jobbing, hobbyist DJism, drudge and dread.
In fact, we’d wager that show-off types would have been tight-clapping with barely concealed envy as 15-year-old Phil once put on an ace face of a show for his classmates, performing on no fewer than three decks. Where was ‘Record Breakers’ when you needed them?
Spool forward to the age of 26, and you’ll have found Phil DJing around various London hotspots and not-spots. And it was in the capital that Phil formulated his first band: the Lo Fidelity Allstars of legend, taste and note.
From haphazard Heath Robinson beginnings, this band thing began to take on a life of its own.
Phil explains: “What was started as just a chance to mess around with a new sampler and play a few shows led to bigger things. Big labels started to show up, and we were eventually signed by Fatboy Slim’s Skint Records in 1997.”
Skint’s fellow honcho Damian Harris was the man who saw to it that Lo Fidelity Allstars put pen to paper, signing them on the back of watching them live and a well-received demo tape.
A trio of singles on Skint came thick and fast in 1997, with Kool Roc Bass, Disco Machine Gun and Vision Incision catching that singularly Skint wash of rolling breakers that gave the big beach city its particular big beat Brighton wave, which created a strong if relatively short-lived swell in the late ‘90s and early knockings of the new century.
Phil’s Lo Fi boys flew high and mighty with the big beat boom balloon, that was always destined for a bubble-licious lick of Brighton rock before it went pop.
They offered an arch, askew and off-kilter counterpoint that curiously spoke of a dub and funk-infused dance dystopia from Madeira Drive to Shoreham Beach, rather than the rollicking Regency city-by-the-sea hedonism of label boss Fatboy Slim’s thousands-strong, massed hordes live praise-o-thons on the pebbles, captured in the abiding popular memory.
That’s not to say the Lo Fidelity Allstars weren’t good time charlies befitting of the age and the big beat genre at its peak. But their creative meanderings were never straight foot-to-the-floor, hands-in-the-air dance floor staples.
They were suffused at times with that peculiar funk-rock noodle zaniness recast in a British underground-indie sensibility, which you’ll recognise from the George Clinton-Funkadelic astro-funk school of rocket-fuelled inter-planetary imaginings, and beaty blast-offs into the galactic space dust.
Reeling this shtick ahead to 2002, and it was no surprise to see Clinton’s starburst-specced bass legend oppo and five-star funk superhero Bootsy Collins piping up on the Lo Fidelity Allstars’ Don’t be Afraid of Love album. Here’s the mighty Bootsy having said blast On The Pier:
After the success among club and dance cognoscenti of their Skint albums (How to Operate with a Blown Mind and Don’t be Afraid of Love), the Lo Fis’ long-playing mix offering also included the track Bootsy Call, once more name-checking the space-funk godhead in a short rock-driven workout with the subtlest of uncompromising nods to the spirit of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain era, plus a splash of cartoon keyboard wizardry to boot.
In those Skint years, Phil takes things up again when the Lo Fidelity Allstars’ international acclaim suddenly kicked in. “We were picked up by Columbia Records for a distribution deal in the USA, and then went on to become the biggest selling UK artists in America in 1999.
“Our debut album How to Operate with a Blown Mind sold more than 500,000 copies there.”
Solo spin-offs have also held their sway for Phil in the long lead up to the new Lorddd and Master project. “Later on I toured the world as a DJ, playing sets to everything from members of the royal family in Singapore to MTV fashion shows in Europe.
“We released two more Lo Fidelity Allstars albums, and I brought out a solo album under the name of Lord Warddd.”
The Lord Warddd (see, we told you about the three Ds being a thing) remix of Your Midnight from the band’s critically acclaimed Northern Stomp album is a particular showstopper that still stands bolt upright and makes itself count:
Phil adds: “The band regularly toured the world, headlining shows from Tokyo to Berlin. Our music has been used on numerous movies and TV shows from Sex and The City to Coyote Ugly, and my official remix of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time was a worldwide club hit.”
To this day, Phil pops up to play DJ sets all over the globe under the decks-driven umbrellas of both Lo Fidelity Allstars and Lord Warddd. And here are three more of the choicest back catalogue Lo Fi lashings for your continued uplifting musical edification:
Lo Fidelity Allstars – Lo Fis In Ibiza:
Lo Fidelity Allstars – Warming Up The Brain Farm:
Lo Fidelity Allstars – Blisters On My Brain:
So where lay the roots of 2021’s upcoming Lorddd and Master glorious creative union of Phil and Willy, coming your way soon on the Knoziz label?
As usual, it’s a cat that did it. Always a cat. Look no further than your nose – ever – to find a cat involved: undisputed winners of the internet, catatonic captains of non-industry, unchallenged paragons of self-publicity and masterful moggy marketeers that your average feline is, all done in style with absolute zero effort.
Willy purrs: “Cast your mind back to around 1999 and there’s a particular song of mine. I was talking to Phil, and he said he really liked it: it’s the track Wait Until The Morning.
“It was released on British label Estereo, and instead of releasing it under my own name, it was suggested that I put out in the name of my cat, Marlo. So basically Marlo got all the credit, as Marlo Da Funky Kat!”Here, puss: you are now entering rugged and wild Willy pared-down house territory with these two scorched earth renditions of rhythm, co-penned on the record under the auspices of Marlo and Michaelian.
Best advice is to wind up your windows as there could be big funky Kats on the prowl on the hypnotic and sparse terrain of this Estereo full vocal version of Wait Until The Morning: darkly seductive and distant as it clatters and carves out its singular deep groove.
And here we treat you to a further tasty morsel, chopped and shaped in another mix of Wait Until The Morning: a stripped back extreme rendition which drifts deeper underground, pricked all over with things percussive while Marlo’s metronomic ‘ba-la-la-las’ let themselves get consumed by the beat’s fibrillating heat, the scamps:
On Willy and Phil’s new Lorddd and Master creative cohesions across both EP and album, any fame-hungry moggies worth their lunch had better sit up on their hind legs and get on with the business of begging.
Willy is effusive in his praise of Phil and having tons of fun with the Lorddd and Master project.
“For me this it basically a big contrast with some of the poppier, dance stuff I’ve done,” Willy explains. “It’s sort of a reaction; my ‘fuck it’ kind of project.”
Phil is equally fully in tune with everything Willy is doing in the crafting of the Lorddd and Master EP and album, and Willy adds: “With Phil, this is the best working relationship I’ve ever had – with anyone.
“We kind of feed off each other. It’s a two-way street, even though we work remotely. I’ll send him lyrics and music down the phone, and he’ll do the same to me. It just works, and always has done.”
And if a certain Ms Jones is watching or listening…
“Right now, I’d really like to work with Grace Jones. I think what we’re doing with Lorddd and Master really lends itself to her style and sound.”
Knoziz dishes up this unyielding icono-clash as Lorddd and Master stretch their joint studio synth wizardry to the hilt, first on the unflinching and fractious panoramas of Another One EP and A Life Once Lived album. On both you’ll be confronted by gathering elements of the floor-filling force of nature which is Lorddd and Master’s shattering, beep and beat slathered MO.
A faceless passegiata of hypnotic humankind is refracted in the insistent beats of Another One’s plinky piano refrain, with a wormy chorus you’re unlikely to shake off without a good night’s sleep.
Also among the standouts on Lorddd and Master’s four-track EP is the trance-ified Nothing Like You, replete with DNA dabbings of mid-period New Order making their mark on the dance petri dish, while indie-crossover appeal daubs the ultraviolet.To the album A Life Once Lived, and a whistle-stop tour of a number of the highlights soon coming your way on Knoziz.
For one, there’s the track Bitches, which ploughs a non-misogynistic furrow as it bumps, bundles and elbows its way onto the musical metro, railing against the urban angst of everywhere and everybody bitchery. You know the feeling.
Delivering positive results in clinical trials is Chem Trails: come down, root down, far down and even farther up music, while Daylight takes a deep languorous drag on a prized cheroot, before stubbing it out and answering the door to the reedy strains of a vocal stoner busy doing the rounds.
Things teeter beyond the threshold of frantic from there on, as Lorddd and Master’s toybox of trickery takes the track on a spectacular turn for the best to keep you fully dazed and fused. Stabby keys pack heat on Dope Sick, before Lorddd and Master pleasingly turn the screw to flip and shapeshift proceedings while whispering sweet absurdities as they do. These boys just can’t help themselves.
Get Yer Life Together is a choppy house jam swirling off into a blissed-out realm of warpy wonderment. Meanwhile My Pills boards the flight home still sexed-up from last night’s strobe-strewn monster mash, but itching to get out and do it all again.
Lorddd and Master close this long player with Why D’you Do It?, a waspish bitchy blow-out of killer chicanery that’ll leave you open-mouthed as the unfolding electronic bust-up positively beasts it.
* Another One EP and A Life Once Lived album by Lorddd and Master are available soon on Knoziz and all the best streaming platforms.
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