Warp 9

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: ‘Nunk’ by Warp 9 

During my fevered record collecting sorties of the last century, certain books became biblical road-maps stuffed with irresistible shopping lists, there to be ticked off with meticulous obsession. These included Peter Guralnick’s ‘Sweet Soul Music’, Rickey Vincent’s ‘Funk: The Music, The People, And The Rhythm Of The One’ and, after it appeared in 1985, David Toop’s ‘The Rap Attack: African Jive To New York Hip Hop’ – just about the only book available on hip hop before the genre invaded the mainstream.

Covering the fast-evolving movement’s pre-styles, birth and story so far, Toop fuelled pockets-draining forays to Soho’s Groove Records and every vinyl henhouse in New York City when I got there. Particularly tantalising were the electro tunes that sprung up in the pulsating wake of ‘Planet Rock’, especially something called ‘Nunk’ by Warp 9 because it was co-written and produced by one Lotti Golden.

Locating it at Vinyl Mania on Carmine Street (round the corner from
Paradise Garage), the tune turned out to be a classic example of music
biz veterans embracing the electronic future, as Lotti Golden had made
a groundbreaking, extremely obscure NY street poetry/funky soul epic in 1969 called ‘Motor-Cycle’, once described as “if The Velvet Underground had signed to Motown”. Thirteen years later, here she is, working with ex-jazz fusion keyboardist Richard Scher (and co-producer “Jellybean” Benitez), planting catchy pop refrains like “Girl, you’re looking good on my video” over what they called their new wave funk – hence the hybrid title ‘Nunk’.

Showing how NY musicians were adapting to electronic developments, Warp 9 also included singing drummers Milton “Boe” Brown of The Strikers and Chuck Wansley from Charades. With spacey melodies uncurling like astral methane and synthesised bass evoking a rusty sheriff’s badge in a longhorn’s rectum, the easy groove and insidious vocal hook of ‘Nunk’ ensnared New York’s radio stations and local dancefloors, enabling alien visitation follow-up, ‘Light Years Away’ (inspired by ‘The Message’), DJ-homaging ‘Master Of The Mix’ and colossal ‘No Man Is An Island’ (which Dom Beken and I sampled for our remix of The Orb’s ‘DDD’). All were gathered on their ‘It’s A Beat Wave’ album.

Golden and Scher’s multi-textured catchiness also worked on their productions of Sharon Brown’s cod-piece rocketing ‘I Specialize In Love’, Chilltown’s ‘Rock The Beat’ and ‘Girls’ Night Out’ by Ladies’ Choice. As Toop points out, they presented a more musical side of the electro boogie spectrum than the harder-nosed missives from Captain Rock, Pumpkin and the awesome Davy DMX, whose ‘One For The Treble (Fresh)’ once burrowed into my brain like a radioactive glow-worm – and is still there!

You May Also Like
Read More

Corking Tuneage

This latest instalment finds our esteemed columnist knee-deep in goat’s scrotums, masturbating ducks and hippo flatulence… oh and some corking tuneage  
Read More

Joe Meek, Hendrix, Hawkwind

Whoah, right? What’s going on here then? Well, we’ve unleashed our esteemed columnist, freed him from regular reviewing duties and he’s now going to be riding to work on a Smorgasboard of interesting stuff. Viva the electronic celebration!
Read More

Simeon Coxe

Freewheeling through time and space  Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: Simeon Coxe