Date: May 03 2012
Towards the end of 2011, stentorian tracks of indomitable hip-hop, penned by an apocryphal group known as Quakers, began to cut a swathe through the dense jungle of the internet, each exhibiting a different rapper.
It wasn't long before the authors, along with the reason for the music's punch, was revealed. Quakers combines three revered producers - Fuzzface (Geoff Barrow of Portishead), Australia's own Katalyst (Ashley Anderson) and 7stu7 (Stuart Matthews). Over three years they have created 41 tracks for 32 MCs to run wild over.
The germination of such an epic undertaking came by introduction of a mutual friend 14 years ago.
''She thought we had a bit in common and would get along,'' Anderson says. ''I expected Geoff to be a bit of a rock'n'roll star, an arrogant 'I'm the man' type of dude. He's one of my best friends now. They say everything happens for a reason; maybe Quakers was the reason.''
From his magnificent hip-hop/breaks pastiche debut Manipulating Agent in 2002 to his more recent soul- and funk-sampled work in Deep Impressions and Space Invadas with Steve Spacek, Anderson has always been a masterful producer. Barrow's lofty standards have pushed his talents even further with Quakers.
''It's a pleasure working with Geoff because he truly is an amazing musician and artist,'' Anderson says. ''He's really pushed me to come up with my best and luckily I was up for the task.''
''Geoff's not one to pull punches. If he's not feeling something or it's not right he will just tell you 'no'. Initially I found it confronting until I realised that's just how he operates, and to accept critique and learn from someone like him.''
The Quakers collective set out to ''make their mark on hip-hop before we became too old to be relevant''. Their mantra was a simple one - ''write some really good beats for some really good rappers''. In this they have succeeded admirably, scooping critical and consumer plaudits.
''We all played a major role with a record of this size. We could have made four records; there's not a beat on there that couldn't be pushed more,'' Anderson says proudly. ''We'd come up with the nucleus of a track, present it to each other, and if we were feeling it we'd fine-tune it.
''We had a chat about how it should run stylistically, how to break up the record and not repeat styles. It had to feel good going straight into the next track and they needed to have a relationship with each other. I think it came together very well.''
Indeed, the stilted beat and spacey synths of critical favourite Russia With Love straight into the big horns and boom-bap of fan favourite What Chew Want is a perfect example of this flow, and in the process showcases the talents of MCs Coin Locker Kid and Tone Tank. Quakers is a community service project that has gifted these emerging rappers to a global audience. With record label Stones Throw greenlighting more output, happily enough this service will continue.
''Certain people were just about money, which is cool, but that's not this record. Maybe next time I'll hit them up once we've had the chance to build the brand and see what we're about,'' Anderson says of assembling vocalists.
With: Faux Real, Jayo, Tone Def and Jemist
When: Saturday, 8pm
Where: Transit Bar, Akuna Street, Civic
TICKETS: $15 from Moshtix, moshtix.com.au
■ Allan Sko is managing director of BMA magazine Canberra
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