Earlier this year Jan Schulte released his debut album under the guise of his dance music alter ego Bufiman - whilst having released several long form records under the name of Wolf Müller previously, this was his first fully fledged dancefloor focussed LP.
Writing an album with the dancefloor in mind is no simple feat, many records of this ilk have tried and failed to capture the imagination: tracks becoming repetitive and loosely scattered without a cohesive narrative.
However, Jan has always been uniquely identifiable in his own sound and style, as such his "Albumsi" was written in a way which offered depth and structure. A story of breaks, cosmic soundscapes and playful melodies.
Released on Dekmantel in January, a crew with which he has become closely affiliated, the release is a showcase of his forward thinking approach to dance music. We invited him to talk us through the album in full...
At first this was a raw sketch of a hectic drumbreak that I experimented with when I got the Korg MS20. When I listened to it after while I began to think of it turning it into a classic jazz-funk tune to pay hommage to one of my biggest musical influences.. It came into being the first song with me singing, ever.
Welcoming words with a hint to my drumsample addiction (I've been collecting drumsamples for twenty years now). The melody sounded way easier in my head though, it actually took me ages to record a few acceptable takes. It is really fascinating to me that even though we use our voice daily for most of our lives, trying to pronounce the same few words in tone, in the same way is actually really hard. The end of the track contains a bit of the drumming from a studio-recording demonstration record that was famously sampled on “Praise You”.
This one started with a very overloaded percussion sample from Embryo, one of my favourite kraut groups, and whilst playing around with it I recognized a short catchy flute bit at the end of the sample. I copied this bit over the beat for a few times and tried a random transpose and suddenly there was this melody. When it was almost finished I asked my girl Sara how I should title it, she said “Pongo Pongo” which was nicely describing the sound of the percussion here.. but “Sara Sara” seemed like an even nicer idea. (Actually doesnt contain a classic drumbreak, but a classic drummachine: Boss Dr. Groove DR-202.)
This track was maybe the first that I started after deciding to write this album and I am happy it moved from from a jittery (nervous) breakbeat to this Disco tune between Rhythm Heritage and Mantronix.. maybe. This one contains the break from “Apache” played by the Incredible Bongo Band. This drumbreak and drumsound is so elementary to me that I had to include it on the album.
Blow Your Head
This track was intended to be and actually still somehow is a hommage to one of the funkiest jams to ever be recorded: Fred Wesley & The JB’s - "Blow Your Head". Then I had too much fun doing these very detailled variations in the MS20 groove and now it sounds like a Chemical Brothers track in slow motion. On the vinyl this fades smoooothly into the following track “Pantasy”, both tracks even share some elements. (Very subtly contains the drums from The Rim-Shots “Dance Girl”.)
When I started with this one I wanted to do a crude stomper like “Fantasy”, released in 2012 on VfMM. The simplicity of it’s production makes it my secret favourite Bufiman track, all of the tuned percussions creating the groove and melody in it are just pitched and played from one sample on the MPC1000. But as my productions rarely end like my early plans, plus the drum patterns turned out way groovier, this turned into a rolling acid pan-flute jam, short: “Pantasy” (Subtly contains the infamous “Humpty-Dump” Break from The Vibrettes.)
News From The Treetops
The weird wirey rhythmic sound in the beginning was the outcome of an experiment to reduce all strings from an acoustic guitar besides one and trying to find a different way of playing the instrument. I succeded and found a weird unique way to play the string by roughly plucking and pressing the string… but it was a looot of work to cut the recordings slightly into the beat. Not sure if I will play the guitar like this again! (Contains the famous “Doggone” break from Arthur Lee’s Love amongst a batch of others.)
Langsam Aber Slowly...
This short intermezzo happened when a short severely slowed down recording from a disco tune that I had just recorded to sample the kickdrum accidentally landed on an audiotrack with heavy FX.. and sounded intense. So I added more drums, synth and space.
... /I think I Got It Under Control Now...
The reason I started this is very simple and plain: I had produced a bunch of faster dance tunes and I needed a slower jam. After a lot of dubby rhythm programming and some Poly800 white noise sequencing I remembered the brilliant youtube-video called “My New Microphone” and sampled the voice snippets straight from youtube, state-of-the-art-style! The expression “I think I Got It Under Control Now” whilst mostly losing control is something I felt very connected to and almost became the album title too.
… /Well, Traumhaft
Whilst searching for more big wet splashy space snares for “I think i got it under control now” I stumbled over some elements of this track that were originally used in a live show with my friend Niklas Rehme-Schlüter aka Cass. Coincidentally the vibe and the tempo fitted surprisingly well to turn this whole vinyl side into a slow-motion space adventure. It even comes to a grandiose finale (end) now with a synthesizer workout by Lucas Croon & Kolja Scymanski (Stabil Elite) that still gives me goosebumps every time. (The medley contains a super pitched down classic break: “Sweet Pea” by Tommy Roe)
The whole frame of this track originates from one of my recording sessions with Florian Van Volxem in 2008, around the time I also recorded “Running” (released on Versatile, 2014). I guess at that time I didn’t make much progress with it and kind of forgot about it after a while. When I rediscovered it while browsing through old projects I directly felt like finishing it now for the album, as the beats and psychedelic drive still hit me instantly. At one point I realized it might need some spoken word stuff on top, wrote down some current thoughts and luckily realized I should not use my own recording of these to find the perfect voice artist in my friend ML.
This is maybe the most melodic track that I have ever made. Within the production process I got freaked out by this one for at least two weeks as I must have accidentaly changed the transposition of my whole midi file - it changes the note without moving it visibly. I was almost losing any confidence in my musical hearing while trying to play along with it or trying to reprogram the melody. Luckily I found out at some point and was able to finish the symphony! (Contains some classic drums by the legendary Positive Force)
Rave The Forest
For this track I bounced 37 different versions up until the final one. Never before have I tested so many different drum patterns to decide against in the end. The small accents and flows in the synth and percussion sequences have enough space now to float warmly to the end of my "Albumsi". (As I deleted almost all of the drums here this one doesnt contain a classic break, but at least it ends with the beautiful and unbelievable voice of a siamang gibbon.)
Buy the album HERE.