Lee Paradise’s Sounds Behind “The Fink”

On his forthcoming solo debut, the Hooded Fang vocalist experiments with a wide array of sounds, which he cites inspiration for here.

We could merely write off The Fink—the debut LP from Hooded Fang co-founder Lee Paradise—as a classic example of “cyborg-funk,” as it brands itself on the record’s Bandcamp page, but without a working definition of that genre easily googleable (“did you mean: cyborg funko”) I’m afraid we’ll have to go a bit deeper. Introducing the LP with the, yeah, pretty funky and pretty cyborg-y lead single “Message to the Past,” and perhaps leaning further into those adjectives with succeeding samples “Maintaining Platitudes” and “Boogie”—and now the mischievous “Hollow Face,” streaming below—each defining characteristic of Paradise’s unique sound has its roots in some disparate corner of your local record store.

Giving us a playlist as something of a roadmap for his new record, out December 4 on Telephone Explosion, Paradise cites everything from Alchemist’s production, to Hosono’s ambient soundscapes, to Belgian film soundtracks as sounds that appealed to him while venturing into a solo career. Hear the latest cut from The Fink below, and read on for more info on the DNA strands that make up the bizarre listen. You can pre-order the record here.

Alchemist, “2Stings”

The Rapper’s Best Friend instrumental series kind of became a soundtrack to my waking life. I could listen to them all day. Alchemist has such a good touch, never too busy, the right amount of minimal ominous vibe, and bangin drums. I like to walk around the city listening to them.

Benjamin Lew & Steven Brown, “Bamako Ou Ailleurs”

I heard this by chance at a friend’s house years back, and I found it very calming for anxiety. I would listen to it to go to sleep. I’ve probably listened to it hundreds of times at this point. 

Released on the storied Belgian label Crammed Discs, this is a collaboration between Lew, an artist who came from Liege to Brussels, and Steven Brown (of Tuxedo Moon). I spent some time in Liege and Brussels when I was younger, and this matches the somewhat depressive but supernatural times that I had there.

Scientist, The Best Dub Album in the World

I listen to Scientist records when I’m gardening at my job. It goes well with plants and trees, and helps me forget about the notion of time. I’m a big fan of dub production, Space Echo, the bass and tones, and how the different instruments drift in and out like wafts of smoke, or spirits in conversation. I’m also in awe of the musicianship and originality.

Carol, So Low

Another Belgian record, it really encapsulates the feeling that I wanted for The Fink. Simple music with depressing lyrics, like acid rain dripping onto grey city buildings. Snowy Red produced a bunch of stuff but Carol, the singer, is a mystery. It’s the perfect blend—sad, drippy pop, yet still resilient. Sounds pretty over gritty.

Steven Brown, “Life Gone By”

This piece is from the film Jean Gina B. by Jean Pol Ferbus. “The film is a biographical portrait of a man living in Belgium working as a marine radio officer who at the age of fifty, though not gay, decided to live the rest of his life as a woman…which he did until he died at age 72 in 1986.” 

Steven Brown, “Scene 2: The Bar”

This is off of Brown’s second solo record, and was inspired by the works of Burroughs and Jean Genet. It has a self-aware and self-deprecating tone to it. It’s dramatic and almost seemingly sarcastically honest and self-pitying.

Walter Wisenhunt, “I Am Saluting You for Your Love”

I’m not sure what’s up with this recording. It’s the same music as Marvin Gaye’s “Ego Tripping Out,” but produced by Wisenhunt. I like how weird it is, it really sounds like they’re about to fall off the rails. He released it independently. Walter was also Gloria Ann Taylor’s husband. 

Demolition Group, “You Better”

This version sounds faster than a couple others that I’ve found, but I like it like that. It has a mechanical urgency. I’m a big fan of drums like this that are drum machines but almost mimic a live kit. 

Test Pattern, Après-Midi

I’ve listened to this record many, many times. It’s one of my go-tos. I like the irreverent tongue-in-cheek melancholy-but-peppy innocence about it, and the amazing MIDI programming.  There’s some beautiful instrumental songs, and also a great tune about being a salary man. Sad pop in the guise of happy simplicity.

Ad Astra, “A&R”

This was a recent discovery but it sounds pretty much like what I like to create. This compilation is excellent.

Benjamin Lew, “Hommes Assis Devant Un Mur Chaulé”

Another off-kilter song from Benjamin Lew. 

Haruomi Hosono, Watering a Flower

Hosono (of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and who also produced the Test Pattern record) composed this as in-store music for Muji, on commision. I listened to it to relax when making early demos. It gets weird and ominous later on in the record.


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