Michna's Chunky Funk
Adrian Michna, on the phone from his Brooklyn home, has been called to discuss production. Known to many as DJ Egg Foo Young, or as a producer under his own last name, 30-year-old Michna could just pimp his full-length debut, Magic Monday, released on Ghostly International. The album is first-rate, pulling together an entire East Coast worth of influences. But first he has to big up a different type of ensemble.
"The Goonies has all the elements of a good movie, but because it's the entire gang," says Michna, discussing influential childhood memories in terms of his music. "Put the Goonies all together, plus the entourage of girls, and it's like the Wu-Tang Clan in their prime. You want that adventurous but tight-knit feeling. Some things hold their charm, even for 20 years."
Indeed, Michna, who chops homemade snippets such as Data with an E-mu SP-1200 sampler, is down with the posse. Following a brief time in the UK, the Westchester County, New York-bred turntablist and trombone aficionado moved to Miami in 1996 (and still shouts out Poplife, WVUM, Sweat Records, and others). And here he formed one point in the both celestial and submerged tone triangle known as Schematic Records outfit Secret Frequency Crew, subsequently collaborating with artists such as ethno-audiologist Diplo.
But even though Secret Frequency Crew's Matt Friedman and Matt Brown make appearances on Magic Monday, this recently released album is all about Michna and the things he has personally held charming since childhood. Cobbled together from flicking needle drops and slurring accidental cut-ins through broken cassette decks; dewy chords and harmonic bass lines; and chalky midrange sweeps and subs synced with ring modulation, Magic Monday's instrumentals bounce among several styles.
The astro-electro is familiar to fans of Natural Rhythms-era Coldcut ("Triple Chrome Dipped"), Boards of Canada ("Believe in It"), or other UK down-tempo acts. But it comes filtered through New York's arterial trunk funk ("Swiss Glide") and Miami's fathomless low end ("Redline Flights"). The album stays true to a consistent undercurrent of scuffed precision, best embodied by the presence of Mishna's trombone — a nuanced, humanist instrument that can both bring the party and eulogize it, depending on resonance. Psychology almost as much as sound finds its place in Michna's multihued beat box, which looks at the way buoyant murmurs relate to robotic trills.
"I remember as a kid I saw a white canvas with a red stripe on it, something considered modern art, and I could see what they were doing," reflects Michna, a very visual composer. "But on this other canvas there was a work so layered, like it was melting, and that, I thought, was really impressive. I end up going for sort of minimal, bare sounds, but layering them to get that chunky feel."
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