Record of the week W40 by Rogier Oostlander
Although he’s been in the game for more than three decades, ‘The Clearing’ is the debut solo album by Anthony Khan, the producer/musician who’s probably best known as Twilite Tone.
Coming from a musical household - his uncle is the legendary Chicago bass player Hassan Khan, while he’s also related to bass giant Richard Davis - Twilite Tone has soaked up the sound of the Windy City since the early seventies, producing house tracks under a bunch of secretive aliases in the mid-to-late eighties, while simultaneously forming a group with and DJ-ing for Common.
That collaboration resulted in the 1992 co-production of Common’s classic debut ‘Can I Borrow A Dollar’ (1997’s seminal Lowrell and Patrice Rushen-sampling ‘Reminding Me (Of Sef)’ is also a Tone production) - before moving on to work with big names like Gorillaz and Kanye West.
Armed with only an MPC, a Korg Triton Workstation and what he calls a ‘secret Moog-like module’, Tone cooks up fourteen beatscapes on ‘The Clearing’, navigating between hiphop, funk and house - much like the city of Chicago itself. A sound he himself describes as ‘transgenre’.
Zigzagging between headbopping machine funk (opener ‘Journey Into Sound’, ‘The Lite’,) and spaced-out instrumental hiphop jams (‘Ancestors and Angels’, ‘The Sound’), Tone veers towards a more housey sound as the album progresses, concluding his fourteen track journey with the buzzin’ ‘Taxi Cab Confessions’, a track that’s equal parts Dilla, Theo and early Dance Mania - a modern yet timeless sort of sound that refuses to be tied down to any one genre but is a perfect addition to Stones Throw’s illustrious beat tape tradition. (RO)