San Francisco-based DJ and multi-instrumentalist CDCM Releases Trip-hop inspired “Dandy Lion”

San Francisco-based DJ and multi-instrumentalist CDCM, unveils their latest album, “Dandy Lion,” a homage to the trip-hop genre infused with ambient and downtempo elements.

Inspired by English singer-songwriter Beth Gibbons and the iconic sounds of Portishead, CDCM channels their admiration into an album that captivates listeners with its thought-provoking arrangements and comforting nostalgia.

In this review, we not only dive into the 7-track album “Dandy Lion,” but also speak with Conn (CDCM) about the recording sessions at Hyde Street Studios, the gear used throughout the album, as well as their approach to song writing and production.

Studio Setup and Album Preparation

Hey Conn, could you tell us a little about the recording process of “Dandy Lion” and some of the studio gear that features on the album? 

Yeah, so most of the work I do is at my studio in the Tenderloin in SF. The facility is called Hyde Street Studios. A ton of ghosts in those halls—and friendly faces—it’s like a family there. Tupac and Souls of Mischief all recorded there; Hieroglyphics did “Third Eye Vision” there, Cake did “Prolonging the Magic” there. Green Day cut their first major release there; Herbie Hancock did half of “Headhunters,” Parliament Funk Crew, etc.

Studio A’s vintage Neve 8038 was brought over from England and specially modified to fit Hyde Street’s needs.

My business partners Trent and Michael help me manage a space there we call Dreamrack Studios. At one point, it was the recreation room for artists on break from their sessions. It had a pool table in there, and given the iconoclasts in that room, we always wonder what magical conversations or plans were made in that room—hence it would be our “Dreamrack” of pool.

Inside, we have a modest but secret weapon-type setup. An Apollo runs the conversion, and below it is our patch bay that’s linked to all our toys and outboard gear that all run to the CPU. The real sauce over there is the custom microphones we’ve built and a couple we’ve sourced from other really impressive custom mic companies like Barbaric, whose mics are beefy and competitive with the best stuff out there.

A full list of studio gear available at Dreamrack Studios can be seen by tapping the image above.

“I’ve used live instrumentation such as verbed-out kalimbas, guitar courtesy of my Gretsch 6118, Trent Berry on bass for most tracks, “Forn” features French horn from an SF Symphony member, there’s even a sampling of Pamela Parker (Hyde street alum) when she was testing mics with us. This album was a confluence of synthesis and sampling, just like the old days.”

I would start with a custom patch on my Korg or Serum and just dick with it for hours until it sounded like it belonged on an old trip-hop album. From there, it’s just ornamental material to fill in the feel and get hypnotic. Bass line here, twinkles there. It became quite a journey equatable to sculpting or cooking.

Conn is the co-founder and senior sound engineer at Dreamrack Studios.

About the Album

Drawing inspiration from the trip-hop genre, characterised by its slow tempos and atmospheric sound, CDCM has produced seven tracks that explore this signature genre dubbed “Europe’s alternative choice in the second half of the ’90s.”

Conn’s expertise as a professional multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer shines throughout the album that features immaculate production quality, demonstrating attention to detail in both its instrumentation and arrangement.

As you listen through “Dandy Lion,” you’ll uncover tracks like “Squeezy,” where Conn skilfully merges slow grooves with experimental ambient textures. The atmospheric soundscape ebbs and flows throughout the single, enriching its depth.

“A lot of what I do is just to please my need for nostalgic feels and make sure what I make is dark and interesting enough to stand up to the artists I idolize. My music is the soundtrack to a dark drive after a rough day, theme music for the downtrodden. I just want the music to be recognized. I just want my daughter and wife to be proud of me and know that anyone can express themselves this way and be successful if they don’t give up.” – Conn

Moving forward to track three “He’s Flat,” the blending of rhythm and melody, accompanied by a haunting string arrangement and ethereal backing vocals, makes this track really resonate with me. The intricate interplay between bass lines and percussion adds layers of complexity to the composition, with the short, ghostly vocal adding great dimension. The single showcases great variation, enhanced by the mysterious allure of the violin that evokes an enigmatic atmosphere.

The album finishes with the single “Cheeky Velvet Pillow,” that definitely stands out with its dynamic tempo changes and jazz-infused vibes. The swinging high-hats, grooving bass line, and electric piano melodies create a captivating rhythm, while the swirling atmospheric background yet again adds an additional dimension to the arrangement.

Release Date and Streaming

The album released on 29th March 2024 and can be streamed via Spotify and Apple Music.

You can also support CDCM on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud or by viewing their personal website.

Interested in discovering our artist catalogue? Head to our artist page here.

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