Today, Robert Walter shares "Or Else" and "Franklin" (listen/share), the first two songs from his 'Better Feathers' series, in which the acclaimed keyboardist rolls out six new "digital 45s" via Royal Potato Family. Each release will feature two singles for a total of 12 tracks to be issued from now through October.
Written and recorded entirely at home during quarantine in 2020 and 2021, Robert immersed himself in the writing and recording process as a way to remain creative and fend off boredom while faced with a year of no live shows. In his own words, "it was time to shift gears and think of the situation as a positive and not a negative; an unexpected abundance of time to emerge with something of value." The title 'Better Feathers' comes from the idea of birds molting—shedding their old, worn out feathers for new, better ones.
"The music is influenced by the methods. In the absence of working with a group, the focus turned to overdubbing layers of sound. Inspirations were found by digging into late 70s NYC dance music, dub reggae, archaic blues, Krautrock, jazz and funk," explains Robert. "Rather than making the more obvious quiet, introspective music, the focus instead turned to my nostalgia for sweaty bars and crowded dance floors. Somewhere during the process, tracks began floating back and forth to friends like Stanton Moore (Galactic), Craig Brodhead (Turkuaz), Chris Stillwell (The Greyboy Allstars), Jake Najor, John Kimock and Mike Gordon (Phish) to add their own parts remotely."
"Or Else," the first of the two tracks released in the series features Robert Walter's frequent collaborator, New Orleans drummer Stanton Moore and Turkuaz guitarist Craig Brodhead. "It was influenced by early '80s dance records by artists like Grace Jones and Le Chic," says Walter. "The melody was conceived in the spirit of the dub melodica explorations of Augustus Pablo—pure tropical funk and summer vibes. It was the first tune I wrote for the sessions."
The "b-side" is "Franklin" named after Robert Walter's elementary school and his memories of those days. Once again Stanton Moore joins on drums, adding an especially spare and funky beat. "There was a certain time during the mid-'70s where it seemed like everything in pop culture was funky. Saturday morning cartoons, television commercials and most of the music on the radio had absorbed (and sometimes bastardized) the sounds of James Brown, Sly Stone and the Jackson 5," explains Walter. "It’s an attempt to do the Bernie Worrell trick of overdubbing lots of different keyboards that all snake in and out of each other's way in just the nick of time."
The 'Better Feather' series continues on July with the release of "Saucerman" featuring Phish bassist Mike Gordon and "Devices of Similar Size" with Stanton Moore once again adding drums.
Digital 45 Release Schedule
"Or Else" (w/ Stanton Moore & Craig Brodhead)
"Franklin" (w/ Stanton Moore)
Release Date: June 30, 2021
"Saucermen" (w/ Mike Gordon)
"Devices Of Similar Size" (w/ Stanton Moore)
Release Date: July 21, 2021
"Bloodstar" (w/ Craig Brodhead)
"Better Feathers" (w/ Stanton Moore)
Release Date: August 18, 2021
"Security" (w/ John Kimock)
"It's Not What's"
Release Date: September 1, 2021
"Wet From The Press" (w/ Jake Najor)
"Feeder, Doctor, Talker" (w/ Jake Najor & Chris Stillwell)
Release Date: September 22, 2021
"Hellhound" (w/ Chris Stillwell)
Release Date: October 27, 2021