Beatmaker and DJ Captain Planet unveils Mystery Trip Vol. 2 on Bastard Jazz Recordings. The album is a go-between where the continents meet and made-to-measure rarities and rhythm n’ beats come together.
The pivotal moment, returning New Yorker Captain Planet to trance music, was on a road trip during his youth when he discovered a cassette by Thomas Mapfumo – nicknamed “the Lion of Zimbabwe” for his dancing chimurenga and his fierce opposition to the regime of former President Mugabe. Since then, the two men have ended up crossing paths several times, both in person and in each other’s music. It was through this continuum that led Charlie B. Wilder (soon to become Captain Planet) to travel the world, from West Africa to Senegal to Ghana, and eventually, to Jamaica, along the way cultivating a solid sound system culture.
“We should never lose the thrill of the chase”
Wilder then threw himself into Latin, funk, soul, and hip-hop sounds when he began to play around with his very first apprentice DJ turntables. His preferred toy, however, was radio. For about ten years, Captain Planet broadcasted his findings on the well-named Passport on WNYU, pushing him to raid the depths of the Lincoln Public Library every week, spending all the money he didn’t have on vinyl records tracked tirelessly in 1990s New York. “I started digging before Napster, before Shazam. So many times, I stumbled upon a song at random, noting as I could what I thought I understood of the lyrics or the melody. Sometimes it took me years to find the piece in question; it’s hard! I encourage people to look, to get lost, to look again. I’m glad we still can’t find everything on the internet. We should never lose the thrill of the chase.”
As a seasoned hunter, Captain Planet has tracked down treasures as diverse as they are varied for Mystery Trip Vol.2. He samples Haitian percussionist and voodoo priest Pierre Chériza and Wando’s “Na Baixa do Sapateiro”, which he transforms into dancefloor bombs, remixes the 1970s psychedelic cumbia of Peruvian legends Los Destellos on “El Marcianito”, pays homage Nigerian disco-funk king Shina Williams, revisits a classic Kollington fuji by muscling his “Oluko” with powerful sub-basses, and surfs reggae on the airy pulse of Prince Francis’s Jamaican rocksteady on “Israelite.”
Seventies magic sound
Hidden on the album cover behind his Guatemalan mask, a regular theme within his album artworks, Captain Planet explains, “For me, Mystery Trip is going back to the source of what I love, to my early DJ days. I like to dig, work fast, sample, deconstruct, and give free rein to my instinct, and I like that the result is rather raw, not too sophisticated”. The majority of the songs come from the 1970s; he appreciates the era’s organic nature and the fact that “nobody used a drum machine. The sound was magical, natural; it breathed. I like this contrast with the majority of sounds produced today, and by remixing these tracks, I enjoy producing encounters and generating dialogue.”
The authenticity of the field recording
Curious and always listening, the intrepid beat-maker was also interested in field recording as he took the road less traveled. “I’ve always loved getting lost in the mazes of the Smithonian and closely followed the treasures updated by the Folkways label. On Mystery Trip, I incorporated sounds from my travels: the very first notes of “Bubuj” are chimes that I recorded on the banks of the Ganges in India.” Later, his hip hop version of Warda’s “Lola El Malama” also reveals a call to prayer captured in situ during a trip to the Maghreb. “It’s not out of the question that I might do album that is 100% field recording; it’s really exciting.”
Now living in Los Angeles, Captain Planet is brimming with ideas and well-kept mysteries. In the shade of the palm trees, he reveals that he is working on a new album, reminding us that for him, “The key is always in the journey, an uprooting that’s essential to inspiration.”
Captain Planet, Mystery Planet Vol.2 (Bastard Jazz Recordings)
Friday 12 october 2018, Gebäude 9, Cologne, Germany
Saturday 13 october 2018, Uebel & Gefährlich, Hamburg, Germany