Release Date: May 27, 2008
Record label: Stones Throw
Genre(s): Rock, Dance, Electronic
Ex-marching band drummer-turned DJ-turned producer from Spokane, WA, James Pants explains the spirit of his first full-length -- on the same label responsible for breaking underground hip-hop mavericks Madlib, J Dilla, and Guilty Simpson -- by saying, "It's just the sound of really cheap equipment, listening to a lot of records, and goofing off. " Left of center even by Stones Throw's eclectic standards, Welcome isn't a hip-hop release, per se. Instead, it appropriates and revitalizes electro sounds of the '80s, adding elements of soul, new wave, post-punk, and techno along the way.
If instead of pre-war blues, Beck had been schooled on 80s Euro disco and cheesy Japanese anime soundtracks, he’d probably be making music that sounds like the joints James Pants produced for Welcome, his Stones Throw debut. But our boy Pants seems to have a way of using the inspiration of recordings by, say, Jean-Pierre Massiera’s Visitors and Juan Atkins’s Cybotron to make blander, funk-free facsimilies without ever establishing a James Pants signature sound. He’s much better at showing off his record collection on the well-chilled Ice Castles, which purports to be a James Pants mix disc.
The gift of a synthesizer is exactly what its name implies: the engineering of novel sounds from familiar sources. So, it’s perplexing that James Pants’s synth-ridden debut, Welcome, sounds so trodden. Pants, born James Singleton, has produced an album that rehashes at least a half-dozen styles of pop from a quarter-century ago, including disco, post-punk, soul and funk.