Earl Scioneaux III, recording engineer for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, shares a deep passion for his native New Orleans and its storied, musical legacy. His producer alter-ego, the Madd Wikkid, possesses an affinity for electronica and techno. An unorthodox pairing to say the least, Scioneaux—ahem, the Madd Wikkid—began synthesizing his ideas seven years ago, tapping local jazz masters Jason Marsalis (drums) and James Singleton (bass) for a set of sessions that would lay the groundwork for his most recent effort, Electronola.
In 2009, Scioneaux revived Electronola via the (then) unknown, online pledging platform Kickstarter. By August, he had successfully reached his funding goal, and within a year his once-derailed experiment had become a reality. With an all-star cast of collaborators on hand—George Porter, Jr., John Boutte, Charmaine Neville, Lucien Barbarin and Joe Lastie among others—the Madd Wikkid mixed up an electronic gumbo, one that blends the boogie woogie of old New Orleans rags and the percolating strut of Crescent City funk with the grimy, atmospheric convulsions of dubstep and the spiky loops and stutters of house and drum-and-bass.
While neither jazz steeped in electronic exploration nor the electronic exploitation of jazz samples are new concepts, what defines the Madd Wikkid’s fusion of the two is that his focus is neither on the exponential avenues of improvisation nor the beautification of the beat. Groove is his m.o. It’s a tone he establishes immediately with the churning push and pull between the sinewy funk and encroaching atmospherics of “The Days,” and propels through a vortex of New Orleans influences as the album ascends to the rushing euphoria of “Let It Go” after bopping through the minimalist space-swing of “Drinkin’ Alone” and raving through the rocketing R&B of “Haunt.” A dance album derived from the most unlikely of sources and a testament to his perseverance and passion, credit the Madd Wikkid’s vision and ace production skills for pulling Electronola together. Voodoo-Dub/Trad-House, anyone?