No Stress is a mantra. Repeated as many times as needed during a given day, it helps to clear the head of all the strife and noise of the modern world. It also functions as the pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist Paul Horton, a versatile creator often found playing keys in The Alabama Shakes or crafting improvised jazz compositions in Concurrence. With Prelude No. 1, Horton presents the fruits of a cleared psyche that blends everything from hip-hop and jazz to glitch and transcendental ambience.
Born and raised in Athens, Alabama in a household brimming with an eclectic record collection; Horton was exposed to everything from Ella Fitzgerald to Linda Ronstadt to Africa Bambaata to New Edition to Beastie Boys throughout his upbringing. In short, a good dose of everything. This bombardment of influences, along with a Magnavox handheld tape deck to savor his favorite film and TV music, led to a musical path that isn’t corralled into any particular scene or genre.
Prelude No. 1, named in recognition of many of the Jazz greats, exemplifies this diversity of sound with a listening experience that blends a lifetime of disparate influences. Lead single “Freedomlove” evokes a flirtatious euphoria atop hard-hitting snare, while “Wake Up” carries the listener away in a dreamlike state with gentle crooning by soul singer Dara Tucker. Inversely, “Tell Me” stutters through glitched vocal samples akin to an Aphex Twin and “We Sure This Is a Dream?” travels down a dark path of hushed vocals and a cacophony of swirling keys.
The recordings are built entirely from live sampled drums, field recordings and bits and pieces of previous sessions. Guest appearances from Prof. Brittany Howard on guitar, Scott Martin, Derrek Phillips and Marcus Finnie on drums, Tem Bloher on keys and Dimmy Neubanks, Greg Bryant and “BabyPhat” Blevins supplying bass parts.
Horton has never been one to maintain idle hands. His work in The Alabama Shakes and Concurrence is augmented by constant composition at home, as well as raising a family and remembering to enjoy the non-musical parts of life. Prelude No. 1 is the result of finding that balance of work and life, remembering to embrace No Stress all along the way.