Alex Niggemann has always been unconcerned by trends and fads. Head strong and unapologetic in his style, many knew the German producer's fantastic LP 'Paranoid Funk' (released through Bug's Poker Flat imprint) would knock us out, blending his thick and hefty tech sound through a myriad of influences that roll through funk, techno, hip hop and funk. Here the breakthrough producer talks us through his 10 most inpsirational records ever, highlighting the tracks and albums that have helped shape his forthright sound. After you, Alex...
1. Dr Dre - Chronic 2001 (1999)
In my eyes this is definitely the best album, I‘ve ever heard in my whole life so far. 100% perfect! "The Chronic“ inspired me to start making my own music (besides composing songs on the piano), first when writing lyrics and rapping on famous instrumentals, later on it really inspired me producing my first hip hop beats. Without a doubt, each track is a masterpiece, placing every song in a perfectly fitting track list, telling a story throughout the whole album. In other longplayers there‘s always one or two tracks I don‘t really feel and then I start skipping. I can‘t remember, there was any track I ever skipped in this album.
2. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)
A real classic! First album I ever bought (even though I bought it in 1992). I think there's nothing, that hasn't already been said about this great album. With 65 million copies it‘s the best sold album of all time. Thriller is a milestone in production history, that made Michael Jackson becoming the King of Pop. Inspired by all different music genres, for me he was the first to interpret them all perfectly in a „poppy“, but totally own way. And even more interesting is the fact that Michael and Quincy Jones, tried to reinvent every single instrument, thinking about renewing every little sound. Simple example: Why using a simple Kick? Why not putting some bricks into the bassdrum, making it sound totally different to what was heard before? The bassdrum in „Billy Jean“ is probably the most famous, outstanding and most sampled of all time. I bet none of my colleagues hasn't ever used it or has been thinking about using it in one of his tracks!
3. Giorgio Moroder - Einzelgänger (1975) // Donna Summer - I feel Love (1980) - Casablanca
His productions for Donna Summer, („Love To Love You Baby“ // “I Feel Love“) made him famous all over the world, leading to winning 3 Oscars for film music. He's one of the top producers, which inspired generations of musicians comprehensively. Besides Düsseldorf‘s „Kraftwerk“, who stands for the beginning of EDM, Giorgio Moroder is the beginning of Techno for me. When listening to his album „Einzelgänger“, there‘s no doubt that his music already sound like themes of well done Techno tracks from 21st Century with its synthesizer sequences, although it has been created in 1975. But one of the groundbreaking things is, that Giorgio was the first to introduce the 4 x 4 (four to the floor) kickdrum in music („I Feel Love“), which was the main influence for the upcoming sound in Chicago during the 80ies and still is the main recognition value for house and techno.
4. Emannuel Top – Climax – Attack - (1995)
First Techno Record I ever played, stolen from my brother‘s record case. When I was playing my first gigs, I always had several records of Emmanuel Top with me in my case. I hold the whole catalogue of his Attack releases. They might be one of the biggest treasures I have in my record collection. It's hard to choose my favorite, but since I have to select one, it should be “Climax”. Emmanuel’s songs stand out because of their high quality production, especially when thinking of that they were released in 1995. I really love his way of using one of the most used instruments, the 303, in his very own way. “Climax” is a very good example. The 303 main-part begins in a break as the only element besides a kick drum and gives the track a totally different direction to what it had before. Not until the end, sounds of the start coming back in, to close the track how it began. Brilliant!
5. Franz Schubert - Sonate B Dur op. posth. D 960 - I. - Molto Moderato
No all time top ten for me without mentioning this classical music piece of Franz Schubert. The German composer, who's been living during the 18th & 19th century, is real hero of classic piano music for me. Maybe he wasn't the typical wunderkind, like Mozart, composing his first masterpieces as a child, but his sonatas are the most wonderful and well-composed piano plays I every heard in my life. It's a beautiful and special thing to read a story and be able to imagine its pictures from a song that only consists of instruments. His melodies are phenomenal, changing moods and switching Dur/Moll immediately, without letting you lose the feeling and contact to what he tries to tell you throughout his story/music.
6. Tupac - All Eyez On Me - Death Row (1996)
Alive or not alive - that doesn‘t make a difference to what Tupac Shakur has left to the world. When the best rapper in the world and a few of the most appreciated hip-hop producers (e.g. Dr Dre,Johnny J, Rick Rock) come together and produce such an amazing record, it is a must-do for me to mention it. 27 tracks of pure energy, outstanding rhymes and beats on a double album, that can‘t be compared to everything which has been release from anyone before. Songs like „California Love“ and „All Eyez On Me“ are only a few to point out that led me through my teenage years. Unfortunately it was the last album he recorded before being murdered in 1996.
7. X Press-2 - Music Xpress – Junior Boy's Own - 1992
Probably my most played and worn vinyl, which has never abandoned me. A record that works everywhere. I remember me playing this tune in a Detroit Techno set 12 years ago or when spinning classical house-music in 2004. This is definitely the record that never ever left my bag, even after I started playing with Traktor Scratch or CD. It has always been with me digitalized. When I had a gig at Privilege in 2010 I met these guys in person for the first time. At the dinner we were talking about records that never left our bags. They were pretty surprised and honored when I pulled out the EP. It was a great moment finally meeting the guys who were always with me during all the years and helped me making various nights special.
8. Raze - Break 4 love (Hard for the floor Mix) – Champion - 1994
Also a record that I keep in my case as long as possible. Perfect tune for earlier set times to get into a bit deeper and techier sound afterwards, or also to end a night with. So melodic, deep and catchy. I remember playing it out last time at Panorama Bar early in the morning. They opened the window shutters shortly and light fell in when the chords started playing. An amazing feeling!! People threw their hands up in the air and completely freaked out… I'm getting goosebumps again, while writing this. No more words to add!
9. Daft Punk - Homework - Virgin (1997)
When talking about milestones of music (or EDM) history, there‘s no way to forget about Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo alias Daft Punk. Their album from 1997 made house music popular all over the world. Their way of production, combining synthesizer instruments and their very special way of sampling was unique until that point in time. I remember when I was trying to produce my first EDM tracks, I always had their style of production on my mind. Definitely an album that guided my way!
10. Bootleg - Late Nite Tuff Guy - I Get Deeper
Original: DJ Le Roi ft. Roland Clark - I Get Deeper – 157 Shelter Records – 2000)
The track name I have been asked for the most, while playing this tune during all these years. People also often ask me to play it. Maybe because I played it a bit too often so that they relate it to me for some reason... So simple, but so effective! Stomping bassline, hard high-hat, Roland Clark’s ganster voice and a little playing around with the filter! Hit!!! Done!!!
Paranoid Funk: The Remixes is released through Poker Flat on Monday 14th January.