In the realm of dance music, there are few producers that thrive on blurring the boundary between eclectic experimenter and populist ass-shaker as much as Q-Burns Abstract Message. Equally comfortable covering Krautrock legends Faust or dropping a chunky techno groove into the mix, Q-BAM—also known as M. Donaldson —is indeed the rare auteur.
He’s all about coaxing the maximum soul out of the machine. Based in Orlando since the early-’90s, the former record shop owner and college radio DJ has spent the past two decades developing a sound that is obsessively devoted to an occult interpretation of funk. However, it’s his playful rhythms, surprising melodic themes, and not-so-surprising Eno-esque textures that demand attention. An accomplished indie musician before releasing his ﬁrst single as Q-BAM— the breakbeat noir of “141 Revenge Street” in 1995, heavily caned by the likes of The Chemical Brothers—Donaldson is ﬁrst and foremost a songwriter, albeit one that is just as enamored with the sheer power of the groove. With a trusty Roland Juno-106 synth at his side, Q-BAM released three full-length albums via the respected electronic label Astralwerks, including Invisible Airline which featured several collaborations with vocalist Lisa Shaw.
He has recorded numerous singles for other imprints such as Brique Rouge, Slip N’ Slide, NRK, and his renowned Eighth Dimension imprint. In the current decade, Q-BAM has been selective with appearances, focusing on manbehind-the-curtain music business activities such as the launch of the dynamic new label 8D Industries. 2011’s Italo-horror inspired “Balearic Chainsaw”—featuring spacious remixes by the much-missed Scott Hardkiss—was the last original recording to surface. Now 2019 sees the surprising release of AUDIOTOTEMPOLE, a ﬁve-song missive that shows a deeper, dreamier, and more expressive Q-BAM. Donaldson feels this EP “represents the closing of a circle” that opens the door to new activity and perhaps new sounds. Thankfully, Q-Burns Abstract Message continues to delight, and to keep us guessing.
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