Lord Newborn and the Magic Skulls is the collaborative project of esteemed sound scientists Money Mark, Shawn Lee, and Tommy Guerrero. In the winter of 2008 they locked themselves away in Money Mark’s Los Angeles-based studio for two weeks. A tasty three-way meeting of the minds resulted in this funk-inflicted collection of beats n’ breaks, wrapped-up in a sunny West Coast musical tortilla that’s smothered in as much jazz and prog-rock as it is in soulful psychedelia.
The paths of these three prolific producer-musicians have crossed in many ways, and yet this is the first time they’ve all worked together. Good times had in the studio transferred to tape on this witty, concise, and experimental collection of tracks. The long overdue Magic Skulls chemistry was right on the money. “They are both jokers in their own right,” explains Guerrero. “Mark has an unconventional approach to everything which leaves one in awe. And Shawn’s unbridled effervescence for anything will put a smile on the grumpiest of codgers!” he adds.
With the trio having so much experience of writing for film it’s no surprise that many tracks on this album have a strong emotive soundtrack-vibe. At times the sound is vintage; it crackles with the buzz and ring of lo-fi gear that chugs away behind funk-schooled melodies. But the album also points forward with a genre-marauding blur of freaky beats, worldly percussion, and slick studio trickery.
Money Mark is known as the trusty keyboard guy the Beastie Boys turn to. Releasing numerous solo albums he has worked with countless internationally acclaimed artists, appeared in the Moog documentary, and written the soundtrack for the 2008 documentary Beautiful Losers. Mark and Guerrero had early releases on the influential UK-based Mo Wax label, and have had their music used in the EA games series Skate.
Guerrero began his career as a pro-skating member of the Bones Brigade in his hometown of San Francisco and was one of the founders of Real Skateboards and Deluxe. But he also delved into the music business and was in the early 1980′s skate rock band Free Beer and the collaborative/conceptual band Jet Black Crayon. In addition Guerrero is a member of the all-star skate band Blktop Project (alongside Ray Barbee, Chuck Treece, and Matt Rodriguez), and has released multiple solo albums.
Lee, Guerrero, and Mark have all released records on the Rush label in Japan. And like his fellow Magic Skulls, Shawn Lee was also picked up by UK labels early in his musical career. After releases on the Talking Loud and Wall of Sound labels, he found a home back in the USA at Ubiquity where he has released eight records including his collaboration album with the mysterious Clutchy Hopkins.