Mashed Buddha is the name of the one man band consisting of John Corda, his keyboards, his computer, and occasional human collaborators. A rarity in the world of electronica and it's various offshoots, he adds musicality and, the not-so-predictable, human touch to a form dominated by DJs and people who program machines, then let them run through their paces. Mashed Buddha falls under the rubric of jungle and drum 'n' bass, but is so much more than the terms imply. "I like to think of my music as electronica that doesn't take itself too seriously," he states. "Mostly it's a blend of wild musical ideas that constantly run through my head. I tame them with soothing words." He further soothes them by adding a rock and pop sensibility to the framework of drum 'n' bass. He achieves this by using tried and true techniques of songwriting such as creating verses, choruses and bridges from hooks, voices, keyboard licks, snippets of sound and catchy themes. On his debut CD, 'Subdue Your Mind', each song uses drum 'n' bass -- frenetic drum beats matched against slower bass lines -- but also elements of funk, downtempo, and even '70s jazz fusion. On his latest CD, 'Zen Conspiracy', in addition to a richer pallette of sounds and guest vocalist Uri Geller, he incorporates something no one else in this genre uses: jazz improvisation.
Born and raised in Adams, Massachusetts, Corda started playing piano at the age of eight and began lessons at nine. Growing up, he was influenced by a wide variety of music, including classical music ranging from Mozart to bizarre 20st century atonal compositions. Later, through the auspices of Led Zeppelin, he became obsessed with the music of the '70s, especially progressive rock and jazz fusion groups such as Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra. These groups, and the experimental nature of that era, molded Corda's musical mind and spirit and inspired him to leave safer ground and go down the path of experimentation and inventiveness.
John's music took off when he started getting electronic keyboards and recording equipment. He wrote and improvised music, endlessly exploring how chords, rhythms, and melodies could be combined and recombined. In college, he studied jazz composition and classical piano and received a BA in jazz studies. While in school he played in jam bands and jazz bands, but eventually returned his focus to composition and recording.
Mashed Buddha was born out of Corda's need to combine his musical tendencies and experiences, maintain his forward-looking creativity, and satisfy his need to communicate with an audience, an audience that approaches music with both mind and body. "Drum 'n' bass gives me artistic freedom while tapping into an audience that wants to listen." In addition, he further explores his musical tendencies and leaves the house of Mashed Buddha, so to speak, by performing live in the Boston area with the acid jazz band Organism.
Mashed Buddha has created a signature sound by putting a human face on, and pumping blood through, the often cold music created by machines and electronic devices.
Mashed Buddha's second full length release, Zen Conspiracy, is a blend of intricate drum n bass, downtempo funk, and ambient electronica. Keyboardist John Corda infuses melodic soul into every groove and jams as if performing with a live band. Armed with a Trigger Finger and an arsenal of keyboards, he forgoes premade loops and generated beats in favor of 25+ years of piano skill, performance, and compositional exploration. Famed guru and bender of spoons Uri Geller threatens to put you into a hypnotic coma on one track. The album's painted artwork was done by none other than Spy vs Spy artist Peter Kuper.
The album cover artwork for Zen Conspiracy was created by Peter Kuper who has created artwork for various magazine covers (Time, Newsweek, etc), not to mention creating all the Spy vs Spy comics for Mad Magazine since 1997. Spy vs Spy 2, a just released anthology predominantly features Kuper's take on the clever comic one-up-manship of black spy vs white spy. The stenciled painting Kuper created for Zen Conspiracy is the perfect vision of the album's namesake.
The new 4 track EP, 'Four Keys to Zen', portrays a new direction for Mashed Buddha, who's sublime, orchestrated grooves have thus far lacked one thing: Improvisation. John Corda, the sole musician responsible for Mashed Buddha, performs professionally as a keyboard player in soul/funk/latin bands. Whereas debut album "Subdue Your Mind" was an experiment in electronica composition, 'Four Keys to Zen' and upcoming full length album "Zen Conspiracy" are a collection of layered funk, drum n bass and downtempo grooves that allow for jamming keyboard solos.
1) Hype - featuring the voice of legendary guru of all things enlightening and bender of spoons Uri Geller waxing hypnotic over a chill yet driving groove.
2) Mystery Dropper - Organic drum n bass combined with sick keyboard chops.
3) Spikes - from Mashed Buddha's debut effort "Subdue Your Mind," this is a descending drum n bass pattern that evolves and replicates. Spiky, like crazy Aunt Mable's cookout punch.
Mashed Buddha's first album, 'Subdue Your Mind', was an unexpected foray into electronic music from a keyboard player who started classical, discovered jazz, and ended up in another orbit with electronica. Mashed Buddha's creator John Corda decided to stop waiting for the band of his dreams and instead created his own album of original music. Attracted to the complex drum stylings of jungle and drum n bass, he used this as a rhythmic foundation for much of the music on 'subdue your mind.' Not content with creating just another drum n bass record, he added grooves that are at times hypnotic, dissonant, symphonic, emotional, or all of the above. The result is an organic approach to electronic music.
'Subdue your mind' was recorded in John's Western Mass home studio using warm analog synths, electric pianos, various percussion, and effects. Most of the mixing was done here as well, with additional mixing and final mastering completed by Myles Mangino at Planet of Sound Studios in Hartford, CT.
"What do you get when you mix a cup of jagged beats with a spoonful of savory, funk-laden grooves? You guessed it, Mashed Buddha. Influenced by funk, rock, jazz, reggae, and drum 'n' bass, Mashed Buddha's electronic recipes are delectable. This sonic treat is also encrusted with downtempo goodness, which is good news for those into the more minimalist regions of the electronic music spectrum."
Editor's Choice, download.com
"From the swirling, trance-inducing 'Spikes' to the Prince-ly overdrive of 'Edge,' it's clear that this one-man effort... is as inspired as it is unconventional." [full article]
Gary Carra, Nightcrawler, Valley Advocate
"This album is a mixture of downtempo rhythms, electronica melody staples, and jungle beats. John Currier is the mastermind or madman (depending on the way you look at it) behind Mashed Buddha. He set about to craft jungle and drum&bass beats and rhythms as the backdrop to an electrifying ambient and symphonic journey. The result is a compelling and inspiring joint that works its way into your head analyzing your Zen status and applying a bit of a karmic good rub on your soul. Excellent."
"A cool eclectic mix of stuff that teases your cortex in some way that I can't really describe... Very freaky spacy electronica."
Scott Heller, Aural Innovations