Debut solo album from Chicago-based producer The Twilite Tone, aka Anthony Khan.
The Clearing showcases a sound that Tone describes as “trans-genre” — a mixture of house, electronic funk, and instrumental hip-hop that continues Stones Throw’s beat-maker legacy — informed by the musical history and spirit of his home town.
Tone grew up in a musical household: his parents shared a passion for dance, and his uncle is legendary bassist Hassan Khan. But, he explains, it was “the evolution of the Chicago dance music scene, as well as the evolution of underground hip-hop here, that pushed me to seek, find and ultimately create the perfect beats, rhymes, style and life around who I am authentically,” he says. Though Chicago is “often segregated geographically and mentally, it still finds a way to be harmonious, making it a special place to be.”
Tone first linked up with Common in the ‘80s, as DJ for him and No I.D. and co-produced much of Common’s debut album Can I Borrow A Dollar. He went on to contribute production to several major records, including Gorillaz’s Humanz, the hit single “Mercy” from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer, and John Legend’s Love in the Future, for which he received three Grammy Award nominations.
Peanut Butter Wolf and Tone initially crossed paths in the early 2000s at a club in Chicago, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that they were reconnected in L.A. by legendary Chicago DJ Dave Mata. As soon as Wolf heard Tone’s solo album, he knew he wanted to release it. For Tone’s part, he wanted to “clear and cleanse all the collected debris of the past, whether deemed ‘good’ or ‘bad’, to allow people to see, hear, and begin to know me.”
As is the case with many classic instrumental records, the Akai MPC is the star of the show on The Clearing. The only other gear Tone used was a Korg Triton Workstation and what he calls “a secret Moog-like Module”. With this simple setup, he created music layered with personal meaning. Sci-fi motifs threaded throughout symbolise the workings of the mind, and each track is intended to portray a different stage in Tone’s life, from the romance of ‘Baby Steps’ to the speech by Dr. Khalid Muhammad sampled on ‘Do It Properly’.
With his solo debut, Tone wants to show the world the real Anthony Khan. He says: “The Clearing is a space and place of being free. We need to clear the debris from the desk and see the mahogany wood, so we can do the work. I don’t just want to talk, I want to do the work.”