Robert Walter announced the launch of a new series of “digital 45s” dubbed Better Feathers on Wednesday with the first two installments, “Or Else” and “Franklin”. Both tracks feature contributions from Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, with “Or Else” also hosting Turkuaz guitarist Craig Brodhead.

Recorded in quarantine throughout 2020 and 2021, Better Feathers finds the celebrated keyboardist collaborating with an array of special guests including Mike GordonJohn Kimock, his Greyboy Allstars bandmate Chris Stillwell, and Jake Najor, in addition to Brodhead and Moore.

Rather than his typical blend of laid back, organ-driven stylings, Walter instead shifted directions on Better Feathers as he took on a funkier approach, observing, “it was time to shift gears and think of the situation as a positive and not a negative; an unexpected abundance of time to emerge with something of value.” The title of the six-part series of double single releases, resulting in 12 total tracks, comes from the ideas of birds molting or shedding their old, worn-out feathers for new, better ones.

“The music is influenced by the methods. In the absence of working with a group, the focus turned to overdubbing layers of sound. Inspirations were found by digging into late 70s NYC dance music, dub reggae, archaic blues, Krautrock, jazz, and funk,” Walter said in a press release. “Rather than making the more obvious quiet, introspective music, the focus instead turned to my nostalgia for sweaty bars and crowded dance floors. Somewhere during the process, tracks began floating back and forth to friends like Stanton Moore, Craig Brodhead, Chris Stillwell, Jake Najor, John Kimock, and Mike Gordon to add their own parts remotely.”

Related: Robert Walter, Eddie Roberts, Adam Deitch Team Up For New W.R.D. Trio Single, “Sleep Depraved” [Listen]

Walter’s new experiment is immediately apparent from Moore’s drop into the first track, “Or Else”. With Brodhead supplying his familiar blend of guitar work, the dance floor is wide open for the ensemble to get its groove on. According to Walter, the track was influenced by “early ’80s dance records by artists like Grace Jones and Le Chic. The melody was conceived in the spirit of the dub melodica explorations of Augustus Pablo—pure tropical funk and summer vibes. It was the first tune I wrote for the sessions.”

Brodhead departs and leaves Walter and Moore to it on the second track, “Franklin”. Named for the grade school Walter attended in the 1970s, the song carries an air of nostalgia for a time when funk, for better or for worse, was inescapable in popular culture.

“There was a certain time during the mid-’70s where it seemed like everything in pop culture was funky. Saturday morning cartoons, television commercials, and most of the music on the radio had absorbed (and sometimes bastardized) the sounds of James Brown, Sly Stone, and The Jackson 5,” Walter said. “It’s an attempt to do the Bernie Worrell trick of overdubbing lots of different keyboards that all snake in and out of each other’s way in just the nick of time.”

Listen to the first two installments of the Robert Walter “digital 45s” series Better Feathers, “Or Else” and “Franklin”, via the player below or on your preferred streaming service. The series continues on July 21st with “Saucerman” with Mike Gordon and “Devices Of Similar Size” with Stanton Moore. Scroll down to see a full release schedule.

Robert Walter – “Or Else” (ft. Craig Broadhead, Stanton Moore) / “Franklin” (ft. Stanton Moore)

Robert Walter Better Feathers Digital 45 Release Schedule

“Or Else” (w/ Stanton Moore & Craig Brodhead)
“Franklin” (w/ Stanton Moore)
Release Date: June 30, 2021

“Saucermen” (w/ Mike Gordon)
“Devices Of Similar Size” (w/ Stanton Moore)
Release Date: July 21, 2021

“Bloodstar” (w/ Craig Brodhead)
“Better Feathers” (w/ Stanton Moore)
Release Date: August 18, 2021

“Security” (w/ John Kimock)
“It’s Not What’s”
Release Date: September 1, 2021

“Wet From The Press” (w/ Jake Najor)
“Feeder, Doctor, Talker” (w/ Jake Najor & Chris Stillwell)
Release Date: September 22, 2021

“Hellhound” (w/ Chris Stillwell)
Release Date: October 27, 2021

View Schedule