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Pulls. The last two months of my life seem frozen.

April 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Okay, so I guess I took a little break from the blog. Life gets in the way sometimes right? Gotta reassert myself, music first everything else second. I originally wrote this entry two months ago, but these records are too good to not talk about. Today I added the Cassie write up and added some notes to the original blurbs. Pearson Sound and Bok Bok are coming to town next week. Gonna be a rager. OH and make sure you watch the “Body Party” video. I pray to it like three times a day.

Pulled from Amoeba, All Day Records and Dat Piff.

inc. – no world (4AD, 2013)

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now. I was first struck when 4AD quietly released “The Place” (above) and announced a full length on the way. You know I have an inclination towards the deep and sensual, so inc sat well with me almost immediately. My subtle hype turned ecstatic when I saw them at the Boiler Room the other night, the vibe was thick with soul and the band was on point. I was really impressed by how their sound translated live, it was just as intimate and groovy, introspective, but dialogic. Winter is the time to be dormant, to explore within your own den, and I have taken this time to listen to a whole lot of slow-burning soul and r&b.

The album has a pronounced introverted character to it, and I assume that this is the reason why some of my friends don’t dig the record. There aren’t any huge hooks, lavish vocals, or club tracks; the lyrics are cryptic messages to lovers, friends, or no one in particular, and the vocals rarely rise above a hushed whisper. Instead, the grooves swell, bubbling with the assured funk of a veteran (the brothers that make up the group were avid session musicians, having worked with Pharrell, Beck, Raphael Saadiq, etc), and a music head whose got a deep love for spiritual soul music.

Although the vibe is constantly peaked at “late-night bedroom soul,” the group explores the full pantheon of sepia toned r&b taking influence from Babyface, Blood Orange, and Illangelo’s productions for the Weeknd, but still remaining completely unique. The brothers Aged are exquisite players who have a deep appreciation for the organic groove of live musicians, as heard of the lovely “Lifetime” or “Trust (Hell Below)“. Contemporary production methods are also a huge influence as well, usually drawing cues from the seductive contrast of sharp, precise drum programming and layers of atmospheric haze that nod towards Illangelo or Nicolas Jaar. The use of both live elements and “in the box” methods on tracks like “Angel” or “5 Days” are extremely rewarding, especially in how organic the blend sounds. Sometimes the mix is a little too smokey, and the vocals are somewhat buried, but I assume that considering the group, they are more focused on vibe rather than singalong lyrics. As the record ends one more time, I’m going to flip it and start all over. Totally beautiful, I can’t wait to hear some of this stuff on a big soundsystem.

4/28: It’s been two months since I first wrote this and I’m still in love with this record. It’s absolutely beautiful and has a healing quality to it – it’s the best record for when I’m hungover, sad, or just have a nasty case of the Mondays. Oh and it sounds great on a big soundsytem. Since first picking this up I haven’t been able to play a show without dropping “5 Days” or “The Place.” Record of the year? We’ll see.

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Cassie – RoackaByeBaby (Self released/Badboy, 2013)

I guess I’ve always loved Cassie. “Me & U” was all over the radio the summer I was on tour with This Flood Covers the Earth. We would be in the most backwoods/backwards ass county tucked up in the bible belt, but the pop station would keep the diva on lock. For me it was a perfect song for that moment in time. In the last year or so I’ve really fallen for r&b, quickly growing from a small portion of my record collection to stacks of Brandy, Sade and Aaliyah 12″s sitting in front of my 1200s. Like a lot of people, the unofficial Cassie “Trilogy” reignited my interest with the gorgeous woman who seems to get more buzz for being Puff Daddy’s sidepiece. Her output isn’t exactly full of hits, but when it works, it really works. Cassie’s trademark soft coo is astoundingly aesthetically pleasing, which makes up for her lack of singing talents; truly, I can listen to this girl say anything on repeat for the rest of my life. Her tone is excellent, and as I’ve stated before, vocals are usually a deterrent for me, as I prefer to view the voice as an instrument within the ensemble. Cassie excels when she is thick in the mix, tucked into a smokey late night r&b instrumental.

Cassie’s 2006 self-titled debut was one of the first records to push the modern late-night bedroom aesthetic that has become a dominating force within the genre. She capitalizes on this post Weeknd/Future style of urban pop by enlisting the right people (Mike Will, Rob Holladay) to make dark, sensual instrumentals that match her delicate vocals. I have to wonder how much control Puff had over the project, as it forms a very cohesive, focused record, and at 13 tracks it feels more like an actual album than a scattershot mixtape. Regardless, it’s very well done and quite likely to show up on some end of year lists.

“Numb” (above) is still my favorite track off the record, taking cues from Clams Casino on the production, by offering an LA sunset vibe to Cassie’s soft rap. The Rick Ross feature isn’t great, but it doesn’t detract from the overall aesthetic of the track. Weirdly enough, most of the throwaway features on the record are often paired with either a poor instrumental and/or a subpar performance from Cassie. Yet, I’m at the stage where I’ve listened to the record so many times, and have come to use it as functional, day-to-day music that the the French Montana EDM track doesn’t get skipped and I’ll even give Meek Mill the time of day.

But the highs are high; the Jeremih featuring “Sound of Love” is pure pop genius and if the world was just it’d be #1 on the radio. One of the strongest cuts is “I Love it” featuring an excellent delivery from Fabolous over a creepy, hard beat that could have easily come from Kingdom’s arsenal. Throughout the mixtape Cassie is base, her lyrics mostly written by Jeremih and focused on hypersexualized standard themes of her beautiful body and good sex. As stated before, her delivery is the real star, and alongside her smooth coo she demonstrates her ability to rap, and rap well. It’s surprising how competent an emcee she is, her flow is assured and dripping with swagger. This may be the first release that features rapping from her and I hope it’s something she continues to develop. In fact, her delivery throughout is quite strong, she’s gotten comfortable with her voice and knows how to use it. Big ups Cassie, holla at me when you get over Diddy.

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Terekke – Damn b/w Pf Pf Pass (L.I.E.S. 2011/2013)

Even though there is currently a repress out, the going rate for the OG 12″ runs about $45 on discogs. This one came to me on the excellent American Noise compilation I wrote about a while back. Terekke is a completely new name to me and he has quickly become an almost daily listen, especially with that deep Soundcloud of his. He has a sound that comes off like a chopped and screwed PPU release; exploring a real talent for small, weirdly hummable melodies and loose, playful percussion.

I first heard “Damn” Saturday afternoon, spliffed with the beautiful Long Beach breeze coming through my window and a California brew in my hand. I’ve gotta say that it may have been the most perfect introduction. This is a deep, Larry Heard aping Chicago bomber, rubbed with grain and smoked to a deep gray. This track would be fun to play in the club because it would just work, a simple bass groove keeping the energy up while those ghostly cymbals sputter.

It’s interesting to read that I had previously described “Pf Pf Pass” (above) by the way the “kick drum crumbles,” and  I feel that it was an astute observation. The kick is steady, but is hardly prominent, allowing the synth loop to drive the momentum while adding a lot of color. This one is going to be in my crate for a long time.

4/28: Yep, this record has refused to leave my crate. Both tracks really work, having tested them out in the club and at the house party. “Damn” for the win.

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Theo Parrish – Handmade (Running Back, 2012)

I saw somebody play “Black Mist” (above) recently and it totally blew my mind. It’s incredible how much of a difference hearing music on an appropriate soundsystem can really change the way you perceive music. The bass is unbelievably deep, so deep in fact, I had to adjust the tone arm on my 1200s just so the needle doesn’t skip all over the record from those lovely low frequencies. The track is fairly straight forward, there’s some mangled modular synth stuff going, and heavy lysergic funk that is a subconscious nod to the demented forefather himself, George Clinton. Parrish’s masterful rhythmic work propels the track, hihats and woodblocks primed and full of color, making this an ideal gateway track whether in a sweaty club or as a jawdropper during a backyard bbq.

On the flip, the jangly “Pop Off” struts with a stuttering gutbucket funk groove that could easily be the timer for some sort of cartoonish explosion. The relentless loopy forward momentum reminds me of the recent jazz-indebted work of Joe. “Wild Out” concludes the ep and is carried by some zombie fax machine sounds and underground explosions. It’s probably the most difficult to imagine throwing into a set, but I can see how this track would absolutely kill in a place like Panorama Bar right about 4am. Theo, you’ve done it again, my man.

4/28: BLACK MIST. THAT BASS. THAT BASS.

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Categories: 2011, 2013, boogie, detroit, diva, House, LA, NY, soul

Picks 1/27/13

January 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Very interesting week for Cornejo here. I saw Jessie Ware at Amoeba on Tuesday, and I was absolutely astounded by how talented and beautiful she is. And as digger’s luck would have it, at the end of the performance they gave away three gift certificates to the store and guess who got one… Yeeep, $25 in credit to your man’s holy land. I didn’t shop for long, just picked up a few things I had been eyeballing, but asking me to spend free money in there is a dream come true. We’re less than two weeks now from the first RITUAL party, and our special guest Low Limit will be live on the Boiler Room this Tuesday! 2013 is shaping up quite nicely…

Pulled from the hallowed stacks of Amoeba and Bagatelle.

Lee Gamble – Dutch Tvashar Plumes (Pan, 2012)

This record came as a surprise to me when it popped out at the end of 2012. I guess it caught most everybody off-guard when the German experimental label PAN dropped two full lengths from the previously low profile Gamble. Despite the hype of having shown up on pretty much every blog’s best of list, this is really incredible music. I’ve never been one for a lot of experimental/noise/ambient music, as I really tend to require a rhythmic anchor, but Gamble explores unique tones and timbres with a sense of propulsion and movement that is incredibly unique. The music is accessible, engaging and fulfilling.

It’s not all synth washes and harsh bleeps, in fact there is very little of that at all. Tracks that begin hazy and lazy grow legs, jacking like pistons, ecstatic with momentum. “Nowhen Hooks” is a ray of sunlight, a house banger that clears waves of synths and retreats just as quickly with the same waves massaging the adrenaline rush of the dance. As the track ends, “Tvash Kwawar” builds up from the same source of matter and slowly grows into a delicate techno thumper. More techno in idea than sound, the track throbs with life for a moment before it dissolves. “Plos 97s” (above) more explicitly explores techno, but adheres to so little of the “rules” of the genre while maintaining a minimalistic approach to arrangement and construction. With Gamble, suggestive rhythms and the sonic template of a track is much more important than the groove or functionality of the work. The tracks that could possibly be seen as dance tracks are too short, too weird, but undoubtedly I would love to hear them on a loud soundsystem.

The more meditative, serene tracks are just as engaging; often never losing a sense of movement, despite how irregular or vague the rhythm. A track like “Black Snow” ruffles, is muted, and moves, hardly breathing for less than two minutes as samples slip in and growth seems inevitable, until it all stops. Immediately following the tease of snow, “Coma Skank (Binocconverge mix)” saunters in, still carrying a heavy sense of cinematic dread, but with move with a sense of aimlessness and confusion. A thick layer of tape dust covers the rhythmic elements, and the eerie clops and bleeps set up a very particular state of mind for the listener. Opening up the flip side, “Overund” sounds like a morose gamelan ceremony with beautiful wavering bell tones ringing in unlimited darkness.  “Kuang Shaped Prowla” is a fitting close to the album as it seems to bob gently, warmth emanating from the subtle movement of the track. It disappears quietly, sneaking out like a lover leaving in the gray stillness of morning, not daring to look back.

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Bigga Haitian – Haiti A Weh Mi From b/w The Good, Bad, and Ugly (Flames, 1989)

As a digger, it’s always nice to get home and look up something that you just bought and not be able to find a whole lot of information on the record. There’s no discogs listing for this, no tracks up on Youtube, no blog posts, just a quick mention on Wikipedia. The lack of accessible information is partially what makes collecting dancehall records so interesting, as the music seems to eerily stand alone from any particular cultural context. In reality, the scene has healthily existed in pockets from Kingston, to New York City to London, and today is still strong. However, the truly underground stuff like this has failed to have a resurgence of online interest unlike a lot of other music from this time period.

Haiti A Weh Mi From” was supposedly a huge hit for Bigga, so I was surprised not to find much about it online. This is the debut release from the deejay and his flow is full of swagger and rapid fire chatting flourished with a few vocal tricks here and there. The track is predominately a coming out party for Bigga as he chats for nearly five minutes straight over a super lightweight riddim. Bigga’s voicing shows a lot of skill and does well to carry the momentum of the track, but it’s not particularly a superb track.

On the flip, “The Good Bad & Ugly” (above) starts things off with a false start and an instant rewind. This track is everything the A-side isn’t; it’s loud, brash, dirty and full of dread – the ideal club track. It opens with some dubbed out piano stabs and 808 hats, then a cheeky nod at the Morricone theme creeps in but is immediately offset by deep waves of bass. Bigga absolutely demolishes on this track as well, he rides the groove confidently and balances the weight and propulsion of the riddim quite well. Can’t wait to play this one out.

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Nite Jewel – Good Evening (Gloriette, Secretly Canadian 2008/2012)

Finally the incredible Nite Jewel debut gets a repress! On most days I would say this is one of my favorite LA releases of the 21st century, as the record’s mixture of dust covered funk and late night pop have really made an impression on me. I first heard the record at the tail end of 2009, just after it had received a lot of hype and a subtle repress of two tracks on a single by Stones Throw. Specifically, I heard it while vagabonding around San Francisco for a week and a half, stuck in a place between moving across the country with no plan whatsoever, or having to cross burned bridges back to the life I was trying to leave. I was in love at the time like you couldn’t believe, and of course being a Cancer, this was eventually the tipping point towards my return home. I have a specific memory of sitting at the train station in Oxnard, totally fucking cold, alone and waiting for this train for hours, with all my possessions in the world (except the 1200s and two crates of records I had left behind) crammed into a traveler’s backpack. This record was on repeat on my ipod, Ramona Gonzalez’s small voice sounding more and more like the voice of a Siren dragging me back home. Aside from all the heavy emotional associations I have with this record, I can step back and say that this is still a really fresh and incredible release.

Take the fat bassline and sharp claps of “What Did He Say,” a record that has been a staple in my sets for years now. Or listen to how Gonzalez’ quiet pop grows heavy with melancholy and frustration on “Weak for Me,” and just as her voice grows larger and more forceful (but still unintelligible) the track begins to fall apart right before you.On the flip, “Artificial Intelligence” moves forward with some basic drum programming, but its the emphatic vocals and hazy synths that steal the show. But really, the track that gets me each and every time, the true bomb on here is “Let’s Go (The Two of Us Together)” (above) as it starts straight out the gate at a boogie gallop. The shakers, the synth tones, the vocal delivery – it’s all there.

The record is influenced by a vague sense of 80’s quiet storm, boogie funk, R&B and balearic pop with a punk attitude to it all – very DIY and low-fi. It came at an important time in music and it’s sad that she didn’t rise as quickly as some of her peers. I’ve recommended this album to a lot of people over the years and I think that’s one of the biggest signs of a truly good record. Pick it up, you’ll like it.

Categories: 2012, boogie, dancehall, diva, LA

Picks 12/8/2012

December 8, 2012 1 comment

I had an unexpectedly busy week filled with lots of drinking, late night spliffs soundtracked by Ethiopian jams, and some schmoozing with an EDM promoter who can apparently drop 20k for his Wednesday night party. Went to the Nosaj Thing listening party the other night and the only thing I really walked away with was that remixes of Burial don’t work. Beat Swap Meet is tomorrow and I’m expecting a couple of packages this week so I’m going to be stocked up through the end of the year. Nice.

Pulled from orders to All Day Records, People’s Potential Unlimited and discogs.

Theo Parrish – Solitary Flight b/w Dellwood II (Sound Signature, 2002)

This is one of my all time favorite Theo Parrish songs and I’m really glad to have been able to pick up a physical copy of it. I’ve had a low quality mp3 for some time, so its wonderful to finally hear that truly deep bass and feel the warmth of the 12″. As anyone familiar with Theo knows, he often is more concerned with vibe than making a track that is easy to dance to. His music feels like an improvised composition – an improvisation by an artist who keeps Coltrane hours and casts visions that are Mingus-big. Typically low-fi and analog, he makes house so soulful I sometimes wonder if the genre tag only gives the listener wrong expectations.

“Solitary Flight” (above) begins with a little hi-hat and a swirling rhodes – keeping the atmosphere light, yet invoking a Wizard of Oz vision of waking up in a place a bit more fantastical than you remembered. Light, soaring strings float in and cast a sense of twilight, accented with a slowly pounding kick – thick and groggy. The track is meditative and gentle, with the soft bounce of the kick and tapping of high hats really helping build the trance. The track is repetitive, but to at even 10 minutes long it feels too short. This is a great track for sunny day-time parties or even for 5 in the morning – just the perfect spot to add a little mysticism to the vibe. Also, check out the typically hilarious Youtube comments on the video, it will give you a peek to the loyalty of Parrish’ fans.

On the flip, “Delwood II” is darker, more aggressive and far more raw than its counterpart. The synth tone is thick and sci-fi, overdriven to the point of molasses chords – all brooding texture, only subtly balanced by spacy electric keys. Real raw and dripping with soul, this music is looking inward, yet skywards with a sci-fi curiosity that resembles a modern day Sun Ra. With Theo Parrish at the helm, this is Afro-futurism at it’s finest.

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Loni Gamble Band ft. Lisa Warrington – I Like the Way You Do It (PPU, 1984/2010)

People’s Potential Unlimited has some of the sickest reissue game out there. These cats pull tracks that I had no idea could even exist. Carmen’s “Time to Move” from earlier this year still kills and I have never played Westwood & Cash’s “Psycho For Your Love” and not had someone ask me about it. Whenever their webstore has a sale I count my pennies, and stock up on raw boogie funk for the cold winter months.

The mysterious Loni Gamble (possible relation to Kenny Gamble?) seems to have suffered the fate of many of the starry-eyed soul musicians that PPU digs up; the cat recorded one or two funky as hell singles and then moved on. The brilliant “I Like the Way You Do It” (above) is a real treasure completely unknown to me before this. Musically, the track is a chugging boogie/freestyle inflected post-disco stormer with a strong guitar riff and absolutely phenomenal vocals from Lisa Warrington. The vocals are submerged and sexy, Warrington perfectly performing the role of the sumptuous siren – equally loaded with sass and soul, playing a diva role that would soon become dominant in R&B. Riding underneath the exquisite vocals is Gamble’s Nile Rodgers-aping guitar riff; managing to be both funky and glamorous at the same time. This is an absolute perfect 10.

On the flip is a great Tom Noble Edit, a track that pays tribute to the grandfathers of the edit by exposing the little bit parts outside the vocal and reworking the groove around those little nuggets. The track here is more toned down, a bit more spacey in a Francois K. kind of way, but still remaining groovy sunny disco. Each side is great and will work in different situations – which means this 12″ will most likely never leave my crate. Cheers, PPU, thanks for adding another killer to my arsenal.

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Marek Hemmann – Junoka (Freude Am Tanzen, 2008)

Occasionally I will wake up in the morning after a long night of drinking and come to realize I did a bit of internet shopping. While most of the time it will be strange surprise from ebay or discogs, I do land a few good buys. I think I heard “Junoka” (above) on a mix and I found the track infectious, very romantic and groovy.

Well, the great part about buying a record solely off one track is the excitement of hearing the rest of the music. I was very pleasently surprised by the force of “Who Two,” as the track propels forward with slick use of an ultra deep bass pulse and tight rhythmic movements. The swing is really excellent, but what keeps the track on repeat for me is the use of vocal elements within the track – whether it be a phonetic noise of a melodic whistle. The affect gives the song a lot of life and for some reason reminds me of the punk element in dance music, a realm where the strangeness of Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and Dinosaur L hold much weight. It’s a vibrant track and one that has a lot of energy – it’s big without being too big.

First off, doesn’t the intro to “Junoka” (above) sound like it was lifted for T-Minus’ work on Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools“? Anyway, it’s a beautiful way to start a track – that booming deep deep deep bass ushering in a wealth of sensation of anticipation. A garage swing steps in, followed by an excellently unintelligible vocal sample. The track moves forward at full swing, but it remains subtle and focused; cloudy and sensual. This is music for late nights, dark spaces and the smell of wine, hash and sea breeze. Very happy to see this record, I think I will put it to good use.

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TMS – Get the Feeling b/w Caprice –Candy Man (PPU, 1982/2006)

Another bomb from PPU! I’m not usually big on 7″ records, but I had to make an exception for this one here. Two sugary sweet early 80’s R&B/Synth Soul with a lovely bounce and fun vocals. Both tracks just beg to be played at a backyard party where the air smells rich and the beer is cold and abundant.

Caprice’s “Candy Man” (above) predates the Mary Jane Girls’ track of the same name (and my favorite Rick James track!) by a year, but is just as sensual and sweet. It’s mid-paced, and not very forceful, but the slow funk will work great tucked between some Debbie Deb and Chic. It’s a fun track that lingers after its gone.

TMS’ “Get the Feeling” is the heavy hitter here, with an early 80s R&B influenced vocal delivery that is charming and fun. This is the track that will have people getting down, singing along and doing a poor ass soul train line.  A wacky synth is fairly prominent in the mix, but it doesn’t really do much other than add a vague electro feel to it. Overall a very great track that I will probably find myself playing out way too often.

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Delroy Edwards – For Club Use Only (L.I.E.S., 2012)

Dark, dank, gritty, peaktime house and techno by the mysterious Delroy Edwards on the typically excellent LIES record label. Word has it Delroy Edwards is the alias for a Los Angeles veteran, and the work really does show the touch of an old head. The tracks are thick with smoke and analog dust, and sound as if they were mastered off a cassette that’s been the staple of a roadtrip mix to desert raves for the last 15 years. There’s grit, but its nice and on the right soundsytem the low-fi approach adds a dense ambiance that is hard to imagine and harder to describe.

“Bells” (above) is my favorite jam out of the bunch, sounding what a reviewer said is like (I’m paraphrasing) a lost Dance Mania acetate that’s been sitting in a dank basement for years. The track channels 90s ghettohouse in such a beautiful way; raw and funky, yet a deep melancholy sits at the base – altogether invoking a level of raunch that will undoubtedly affect all dancers. Led by a detuned marimba melody, the track swings gracefully in a way that is both uplifting and dreary. A lazy kick and persistent high hats keep the groove hot, and accentuate how the track really does a lot of damage for how simplistic it is.

Love Goes On and On” is the other big winner on here for me. It takes an aquatic Drexciyan direction, just fuzzed to death with cold sheets of synth slipping through the fog. It’s a forward kick that is simple and effective, while icy synths rise and fall, sending the traveler on a dark journey soon interrupted by a sub-crushing bass pulse. The title track is similar and equally subterranean and effective. An excellent debut single, I’m excited to hear more.

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Getachew Degefu Amhara Wedding Songs (Philips/Mitmitta/Domino, 1973/2012)

You can never have too many Ethiopian records. The music is unparalleled and inexplicable. Managing to be highly emotional, dramatic and deeply mystic, a sound that comes from not an instrument, but something much deeper. This record was originally released by Philips in 1973, it collects typical Ethiopian wedding songs. The collection offers spirited and festive tracks that are influenced by Stax or King, but remain innately Ethiopian. Constant handclaps, the wonderfully shrill “ililta,” and strong vocals keep the energy high and mood celebratory.

Most of the material is vaguely similar, r&b/rock’n’roll/jazz inflected stompers with touches of flute and guitar – the focus is predominately on the singing and lyrics.
One of the standouts is “Asha Gedawo” which features two singers and a really fun guitar-lead bounce – the celebratory nature is largely apparent. The album comes with a nice write-up and some photos of Ethiopian weddings. Very nice.

Categories: 2012, boogie, detroit, ehiopia, House, LA

Picks 10/21/12

October 21, 2012 Leave a comment

It had been a quiet week, but just as I was about go out and play a party a bunch of records fell in my lap. Digger’s luck.

– Pulled from a trip to Bagatelle (yo Steve!) and an order from Chemical Records.

James Mason – I Want Your Love (Rush Hour, 1984/2012) – Pick!

To any self respecting beat-head/record-nerd/true-dj/jazz-nut, the name James Mason will prick up ears and get digging fingers twitching. Mason’s jazz-funk (if you can even call it that) masterpiece Rhythm of Life is one of those records that when you find it, you will carry it to your grave. His amalgam of street funk, functional disco, and deep r&b with the sophistication and chops of a veteran jazzman is really unparalleled. Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, Stevie Wonder, and Herbie Hancock are comparisons that you can reference, but they do little to reveal the singular vision of Mason’s work.

With that intro out of the way, it pains me to acknowledge the fact that I’ve put off buying this record for about 9 months now. Rush Hour did the universe a great service to reissue Mason’s other (lesser known) classic, I Want Your Love. Recorded as a label demo in 1984, the tracks collected dust until being reissued in ’96 and again in 2000 (both fetch quite a bit online nowadays). Here they are reissued along with an extended cut of “Nightgruv,” which offers an extra two minutes of hypnotic deep funk. The track is VERY Chicago sounding, and whether it was an influence upon the work of Virgo or Larry Heard is unknown but it could easily be mistaken for either of those godfathers of Chicago house. My pick is the title track, and at almost 10 minutes it moves slowly, gracefully, and ever so soulfully. The vocal is really wonderful, but DJs everywhere will love the instrumental section just past it where the guitar picking sparkles, the synths drip like molasses, and the congas dance as the vocals eventually creep back into the speakers with unbelievable anticipation and intensity. Fucking brilliant. Buy the vinyl immediately.

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Sade – Promise (CBS, 1985)
If you’ve spent any time with me recently you’ll know I’m obsessed with Sade right now. Like, wish I was 25 in ’85 so I can line up outside waiting for the latest record or concert ticket, but creepier yet, wait her to pop out of the studio so I can ask her to marry me. Mad obsessed. This is Sade’s second album, and is very much in the vein of Diamond Life. The tracks are post-Quiet Storm slow groovers with ample funky bass lines, organic percussion, elegantly restrained vocals, and an opaque bedroom sensibility. Tracks like “Never as Good as the First Time” or the track above would easily work for a lot of DJs and dancers, whereas songs like “Tar Baby” and “Mr. Wrong” are appropriately sensual and soulful, while remaining unique and fresh. For years I ignored the siren song of Sade, cluelessly satisfied with lumping the group into the smooth jazz category, but when you stop judging and start listening – this is when you start living.
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UBQ Project ft Kathy Summers – Volume II (House-N-Effect, 1991)
I walked into Bagatelle yesterday looking to quickly pick up a few gay-friendly cuts for a party and Steve pointed me to a fresh box of house 12s. A couple of weeks ago I logged about 20 hours within the span of a week going through a buy Steve had just put out, so I was really surprised when he said he something new. Most of the stuff I had, or didn’t care about but this is one of the few things I pulled for closer inspection. “When I Fell in Love” blew me away immediately. This is a deep deep DEEP jackin house track with a great subtle vocal. I really love the atmosphere, the synth tones, the vocals, the drum sounds… I really love this track. This style is being aped hard right now by a lot of modern house producers, and it actually reminds me a lot of Maya Jane Coles’ vocal work. The other pick on here is “Feel My Soul (Soulful Mix)” which has a wonderful rolling bass line, soulful ivories and a sweet smokey haze over everything. I also really love the execution of the percussion on this track; the claps hit hard, the hi hat drives me nuts, and the congas are played by a real live human. This is real house music y’all, no Haddaway bullshit here.
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N (Noir) – Lucy in the Sky With Pearls/VoxDub (Exploited/Black Jukebox, 2012)
Bigbigbig! I’m really happy I came across this tune, at first I was all about the vocal, but once I got the actual record I realized it is ALL about the dub. This is the kind of track that will start a party anywhere, anytime. It’s a really fun jackin R&B infused, Lucy Pearl sampling, throwback track with a bright tone, toe-tap percussion and plenty of sing-along hooks. “I wanna dance tonight/I wanna toast tonight/I’ll spend my money tonight/I wanna get freaky tonight.” Enough said.
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Gerry Read – All By Myself/What A Mess (4th Wave, 2011)
Gerry Read is a young cat from England making really thick, gritty, soulful house music in the style of Theo Parrish. In fact, I’m sure Read has a picture of the Three Chairs above his bed. Regardless, for fans of analog house bathed in reverb and filtered to a crunch will love all of Gerry Read’s output for the 4th Wave record label. He has this unquantifiable characteristic to his music that is supremely organic and human; it is flawed and it is messy, but is soulful and perhaps spiritual. “All By Myself” is the jam for me on here, it is dark and moody with a really great vocal, but properly functional despite all the grit to it. Please note that Read records live, punching in drum patterns, piano lines, vocals – he makes mistakes and keeps them in. This record is one of those things that I know is not for everybody (and in fact, probably not for many), but it hits just right and has really made an impression on me.
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Sade – Paradise (CBS, 1988)
Deep rumbling bass, funky bongos, thick atmosphere and Sade’s incredible voice. Extended 12″ mix for the win. Oh and how adorable does she look on the cover?
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Beenie Man – Turn Around/Version (Fat Eyes, 1995)
**PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO ON YOUR LAPTOP. GET HEADPHONES/SPEAKERS** I am very new to digital dancehall. I literally picked up my first 45 this year. I was always turned off by the cheap/cheesy sounds and seriously, “Sleng Teng” is really hard to wrap your head around the first time you hear it. With the help of Vybz Kartel/Dre Skull and the amazing David Rodigan RBMA Lecture, I finally began to understand the vibes. I searched around online for a long time trying to find the dub of this sub-par Beenie Man voicing, because really for me this 45 is ALL about the riddim. The riddim is quirky, with kinda 70s horror movie cheesy sounds, but carried by this madd sense of dread all over it. The subs really rumble here in that rolling ragga sort of way. I ripped the audio from my copy and uploaded it to my soundcloud for y’all. Who knows how long it’ll stay up, but download it and enjoy. And again, please don’t listen to this on your laptop, it really wont make any sense at all to you.