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Anablog Roundup - July 2020 Round 1

Anablog Roundup - July 2020 Round 1

This coming week is going to fly by faster than the entirety of Circuit Breaker — we are, after all, knee-deep in the General Elections and we’re only days away from voting.

I’m not going to be parroting voting issues here — that’s not what you’re here for — but the information overload is certainly an effect of this pivotal period, and there’s nothing better than stepping away from your laptop and diving into your record collection for a good minute.

This week, Nick and Leon have rounded up crates of records that shine in jazz excellence, unsurprisingly, and there’s a healthy mix of current releases and reissues to dig into to get the blood flowing (if you’re not already watching Hammer Time wink wink).

Let’s get it.

Sachiko Kanenobu – Misora | Light In The Attic

The resurgence of Sachiko Kanenobu is one of the more heartening consequences of our YouTube crate-digger age — unearthed obscure treasures, forgotten over the decades, uploaded for online consumption. Cue “where has this music been all my life” comments from gobsmacked YouTube users.

The Japanese musician released Misora in 1972, amidst a wave of poetic singer-songwriters discovering their voice in a post-war society rebuilding itself (the compilation Even A Tree Can Shed Tears is the perfect gateway into that scene). Misora remained her only full-length effort, recorded with the creative assistance of peers Haruomi Hosono and Eiichi Ohtaki, but it had only flourished in appreciation within secretive circles of music nerds outside of Japan. While it has been reissued in limited quantities over the years, it’s gotten its proper due with Light in the Attic.

Now that Kanenobu has enjoyed a renewed path in her career, performing select shows around the world and attaining a young, newer audience, now’s a good a time as any to delve into the earthy magic of Misora, a gentle and sweeping album so captivating at any time of day. This LITA reissue comes prepared with an extensive interview with her. 

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Shirley Scott – One For Me | Arc Records

 

Jazz organ is remarkably enjoyable, but with its historic association with the marketable genre tag known as “easy listening”, it’s also a bit of a challenge to find the musicians who creatively pushed jazz forward with the instrument. We already covered the inimitable Dr. Lonnie Smith in the previous roundup, but Gilles Peterson’s Arc Records has made the search much easier with this new reissue.

A labor of love from “Queen of the organ” Shirley Scott, a prolific and highly versatile jazz musician and composer, One For Me glides along smoothly — even as the performances recorded herein come across less like rehearsed parts and more like collaborative explorations. Scott uses the organ and mellotron with a deft textural touch, allowing saxophonist Harold Vick to occupy the space with terrific immediacy. This is undoubtedly Scott’s album, with maximized creative control on a recording fully self-funded, after years of working on projects subjugated by stuffy (and sexist) record executives. Let her words speak for themselves:

“All of the music recorded in this album is both personal and very purposeful to me because it is the first step toward honesty about what and how I want to play. I’ve done a lot of other albums, a lot of different ways for a lot of different people and now, with the help of the Creator, in whom all things are possible, I have done one for me too.”

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Sault – 5 / 7 | Forever Living Originals

Sault remains a mystery — all we know about them is they reside in the UK and are led by artist Dean “Inflo” Josiah — but when the music’s this gripping, the allure is merely a bonus.

5 and 7 are two albums the group dropped in succession last year, a collection of immensely spirited funk tunes that feel transported straight out of the 1970s, with an urgency that’s eternally relevant. The group’s newest album, Untitled (Black Is), was only just released and it’s an essential listen for these times.

While that title might take a while to be issued on wax, 5 and 7 are albums you should immerse yourself with while there’s still time — they’re only going to get bigger, so now’s the perfect chance to get a headstart.

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Kaytranada – Bubba | RCA

No other album quite personified the freewheeling energy of 2016 (well most of it) like 99.9%, the infectious debut of producer Kaytranada. The only producer bold enough then to harness the power of Craig David, Anderson .Paak and BADBADNOTGOOD on a Gal Costa-sampling dance album — seriously, what a visionary — this album still slaps, but Bubba arrives in 2020 a different beast.

The focus remains on the dancefloor, but the techniques Kaytranada employs are different. Gone are the days of being a solitary producer hunched over his laptop — Bubba is a piece of work birthed from a fully-fledged studio, and the tracks are the result of extensive in-person collaborations (the list includes Kali Uchis, Masego, Mick Jenkins, Charlotte Day Wilson, amongst others).

It’s a dense R&B and afrobeat-inflected album to groove to, and it works equally as an enveloping listening experience and a perfect mood-setter for any ordinary work task.

 

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Jeff Parker – Suit For Max Brown | Intl Anthem

While International Anthem hosts a vast array of exciting young artists, many of whom reside in Chicago, a name like Jeff Parker sticks out not just for his veteran status but for his immense contribution to the city’s flourishing underground music scene.

A member of pivotal post-rock group Tortoise, Parker has also contributed to the experimental sounds of Chicago — notably with label Thrill Jockey Records — and with his new home, he’s advanced his own musical language. It doesn’t get any better than Suite for Max Brown, where he effortlessly bridges the sounds of older jazz and funk with avant-garde digital techniques he’s amassed over his career. The final product is a constant conversation between what he dubs as “man vs machine”, with live improvisations backed by intuitive drum loops.

For an album personally dedicated to his mother, it’s expectedly tender and heartfelt, and unexpectedly short: the 39 minutes will be over before you know it. Buy it on vinyl and cherish every minute it’s on your turntable.

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Ed Longo & Applied Arts Ensemble – The Other Fantasy | Early Sounds Recordings

The mention of the musicians involved might suggest a heady or complex experience listening to The Other Fantasy, but that is far from the real thing.

A recent phenomenon that you can find online are musicians inspired by Weather Channel music — essentially, the smoothest jazz music you can conjure, inflected by celestial synths, and a pressing need to relax. It’s corporate mood music of the highest order, and this space is explored by a collective of seasoned jazz musicians in The Other Fantasy.

There’s lots of slap bass and flute magic to dig into here — but the centrepiece on this EP is ‘A Palm in the Closet’, which dares you to manifest the island breeze in your bedroom, even if it faces a multi-storey carpark.

 

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The Koreatown Oddity – A Beat At The Table | Strictly Cassette

Yes, you’re not seeing things — that album title looks familiar, but it’s not the only thing this project shares with A Seat at the Table, the 2016 opus by Solange.

The Koreatown Oddity is an MC, producer, and a familiar face in the indie rap scene of Los Angeles. He’s notably made contact with the larger hip-hop community on his latest effort Little Dominiques Nosebleed, a raw and focused documentation on life in his neighborhood. 

This little curio, however, was initially issued on cassette to small and captive fanfare in 2018. It’s a distillation of the impact Solange’s masterwork had on him — reworking snippets of the album into a brisk 19-minute beat tape. Now pressed on fancy coke bottle clear vinyl, The Koreatown Oddity unearths new magic from an album already teeming with boundless depths.

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Angel Bat Dawid – The Oracle | Intl Anthem

We treat the experience of listening to music as something restorative, but Angel Bat Dawid believes it’s even greater. “The Egyptians used the power of sound to move objects. I believe that sound technology can move things. Sound is more powerful than we can imagine,” she speaks in a conversation with writer Emma Warren you must read.

It’s hard not to get engulfed by the world she meticulously crafts here, and the effect of listening to The Oracle feels like intruding into a spiritually-powered improvised jam session. The disbelief will set in once you read that Bat Dawid recorded every instrument on this album, save for a drum track on ‘Cape Town’. Bat Dawid masterfully uses catharsis as a foundation, and The Oracle ends up an intense and unfettered meditation on Black identity.

International Anthem’s discography is an extraordinary deep dive into modern jazz and improvised music — The Analog Vault’s got a few others stocked too — and the heights The Oracle achieves tower like a cathedral all on their own. Do not miss!!

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THE END

Anablog Roundup - June 2020

Anablog Roundup - June 2020

The good people at The Analog Vault — the breezy selectors with the most immaculate tastes in town, Leon and Nick — have already got you covered over social media with their new arrivals.

Every few weeks, there’s always a new shipment of wax goodies to be discovered, and it’s no surprise that the choices cover so many bases that sorting through them all might be a tad overwhelming for some of you.

With this assumption, this is where I’ll be coming in, shining a light on just a handful of the stellar picks that the TAV team has brought in. If your post-CB budget is tight — whose isn’t, really? — this is exactly the place to be. (plus the store’s extended their 15% discount if that helps)

Ghostpoet – I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep | Play It Again Sam

It only feels like yesterday when a certain 27-year-old who went by the enigmatic name of Ghostpoet shook the UK with Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy, an unwieldy title for an album brimming with brisk and captivating wordplay, courtesy of Ghostpoet’s spoken word-style delivery.

Even till today, Ghostpoet refuses to go by genre — he once defiantly called it a “marketing tool”, and frankly he’s got a point there — but he’s been steadfast in waxing lyrical about despair and malaise in everyday life that rarely feels tiring.

While his early work is rooted in a charming late-night combination of fluctuating hi-hats and aquatic synths, with a persistent low-end punctuating each line of wisdom, his latest album I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is driven entirely by the analog, with angular post-punk guitar work that has added a new dimension to his body of work.

Recommended if you like: King Krule, later-day Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sleaford Mods, Radiohead (especially if you love In Rainbows)

Altin Gun – Gece

A country with a rich and deep trove of psych-rock treasures like Turkey has got record collectors and musicians worldwide entranced. Altin Gun has taken their niche interest into overdrive. They’re a beacon for a new breed of Anatolian rock, where dusty psych-rock collides with traditional Turkish folk music (if you want to dig further, archival label Finders Keepers is a good start to explore some of the genre’s high points).

Based in the Netherlands, Altin Gun places the spotlight back on Turkey’s folk songbook, with expressive new arrangements of songs frequently overlooked outside of the country’s borders. Gece is their second album, and the band draws upon an even more expansive palette of sounds: the percussive magic of ‘Leyla’ resembles most closely to the hypnotic grit that first inspired the band, but album closer ‘Süpürgesi Yoncadan’ is a propulsive and playful synth-pop ditty.

The only thing that unites these disparate sounds are their burning compatibility for the dance floor — while you’re still stuck in your bedroom, you might as well fashion one just for this album anyway.

RIYL: Selda, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Goat, Kikagaku Moyo

Greentea Peng – Rising | Different Recordings

 

Nope, it’s not Ice Green Tea (this joke must be tired by now so allow us to make it for the very last time, we promise), but Greentea Peng’s status has been brewing in the British R&B underground for a while now.

Since 2019, the name has been synonymous with a moody, playlist-friendly form of the genre, one that’s been given a robust platform through video series Colors (Greentea Peng’s appearance has raked over 5 million views alone).

Listening to the aptly-named Rising, it’s really not hard to see why: Greentea is remarkably skillful in allowing her voice to drift cooly overproduction that never overpowers her. Even as countless R&B singers attempt to project a detached presence to their work, Greentea never falters in making her intimate words sound impassioned. This long-awaited pressing on translucent green vinyl has only been out for a few months, but it’s unlikely to last on the shelves for long.

RIYL: ELIZA, Raveena, Kali Uchis, Jorja Smith

 

Against All Logic – illusions of Shameless Abundance / Alucianao

It’s no surprise that with 2017-2019 (also available in-store), Against All Logic has excelled once again. Beginning as an outlet for Nicolas Jaar’s scattered rhythmic blueprints, inspired by the bygone days of Chicago house and disco, the project is now an engaging facet of his ever-growing discography.

But unlike the nostalgic sounds of his first album, the AAL of 2020 is a much tougher beast, and this 12” single is the perfect launchpad into his harsh vision of the dancefloor. Featuring two original tracks, not included in the 3LP album, Jaar flexes his array of distorted, militant synth pads with the help of music iconoclasts Lydia Lunch and FKA Twigs, along with mysterious contributor Estado Unido.

Pressed on a generous 45rpm spread, this single alone will give your speakers a proper workout.

RIYL: Helena Hauff, Tzusing, VTSS, Skee Mask

Masumi Hara – 4 X A Dream | Numero Group

Over the past three years alone, independent labels all over the world have been generous in excavating master tapes of old Japanese albums for new reissues that rival $100+ original pressings.

This ongoing campaign has only revealed a sliver of the creative spark that thrived in the country from the 1970s to the present. The genre of “city pop” alone, first discovered by YouTube sleuths and vaporwave producers, has engaged an entirely new (and wholly international) generation of listeners, which we’ll get to in a bit. Meanwhile, artists instilling their own revolutionary takes on jazz, ambient, folk and new wave have been dutifully celebrated, but an artist like Masumi Hara stands as a unique example crossing these already-malleable boundaries.

4 X A Dream is a heady combination of chunky dub basslines, icy synths, ghostly tribal percussions and a commanding performance by the multi-media artist. It’s unlike anything you’ve heard, really, but Hara manages to be playful enough for these songs to be enchanting upon first listen. This masterfully-crafted reissue by Numero Group is the perfect gateway into his work.

RIYL: Yasuaki Shimizu, Nightclubbing-era Grace Jones, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Talking Heads. 

 

Coastlines – Coastlines | Flower Records

With the tumultuous events of now, it’s imperative to plug out once in a while for your mental health. You’ll need a proper soundtrack for these fleeting periods, and it has arrived in this intoxicating 2LP package.

A collaboration between two esteemed Japanese musicians, producer Masanori Ikeda and keyboard player Takumi Kaneko, this self-titled effort is immediately evocative of 80s jazz-fusion — behaving like a distant counterpart of the breezy Pacific — but with a pronounced sensibility for modern house and Balearic sounds, complete with steel pans and lightweight piano chords. Simply put, if Pacific was made for fancy yachts, Coastlines is primed for the beach clubs.

This is an album best experienced cranked up with the window open and a tropical cocktail on hand. Trust us when we say this album has the power to gently nudge off the weight of the world, even if it’s just for an hour.

RIYL: Seaside Lovers, Hiroshi Sato, Azymuth, the albums Pacific and The Aegean Sea.

 

VA – Pacific Breeze 2 | Light In The Attic

Japan going three-for-three on this list, unsurprisingly. And it is with Light In The Attic, whose ongoing Japan Archival Series have led the way in unearthing Japan’s heritage of eclectic and groundbreaking music.

The first Pacific Breeze compilation compiled treasures across the city pop spectrum — from infectious boogie tunes to offbeat studio experiments — and Pacific Breeze 2 is evidence that one release was simply not enough to capture its range. True enough, this edition tells a story of its own, beginning with artists like Bread & Butter and Eiichi Ohtaki — both rooted in the summery folk-pop sounds of the Laurel Canyon — who helped lay the foundations for the nebulous genre.

Across the board, there’s plenty to dig into. While city pop favorites like Anri, Kikuchi Momoko, Piper, and Junko Ohashi are present, the tracklist offer delights from Sadistics (who emerged from the ashes of Sadistic Mika Band, one of the country’s biggest glam rock outfits) and Mystery Kindaichi Band (a terrific one-off disco/funk project with little in the way of backstory), amongst other iconoclasts.

RIYL: If the first Pacific Breeze was your thing, this is simply unmissable.

 

Moses Sumney – Grae | Jagjaguwar

 

A distinct and unwavering vision is the calling card for Moses Sumney, whose debut Aromanticism found an immediate audience in 2017.

Grae is something else, a two-part project of unfiltered ambition — the old saying goes that artists have their entire lives to prepare for their first album, and 2-3 years for their second. Sumney evidently made every waking minute of those years count to pour his heart and soul into this. The list of collaborators is breathtaking too: James Blake, Jill Scott, Daniel Lopatin, Shabaka Hutchings, Thundercat, Nubya Garcia, FKJ, Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart — and that’s barely covering the whole lot of talent here.

The album is full of broad strokes of musical delights, with a distinct art rock sound that shapeshifts with inflections of strings, flutes, synths, and even organs. If you caught Sumney at Laneway 2018 and saw a glimpse of his potential, trust us when we say it’s beautifully realized here.

RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Janelle Monae, Solange, James Blake

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Blue Note’s Tone Poet series: how the label is telling a different story with new vinyl reissues

Blue Note’s Tone Poet series: how the label is telling a different story with new vinyl reissues

To explore the long and illustrious body of work that is Blue Note’s is to learn the history of jazz.

One would easily venture for the classics: you could already start and indulge in John Coltrane’s career-defining Blue Train, a masterpiece of hard bop as they come. Or you could expand your horizons with Eric Dolphy’s revolutionary Out to Lunch!, which nudged the label into the fringes of the avant-garde jazz world.

Or, if you’re recovering from a long day, you could sink into the tranquil and adventurous Maiden Voyage, which allowed a 25-year-old Herbie Hancock to establish his name outside of his work in Miles Davis’ “second great quintet” of the 1960s. And those barely skim the surface of the label’s most celebrated oeuvre.

But as Blue Note recently commemorated 80 years as a record label, the libations were preceded by a deep pondering over their output. Don Was, president of Blue Note Records since 2012, was tasked with recalibrating the label’s focus after years of releases that veered toward adult contemporary pop — album releases by Norah Jones, Priscilla Ahn and The Bird and the Bee, while distant from the world of jazz, were commercial hits for them.

All the while, classic titles have been dutifully kept in print with digital remasters, replete with enticing bonus tracks, and premium vinyl releases that appealed to the die-hard audiophiles, produced with the help of boutique label Music Matters.

Was, an established musician in his own right, took his newly-minted post with zeal by signing newer artists. Amongst the names he’s secured and nurtured are Robert Glasper (he once described Glasper’s 2012 genre-bending odyssey Black Radio as “everything I want to do at Blue Note”, Jose James and Ambrose Akinmusire, and the label’s taken on recent efforts by younger talents like Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes, Agnes Obel and GoGo Penguin too.

He was also eager to place a spotlight on the label’s lesser-known works, and it is with the Tone Poet series that that latter vision is fulfilled, 180g vinyl and tipped-on Stoughton jackets included. At a glance, the Tone Poet series might appear as yet another vinyl reissue series marketed by a legacy label — and, sure, it is — but the inner workings behind each title make this series a remarkable standout for any jazz lover and curious music collector.

It’s also important to note that with the Tone Poet project, Blue Note was not able to achieve this alone. Enter Joe Harley.

Harley was previously an ally in their vinyl reissue campaign as producer at Music Matters. The label has made it a practice to source original master tapes for any title, cutting brand new vinyl through a strict all-analog method. Those buzzwords are enough to light a fire in any 50-year-old vinyl purist, and Was has repeatedly proclaimed that the label had “cracked the Blue Note code”.

With the Tone Poet series, Harley and his crew — which includes prolific mastering engineer Kevin Gray — brought over their analog rituals from Music Matters, as instructed by Was. “[He] asked about every aspect of production, from the mastering, to the plating, pressing and jackets,” Harley writes in an essay.

“He literally said, “however you do it for Music Matters, that’s how we want to do it here. And I want you to help us achieve that.” How could I say no???” 

The process of returning to the original master tapes — a meticulous and time-consuming process embraced by the likes of Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs and Analogue Productions — is usually achieved in hopes to replicate the listening experience offered by original pressings, many of which are now scarce and continually in-demand by collectors. For Blue Note, however, they have had to make adjustments for the modern age.

As Harley explains in this video, Rudy Van Gelder, iconic Blue Note engineer, had made technical concessions for listeners in the 1950s/1960s when cutting their records, keeping in mind that most of them played their precious Blue Notes on consumer-grade turntables (ie. ones with tonearms closer to the build and quality of Crosleys than Pro-Jects).

“He would roll the low-end and bump at 90 or 100 [Hz],” Harley elaborates. “So you hear some bass…but the kind of stuff that would get a stylus in trouble and make a record skip? He would roll off.”

Now, with unfettered access to the Blue Note vaults complete with engineering notes by Van Gelder, Harley is able to take full advantage of the frequency range that a studio master tape can provide. Theoretically, these titles are then able to offer audio characteristics deemed more accurate when compared to the original pressings (unless you’re aching for the signature RVG “sound”, in which case, happy spending $200+). The reviews have spoken, and they’re glowing.

The gatefold jackets printed for each title come with extensive liner notes and restored photos, issued to perfection by Stoughton Printing, recreating the tip-on look of the classic Blue Note sleeve.  While the production process remains the same, what distinguishes the Tone Poet project from anything Harley has done at Music Matters is curation.

With input from Was, the titles selected are considered lesser-known and under-appreciated within the grander scope of Blue Note’s story. So while you may not be able to find a souped-up edition of Maiden Voyage in this series, you can explore Hancock’s The Prisoner, a mournful, socially-conscious effort that the musician deems “closer to the real me… than on any other previous one.”

The bulk of Music Matters’ work with Blue Note has consisted of mostly hard bop classics, but with Tone Poet, the wider breadth of styles and sounds that Blue Note has offered over the decades is slowly being unearthed. Fortunately, the ongoing campaign began in early 2019, with over 20 titles now available. Here are some of our picks to get you started. 

Dr. Lonnie Smith - All In My Mind

The work of Dr. Lonnie Smith, first heralded by his 1969 Blue Note debut Think!, is testament to an imaginative fusion of soul, funk and jazz. All In My Mind is a celebration of his work, recorded live in 2017 at his 75th birthday celebration.

While this Tone Poet edition is a streamlined version of the digital release, it cherrypicks the most intriguing performances of that night. Dr. Smith has made his name with funky reworks that tackled songs like Hugh Masekela’s ‘Son of Ice Bag’ and Carole King’s ‘I Feel the Earth Move’, and this set was marked by spirited renditions of compositions by Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Paul Simon.

With each track averaging at 8-9 mins, this is a live album to delve into — the vitality of Dr. Smith captured herein, at age 75, will blow you away.

Andrew Hill - Black Fire

 

An important chapter in the advent of post-bop in the early 1960s, Black Fire was the sophomore effort by a 32-year-old Andrew Hill, but it quickly established the pianist as a singular voice that veered towards the avant-garde.

While Point of Departure and Compulsion!!!! are celebrated by followers as Hill’s deep plunge into the abstract, Black Fire had already broken ground by challenging bebop conventions. With the help of saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Roy Haynes, Hill draws upon the unhinged within familiar form and structure.

It’s the kind of album that will compel you to sit up and pay close attention — more than 50 years later, it’s still standing strong.

Lou Donaldson - Mr. Shing-A-Ling

 

Within the first few seconds of the first track ‘Ode to Billie Joe’, you might already stumble upon something vaguely familiar.

The song kicks off with a leisurely drum break, one that has been sampled across hip-hop — from the beat that pushes Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Walks’ to full-throttle, to the serene moments that add to the uniform weirdness of A$AP Rocky’s ‘L$D’, it’s as iconic as they come.

Mr. Shing-A-Ling is far and beyond the most playful entry in this list — although sharing a spiritual kinship with All In My Mind, as it prominently features the smooth organ work of Dr. Liston Smith himself — and it’s a terrific party starter with its embrace of hard-knuckled funk grooves and gliding saxophone solos.

Duke Ellington, Max Roach & Charles Mingus - Money Jungle

A jazz album that rarely gets the respect it deserves, Money Jungle is the coalescing of three disparate and brilliant minds — the elder statesman Duke Ellington, aged 63 at time of recording, banded together with Charles Mingus, an avant-garde visionary with a fiery body of work, and bebop pioneer Max Roach. 

What transpires is a collision still unmatched to this day. The recording sessions were denoted by tension, and the performances result in a grittier experience than most of Ellington’s lyrical discography.

For decades, however, the resulting recordings have been hindered by a sub-par mix — with distortion and imaging problems that bury the performances at crucial moments — so the Tone Poet reissue arrives as a godsend. It’s a significantly cleaner mix with added clarity and heft, especially with respect towards Roach’s fiery and polyrhythmic drum work.

Cassandra Wilson - Glamoured

 

Cassandra Wilson has the distinction of being one of the few contemporary voices put to wax in this series, and it’s not hard to see why.

Her 2003 effort Glamoured is a consolidation of Wilson’s powers, imbuing a mix of originals and covers — as wide as Bob Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady Lay’ to the Stax Records staple ‘If Loving You Is Wrong’ — with the same kind of languid energy that makes it a hypnotic listen. The vocalist is joined by the likes of multi-instrumentalist Fabrizio Sotti, who sat in the producer’s seat alongside Wilson, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, whose distinguished solo work includes a reimagining of Money Jungle.

Now a relic of Blue Note’s adult contemporary era, it’s concrete proof that the label has never slept at the wheel, just attempting different routes. 

Collector Series - Treasure Hunting with an Itch

Collector Series - Treasure Hunting with an Itch

There are many different motivations for Vinyl collectors out there from the purist who believes vinyl LPs reign above all, the librarian who loves archiving and finding the rarest, the casual who collects records every now and then or the musical conductor, aka the DJ who finds joy in presenting their valuable finds. Everything comes from the sheer love of music, and Ichiro (aka Itch) is all of the above in our opinion.

The motivation to do what they do as vinyl collectors give the musical journey a sort of focus, allowing one to learn from the chosen path. It can be broad, it can be zoned in or even both, no matter what there's always something to take away! So let's dig into the mind of collector DJ Itch and see where this mystical motivation comes from and leads to.

Hi Itch! Thank you for doing this interview, could we start off with just a little bit about yourself? 

Hi Analog Vault, thank you for asking me for this interview.  I’m Itch, a DJ and a vinyl collector, and have been actively collecting vinyls inspired by the passion for “local exotic funk a-go-go” music from the ’60s to early ’80s in Singapore, Nusantara, and around the region. The music genres I’ve been collecting are A-Go-Go, Hala-Hala, Melayu-Indo grooves, Chinese Disco, Pop Yeh Yeh, Asian City-pop, and so on.  My DJ set specializes in Asian sound and exotic music introducing forgotten local music gems from the past to modern listeners, and brings back nostalgic vibes for old-timers. My vinyl collection journey started from early 2017 when I visit Red Point Record Warehouse to purchase some second-hand Jazz or relaxing music vinyls.  But, the owner recommended me to listen to locally produced funky music, and when I listened to it first, it was quite an addictive exotic funky tune that I haven’t heard before. From that day, my digging journey of local gems has started.

* Treasure Hunting with an Itch - Photo Credit Rizman Putra 

Yes! we have always noticed your great collection of rare South-east Asian titles from attending some of your gigs! Could you expand a little more about this particular interest and what is your motivation behind this research initiative?

My interest came from after knowing about a Golden Era of Music scene back in 60s/70s Singapore.  For many years, I’ve been listening to many kinds of music, and always enjoyed listening to Jazz or Motown soul music in 70s, but I didn’t know much about the same era music scene in Singapore. This curiosity motivated me to start listening to those music from online or YouTube.  The vinyl collection of South-East Asian vinyls started when my DJ friend from Japan, Yohei Hasegawa, introduced me to vintage record shop in Singapore, which also helped me to open my journey of digging “local exotic funk a-go-go” vinyl records!

*Recent finds of SEA titles by Itch 

1. Saloma - Entah Di-Mana EP

*Recent finds of SEA titles by Itch 

2. Mahani Mohd & Jopie - 1000th Ku Nantikan

With that in mind, how do you go about choosing which ones go into your record bag and which ones remain when digging for SEA titles? Is there a particular mood or sound that you usually look for?  

Choosing vinyl is the most difficult part. When you start digging, I just look through the shelves randomly and check any title I’ve been searching for.  If I find it, those will straight go into my record bag!  If not, I sometimes ask the shop owner for any recommendation or new stock, then search from that stack.  But my budget is limited on one visit, so I just select those which can be used in the DJ event. The interesting part of digging is to find the dope groove music from the cheaper second-hand records!  I try not to buy the expensive one. When I go digging, I just focus on the music produced in 60s to 80s from around the region which can be used on my DJ mix.  Recently, I’ve been listening to soul and funk music from Malaysia in 70s, and there many wonderful covers and original songs.

We are also curious as to how you would organize them in your own personal space. Would it be by the era, style, mood, or region?? It's always nice to have a system in place for easier navigation especially for a DJ like yourself.

Never knew that my record collection can become so big in three years, and its always problematic to organize these records in my space.  Currently I organize by its region (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japanese, others), then after that will put those in alphabetical order or its musical style.  Otherwise, it’s difficult to remember where I put the vinyls.  But, usually I always keep my favorite vinyls in my DJ bag, so I can listen to it anytime!



Apart from that, we also realized your love for Japanese City-pop and Funk, where you also have your very own night called “NightCap”. Could you tell us a bit about what the style means to you and maybe one of your favorite City-pop albums for a much-suggested listening.

Yes, “Nightcap”, my monthly night at White Label Records, is a good platform to introduce some of my favorite Japanese City-pop music mixed with Malay Funk or Nanyang Chinese Disco. Am happy that this monthly event turned one in February! As an Asian rare groove DJ, and as a Japanese, I wanted to share some of my Japanese rare groove music collection (Japanese Funk & Japanese city-pop).  Some funk and boogie music produced in Japan have great vibes!  Tatsuro Yamashita’s “Sparkle” (included in the LP album ‘For You’) and Miki Matsubara’s “Stay With Me” (EP) have been played every time at “Nightcap”, and always happy to see the audience singing together!  My favorite City-pop albums will be Tatsuro Yamashita’s “SPACY”, Ruriko Ohgami’s “Typhoon Lady”, Taeko Ohnuki’s “Sunshower”, and so on…

2. Takako Mamiya - Love Trip


We are always fascinated with collectors who purposefully dig for old records that are super rare to find, it's almost like a treasure hunt. Could you share a little about your focus on your musical journey recently? Is there a DJ / Collector / or ethos that you are inspired by? Maybe one or two rare records that you’ve been wanting to find as well.

Yes, digging vinyls especially the old ones are like treasure hunt! Recently, I’ve been focused on more Malay and Singapore soul and funk from 70s and 80s; Ahmad Nawab, Uji Rashid, Rahimah Rahim, Sharifah Aini, Anita Sarawak, Carefree, Flybaits, etc).  Their music has wonderful soul, groove, and boogie with a bit of exoticness, and they can blend well with Japanese City-pop at my events.

I was first inspired by NADA, a sound duo comprised by Safuan Johari and Rizman Putra, who reinterpret Malaysian traditional music with modern technology. I learned a lot about 60s to 80s Malaysian music from them and inspired me to DJ.  Then, I always get inspired by music selection by my favourite DJs, Iramamama, Vinylheavy, Tiko Disko, Yuichi Kishino, Hibiki Tokiwa, Yohei Hasegawa, etc.. Their music help expand my music knowledge about Asian music!

To end it off, We would like to say that you are one of the rare music lovers out there with such a sincere and genuine approach. Each record probably brings its own memories and experience back to you. Could you maybe tell us what do these records mean to you at the end of the day and how does it gel into your everyday life? 

From these vintage records, each record has its own music culture history and these music brings back the vibes from those era into our daily life.  Besides the music, the design or fashion from those era can be seen from the vinyl record, which is interesting part of the vinyl digging experience!  Singapore has developed and changed very fast, but through the vinyl record I still can see how Singapore was before.  Each vinyl has its own history and story.

A mix by DJ Itch for our Mix series - Providing an all Vinyl mix, picking flavours from the South-East Asian Region, songs and melodies that are nostalgic to all of us here.

- The End -

Thank you Itch for taking your time off and shining some light onto some of these musical gems. By doing this interview it has inspired us to always keep the musical search going! So much to learn from the past and so much to look forward to at the same time. Hopefully through reading this, it will inspire you to go on your own musical search and continue to keep your curious nature alive. Keep the fire burning :) 

You can find out more about DJ Itch aka Ichiro via the mediums below! Please also check out his weekly mix that he has been doing during the Circuit Break era called "Stay Home Singapura". We Highly recommend to put them on for some time travels and spot on vibes. 

Mixcloud: 

https://www.mixcloud.com/itchirology/

Instagram: 

https://www.instagram.com/itch_sg/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/itchirology/

@Itch_sg

Blaxploitation Classic 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song' Has Been Reissued On Vinyl

Blaxploitation Classic 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song' Has Been Reissued On Vinyl

As part of Memphis record label Stax Records, massive 60th anniversary reissue campaign they have reissued the soundtrack to blaxploitation film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.

Written, produced, directed and even starring Melvin Van Peebles himself in 1971. The film's soundtrack featured a then unknown Earth, Wind and Fire who had worked alongside Van Peebles to compose the soundtrack together. The soundtrack had also foreshadowed the use of sampling in hip hop through alternating hymn-based vocalization and jazz rhythms.

The film was ahead of its time in that Van Peebles had considered the soundtrack as an integral part of the film as quoted, "Most filmmakers look at a feature in terms of image and story or vice versa. Effects and music [...] are strictly secondary considerations. Very few look at film with sound considered as a creative third dimension. So I calculate the scenario in such a way that sound can be used as an integral part of the film."

Check out the full soundtrack below.

Return To The 37th Chamber With El Michels Affair's Latest Wu-Tang Tribute

Return To The 37th Chamber With El Michels Affair's Latest Wu-Tang Tribute

El Michels Affair will be paying tribute to the Wu-Tang Clan once more with the follow up to their underground cult classic Enter The 37th Chamber. Recorded completely analog, Return To The 37th Chamber will cover more Wu classics reinterpreted for the live band.

They'll be taking on classic tracks like '4th Chamber' and 'Wu-Tang Aint Nuthin to Fuck Wit', even deeper cuts like Ol Dirty Bastard’s 'Snakes', Raekwon’s 'Verbal Intercourse', and 'Shaolin Brew', from Wu-Tang's 1994 St. Ide’s Hip Hop endorsement campaign.

Several Big Crown labelmates will be featured such as Lee Fields providing vocals on 'Snakes' and Shannon Wise of The Shacks for their version of 'Tearz'. Also making an appearance on their cover of the Method Man joint 'All I Need' is Lady Wray. Original interludes will be interspersed throughout the record to tie the album together giving it a proper cinematic narrative as all El Michels Affair records do.

The vinyl edition of the album will feature 4 different hand painted covers. Originally painted on two sewn together flour sacks in Accra, Ghana by two of Ghanaian Mobile Cinema scene's legendary artists and regular contributors to the Deadly Prey Gallery in Chicago, Heavy J and Stoger.

The album will drop on 14th April. Check out 'Verbal Intercourse' off the album below.

 

Mayer Hawthorne And Jake One's Tuxedo Are Back With A New Album!

Mayer Hawthorne And Jake One's Tuxedo Are Back With A New Album!

Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One's brand of infectious boogie and G-funk inspired music will be back with the release of their sophomore album, Tuxedo II. With the debut of their lead single '2nd Time Around' off their latest album on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, the duo have announced the album will be available on 24th March via Stones Throw Records.

Check out their lead single below.

Soul Jazz Records To Reissue Reggae Disco Compilation

Soul Jazz Records To Reissue Reggae Disco Compilation

Hustle! Reggae Disco which was originally released in 2002 will be back in print with an expanded edition featuring five additional tracks across 3LPs. It features reggae versions of original funk and soul classics in a disco style and went on to be one of their best selling compilations, not to mention it was also featured heavily in early Grand Theft Auto games.

Some of its highlights include reggae disco covers of seminal classics by Anita Ward (‘Ring My Bell’), Chaka Khan (‘I’m Every Woman’), Michael Jackson ‘Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough,’ Sugarhill Gang (‘Rappers Delight’).

Release date is set for 3rd March.

Check out Xanudu and Sweet Lady's cover of Sugarhill Gang's 'Rappers Delight' off the album below.

Tracklist:

01. Blood Sisters – Ring My Bell
02. Derrick Laro and Trinity – Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough
03. Chariot Riders – Do It Nice & Easy
04. Black Harmony – Don’t Let It Go To Your Head
05. Latisha – I’m Every Woman
06. Ernest Ranglin – In The Rain
07. Family Choice – Reggae Beat Goes On
08. Risco Connection – Ain’t No Stopping Us Now
09. Xanadu and Sweet Lady – Rappers Delight
10. Sharon Forrester – Love Don’t Live Here Any More
11. Carol Cool – Upside Down
12. One Blood – Be Thankful For What You’ve Got
13. Charmaine Burnett – Am I The Same Girl

Thundercat To Release Latest Album As Vinyl Box Set

Thundercat To Release Latest Album As Vinyl Box Set

Just announced is Thundercat's third album titled Drunk to be released through Flying Lotus' Brianfeeder label. This release follows 2015's The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam and will be released on CD, digital and a 4xLP deluxe vinyl box set.

The 23-track album features the grammy winning singer/bassist's friends Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, Wiz Khalifa, Kamasi Washington and of course Flying Lotus. His first single Show You The Way also features yacht rock favorites Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.

The vinyl box set comprises of four red LPs housed in psychedelic artwork inner sleeves. Set to be released on 10th March, while digital/CD release will be on 24th February.

Check out the first single Show You The Way below.

Back On Wax Is The Roots & John Legend's 'Wake Up!'

Back On Wax Is The Roots & John Legend's 'Wake Up!'

Heavily bootlegged but finally officially back on wax is The Roots & John Legend's, Wake Up!. Originally released in 2010, a symbolic album which was inspired by US President Obama's historic 2008 campaign. The album soundtracks black artistry and history in America by covering obscure songs from iconic artists like Bill Withers, Curtis MayfieldMarvin Gaye and Nina Simone. Encompassing the social themes of awareness, engagement, and consciousness.

Pressed on double vinyl and available in two colour options such as orange and ultra clear. Limited to 1,500 for the former and 1,000 copies for the latter option.

Slated to be released on 13th January. Listen to the album below.

Source: Okayplayer

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