Wax Runoff: Treats Vol. 4 [RTR-11]

If you’ve spent any amount of time collecting records you know how addicting of a hobby it can become. Aside from the joy that records bring, I find myself drawn to the culture that surround them. From digging with friends to record release parties and visiting new shops to becoming a local at an old favorite, this is one of the things that makes me tick.

Last week I was fortunate enough to find myself taking a stroll through La Source in Paris, the official home of Smallville Records in France. Not only was the staff super welcoming (whaddup Jacques!) but the bins were extremely well curated and I walked away with a stock of new finds and long sought after 12″s.

Session Victim, Retreat, Retreat Vinyl, Quarion, Hauke Freer

RTR-11

Among this week’s finds was Treats Vol. 4 from Retreat Records, a missing number from a catalog I’ve been actively seeking to own the entirety of. Started by Session Victim’s Hauke Freer and Yanneck Salvo aka Quarion, Retreat has been churning out funky, sample heavy cuts since 2009. After getting over the initial surprise of seeing this one in the wild, I immediately put it in my “coming home” pile.

Part of the Treats series, RTR-11 is a lovely three-tracker with contributions from Session Victim, The Hints, Iron Curtis & Leaves. Opening up this record and taking the entirety of the A-side is my pick of the release – a rare cover of an already iconic house cut – “Harlequin” by Roostrax. Already a massive fan of the original, I couldn’t pass this one up. It’s all about that bassline and this one nails it with Session Victim’s signature live bass. As much jam band as it is floor-filling house it won’t be leaving my bag any time soon. On the flip side you’ve got “Downtown”, a slow but chugging bass-driven number from The Hints (Quarion & Jules Etienne). The addition of some wonky chords here makes this one quite fun. While it sits at a low 110 BPM, something tells me speeding this one up would get people moving.

Lastly, B2 comes from Iron Curtis & Leaves with the chilled out Rhodes-led “A&F”. I’m a total sucker for nice sounding hi-hats and the texture of this is right up my alley. If that wasn’t enough, the way they’ve played with the timing on the third beat gives it a certain stutter-step depth that adds enough character to get behind.

Flipping through my record bag on any given day you’re bound to find at least two records from the Retreat catalog. If you’d like to track down a few of your own, you can buy direct from their site, retreat-vinyl.de or find the rest on Discogs.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Colin Boardway, formerly of Chicago, is now based in Greece as the label manager for Yoruba Records. He has spent the last 10 years developing his sound by digging deep in the bins wherever records are sold.

Gay Marvine

Born and raised in Michigan, the youthful Chuck Hampton (otherwise known as Gay Marvine) could be found turning the dial to explore all that Detroit radio had to offer. Driving his family crazy by constantly tuning into disco stations, he fell in love. From that point forward he used his finely tuned ear and spent his creative energy to share that love with the rest of the world.

What is it about that disco sound? “The bass! The beat! I loved the repetition of the groove. These things all spoke to me, and I couldn’t understand how some people didn’t get it,” he says.

The genre, which was generationally pivotal, had some historically dark times. During an infamous baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers on July 12, 1979, disco arguably became a scapegoat for sexual and racial discrimination. Disco Demolition Night was meant to be a promotional event put on by the Chicago team at Comiskey Park. During the rally attendees brought a record to the game and during the doubleheaders intermission the vinyl was destroyed by an explosion on the field. There were 50,000 people in attendance that day and a riot ensued. More than 5,000 people took to the field to set fire to the records.

Yet, disco prevailed and remained a foundation for music thereon in. Hampton reminisced about his early clubbing days which took place shortly after that time. “Detroit area gay clubs played such great music in the ’80s,” he says. During which he said he would hear alternative sounds such as Ministry, Siouxsie and the Banshees, in addition to popular hits and Hi-NRG tracks. “Then house and techno happened. It changed everything! We had the greats – Ken Collier, Derrick May, D-Wynn, Richie Hawtin – and so many more. They took it all to a higher level. All of this rich variety influenced me as a DJ and how I hear music.”

This mentality brought a complexity and a focused approach to Hampton’s creativity. The inspiration really began through Secret Mixes Fixes, a label for edits, which was started around 2005 by Brendan Gillen of Interdimensional Transmissions. Hampton says, “He and I are good friends, and at that time we were neighbors. I was always hanging out at his place, listening to records. He showed me this new program called Ableton Live that he started using for his DJ sets. It inspired me to create edits of some of my favorite records for him to use in his sets; records that I couldn’t use un-edited in my sets. I played a few for him and he loved them, said he’d like to put them out on Secret Mixes Fixes. Then all of a sudden I had done like 50+ edits! So we created Bath House Etiquette as an outlet for my output. BMG still runs the label and he takes care of getting stuff pressed.”

 

Bath House Etiquette now has nine volumes of 12” records filled with groovy basslines and soul lifting vocals.
“For me, editing is all about mining for the funk, and trimming the fat off. Some things that were in the old disco records were superfluous, and distracted from the wicked groove that was happening underneath. Also, I was heavily influenced by disco house records of the ’90s. I love how repetitive they were, but sometimes I wanted just a little more of the original in there and a little less of what was added. I’d say the most evocative of my edits is ‘Anxiety Into Ecstasy’.” — GAY MARVINE

According to the label, “Bath House Etiquette is a manual on how to handle Gay Discos. Everyone needs a little inside information. Follow the stairs to the basement, wait on your knees by the sling and wait for Mr. Marvine (to you) for further instructions.”

There is a raw and visceral energy that takes place in a bathhouse that can definitely emanate through Hampton’s tracks and the sets he puts out. Hampton says, “I think bathhouses represent hedonism. Unbridled sexuality, sensuality.” Beneath a bathhouse in downtown Pittsburgh, Penn. you will find after-hours venue Hot Mass. Aaron Clark booked Hampton as the very first guest for Honcho, a monthly gay party held at that venue, in February 2013.

According to Clark, Hampton is now deemed an unofficial Honcho resident. “We’ve done a lot of parties with him already and plan to do a lot more this year,” he says. “The Honcho sound is pretty diverse, it can disco just as well as it can whip the club into acid house and techno. Chuck really nails all of those sounds. He’s the guest DJ that always feels the most at home with us.”

Beyond the bathhouse and deeper into the music, Gay Marvine helps provide a place that is unlike any other. What makes his set special is “the energy and the celebratory vibe of the music. Even if it’s tougher sounds, it’s always happy. It sounds like family, and the club feels like family,” Clark says.

This environment is a beautiful place that prevails through dark times and embraces positivity. Disco, house and techno inherently inspire energy, liberation and fearless expression. For Hampton, “[music] heals my soul, it brings me joy, it gives me solace, it soothes me, it makes me want to fuck, it makes me dance!”

In celebration of the music and Rochester Pride, Signal > Noise and Sole Rehab will host Gay Marvine at the revamped 45 Euclid on Saturday along with Honcho resident d’Adhemar.

Wax Runoff: Nebraska [RH-N4]

Do you have any songs that you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard them? I’ve got a few, but the one that stands out the most is Nebraska’s “This Is The Way” from his 2010 EP on Rush Hour, Four for Four. Hailing from London, Ali Gibbs aka Nebraska has been churning out deep and jazzy electronic music since the early ’90s. With recent releases on Delusions of Grandeur, Retreat, Mister Saturday Night, and Heist, I figured it was about time to shed some light on another favorite.

Nebraska, Rush Hour, Ali Gibbs, This is the way

RH-N4

The EP starts off with “This Is The Way” — a blissed out funk drenched jam with a hint of Cuban flavor. The way this track builds into a crescendo and then opens into something busy but dancey can always put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. This is feel good music at it’s finest. A2, titled “Bar Story”, for me follows the arc of a night out. First starting out with clean, organic tones and textures, by the half way point the energy of the track reaches a peak with more electronic synth and basslines before mellowing back out at its finish. On the flip side you’ll find “Ras El Hanout”, a track that I’ll admit took some time to grow on me. With a more straight and pronounced four-four kick pattern, low slung bass and delayed hi-hats this one has a certain raw energy that makes it a bit more suitable for the club. Lastly is “Arrondissement” – another funky and sprawling track that takes you on a journey. With a sample that could be cut straight from Bibio’s “Lover’s Carvings” and a silky smooth hi-hat pattern this one feels like it’s destined for the outdoors on a sunny day.

Originally pressed in 2010 this record mat be hard to find in any shops but Discogs has plenty. For what it’s worth I strongly suggest taking a peak at his more recent releases, especially his first on Mister Saturday Night. If mixes are more your thing, head on over to the Louche site for his podcast episode which still gets constant rotation from me.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Colin Boardway, formerly of Chicago, is now based in Greece as the label manager for Yoruba Records. He has spent the last 10 years developing his sound by digging deep in the bins wherever records are sold.

Soundcast Peter Croce