Wax Runoff: TEXT036

Everyone will at some point find a record in their collection with curiously long cuts on it. It is an almost played out joke of a DJ to mention these tracks as their “bathroom break” record. For those enjoying the sonic succulence of long tracks from the comfort of their home, these records present a rare chance to enjoy a single piece for more than 10 minutes without having to get up and flip the plate.

It is humorous to think that 1970s sound engineers and recording artists were under the impression that most recordings over four minutes would be too boring and negatively impact sales. In a current musical atmosphere where artists and labels no longer make significant money from sales, one of the biggest advantages for artistry has been an increased freedom for experimentation.

Enter Four Tet (Kieran Hebden), who has always been an artist known for embracing the weird and experimental. I often find that my friends who have no real interest in dance music are familiar with his work. Although that may be due to his involvement in film scores and more mainstream remixes outside the immediate house/techno realms, I believe it may have more to do with the fact that his work is not only interesting, but also just good music.

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The 2015 release Morning / Evening is a splendid example of the musical genius behind Four Tet. It truly pushes the idea of how long a tune can be while still remaining one coherent piece of music. Indeed, both sides of the record clock in at about 20 minutes – long enough for not only that bathroom break, but also a cigarette and a call home to see how Mom is doing (she worries about you, you know?). The traditional info/logo aesthetic of center labels is forgone here in favor of textless crayon drawings of a sun and a moon on each respective side. The sleeve artwork is bright and alluring, featuring very similar patterns that appear to be repeating, but upon close examination reveal small changes – much like the tracks contained within.

The concept of the record reflects those times at a party where the vibe shifts. Both tracks make use of the same key, instruments, and samples, and yet both can initially trick the listener into thinking they are two entirely different tracks.

The “morning” side of course represents the sun washed and ethereal moments of the after party and begins with plenty of percussive movement while remaining light. The piece chugs along for quite some time before opening up to a fully ambient piece of music with tonal synths keeping the rhythm rather than the drums. The “evening” side is stylistically opposite. Aside from 64 measures designed to cue up the record, it begins with ambient synth exercises and gradually evolves into a percussion driven little techno tune that features his signature warm tape sound that once led fans to speculate he was behind the mysterious Burial moniker.  The pieces are truly symbolic of when the party is just starting to fill in, and those moments when the last friends finally throw in the towel after a long night of drum loops and frequency filters.

Unfortunately, this record isn’t cheap. There is one copy on Discogs for a semi-agreeable $15 after shipping in the US, but all the others will have you spending over the sticker price of $16. But this shouldn’t deter you from keeping your eyes peeled for Four Tet slabs at any record store you visit. I’ve noticed due to the alt/ambient/non-dance oriented crossover appeal, Kieran’s work is located in shops where the electronic section is severely diminished or entirely non-existent. I subsequently got a hold of this record in the 50% off bin at an unlikely location. So stay sharp, support your local record store – and above all else – never stop coming early and leaving late from your favorite places to enjoy music with friends.

 

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.

Wax Runoff: SR 12440

Any DJ or avid record collector will agree, it pays to explore the back catalogs of record labels. For me, that’s been the case with classic New York house label Strictly Rhythm. While I’ve always carried a couple choice cuts from the label in my bag, revisiting their output frequently has helped me expand my horizons and pick up records I may have passed on merely six months prior.

Krimp, Dana Kelley, Strictly Rhythym

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Such is the case with a recent score of House of Pain / In The Spirit by Krimp, aka Dana Kelley. Originally from Boston, Mass. Kelley is known for his output of classic deep house and garage tunes, under a number of different aliases, on labels such as Strictly Rhythm, Guidance, and Large. Sadly Kelley passed away in 2013, however, his music lives on in this week’s Wax Runoff.

Opening up the record is the Citrus Mix of “House Of Pain”. A moody late-night jam, this one starts out smooth before layering a number of textures and building tension. While “The Clouds Mix” retains much of the character of the previous mix, the drum beat has a bit more theme to it and the synth has all the hallmarks of a session jam. Crafting a sort of wonky organ style sound, this one has me very excited to play out. On the other side of the record we have two mixes of “In The Spirit”. The first (and my favorite of the release) is the “In The Spirit Mix”. Starting out with a simple, yet effective bassline, the addition of some mellow keys push this into true old school deep house territory. When this one starts lifting off, it feels like the vocal calling out “in the spirit” is the only thing keeping you grounded. Closing out the release is “In the Spirit (The Perk-Us-On Mix)”. Again, the inside track is much dancier with this one having considerably more drive and at times feeling almost like an old techno track. Given the context of the backing track the vocal evokes a completely different feeling.

Being an older Strictly Rhythm release, this is one of those records that you may just get lucky with when digging in a bin somewhere that hasn’t been too picked over. If you’re interested in grabbing your own copy, there’s plenty on Discogs at a reasonable price, but it looks like you’ll have to pay the shipping from Europe.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Colin Boardway, of Chicago, is 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.

Wax Runoff: 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

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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.

Wax Runoff: UNTHANK007

In this week’s Wax Runoff I wanted to draw attention to one of my favorite family of record labels: Firecracker Recordings. Based out of Edinburgh, Scotland, Firecracker and its two sub-labels Shevchenko and Unthank take a unique DIY approach to releasing top-tier tunes with some of the most aesthetically pleasing packaging in the business.
Recently making waves with a long awaited repress of their first four releases, Firecracker is known for their consistency in releasing deep, left-field and often melancholic tracks by the likes of Linkwood, Inkswell, Vakula and the subject of this week’s feature: Fur.

Unthank, unthank007, linkwood, firecracker recordings

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Appearing on the Unthank imprint, Fur’s Pulp is a deep and moody two tracker pressed to a limited run of 10” vinyl with a gorgeous hand screened jacket. While I personally find 10” records a little awkward both in the bag and on the platter, the depth and floor appeal of these tracks more than make up for it. Opening with mix of sounds that beg you to picture a rainy day, Fur’s original mix of “Pulp” teases you with a slow, jazzy piano line and a spaced out theremin before scattered hi-hats move you through to the track’s climax. Though it takes a bit to build, this one is destined for a late night dance floor or a smokey, dimly lit after-hours. On the flip side you’ll find my pick of this release – Linkwood’s “Pulp (Stargazer Mix).” As deep as it is spacey, this track is dripping with warm analog sounds and a few eerie but well placed vocal samples. A simple bassline and classic sounding 909 pattern keeps this one chugging along but it’s the pads that’ll have you questioning your existence, should you ever find yourself in the middle of a dance floor when someone puts this on.

Even for the casual home listener this release is a treat, and for just $10 on Discogs it’s a little hard to pass up. If you’re moved by these sounds I definitely recommend checking out Firecracker’s Bandcamp page – you’ll be able to find all of their releases (also available digitally) and I think it’s worth a look for the artwork alone.

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.

Wax Runoff: UV019

The other day I was reorganizing my records and came across an old favorite that had been buried by my almost daily record buying obsession. I threw it on my turntable, pushed up the fader on my mixer and was quickly reminded how Cuthead became one of my favorite artists. Based in Dresden, his music adds depth and character to an already stacked Uncanny Valley records catalog. With styles ranging from hip-hop to breaks to house, his unique sample based approach to making music all but guarantees a “buy on sight” designation when I find his work in a record bin.

Cuthead, Everlasting sunday, sequencer

Everlasting Sunday


Originally pressed in 2013, Cuthead’s Everlasting Sunday is a full album pressed to a single vinyl but presented in two parts. Highlighting his mastery of musical styles, the A-side of this release consists of three chill, funky and otherwise melodic house jams, but flipping the record over gives you six dusty hip-hop instrumentals. My pick of this release is found early on in the A-side with “Maputo Jam.” A hi-hat led drum intro pairs with a bright sounding key loop before the track opens up into a sun-drenched daytime dance bomb. The indecipherable chopped vocal adds a sort of creepy element to the tune that meshes perfectly with the static crackle of his samples. My runner up, also on the A-side, is “Minerals” – another sample heavy cut; I haven’t quite heard chimes used like this before. Layered horn and string loops and abrupt key changes make this more of a ballad than chill out material. I can’t get enough of it.

Even if you’re not one for hip-hop, the six cuts on the B-side are a welcome flexing of Cuthead’s studio chops. Each is practically dripping with an old school MPC sound reminiscent of dons such as Dilla and Madlib. My favorite of these is probably the title track of this album, “Everlasting Sunday.” Coming in at just over 3 minutes, a super chunky bassline meshes with another slick vocal chop making this one, as it’s name suggests, perfect Sunday vibes.

A repress of this album in 2015 brought it’s price back down into an amateur collector’s range. While you can find this on Discogs, I recommend heading for Uncanny Valley’s Bandcamp page where you can find a handful of other Cuthead releases and nice tunes from their other artists.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Colin Boardway is a Chicago-based DJ who has been collecting wax and enveloping himself into the city’s house and techno scene.