Coming up on the end of September, I rounded up my favorite releases of this past month to find the destined pick for this week’s Wax Runoff. Overall a wonderful month for excellent tunes, but there is one record that I have consistently been coming back to.
Fitzzgerald was a new name to me. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to learn that his recent 12” on Tugboat Edits is actually his first release. In truth, Tugboat Edits Vol. 11 sounds as if it had come from a much more decorated veteran. It’s a deeply jazz-infused carpet ride through sexy house loops and gourmet samples that vary in flavor for diverse hours and moments.
A1 “Starfruit” is a precipitant introduction to the record. Lo-fi jazz licks and warm pads accompany a classic disco bass guitar line while a Rhodes piano goes on seemingly endless G# scale tangents. The drums are forward; a jackhammer 4/4 kick rhythm gives an undeniably groovy feel to it, but that’s not to discredit the hand drums solo around the five-minute mark. Ultimately this jam comes off polished and tight, ready for a sunny terrace near you. This track sounds like how a Mister Saturday Night party feels.
The second cut on the front, “On Your Side”, takes things a bit farther left from center. Slowed down and with a noticeable bossa nova influence this one features some great marimba scales. It takes about four minutes, but eventually a more house-centric rhythm does start to command things as memorable disco strings create a wonderful classy vintage type vibe. While maybe not for the prime time hours of the night, this is still an amazing piece of music that certainly has its time and place.
Someone once told me the best tracks are always on the B-side. That superstition seems to be true as my favorite tune by a long shot is “Mysterious World”. It’s essentially a really done house re-work of the title track off MFSB’s 1980 jazz-fusion release Mysteries of the World. Devastating for me because I actually had sampled my copy of that 12” earlier in the year and was halfway through an edit of my own when I bought this record. This re-work seems better than I could likely do, with just the right amount of delicate percussion and an extra funky synth line that was written for this edit. Serious party stuff when the vibe calls for it.
The clean-up spot on the roster belongs to “Shaka Joe”; a nice mix of tribal and deep house, it’s less experimental for sure and yet still easily avoids being forgettable. As with the other three tunes, there are plenty of punchy and improvised jazz scales, this time coming from an unidentified organ synth. It sounds great with lots of loop layering variation, along with points where the mix clears out making this one a favorite that creeps onto your table more as you begin to wear out the other three.
All in all this record is a must have if you are really into the jazzy lo-fi house that is popularized by well-known taste maker labels Razor N Tape or Mister Saturday Night. And I would say a nice record to have if you like really solid and well-mixed house and disco tracks that carefully measure to never venture into the realm of over-production. This slab would be particularly valuable in a bag for early morning after parties and late afternoon BBQs in my opinion.
I encourage you to scoop this great record straight from the responsible party. There are of course is Discogs and the usual main online competitors: Juno, Deejay, Redeye, etc. If you want to support a smaller online retailer who have a great team and really care about this music on a personal level, I recommend grabbing a copy from Downtown304. The press is limited, and if you were going to buy new from retail, I would act fast before this release is comfortably sitting in other people’s record collections the world over.
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.