This Just In: Systems/Layers

Field recordings – yes! “Classical” music – yes! First time vinyl issue – yes! I nearly fell over when I saw that Rachel’s Systems/Layers was finally being released on vinyl, thirteen years after its debut. Rachel’s is one of the bands I listen to most in my living room (where the record player is), so adding another piece of their catalog to the shelf is very exciting. And, this comes with another previously unreleased-on-vinyl EP, Technology Is Killing Music. It’s also been perfect weather for dark, brooding, atmospheric instrumentals, so the timing couldn’t be better. Stay inside and listen to records, it’s OK. -MLE

Rachel’s – Systems/Layers 2LP
Listen: “Systems/Layers”
“Louisville-based avant-garde chamber group Rachel’s present the vinyl debut of their 2003 full-length album systems/layers. This double LP album release also includes the vinyl debut of Rachel’s 2005 EP, Technology Is Killing Music. Numerous recording sessions make up systems/layers, home recordings, field recordings, and several large ensemble sessions with members of the Louisville Orchestra. Preliminary work for systems/layers began in 1997, when Rachel’s took to the streets of NYC armed with a DAT recorded in search of interesting sounds. This project, intended to address the issues of modern urban life, was set aside while other projects kept the band’s attention. However, when Rachel’s started working with the innovative New York based SITI theatre group in 2000, these recordings were given an environment to be completed. Included on the last side of this 2xLP release, Technology Is Killing Music is an ideal companion to systems/layers. Assembled in the same cut up style, this 20-minute EP is a long-form suite comprised of material sourced from studio sessions, live performances and field recordings.” -Quarterstick Records

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This Just In: Yes Lawd!

NxWorries is a collaboration A LOT of people have been excited about, and their full-length drops today on Stones Throw. Knxwledge has been one of Sweat’s best-selling hip-hop artists for a couple years, and Anderson .Paak’s releases are highly sought after, especially after his appearance on Dr. Dre’s Compton album. Oh, and Knx contributed to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, which, as you all know, was a global hip-hop phenomenon. As a group their influences span soul, r&b, funk, gospel, and of course, hip-hop – all of which are represented thoroughly on Yes Lawd! The overall quality isn’t super shiny and polished either, which ads the the atmosphere and feel, creating an immersive, almost live listening experience, uncommon to a lot of currently popular hip-hop and rap. This stuff is definitely tried and true. Take a listen to a track below and come grab the record before it sells out (yes, it will). Hip-hop not your thing? Lots of other great in-stocks this week as well in the list below… -MLE

NxWorries – Yes Lawd! 2LP
Listen: “Get Bigger”
YES LAWD! As temping as it may be to just let that exclamation suffice as your sole introduction to NxWorries, we should go a little deeper. The men at the heart of this LP — soul styler Anderson .Paak and loop beast Knxwledge — make an exceedingly clean pair, even as they deal almost entirely in the gritty: vocals that sound lived in for a couple of lifetimes; beats that kick up dust as they bump; and an 18-track set that plays like a mixtape merging skits, songs, and snippets into a package of fluid groove and rough-cut rap ‘n’ soul gems. You may have heard these two out in the world, on their own or sprinkling some of their musical gold dust on someone else’s songs, but this is what happens when .Paak and Knx get home, lay back, light up, and let it go.

If there’s a Blaxploitation vibe to Yes Lawd!, that’s just the depth of NxWorries’ funk and strut showing. If there’s gospel in the grits, that’s the history of the cooks. Each grew up with religion. It was Knxwledge’s job to tidy up the family church in Jersey as a kid, and when he was done, he got to play on the instruments. Better still, when those instruments went bad, he kept them. Similarly, he’d soon find sounds in his growing vinyl cache, and when he moved to Los Angeles in 2008 as a beat maker, his compositions ensured he’d be home at Stones Throw. His hypnotically dank 2015 LP Hud Dreems was the tip of an iceberg—75 Bandcamp collections, and counting. .Paak was neck deep in those songs when Knxwledge reached out. The singer grew up in Oxnard drumming in his own family’s church. His folks got locked up when he was a teen, and while he’d eke by on odd jobs (grocer, trimmer, personal assistant), he was homeless for a spell with a newborn son. But .Paak pushed forward, building a career via imaginative albums (2016’s Malibu), and collaborations that always seem to make him the star, even when he’s just there to sing the hook.

So when they got together, of course it was going to flow. As Knx points out, one of the reasons it’s taken so long to deliver Yes Lawd! is the fact that every time they get together, they make more music. Their come-up was strangely synchronicitous too. Knx landed on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (‘Momma’) after the Aftermath MC heard one his beats on Knx’s Bandcamp-culling Anthology release. And it was NxWorries’ first single, the unforgettable ‘Suede,’ that got Dr. Dre’s attention, earning .Paak’s no fewer than eight appearances on the Compton album and, ultimately, a deal with Aftermath. The point is: neither is a stranger to the head-down hustle, even if each was born for the spotlight. Which feeds back into the theme of NxWorries’ debut.

On Yes Lawd!, .Paak – who calls the album ‘my best work’ – plays theatrically brash version of himself who sings like a ’70s superstar and talks shit like a stone cold player. But the performance is seeded with details from his life, which has seen a fair share of struggle and hard-won triumph. Meanwhile, Knx weaves a tapestry of sampled bits and live fragments—bass, brass and violin—that smooths everything over, reminding us that despite whatever struggle it took to get here… well, you already know the name: NxWorries. -Stones Throw

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This Just In: Botany

The promo for Botany’s latest arrived a few weeks ago and I was stoked to check out new beat-driven tracks by a producer who’s never disappointed me. I popped it on and, wait – no beats. Well, not in the way I was used to from Botany. What I heard instead was, dare I say, far more compelling. This was warm, new age psych that was ALL OVER THE PLACE. All I could think about was how Botany got from point B(eats) to X, Y, Z and then some. I listened to the album half a dozen times and kept hearing new things. At one point I was stuck in traffic under a double rainbow with lightning bolts coursing through the sky, listening to this masterpiece (no, that wasn’t a metaphor). Then, after becoming very familiar with tracks and their clever titles, I finally read something about the album, and learned even more. “Concept album” doesn’t even begin to convey it. Deepak Verbera is incredible, and if you think I’m exaggerating, take a moment to listen to it and read about it yourself. -MLE

Botany – Deepak Verbera LP
Listen: Full Album
Deepak Verbera, the third LP by Austin’s Spencer Stephenson aka BOTANY, bends the beat-driven path carved by the composer’s first two records into meterless cosmic territory, juxtaposing free jazz arrhythmia with cathedral-filling harmony, ringing off the temple walls with soaring grandeur. The billowing textures that loomed behind his previous output break unabashedly into the foreground, shedding the beats that once stenciled them in. What arises in the absence of discernible rhythm is a psych-inflected scrapbook of atmospheres with tremendous sonic and emotional breadth.

Deepak is a Hindi word meaning ‘lamp’ or ‘source of light,’ and Verbera is a Latin word meaning ‘lash’ or ‘scourge.’ This pairing of words articulates the exact dynamic at play here, as brightness intensifies only to dim into darkness, the album vacillates from heavenly luminosity to earthly severity, soothing and searing in patient turns.

In essence Deepak Verbera is a soundscape record created through methods usually found in hip-hop; vinyl samples, looped vocal phrases, pulsing bass, and warm synths all shimmer with kosmische-indebted splendor, like Popol Vuh with MPCs and a stack of secondhand records. ‘Whose Ghost’ opens the album in absolute upheaval, challenging the listener to endure an Albert Ayler-style clamor of argumentative drums and brass. Those who weather the storm are soon consoled by the library-music-inspired ‘Has Appeared’ which cleanses the palate for the ascendant, ‘Ory (Joyous Toil).’ Its incense laden sister song ‘Burning From the Edges Inward’ plays like a mini-album unto itself, seamlessly shifting moods with each passage as rolling waves of acoustic piano diffuse into smoked-out guitar drones and witch-like choirs. Side A ends with ‘Outer Verberum,’ a guitar-heavy track which can only be described as ‘free-psych.’ Tracks like ‘Gleaning Gleaming’ are built out of micro-snippets of soul records that cascade over themselves to become something wholly incomparable to their source.

The album’s back cover explains that this music is an attempt to recreate the lost audio recordings of a little-known mystic traveler, Horris E. Campos. During the 1970’s and 80’s, Campos claimed to have contacted entities made of light that transmitted information to him through vibratory tones, which he then emulated on tape using various overdubbed musical instruments. Whatever the details of Campos’ story, Deepak transcends this esoteric source to become an allegory of Stephenson’s own ability to speak to the ether and bring the message back to us.” -Western Vinyl

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This Just In: CSD 2016

Luckily we were spared any intensity from Hurricane Matthew, so our weekend hours will remain normal! Miami’s got a super busy music weekend ahead of it with III Points, AND it’s also Cassette Store Day on Saturday. This year we’ve got some CSD releases (yes, many were delayed or canceled), and we’ve also got an excellent amount of previously-loved and local cassettes spanning rock, metal, pop, alternative, hip-hop, noise, punk, hardcore, experimental… you get the idea. Tapes will hit the floor when we open Saturday, so stop in to check out the spread. This week’s in-stocks are listed below as well and are available right now!!! -MLE

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