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Lucid Listening (June) - Fresh Vinyl Selections, Gear Tips, And All Things Home Audio

This month we dive into some classic rereleases from Four Tet, Leon Spencer, The Roots, and the latest from Madlib.

The dog days of summer are already upon us and it's only June? Here in the Mile High City we have been getting pummeled with triple-digit heat, blown our ACs, and on a positive note - a lot of reopening of restaurants, concert venues, and even some festivals on the horizon. So we tried to select some albums on wax that would give us a mental cool down, albums that are so damn cool that they will bring down your body temp. 

Once again we pull from a variety of genres from underground beats to jazz to electronic to jazzy hip hop - all perfect for your backyard bbq and summer chill sessions. We have the new release from Madlib, and three rereleases from Four Tet, Leon Spencer, and The Roots. 

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Madlib - Sound Ancestors - Vinyl Me Please 

Madlib is one of those artists that continues to find new sounds and beats to keep things ever fresh in the world of head-bobbing underground hip hop. He masterfully weaves an amalgamation of samples together to form musical thoughts, sometimes they are snackable bites, other times complete compositions, always perfectly weird and compelling in their own way. Always inducing a crooked smile and sideways bob of the head, because those who know, know. Madlib speaks a language of beats, and if you are one that speaks and gets this language - you are welcome here. In a way listening to Madlib is like learning how to drink a fine Mezcal, it's a bit smokey, or a lot, smooth, and not everyone can handle it. Sound Ancestors is superb, and you almost wish you had Doodlebug or Butterfly from the Digable Planets to spit some freestyle over some of these jams. Having this on wax is a must, and even a great record for you vinyl DJs to keep in the box.

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From VMP Website:

Sound Ancestors is Madlib's new solo album, which is edited, arranged, and mastered by Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet). We have it on Black & White A-Side/B-Side vinyl.

Kieran Hebden, the electronic producer best known by his stage name Four Tet, was listening to his friend Madlib's music and had the idea to arrange it into a solo album, meant to be listened to as a cohesive, full-album experience.

Hebden explained: "[Madlib] is always making loads of music in all sorts of styles and I was listening to some of his new beats and studio sessions when I had the idea that it would be great to hear some of these ideas made into a Madlib solo album. Not made into beats for vocalists to use but instead arranged into tracks that could all flow together in an album designed to be listened to start to finish. I put this concept to him when we were hanging out eating some nice food one day and we decided to work on this together with him sending me tracks, loops, ideas and experiments that I would arrange, edit, manipulate and combine. I was sent hundreds of pieces of music over a couple of years stretch and during that time I put together this album with all the parts that fitted with my vision."

Madlib has appeared on numerous VMP exclusives, and the second album from his alter ego Quasimoto, The Further Adventures of Lord Quas, was VMP's Hip-Hop Record of the Month for February 2021.


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Four Tet - Pink - Vinyl Me Please (Special Release)

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If you are an electronic music fan, you pretty much have to like Four Tet also known as Kieran Hebden. His music delicately dances around traditional genres like House and Breaks and Experimental, all working together to make a cohesive Four Tet Sound. Pink has never been pressed up on vinyl, so this is a lovely little double LP with great artwork, an additional 12x12 print, and that limited edition status that all of us vinyl collectors love. This album works on the dancefloor as well as the headphones, with just enough groove to get you shuffling and just the right amount of texture and sound design to fascinate your ears in the cans. Pink is hypnotic and meditative and is a wonderful album to just get lost in and let your mind take where it wants to while Four Tet provides the soundtrack for your inner journey. You could also throw this record on at a club at 4 am and flip some lids with it, so it just is one of those amazing electronic albums that can work everywhere - and now you can have it on black licorice. Well worth every penny, your mind and your soul will thank you. 

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Leon Spencer - Where I'm Coming From - Vinyl Me Please Special Release

Soul Jazz is truly its own thing, and it is one of those genres that becomes cavernous the more you dig in. Every corner of the USA was pumping out some delectable variation during the early to late seventies, and then it was a hard stop. Poof, nothing after roughly 10 years of output, but what you can find that was created during this epic span of jazz time - is, truly, next-level shit. Leon Spencer is one of those cats, a man whose work is minimal, yet epic and essential to the genre. Spencer in a sense, kind of takes over where the JB's left off. A flurry of electric piano that would make Quincy Jones blush, and enough fury and soul to make any dance floor bob and weave into the dangerous hours. You will put this record on rewind, over and over, it's so damn good. 

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From VMP Website:

Part of VMP's capsule collection with Craft Recordings and Jazz Dispensary, this jazz classic is limited to 1000 copies, in tip-on jackets, and pressed AAA on 180gram Red Cloud vinyl at RTI.

The very definition of ‘70s soulful jazz, Where I’m Coming From has all the hallmarks of Prestige Records at its finest, with an all-star cast of sidemen (Welcome back, Idris Muhammed! Hello to Madlib’s uncle, Jon Faddis! Greetings to the funky flute of Hubert Laws!) recorded at Van Gelder’s studio and packed with down and dirty grooves top to bottom. From the opening cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” through to the low-slung original head nodder “Where I’m Coming From,” with stops along the way for dips into the catalogs of Curtis Mayfield (“Give Me Your Love”), Marvin Gaye (“Trouble Man”) and the Four Tops (“Keeper Of The Castle”), Leon Spencer’s rippling organ lines sear this prime example of groove jazz.

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The Roots - Do You Want More?!!!??! (Limited Edition Boxset) 

For fans of Native Tongues Hip Hop, The Roots in many ways grabbed the baton and ran with it, in all the right ways. The influence of jazz and smooth flow was entrenched in their musical deliveries, and their live performance truly changed what Hip Hop could and would be. This box set of Do You Want More?!!!??! is truly a gem for any fan or collector, it comes complete with a fan-tastic magazine-style pamphlet with insights and anecdotes about the making of the album and its overall meaning from its creators. All the essential remixes (the legit ones) are here, and spending time with this record on vinyl is truly one of the best ways to experience it. You think you are present, you ease into every beat and feel more connected to this work of art. If you are a fan of the genre, even if you don't know a ton of their work - just buy this. This collection will reinvigorate your love for one of the best era's of Hip Hop, so be prepared for a deep dive - no doubt you'll have some De La and Tribe vinyl on order after spending some time with this legendary album. 

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More on So You Want More?!!!??!

Do You Want More?!!!?! is the second studio album by The Roots, released January 17th, 1995 on DGC Records. The band's major-label debut was released two years after their independent debut album, Organix (1993). Do You Want More?!!!?! has been considered by critics as a classic of hip hop jazz. In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. On November 2nd, 2015, twenty years after it's release, the album was certified Gold. - This 3LP version of "Do You Want More!!!?!" has been remastered from the original tapes and include bonus tracks curated by Questlove, a trifold jacket in a slipcase, a booklet with rare photos, Essays by Questlove and Black Thought, and track-by-track commentary.


The Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back

The Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back

The Audeze LCD-3 Open Back 

The Audeze LCD-3 Open Back 

For June we are putting two of the Audeze Headphones into rotation, the Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back Headphones and the Audeze LCD-3 Open Backs. For electronic music and beats, the closed back of the LCD-2 keeps things crispy and intimate. The tighter soundstage of the closed-back headphone keeps the intimate beats of Madlib and Four Tet sounding close to your heart. The LCD-3's let the sounds of Leon Spencer and The Roots open up, breathe if you will. The more acoustic vibes taste like a fine wine, dripping into your ears as analog waves connect to your brain, telling you they are right in front of you. 


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Our Turntable of Choice - The Gearbox Automatic Mkii turntable, custom-built by Pro-ject is a piece of functional art. Its compact footprint, sleek design, and fantastic audio output are hard to beat, and it's attainable at $595. What also sets the Mkii apart is the high-fidelity built-in valve phono stage (the first in the world to have one), designed and tuned for moving magnet cartridges such as the pre-fitted Ortofon OM10. This means that you can plug the turntable straight into any line input and enjoy the warm and open acoustics right from the box. Not only does Gearbox obsessively release excellent albums on vinyl, from reissued jazz to fresh new artists from various genres, but they also made their own turntable - so we had to work with them. Check our label profile out HERE


OUR PARTNERS:

Audeze: Founded in 2008, Audeze is an award-winning premium technology company engineering the world's most advanced audio solutions. Centered on science, innovation, and craftsmanship, Audeze's precision audio extends from proprietary planar magnetic drivers and custom-engineered transducers to pristine sound reproduction and highly-unique audiocentric applications. From discerning audiophiles to Grammy-winning recording engineers, top esports athletes to specialized medical facilities, Audeze has become one of the most respected audio companies in the world.

Audeze is proudly owned and operated in the USA, designed and engineered in California.

Gearbox: Gearbox Records is an independent record label founded in 2009 and based in London and Tokyo. With a commitment to the highest quality pressings, Gearbox by extension also includes an analogue studio situated in King's Cross. In the early days of Gearbox and under the mentorship of famed engineer Sean Davies, founder Darrel Sheinman was inspired to build an all-analogue cutting and mastering studio based around vintage vacuum tube tape machines and a 1967 Haeco Scully lathe, to which one can attribute the signature "Gearbox sound." With the guiding ethic of "future analogue", label and third-party releases are cut and mastered for analogue and digital using the best combination of rare vintage and modern equipment inside the London studio. The label's dual output includes previously-unreleased historic recordings and genre-breaking new music by contemporary artists; you will come across music by Thelonious Monk, Don Cherry, and Nico as well Binker and Moses, Sarathy Korwar, Chihei Hatakeyama and Abdullah Ibrahim. Ever-motivated by this ideal of affordable high fidelity, the label is also responsible for the one-off, beautifully-designed Gearbox Automatic Mkii turntable, custom-built by Pro-ject.

Vinyl Me Please: Vinyl Me, Please (VMP) is a community of explorers and storytellers who navigate between sounds that are lost and found to create transcendent tangible music experiences. VMP offers customers four different monthly vinyl subscriptions (Essentials, Classics, Hip Hop, and Country), an online record store with exclusive pressings, and a multitude of editorial content, storytelling, and events. Through these offerings, we embark on explorations of familiar sounds from our past, and new sounds for our future. To learn more, visit vinylmeplease.com and follow @vinylmeplease on socials. 

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