Digging in Europe with Jaxon Eastabrook
Written by Jaxon Eastabrook on 6th December 2016
Introducing our newest contributor, Jaxon Eastabrook: the Aussie music connoisseur currently soaking up all the UK has to offer. Born in Perth, Jaxon comes to us by way of Europe’s acclaimed collection of record stores. It’s therefore been no surprise that when we first bumped into Jaxon a few weeks back, he was armed with a full bag of records, eager to give them a spin after having no access to a turntable throughout his time abroad.
En route, as he tells us, his spending habits have defeated him in almost every country he has visited; leaving with rare grooves, limited edition presses and all round quality records and with very much lighter pockets than before. From Amsterdam to Berlin to London, Jaxon shares with us his digging treasures via a vinyl only mix of his favourite tracks from around Europe as well as a detailed run down of some his favourite finds below.
Hit play below to listen to his mix or alternatively scroll through his top selections from his travels…click the pictures to hear each record for yourself…
Aged In Harmony – Theme For Someone Special
Highly sought after by vinyl and soul junkies worldwide, this rare 7” was privately recorded and released in Detroit circa 1978. Another, equally rare, release by the group entitled “You’re a Melody” gave birth to Floating Points’ night of the same name at the late Plastic People.
Thankfully reissued by Melodies International at a price the average punter can afford, the tune comes in a set of three 7’s, each as marvellous as the next. Where “You’re a Melody” smacks you with the funk of its stellar guitar riff and gorgeous female vocal, “Theme For Someone Special” (as the title suggests) takes you on a 5 minute reflective journey as string and electric guitar dance with each other over a smooth head-bopping bass and drum undercurrent.
Kasso – Walkman
After having my socks blown off by Antal dropping this one at Dekmantel, it’s safe to say I had my eyes peeled for it at every record store I visited thereafter. With a fairly bright and ridiculous looking cover (which I guess at times goes synonymously with Italo-Disco), it was not hard to spot it poking out of the small 7″ section just by the counter of Record Loft, Berlin.
Created by Italian composer and keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, the tune, which could probably be categorized as ‘Italo-Disco’, mixes synthy electro sounds with crisp piano progression and even wraps up on a punchy guitar solo. Definitely one of the gems in the sometimes cheesy world of Italo-Disco.
Cottam – Untitled B Side (2nd Release)
Having previously owned music by Cottam, recognition of his signature semi-faded mono-colour labels easily tempted me to pick this one up for a listen. Released in 2009 as his second record, The A side holds a stunning edit of Angie Stone’s “Pissed Off”. The B side however is a near on 10 minute slow burner that plays on the house and afro-beat disciplines. Technically an edit of Lagos Sisi by Bola Johnson, delayed claps and a punchy kick allow this belter to chug along as a perfect hybrid of funk and thump.
Having seen the bank busting price this cut had managed to get to on Discogs, it was refreshing to find it had been repressed, and a lovely surprise all the more to add it to my bag at Rush Hour in Amsterdam.
Jiraffe – Out’A The Box (Crazy Club Dub Mix)
Originally released in the US circa 1988, the man behind this record, Richie Weeks, is also responsible for leading the disco/funk group, The Jammers, whose self-titled album is a personal favourite of mine – never leaving the bag. With a forward thinking (literally Out’A The Box) mixture of Chicago house, disco and even electro, this record, despite being quite busy, maintains a solid groove throughout and simply urges you to move.
Original pressings, out on GoldQwest, fetch some insane sums online, and so it was great to pick up a fresh repress from new Italian edit/reissue label Omaggio. Despite some dispute surrounding the sound quality of the record, whilst not perfect, I really do think that you see past this when engaged by the pure musical class behind the track. I mean hey, maybe it even adds character…
LK – It’s Been a Long Time
Having put out music by the likes of Mall Grab and DJ Astral, Shall Not Fade, on its sublabel “Shall Not Fade White”, gives us a nice 4 track EP comprised of 4 different artists. Each track contains some gritty dichotomy of thumping drum-work and soulful R&B vocals. Aries opens the EP with a confronting cut entitled “You Make Me Wanna” which has some very gritty and crushed soundwork. On the B Side, we have two R&B/House fusion tracks, with Steven B.C.’s “Nice & Slow” and a nice one by Deejay Astral sampling Tina Moore’s stone cold Garage classic “Never Gonna Let You Go”, which re-uses that name.
For me however the A2, LK’s “It’s Been a Long time” is the record’s choicest cut. The track is some-what an edit of Starvue’s Body Fusion, with the choppy lyrics layered over the sped-up bassline. The result, is a Disco-House mover highly conducive to dancefloor engagement.
DJ Genesis – It’s U
I originally picked this one up for the A-Side, “Tribute to Betty Tonight”, a beautiful track based on Betty Wright’s “Tonight Is The Night” which I had originally seen with Omar-S’s “U” on the flip and had been hunting for quite some time. The copy I found however, was home to this tasty little number on the B side, and upon hearing it I was immediately consoled for not finding a copy with the Omar jam on it.
In 1999, Genesis founded the “Set It Off” tour, which showcased female DJ’s in the scene who she felt had not received the admiration they deserved. One of only a handful of releases on her own “Subgroundz Records” imprint, this release certainly has a strong air of femininity, showcasing gorgeous female vocals and laid back house rhythms…definitely a worthy cop!
The DangerFeel Newbies – What Am I Here For? (NDATL DISTINCTIVE Vocal Remix)
Written by the DangerFeel Newbies out of Atlanta, the original track is a much slower disco inspired jam with a serious bassline. Detroits Kai Alce however transforms it into dance floor treat, maintaining the vocals but adding pumping piano stabs, a faster kick and not to mention some smooth horn solos throughout.
Released on his own label NDATL Muzik, which takes its name from the 3 places of which its sound is influenced (New York, Detroit and Atlanta) and is also home to the sought after yearly ‘NDATL Special Edition’ records, the release contains 2 other soulful remixes as well as a deeper ‘Late Night Mix’.
Chez N Trent – The Choice (Full Dosage)
Originally released in 1993 on techno don Kevin Sauderson’s Detroit based label KMS, and regarded as a house classic, this belting record comes with 4 tracks, all created and remixed by two Chicago legends in their own right, Chez Damier and Ron Trent. I think it is pretty safe to say that any lover and collector of house music would swiftly pull any wax with the words “Chez” or “Trent” on them into their stack to take to the listening station, and when I spotted this one it was no different.
The A side, contains two lovely upbeat and feel-good versions entitled “Windy City Club” and “New Dub Mix”, though for me the B steals the show, with “Full Dosage” and the “Witch Doctor Mix”. These two remixes lift the track to new levels with the original “It’s the Choice” vocals emanating through continuous angelic synth stabs. The “Witch Doctor Mix” also has a gorgeous section of delayed repetition towards the end which brings the track to a euphoric close.
Ewan Jansen – Weatherboard (Lost Embers EP)
Bought: Sound Metaphors, Berlin
Finding this record was probably one of the most special moments of digging in Europe thus far, it’s not every day you pull a record out of the crate to see a picture of your own home town staring back at you! On production here is Western Australia’s very own Ewan Jansen, and before proceeding it is probably worth me (proudly) giving a brief history of Mr Jansen’s role in the early house music scene of Perth.
Between 1997 and 2001, on his ‘Red Ember Records’ imprint, Ewan put out a number of records, which were probably the first of their genre that had actually been created in our city. The small size of Perth’s fledgling house music scene at the time is reflected in the small number of each record cut, with small runs of only 40 records lathe cut onto polycarbonate discs*. These extremely rare cuts are now revered as pieces of Perth music history by the local scene, and are highly sought after by heads across the globe.
Since the late 90’s, Jansen has put out music on such labels as: Chez Damiers’ Inner Balance, Moods & Grooves, and recently, after a 15 year interlude, Perths’ own reignited Red Ember Records. This record in particular, is an eclectic mix of house, techno and ambient, and comes from Brixton imprint ‘Going Good’. ‘Weatherboard’ probably my favourite tune on the EP, follows wobbling low pads which culminate in a section of high pitched, almost melancholy, synth stabs, perfect deep early morning dancefloor material.
*(For more info on this interesting process Click HERE.)
Extended Family – Ulysses (Harvey’s Crowd Control Mix)
Bought: Record Loft, Berlin
Being a fan of Harvey’s Black Cock Records and after witnessing a mind-blowing (standard) set from him at Dekmantel, I had a renewed keenness to check out anything I saw with his name on it. Having picked up the promo of this one, the name “Harvey” (which was only visible in the track listing on a small sticker) wasn’t much to go by, but I picked it up just in case, and was rewarded greatly! Utilising the drum riff of the original Extended Family version, the honorary DJ Harvey takes this track to a whole different ball park with his ‘Crowd Control Mix’. A relentless tribal drum sequence carries the track through breaks of grinding synth, psychedelic guitar samples and some interesting yet well executed use of vocoder.
A house track with grinding synths, tribal drums, vocoder and psychedelic guitar you say? Sounds like a recipe for disaster… But do not fret, for the living legend that is DJ Harvey pulls it off with style, giving us a track that could be described as a victory for audacious dancefloor creativity.