Welcome to a new mini-feature for the blog where I will be doing a little introduction to some great independent record labels from across the world. To start things off we have the Brooklyn based label Electric Cowbell Records.
The label was started last year (2010) by percussionist Jim Thompson in Brooklyn, initially to record his band The CSC Funk Band. Thompson and his co-band mates decided to take the unusual route of recording and releasing the single in 7 inch 45 vinyl format, inspired by an old article called Anatomy of a Heavy Funk 45 (basically a beginners guide to recording a lo-fi, “rough and heavy” funk vinyl 45s). The label has since gone on to release eleven singles in 45 format and for Thompson there was also a long held, personal inspiration behind the move:
“I have a lifelong obsession with vinyl and the 45 format has always held fetish fascination with me. That a good 45 DJ could pack a little soul party in a little box furthered my appreciation. The passing of John Peel a few years ago and his wife disclosing the contents of his 142-singles box, where he kept his most beloved singles, also struck me in my heart.”
Since its inception Electric Cowbell has released 45 singles by bands like contemporary salsa dons Bio Ritmo, “Ethio-groove collective” Debo Band and former Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn.
“The format allows a small label to focus on a single rather than a whole record and gives listeners a chance to focus on a single song rather than being inundated with full-lengths, huge zip files, and the overwhelming amount of information coming at you in the mp3 age.”
The label’s latest release is the first vinyl release to be taken from the Barbes Record’s Roots of Chicha series and, indeed, the first official remix, with Greenwood Rhythm Coalition’s remix of Peruvian band Los Ribereños’ “Silbando” from Roots of Chicha Volme II.
“I am friends with Barbes owner Olivier Conan and he knows my love and appreciation for all things ‘chicha’. We were discussing how great it would be to get some Roots of Chicha stuff available on vinyl and we felt that making 45’s available for DJ’s and ‘chicha’ lovers would be satisfying on many levels. Lots of cumbia remixes these days are kind of cold and too electronic for my liking so I like E’s E of NYC Trust approach to the remix, which to me is more of dubby King Tubby’is: it leaves enough of the classic chicha elements in tact yet still pulses along so it can go off on the dancefloor.”
Judging by the list of forthcoming releases from Electric Cowbell’s , the 45 revivial is set to continue this year:
“I have a 45 coming out soon, a collaboration between Malian vocalist Khaira Arby and The Sway Machinery, which features members from Antibalas. There will also be more releases from CSC Funk Band, Slavic Soul Party, Cheick Hamala Diabate, Antibalas and there are a few other projects coming too.”
To find out where you can get your hands on these gems visit Electric Cowbell’s store or, if you are not US based/are more technologically inclined, you can still get hold of the music in digital form through bandcamp.