The opening track on Stereocure Vol. 3, the 26th release by Stereocure in the hardly three years since its launch, is a mystic departure, a heavy trip, akin to those moments, however brief or extensive, where you manage to slip outside your own mind. Initial currents of nebulous, fleeting electronics spread and surge over “Northwest Passage” before Native Eloquence‘s Adam Hirsch joins the cherubic haze with gossamer-thin vocals and, eventually, a humble cascade of wily saxophone licks. The selection is among the most meditative and illusively formidable tracks featured on the third compilation by the Los Angeles based independent label. Save for an excellent offering by the Oberlin, Ohio based Peaks (which will be included on the group’s forthcoming EP this year), the sampler is made up of entirely exclusive songs, either made specifically for the release or curated by Stereocure from a selection of unreleased material.
It’s the same model Jordan Alper and his community of artistic collaborators followed on the previous two compilations, but the concentrated efforts of this new release indicate a stark maturation of sound and vision. This proliferation of sound can be attributed, in part, to a newly established partnership between Stereocure and Cosmic Zoo Studios in Los Angeles, where all the tracks on Vol. 3 were mastered. But most of the stylistic growth displayed on this new sampler is the consequence of each featured Stereocure act pushing boundaries and coming into their own as distinct recording artists.
Boston based electronic producer Leaftype delivers dose after dose of head-reeling beats and nonlinear dance progressions on the stellar hypno-house track “House Music for Multiple Organs.” In contrast to the vintage astro-funk of Flamingosis‘ sexy superjam “Do It,” Leaftype‘s contribution delves into headier, heavier realms, where rhythmic locomotion is spontaneous and wayward. Like midway through the track, when a smutty synthline emerges with little fanfare and carries the groove to new, unforeseen heights.
Frugal Father broke an almost year-long hiatus with “Silver,” synthesizing the bombastic ease of trip-hop with the structural formality of bass-heavy electro pop. The emotionally complex underpinnings of this track, which situates Mac Welch’s ghoulishly overdubbed howling front row center, distinguish this song among others from the Denver/Yosemite based songwriter. The senselessly delightful delirium picks up with the fiendish line, “You better watch yourself kid/ He owns you where you stand.” Eventually the key changes and the chords turn brighter and all that darkness and tension dissolves as something nearly uplifting, especially when Welch enunciates, “Will my four twins know that your face is not their own?”
The month of May will see two Stereocure EP releases, one from Frugal Father and another from Peaks (not to be confused with PEAKS, who we also have mad love for). Their newest track “HappyDie,” the longest offering on Vol. 3 at six minutes, is a massive step forward in the five-piece ensemble’s tradition of progressive, oftentimes cerebral, guitar music. Vocalist Rachel Ishikawa has always had soul at her disposal, but it’s employed here with certain restraint, fixed against the seething tones of their ambitious, technicolor alt-rock in new and exciting schemes. “HappyDie” is unique in the compilation not through its divergent palette of sounds, but because the sheer size of this searing soundscape is inundating, huge, apt to linger in your ear long after the last note.
I talked with Stereocure’s Jordan Alper about Stereocure Vol. 3 and how the label has grown since the previous compilation release. Read the Q&A below.
Indie Current: How long have you been working on this compilation?
Jordan Alper: We released our last compilation all the way back in May of 2013 so it was a long time coming, but we wanted to wait until all the artists had something to contribute that they were really excited about. We probably first began getting tracks in around 4 months ago. Moving forward we are looking to accelerate our compilations and hopefully release our next one on our 3 year anniversary in August. The curation of the compilation was pretty collaborative, we always make an effort to get everyone listening to each others’ music and giving feedback. I’ve got to give credit to Myles Emmons (Kuh Lida) for his help in sorting out the track order.
IC: In what ways, if any, has your vision for the label changed since “Stereocure Vol. 2”?
JA: I think Vol. 3 finds us at a really interesting point. We are about to have a year of massive growth, between our first physical releases, signing with a distributor, and just generally stepping up our game. At the same time I think that process has made us reconnect with a lot of the intentions and focus that we had when we first launched, especially in regards to representing the variety of forward-thinking, and often collaborative work being produced within our community.
IC: Which artists on this release have been most excited to see grow/progress over the years?
JA: I’m really excited about having Leaftype back in the mix with this compilation. His growth in production and composition has blown me away and I’m super proud to have him as sort of our ambassador to the world of house and techno. I couldn’t think of a better way to start out the compilation than with the Native Eloquence song. He’s entered a new chapter of his musical life, moving to Oakland and starting grad school for electronic music at Mills. He’s been able to channel all these new techniques and influences into his sound in a way that makes you feel like they’ve always been there. Of course Kuh Lida is bringing some otherworldly heat to the table. That guy has been making some of the most future music for quite a while and it makes me incredibly happy to see people finally starting to catch on. His track on the compilation really shows off how hard he is pushing his sound right now.
IC: What’s your favorite compilation release (other than this one)?
JA: My favorite compilation ever would probably have to be Brazilian Disco Boogie Sounds 1978 to 1982, which was curated by Jùnior Santos. I also recommend everyone checks out Eglo Records Vol. 1 and any of course any compilation put together by Soul Jazz records.
IC: If you had to describe “Stereocure Vol. 3” to someone in three words or less, what would they be?
JA: “Warm New Butter” or just, “free love.”
Stream Stereocure Vol. 3 in its entirety below.