One of the main perks of running a blog is that we get sent records every so often. We know from experience how hard it is for small independent labels to get the gen pop and music journos to take note of a new project or release, unless you're Moodymann, sell your soul to the PR devils or are willing to fork out serious money for a remix by a big name. Now, there's only one KDJ, PR people have a tendency to pick the wrong media outlets over and over and getting a 'big' remixer on board usually means there's zero chance of ever breaking even. Most small label owners we know used to rely on digital promos to get the word out, but even us minor figures on the circuit get so swamped with promos we stopped downloading them altogether a good while ago, so that's another route that will just cost more money and cause more frustration (oh the horror of being able to track exactly who opened what and seeing nobody bothers to listen or give feedback any more..). That leaves pretty much one option open: the old school route. Yes, sticking actual records in the mail to a few select DJs/scribes and including a kind note in the mailer might sound horribly outdated, but it's an incredibly effective way to get noticed and some much needed PDA. Because let's face it, having Move D, Eddie C or Session Victim posting pics and videos of them playing your records on their social media outlets sure beats another generic comment on Fatdrop by Laurant Garnier's intern doesn't it?
Long story short: there was a package from Common Labour waiting on our doorstep yesterday, a vinyl-only boutique label from Finland, run by pothOles (a moniker of Finnish DJ/Producer Tuomo Aslak Puranen). The label put out its first release in 2013 and is about to drop its fifth missive, but until now the label flew under our radar. I'm absolutely stoked we got to meet the label this way though, as both the new release as the repress of label's maiden voyage we kindly got sent are truly stunning.
Let's start with pothOles' Polaroids EP, which should be in the next week or so. Recession Legacy on the A is the kind of deephouse that Larry Heard had in mind when he invented the genre. Understated drums get propelled forward by crisp hats, while gentle synth lines, warm pads and perfectly placed stabs set the mood for a long and winding journey into the deep. It reminds me of the kind of stuff Charles Webster and Atjazz used to make in the 90s (and I was a total Webster/Atjazz fanboy back in the day, so I don't say this lightly).
Flip over for Feather Island, a slightly punchier affair with a massive rubbery analogue bassline and a great electronic boogie-meets-house vibe. Finally there's Bollemannen (no idea what it means, tried to run it through Google Translate but no dice), another grand slice of twisted, chuggy deephouse that wouldn't have been out of place on the likes of Soma or Siesta back in the day. Limited to 250 copies, so don't feed the sharks and pick it up while you can. It's already in stock over at Decks and will be available from Juno soon.
As if that wasn't enough, we were also treated to a repress of the label's first release, another record by label boss pothOles. According to Discogs this was initially limited to 160 copies but it's clear from the reviews that that wasn't nearly enough to do it justice, so it was repressed in 2015 (another 100 copies) and is seeing another much-needed limited repress now. Dulappe on the A is friggin spectacular. Hard to describe how it sounds, so just have a listen below, but it's the kind of stuff that made me fall in love with Fred Everything and Lance Desardi back in the day. Chunky, moody, fresh and a joy to mix.
Phonogenic is on remix duties and beefs things up a little, but in my humble opinion his stripped-down version is not a patch on the mint original. Meanwhile, the toasty closing track Etiquette is the cherry on top of a mighty fine main course.
Decks seems to be the only place that has it in stock at the moment, so pick up a copy here before these are all gone too
From the packaging alone you can tell that a lot of love goes into these release. We spoke to our Finnish bud Saine just now who mentioned that the class photography that is used comes from old family albums from pothOles. The records come shrinkwrapped in sleeves with the label's logo on the back, which is another nice touch. Saine also gave us a bit of a scoop, as he mentioned there will be another release on the label later this year with remixes from Nachtbraker (that other pal of ours), Jori Hulkkonen and Saine himself.
I can already feel my collector's itch working its ugly magic, so while we whip out the card and pillage Decks for the Common Labour backcatalogue we urge you to keep an eye out for this fine Finnish imprint. Keep up with what's cooking at Common Labour on the book or on the cloud.