Best of 2009: Wolf + Lamb

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.5

If I have to name one record label that rocked my world in 2009, it was Wolf + Lamb. Since I discovered this Brooklyn-based label after an educating feature on Nicolas Jaar in Resident Advisor by Philip Sherburne, I couldn’t stop checking, listening and dancefloor-testing any releases I could find. What makes this labels so special? The label owners, Gadi Mizrahi and Zev, once said that “the only constant thing about W+L is permanent change”, which is close to truth – ok, within more or less party-oriented music, that is. In short, equalizing and summarizing the moods that range from functional minimal of Lee Curtis thru classic disco/funk edits of Soul Clap thru minimal disco of Michael J Collins to currently most-prevalent sound of deep, jazzy, loose house (but never cheesy, never band-wagon jumping), and ending with “fuck-dance-let’s-art” jazzy experiments of Nicolas Jaar, I would call the music “minimal lounge”.

With some exceptions, this is not the music to ignite the floor at 4 am. A lot of the output is targeted at loungey events or beginning of the night. However, you can find also proper tools for mid-energy sets, both in ranges around 115 and 125 bpm. What makes these tracks stand out from the shoreless sea of contemporary dance music, is a very careful blend of minimalism and deepness, sparse use of jazzy moods/samples and dub FX, and a lot of surprises. Inventiveness over straightforward functionalism, in other words; but still without putting the head inside the artist’s arsehole and forgetting about people on the floor. I think it’s totally possible to play the whole DJ set solely out of the tracks released on Wolf+Lamb and make it very diverse and entertaining – a couple of listening-only tunes, some slow-mo e-funk (both relaxed and hot), some deep’n’jazzy house, some minimal and/or dubby, some almost techno, a few peak tunes… And it will work both for home and in club (though not necessarily in Space:Garage, and certainly not at 4:00 pm) ;)

Most of the early output on W+L was digital only; lately, they started to accompany some of the releases with vinyl (although yummy digital-only tracks might still keep Traktorists holding their primary attention on the label). On the W+L website, most of the catalogue can be heard and bought; also, there is a vast archive of downloadable or streamable podcasts and live mixes, perfect for soundtracking your home pre-(or after-)party.

My favourites at the moment of writing:

[wlb02] Soul Clap “Hot Natured Edits”
[wlb01] Soul Clap “Love Light”
[wlm05 + wlm057] No Regular Play “Owe Me” + remixes
[wlm04 + 07] v/a - Significant Others & Significant Others Too
[wlm03] Wolf + Lamb “Brooklynn EP”
[wl056] Michael J Collins “Thank You And Fuck You”

But there are also a lot of stand-out tracks from other releases…

UPDATE: In 2010, I recorded a mix solely consisting of the tracks released on Wolf+Lamb. It has been selected as an official anniversary podcast #100 in W+L series:

Read more about the mix here.


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