TVD Recommends:
Herb Records 2013 Release and Tour with Congo Sanchez

“It’s all about tickling people’s musical g-spots with the sound.”
—Congo Sanchez

Herb Records is the brainchild of DC-based percussionist Congo Sanchez. The first album from the label—Herb Records 2013—released last week, includes the musical works of Sanchez, Hydrophonics, and Groove Status. Together, the trio compiled a signature mix of electronic dub, trip-hop, ragga, shoe-gaze, and moombahton (to name a few).

This debut venture adds yet another unique layer to the DC music spectrum, a reflection of the diverse demographics of the mid-Atlantic. Chatting with Sanchez, he gives me the rundown on his music, his latest venture, and the tour.

Sanchez, Hydrophonics, and Groove Status originate from Richmond, VA, an incubator for musicians ranging from Pat Benatar to D’Angelo. Like the femme rocker and buffed-out neo-soulster, the men of Herb Records show and prove a streak of individuality native to the Capitol City. Given the multi-hyphenate musician’s eclecticism, adapting sounds comes to him as naturally as a drumbeat. “I’ve used a lot more drum samples than I did before because I’ve been DJing a lot and…working along the lines of the DJ producer.”

The previous album featured more live instruments. Herb Records 2013 is not so much a contrast as it’s the next artistic challenge for the trio.

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Besides his incredible backlog of music, Sanchez’s skills are well-nurtured as drummer for Thievery Corporation. When talking to the wunderkind about the seminal group’s impact on its individual players (himself included), he says, “Rob and Eric are the ultimate opportunity-givers. They’ve given me my biggest opportunities of dreams coming true. Have built a scene and built a community throughout the world of music they like and musicians they like working with. We’re all artists, but when we come together as a unit we become the Thievery Corporation, and then when the unit is apart we are all doing our thing.”

The album is a study in fusion. On Herb Records 2013, Hydrophonics showcases his penchant for live-looping. His track, “Sunrise,” is a shoe-gazey epilogue with a psychedelic feel that recalls Liftoff. The other collaborator, Groove Status, brings a strong funk element to the project. A notable track, “Love Sauce,” is something of a modern instrumental track laden with industrial rock stomping, at a cut-time pace. Sanchez’s infectious “Vibrations” is a crash course in ragga (a marriage of reggae and electronica) with layers of modern Latin-Caribbean dance music. The song features loops of Ini Kimoze’s famous hook, “Out in the streets, they call it murder!”

Other notable tracks on 2013 are “Zhevol,” a hypnotic, trip-hopped-up head groove; “Worlds,” a cosmic California dubstep-ish track you might hear at an underground party in San Francisco; “Slow Down,” a soothing, downtempo track; and “2 Years,” a coilly, snare-tastic two-stepper. “Beg Your Pardon America,” featuring vocals by the late Gil-Scott Heron, is a time capsule to the days when vinyl was king. Sanchez speak fondly of his “search…for  rare vinyl records.”

On top of this ear-gasmic compilation, Congo Sanchez has plans to expand the brand and mission of Herb Records. Goals in the near future include merchandising.“The label is focused on connecting with other forms of art or lifestyle-oriented endeavors and working with them.”  The trio will also donate album proceeds to a charity founded by Sanchez’s mother in honor of his brother who succumbed to cancer. Herb Records 2013 is a project that’s just as much a personal endeavor as it is a passion piece.

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The Herb Records 2013 album received a kickoff on The Vinyl District’s Press Play feature earlier this week with a free download of “Vibrations.” The tour continues through the end of the month, just before Thanksgiving. The remaining dates are as follows:

November 15, Bellagio Resort (Private Event), Las Vegas, NV
November 16, Typhoon Saloon, San Diego, CA
November 18, Skylark, San Fransisco, CA
November 20, Pacific Coast Brewing, Oakland, CA
November 21, Elbo Room, San Fransisco, CA
November 22, Shanachie Pub, Willits, CA
November 24, Banana Stand Media, Portland OR

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