VA: Spargel Trax Volume 1
Spargel Trax

VA: Spargel Trax Volume 2
Spargel Trax

Don't Be Afraid has established a new sub-label designed to celebrate two themes: great music and … great asparagus? ‘Tis true—not only is spargel the German word for asparagus, but the first of the volumes shares its release date with the first day of the British Asparagus Season. Issued on twelve-inch vinyl only (volume one coloured white and a bit purple for the German strain, the second green for the British variety), the two releases (fifty minutes in total) feature eight tracks from well-established and up-and-coming artists. Good luck identifying them, though: while they hail from St. Petersburg, Cologne, Glasgow, London, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Bromley, all involved appear under, yep, asparagus-themed pseudonyms.

Herbaceous gets things moving with an acidy flow of staccato claps, accordion-styled smears, and drum machine chatter in the high-spirited “Love Tips.” Up next, Spargel-Tarzan's slow-builder “Sauce Hollandaise” swings tastily, its syncopated thrust powered by throbbing kick drums and bolstered by ravers' shouts of encouragement, until the addition of piano, congas, and vocal accents leads the tune into terrain both jazzy and soulful. Take away the incessantly wailing siren in Slazenger's People's hypnotic “Basel Piss Test” and you're left with an agile and heavily jacked-up workout animated by a wiry bass line and an equally insistent drum groove, after which the first volume exits with an after-hours slice of experimental house music by Lily (“Dollen Haze”), all slippery hit-hat patterning and drum accents. Volume two finds James Duncan softening a heavy 4/4 throb with silken deep house atmospheres and lush piano sprinkles in “Bed Stuy Beat” and Untitled-W stoking an effervescent steam in the blazing stomper “Green & White.” On the B-side, Freeman “Points D'amour” slows the pace for a creamy exercise in trippy house swirl, before Melvin Elephant 303 serves up four minutes of classic acid gurgle in “Spargel Jack.” Obviously, there's no shortage of fresh product (sorry) on offer in the releases, with much of it falling comfortably within the experimental house tradition—a splendid harvest, one might say.

April 2012