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The De Wolfe Sound Library is a fifty-year-old business, headquartered in London, that provides soundtrack material to film, video and television commercials. Their name crops on Monty Python records for having provided incidental music, and their website boasts that they have a track on the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. And these days, in the spirit of sustaining a great multi-generational business, they license out material to hip-hop producers looking for great, unknown beats and sounds. But I like to imagine the de Wolfe offices in the heady days of the late 60s and early 70s. Picture them: a constant flow of entertainment industry types in reflective aviators, patterny neckerchiefs and loafers (and maybe the handy, little leather-bound coke kits - the kind with gold-plated straws and razors), mouths full of name-dropping industry yacketing and nice lines of corperate-backed credit, pulling up in Alfa Romeos and MGs. They're young or wishing to be young, swinging or on the lookout, and making their business rounds to the de Wolfe offices to get hot new sounds for their film projects or car commercials or nation-wide radio spots. The almost-as-groovy de Wolfe staff guides them to the stacks of small-run, in-house-only LPs with psychedelic, if somewhat industrial covers, and the hipsters begin listening to evocatively named tracks like "Silver Thrust," "Heavy Gravy," and "Sweet Destruction," while scanning the little back-covers blurbs ("contemporary blues-rock with flute," "swinging piano with solid rock beat and electronic flourishes," or some such) looking for just the right background to their television special or whatever. Did any track on this disc of music from the de Wolfe library from that era ever make into some forgotten car-chase or nightclub scene? Were any of them the lead-in track to a sports program or chat show? Was a nightclub opening or home stereo hawked over the radio to the sound of any of these tunes. Who knows... And if so, how did the clearly brilliant, boldly creative and genuinely hip musicians whose work was used annonymously feel about the fit of their ideas to the contexts? Did musicians like Nick Ingman, Keith Papworth, Alan Parker,or Roger Webb (to name a few notables) who played, composed and/or produced these tracks even give a damn what happened to the tracks which they sold, rights and all, to de Wolfe, so long as the check cleared? We don't know. None of it mattered to Baltimore DJ Jason Willett when he heard this collection's opening track, "Hard Hitter." That dramatically flashing boogie sent him quickly down a rabbithole of research, resulting in this monsterous, little piece of vintage, European instrumental soul. Since Willett first started spinning it, I have seen many dance floors light up with crazy moves to "Hard Hitter," and I am sure "Down Home," "Sweet Lace," "Stomp," and more of these bad boys will loosen a few necks (and underthings.) All of it is dazzlingly constructed and performed, with subtle care given to the warmth of sounds and the vigor of the rhythms. And, most likely, virtually all of it would have remained the exclusive intellectual domain of a tiny elite of obsessive Sound Library fanatics. It is not music which needs to recontextualized to be seen as beautiful or funky. It just is.

TRACK LISTING
1.  keith papworth: hard hitter
2. nick ingman: down home
3. hugh cortley & musi silvio: export
4. peter reno: silver thrust
5. r. tilsey: sexy sox
6. nick ingman: stomp
7. p. milray: skinhead
8. p. milray: rollin easy
9. j. trombey: spotcheck
10. r. tilsey: heavy gravy
11. roger webb: heavy lace
12. j. trombey: sliced orange
13. alan parker: swarf
14. nick ingman: orgy
15. p. kass: sweet destruction

 

 

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