Now-Again Re: Sounds, Vol. 1

In interviews, Stones Throw general manager Eothen "Egon" Alapatt often describes his obsession with record collecting as though it were a form of self-immolation. It can, after all, turn you into a purist or a total neurotic — someone hell-bent on possessing that limited-edition 45 or cassette demo you can only find in Peanut Butter Wolf's personal archive. Luckily, Egon found a productive way to channel his neurosis. He currently presides over Now-Again, a satellite of Stones Throw dedicated solely to reissues. Its latest compilation features new edits of hard-to-find tracks by a mostly unknown — and unheralded — cast of vintage funk outfits. A smattering of Stones Throw indie rappers — including the underground favorite M.E.D. and massively underappreciated Percee P. — make cameos, as though deputized to extend the lineage of funk to something more contemporary. (Granted, some of the raps seem intentionally anachronistic, featuring stream-of-consciousness lyrics about sex as a galactic force or "universal energy.").

But it's really all about the funk. Re: Sounds heats up with J. Rocc's edit of Detroit Sex Machines' "Rap It Together" and a tight-snapping female vocal rendition of Leon Mitchison's "Street Scene." The zenith is Todd Terry's remix of Kashmere Stage Band's "I Wish," which combines skronking horns, thumb-slapped basslines, and crisp, interlocking drum rhythms to give it more of a garage-band feel than the Stevie Wonder version. Though some of the album's more-retro-sounding, fusion-y tracks (such as Sound in Light's previously unreleased "Free Your Mind") might have limited appeal for modern listeners, Re: Sounds serves a grander artistic purpose than placating hip-hop heads alone. Bands like Sound in Light, Amnesty, or Detroit Sex Machines — hell, even a relatively obscure battle emcee like Percee P. — could have easily fallen through the cracks due to lackluster promotion or a paucity of resources. Luckily, Egon found a way to restore their godlike powers.


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