Surprising, but welcome news from Rush Hour arrives with details emerging of a double LP compilation of early Jorge Velez recordings entitled MMT Tape Series – Home Recordings 1996 – 1999.
Hassan is Jorge Velez’s soundtrack to an imaginary film based on the Order of Assassins, a shadowy Middle Eastern cult formed in the 11th century. Having entered a cinematic headspace, the Brooklyn-based synth auteur then decided to raise the conceptual stakes – he was going to pretend to be an Italian soundtrack producer working on the film’s score in the early 1980s; kind of like Eno’s oblique strategies, but more fun. Velez mostly limited himself to using analogue equipment that was readily accessible 30 years ago, drew up a rough movie plot in his head, and got to work. As such Hassan makes for an intriguing prospect, promising drama and intrigue before the needle even hits the record.
The output of New York based producer Jorge Velez exists on the fringes of the electronic music scene, inhabiting a world of limited run CD-Rs, occasional 7″s and a handful of scattered releases on various labels under various names. Unearthing his material, be it as Professor Genius, Duermo or one half of Bim Marx, is a reward for those who search for their music rather than let it come to them. To this point press coverage on Velez has been minimal, save for some fuss over his early Professor Genius material, released just as the Italians Do It Better label inadvertently kick-started an Italo revival of sorts.
Associating Velez solely with Mike Simonetti’s imprint is of course selling him short; it’s more accurate to portray him as a DIY producer in the truest sense, self releasing much of his material in small quantities. A long time cinephile who has carved a career as a video editor as well as a self-taught synthesizer boffin, it’s no surprise Velez’s latest musical venture, Hassan, combines his two loves, scoring an imaginary film about a cult of assassins in 13th century Persia. The release was due out on Ron Morelli’s Long Island Electrical Systems label last year, but a series of vinyl pressing issues has plagued the album and delayed the album’s release.
One can only hope that when Hassan does finally see the light of day, Velez will get his dues – in the meantime we sent out New York correspondent Nik Mercer over to the producer’s Jersey abode to discuss his uncompromising approach to releasing music, his involvement in the mail-art scene and the story behind Hassan…
In the space of less than 10 releases, Long Island Electrical Systems (or L.I.E.S, for short) has already established an enviable visual and sonic aesthetic. The first thing you notice about the label is the name – it immediately conjures images entirely appropriate for an imprint purveying the deeper, darker end of house and techno. Those who tuned in to the early L.I.E.S 12″s will not be surprised to learn that label chief Ron Morelli is a firm admirer of the raw electro and techno that emanated from Holland in the 90s (often referred to as the Hague sound); indeed it was the arrival of the Bunker Records crew on US soil that pushed Morelli’s musical taste in the direction of raw, analogue dance music. The recent appearance of Legowelt on a L.I.E.S 12 inch – making him the only non-New Yorker to appear on the label so far – testifies to that.
Launched in 2010 with the Roule Records-esque sounds of Malvouex (aka the fiendishly talented Jason Letkiewicz, a key figure in the L.I.E.S family), records from Steve Moore, Willie Burns, Two Dogs In A House (a side project for Letkiewicz and Morelli) swiftly followed. This month saw two more releases – a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it white label from Runaway’s Marcos Cabral and an ace EP from Steve Summers (another alias of Letkiewicz). A quick look into the label’s futures plans suggests it will not only maintain its impressive release but branch out into hitherto unexplored terrain. Aaron Coultate called up Brooklyn to discover the truth behind L.I.E.S – we also managed to procure a mix from Morelli which includes forthcoming label material from Terreke, Professor Genius, Max D, and Steve Summers.