Numero Group: By The Numbers

New Podcast Alert: Dogpatch
May 22, 2017, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Express Rising, Methodology, Uncategorized

Dogpatch Wide

There are precious few Numero Group compilations that don’t incorporate some element from the extensive archives of Dante Carfagna. Whether it’s an entire run of soul singles from an obscure label or valuable data mined during years of microfiching and field work, Dante is one of the first people we call when there is a missing piece to a puzzle we’re trying to assemble. When we hired Jon Kirby in 2011, Dante’s landlord had an empty unit in a building adjacent to Dante’s. With that, Numero’s oldest ally and our newest became neighbors. Lodged against the interstate, amid notable hoods Noble Square and Wicker Park, Carfagna and Kirby’s neighborhood doesn’t have an official name. But older residents—who experienced the area’s dicier times—have always called it the Dogpatch.

We are just as excited as anyone that Carfagna and Kirby have launched Dogpatch—a podcast where they will offer insight and color commentary into their respective collections. Previous episodes explore the mellow micro genre of “easy glide” (to which our forthcoming Seafaring Strangers compilation is devoted), R&B outliers and defiers (akin to those found on the Personal Space comp), unreleased soul (duh), and the world of radio station compilations (to which we paid tribute with WTNG).

You can poke around in the archives at the Dogpatch homepage, or stream/DL/subscribe via iTunes. We’ll be listening right alongside, waiting to see if there’s a new Numero compilation we need to put in motion.

Photo by Josh Wildman—Ashland at Blackhawk, the western boundary of the Dogpatch, mid-’90s. 

Remembering Joanna Brouk
May 9, 2017, 12:51 pm
Filed under: Joanna Brouk, Obituaries

Our beloved friend Joanna Brouk passed away last week after a brief battle with cancer, just as the world was finally starting to catch up with her incomparable, pioneering new age and experimental music.

Despite support from the influential Hearts Of Space radio show, Joanne never made much commercial or critical impact in the golden age of new age. In 2010, remaining copies of her five tapes released between 1981 and 1985 briefly went into distribution with the now defunct Mimaroglu website. But it was only in the last year, in the wake of Numero’s Hearing Music career retrospective, that Joanne finally began to receive greater recognition in the form of invitations to play in Europe and NYC, interviews, and even a comic.

In spite of her passionate artistry, Joanne didn’t appear to take too much too seriously. Whether it was financial independence won in the early internet while the getting was good, her three decades of transcendental meditation practice, the pride she took as a mother, or some sense that she had been blessed from birth with an exceptional sensitivity to appreciation for the beauty all around her, Joanne was chill. The dour, intense student at Mills heard on KPFA in 1972 had long given way to a joyful, ebullient presence — all creativity, all gratitude, and it was infectious. It certainly seems like she had solved life’s riddles through her music.

Interested listeners are directed to the website she created over the last year, and here are the previously unpublished original liner notes for Hearing Music, constructed entirely from her own words from our conversations.


St. Louis, Missouri

My father played the guitar and knew every song there was
There was always music around
I always thought I would just be a writer
Music was a gift.

And even when people would call and tell me they didn’t like it
I said, “I don’t care. I’m just the channel here, it’s just coming through me.”

I was very young when I started to read. Always reading.
James Agee’s book Death In The Family changed my life.
Beautiful, beautiful,
Death talks to him in the opening pages
Darkness speaks, and it beckons him, this young boy
And it inspired me. It wasn’t your typical novel
It was two worlds speaking to each other
There was this gap.
A place of exploration.

I went to New York for my first year of college
and met a young man from California
who asked me to visit.
California seemed like another country.
We saw the Modern Jazz Quartet.
I transferred to Berkeley
And my poor parents, my conservative parents
They said if you’re gonna go there
you’re going to pay your own way,
And I said “ok”
The glory of youth
It wasn’t that expensive
If you were a resident it was $300 a quarter or something like that.

I always wanted to be a writer. There was no doubt about that.
I got to go to Berkeley and studied under the poet Josephine Miles.
There I became aware of how the great writers used sound.
Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene strategically placed the sound D
when the hero was going through the
Dark Dim passage of Despair
setting up a Drum sound that created
the Depression he was trying to convey.
And I thought that was quite brilliant.
And I started to realize
that shamans did that when they were healing people
They would set up a sound
They would say it in a way that would vibrate with a person
Josephine sponsored me in my major in electronic music.

Berkeley had a synthesizer but nothing like what they had at Mills College.
A Moog, an early Buchla and all sorts of fun tools.
Next to Mills was a pond with crickets
that would annoy people because it would get in recordings.

I recorded the crickets
when you slow it down sounds like a drone.
It’s one of the universal sounds — bees, crickets, frogs
That drone is everywhere in the world.
Underwater you’ll hear a drone.

I never had formal training in music.
I guess it’s the innocence of youth
I felt that music shouldn’t be out of reach for anyone
Of course it’s wonderful to learn to play
But if you hear it you should be able to record it.
I was a composer in the sense that I was using the technology that was available to me.

Healing Music

I had to take out the first three minutes of Healing Music
because all I did was touch Fmajor (two below C) on the piano
and I would just listen,
and I’d listen,
and I’d listen
and if I didn’t hear the next note
I’d wait until there was absolute silence,
and then I’d hit it again,
and this went on for quite a while until I heard the next note.
Now I know of course the overtone series,
but what I was hearing back then
at the time it was quite innocent.
And that’s how I taught myself to play.
And I refused to play until the next note told me what it was going to play.
And with the synthesizer if you do the same thing
with octaves and fifths, and if you do it right and lay it over itself
It will start to do an arpeggio, it will start to wave up
It’s really magical

So I started hearing these rising arpeggios and that became Maggi’s Flute
That’s what I was hearing,
this rising arpeggio of two layers I could fine tune
The space between the notes
became just as important as the notes themselves
So that’s how the music came, quite innocently
I was just enjoying myself
I found it magical
I found it pretty intoxicating, really.
It was almost sexual
for lack of another word.
It became so intriguing to me that I started to
tune out almost everything else
Sound just started to take over my life

Friends who heard my work said Make a tape;
Charles Amirkhanian at KPFA has a show on new music.
Why don’t you take it to him.
I remember going to see him
He said, Come back tomorrow; I’m really busy.
I came back the next day
He said, Come into my office,
a huge room with all of these LPs
I thought oh he’s taking me back
so that when he tells me how bad it is
and I start crying
no one will be here to see me
And I went in and he was playing my gong piece
He says This is really beautiful and I’d like to do a show on you.
And I said, oh sure, great.

And from that show they said, you’ve hit a nerve somewhere with people
And we’d like to let you do a regular show on KPFA
And that was my first job
It was my first job where I wanted to be.
Eventually I became their program director. For their fundraising marathon
I thought, I’ll play a tape of my music,
And if people like it I’ll give them a cassette if they join the station.
Well, the phones went off the hook
I started my own company to start mass producing my tapes
In the meantime I was working in radio
And getting my masters at Mills and had my own studio there

Life Took A Turn

Moving quite ahead
as to why I quit

I started hearing so much music that
I was going to a place where it was taking over my life
And it sounds somewhat conceited to say it but
I was pulling a Beethoven
I was starting to feel I was losing my hearing
In the sense that I didn’t want to hear anything but the celestial music
I remember one time I was standing in line
And hearing what people were thinking
I could tap into that
It was so mundane, so boring
And really, none of my business.
And I thought, who am I to intrude on people’s private thoughts?
So I started to block out stuff
So I could selectively hear only what I wanted to hear
I was getting into some pretty dangerous territory

I started to meditate — Transcendental Meditation
And I almost knew when I started
that might be the end of it.

Because it’s such a balancing, wonderful technique
And if you are anywhere in your life out of balance it pulls you back in.
So for a while I stopped hearing music
And that was ok
I thought I really needed to get healthy
Then I took a long course, a teacher training course
And I started to hear music again
And I was so happy
I’m in the mountains though, meditating
And I’m hearing it and I’m wondering, what do I do with this?
I don’t have a piano, I don’t have a studio
So I grabbed some butcher paper in the room
And I started drawing the music I was hearing
It was geometric shapes
So an arpeggio might be a series of circles rising towards the sky
And I was very familiar from my days in the studio with the oscilloscope
which provides the dimensional shape of a sound
For example, a flute would give you a perfect circle
So I understood what different wave shapes would be,
the frequency and modulation.
And I was able to play with that…
I’m still in TM. It’s kind of the anchor.

I got married
And I moved from the Bay Area to San Diego.
So I was away from my studio and I didn’t have that access
I had a family
March 7, 1989 my son was born
Life took over.

I think when you move to a new town it’s like starting over
I got a job writing for a new company
Technical. I was just miserable for a while
Then in the mid 90s, they needed someone to do the internet content
And I got to be part of the internet becoming an information channel
and not just a marketing channel.
That took me on a nice path financially
I enjoyed it a lot.
Money drives you in a different direction sometimes.

I still see shapes when I hear music
It was never my desire to be “out there”
It was just my joy to do it
I hear music still
I write every day.
The writing and the music come from the same place.
There’s a lot of stuff coming through still
Last night I was awoken by Goddess dreams
And that happens a lot.

Joanna Brouk as told to Douglas Mcgowan, August, 2015

Factory Outlet Roadshow
April 3, 2017, 7:18 am
Filed under: Newsworthy, Record Store Day
After a long winter hibernating in our converted Chicago bottling factory, The Numero Group will emerge this April for another series of pop stores. Last fall found us going road blind in the expanse of the American west, so we’re opting for an easier run of Midwest and Eastern Seaboard dates this spring. If you’re not familiar with our traveling record roadshow, it features two guys, a box truck, and seven pallets teeming with blow out-priced Numero LPs, CDs, 45s, t-shirts, tapes, books, and other additional miscellany your local record store isn’t carrying.
Fri April 14 Indianapolis – Warfleigh Barber & Supply
Sat April 15 Detroit – Third Man 
(Three special Third Man Records co-releases available at this pop up only!)
Sun April 16 Cleveland – Space:ROCK Gallery
Tue April 18 Pittsburgh – Ace Hotel
Wed April 19 Cincinnati – Urban Artifact
Thu April 20 Louisville – Dreamland
Fri April 21 Nashville – Julia Martin Gallery 
Sat April 22 Atlanta – 529 
(RSD dunk tank edition w/ exclusive Atlanta-only 45 by Sonia Ross!)
Sat April 22 Chicago – Comfort Station
Sun April 23 Raleigh – Ruby Deluxe
Mon April 24 Richmond – Strange Matter
Tue April 25 DC – Bossa
Wed April 26 Baltimore – Metro Gallery
Thu April 27 Philadelphia – Jerry’s on Front 
Fri-Sat April 28-29 Brooklyn – Duke’s Annex
Sun April 30 Boston – The Lilypad Inman

Mon May 1 Providence – Share Space

Record Store Day 2017: Numero Style

It’s that time of the year again. Wait, that’s exactly how we started this off last year. We’ve run out of ideas, folks. From here on out it’s going to be one rehash after another, as we trot out both tired tropes and borderline product in a vein attempt at maintaining RSD cred. We’ve tried to do interesting things in the past, be it WTNG or Los Alamos Grind! Our hope was that the average RSD chud-thumber might need a break from flipping past 311 triple 11” box sets, Feldman & Haim rap 12”s, and Mac Demarco reading fan tweets EPs. But it turns out that most people just want the same reheated garbage every year. You’ve been burned before with long lines and punishing prices, and if we get our way it’ll be more of the same, with hopefully longer lines and even higher prices. Who are we to argue with your terrible life choices?

But this is Numero, after all, and if we’re going to go big, we’re going to do it in a way that surely frustrates record buyers. In the past when we trotted out Hüsker Dü and Dinosaur Jr. sets, we pressed them in quantities that insured against the flipper economy. We wanted to make enough so that average fans who didn’t set up tents on the street the night before RSD would have a chance to buy our wares at an affordable price. Not this year. This year we’re pressing just enough copies to make you wonder if we actually pressed anything at all. The only way you’ll know for sure is if you come to one of our pop up stores (details below), pop a tent, or get a bowl of Pop Secret in your lap for the long, dark night of eBay refreshing for the soul.


NUM710 White Zombie: Gods on Voodoo Moon 7”

Recorded in two hours as the cheapest studio in the phone book, White Zombie’s sophomore single Gods On Voodoo Moon is back in print on 45 for the first time since bassist Sean Yseult hand-photocopied 300 copies at the Parsons campus print shop in 1985. Limited to 2000 copies on Zombie Blood, Zombie Puss, or Zombie Black colored vinyl.


NUM207 Noise Addict: 10,000 Kids With Guitars 2LP

What does teen spirit smell like, anyway? It might smell something like Noise Addict. Like the real life stars of some sort of choose-your-own-adventure book about pursuing rock stardom, few bands ever led a more charmed existence, springing from the Sydney suburb of Bondi into seemingly overnight international fame as friends and collaborators of Sonic Youth, Fugazi, and the Beastie Boys. Through a combination of relentless drive, luck, and an admirable lack of self-doubt, Noise Addict spanned puberty to surpass the haters and join Radio Birdman and Nick Cave as a strange but permanent piece of Australian punk history.

Compiled here are 25 tracks, including their Evan Dando-worshipping satire “I Wish I Was Him,” the Thurston Moore produced demo, choice cuts from their Grand Royal-issued EP and LP, and covers of “Let’s Lynch The Landlord” and “Back In Your Life.” The entire sordid adolescent tale is covered in incredible detail inside the black and white 16 page zine. And finally, for the first time in the history of record pressing, and for no good reason at all, the cover for 10,000 Kids With Guitars doubles as a working chalkboard. Limited to 2000 copies on black vinyl.


NBR008 Southwest Side Story Volume 19

There are hundreds of bootlegs out there to sate the ravenous soulero set, and so often they incorporate songs in the vast Numero catalog. Rather than beat them, Numero joins them with our answer to the iconic East Side Story series. Eschewing our classic look and standard-bearing copious notes for sardonic artwork and impeccable selections, Numbero is proud to present a ‘bootleg’ you can be proud of (because it’s all licensed). This time we’ve set our sights on the most unique of soul cultures: the irreplicable melting pot of San Antonio. Included here are all songs never before issued other than in minuscule pressings on 45, never distributed outside of Bexar County limits.

The Southwest Side Story rolas are obscure everywhere in the United States while eliciting intense nostalgia on the South and West Sides of San Antonio to this day. This could be a greatest hits of DJs like Henry Pena, who began his rein in the ’60s and continues it today with many of these same selections. Including such local luminaries as the Royal Jesters, Sonny Ace, the Dreamliners, Al Castana, Dino Bazan & the Dell Tones, George Jay & the Rockin’ Ravens, the Eptones, the Volumes, and Henry Pena, who never fully disappeared from view in the Alamo City. This nicely supplements our other San Antonio collections without redundancy. Limited to 2000 copies on black vinyl.

Numero Group Pop Up Stores: Chicago & Atlanta

With the Factory Outlet tour and Record Store Day overlapping, we decided to set up not one, but two stores on April 22nd 2017. As has been our habit for the last four years in Chicago, we’re setting up in Logan Square’s Comfort Station from 10-5PM. In addition to an assortment of trusted dealers shucking used 45s and LPs, we’ll have every in-print Numero LP, CD, 45, and whatever other miscellaneous debris we can find on hand at the lowest prices we can afford to sell them at. And, as has been a staple of our sales, we’ll be unloading hundreds of LPs with dinged corners at prices just barely above cost. Condition freaks need not browse these bins, but those looking to round out their Numero collection on the cheap should be sure to bring ample time and cash.

Numero Group Chicago Pop-Up Extravaganza

Saturday, April 22nd 2017
Comfort Station
2579 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

In Atlanta we’ll be doing something much more absurd. Sure, we’ll have all the exclusive items, the dinged stock, and yeah, even a limited-to-200 replica of Sonia Ross’s brilliant Tragar 45 “Every Now And Then” b/w “Let Me Be Free.” But when our art director Henry Owings got involved, we all wanted to crank it up a notch. With the help of our pals at Pabst, we’ve rented a 350 gallon dunk tank. Yes, for the low cost of $1 you will have the chance to dunk a wide array of Atlanta’s most reviled sociopaths, plus Numero founders Ken Shipley and Rob Sevier. All to benefit Camp Olio, an East Atlanta nature-based after school program, because we’re such nice people, and also because the world loves to bring a person down a peg by dunking them in a bath of dirty, lukewarm water.

Numero Group Atlanta Pop-Up Extravaganza w/ Dunk Tank

Saturday, April 22nd 2017
529 Flat Shoals Ave, SE
Atlanta, GA 30316

Tokyo > Seoul: The Numero Group Returns to Asia
March 14, 2017, 9:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


This week, Numero Group collectors/selectors Rob Sevier and Jon Kirby head to Japan (like we did last year) for a string of dusk-till-dawn dates in the Land Of The Rising Sun (Jon Kirby will proceed alone to Seoul, South Korea for a bonus soiree). Since our dear friend and travel companion Daisuke Kuroda is essentially the Bill Graham Godzilla of Japanese Soul Parties, we assume everyone in Asia already knows about this. But maybe you’re new to town? Or have a friend who will be traveling the J-Rails, looking for an approachable dance party to immerse themselves in? Click HERE for a comprehensive Facebook link with ALL of the details and event pages. Below are the individual dates and cities we’ll be visiting. We hope to see you!

March 17 (Fri) Tokyo – The Room (Event Page)
March 18 (Sat) Osaka – Circus (Event Page)
March 19 (Sun) Hiroshima – Ondo (Event Page)
March 20 (Mon) Kyoto – West Harlem (Event Page
March 24 (Fri) Nagano, Ina – Momentum (Event Page)
March 25 (Sat) Sendai – Club Shaft (Event Page)
March 26 (Sun) Saitama, Omiya – 444Quad (Event Page | Ends at Midnight)
April 1 (Fri) Seoul, South Korea – Pistil (Event Page | Jon Kirby Solo)


How a New Age Hustler Sold the Sound of the World (Pitchfork)
November 7, 2016, 11:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Now, Teibel’s concept—the soothing sounds of nature, or at least a synthesized facsimile of it—is quaint, the wallpaper of therapy waiting rooms and spa foyers. At the time, it was entirely new. Here was something you could hear but weren’t necessarily supposed to listen to. It wasn’t a sound effect, but it wasn’t music, either. And while it professed to contain the ocean, it had none of the purity or taxonomic specificity you’d expect from a field recording (never mind Teibel’s contention that the ocean could use a little work). Here was nature not as it is, but as we hope it’ll be, the lullaby of waves without the sand in our trunks.

The album’s novelty proved to be both an opportunity and a burden. Steve Gerstman, one of Syntonic’s first and shortest-lived employees, remembers traveling across the country by train, making his lonely pitch to stores. “The first obstacle is that it’s not music,” he said. “So if it’s not music, why would they carry it, and why would people buy it?”

—From How a New Age Hustler Sold the Sound of the World by Mike Powell

We have enjoyed immensely this meticulously researched longread from Pitchfork on Environments creator Irv Teibel. Which is good, because—as author Mike Powell mentions at the end of this brilliant piece—“the Chicago label Numero Group has been working on retrofitting Environments for a contemporary context.”
We’ll have more details soon, but in the meantime, please check out this fantastic piece for an overview on the incredible story of the life of the ad agency man who started a (mostly) one man empire, selling the sounds of the natural world like no other before or since.


Everything You Ever Wanted To Know (But Were Afraid To Ask) About the Numero Factory Outlet Tour
October 4, 2016, 11:01 am
Filed under: Newsworthy, Numero Stores



Following a series of successful pop up stores in New York, Chicago, and London, we recently opened a Factory Outlet in our south side Chicago warehouse. Now we’re taking the Outlet on the road for a whistle-stop tour of the West Coast. On sale will be every in-print Numero CD, LP, cassette, 45, t-shirt, poster, and whatever other additional weirdness we can cram into a 15-passenger van. As an added bonus, we have pressed up a tour-only 7” in a quantity of 500, available only at the roving incarnation of our Factory Outlet.

Along the way there will be DJ nights, radio broadcasts, in-store performances, and we’re guessing unscheduled meltdowns? Here is an exhaustive index of where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing along the way.

Friday, 10/7: Bloomington, IN – Secretly Group Pop-Up Bazar – 213 S. Rogers (5pm-9pm)

Saturday 10/8: Kansas City, MO – Mini Bar – 3810 Broadway Rd (12pm-6pm)

       BONUS! 10pm-2am: Numero Group DJ Set @ Mini Bar 

Monday 10/10: Denver, CO – Studio C – 2700 Arapahoe St (2pm-10pm)

Tuesday 10/11: Phoenix, AZ – Hot City Soul Club @ Crescent Lounge – 308 N. 2nd Ave (9pm-2am)

Wednesday 10/12: Phoenix, AZ – MonOrchid – 214 East Roosevelt St (2pm-10pm)

Thursday 10/13: Los Angeles, CA – Rappcats – 5636 York Blvd (12pm-10pm)

       BONUS! 10pm-2am: Funkmosphere @ The Virgil – 4519 Santa Monica Blvd 

Friday 10/14: Los Angeles, CA – Rappcats – 5636 York Blvd (12pm-7pm)

       BONUS!! 5pm: Itasca (in-store performance)

Saturday 10/15: Los Angeles, CA – Rappcats – 5636 York Blvd (12pm-7pm) 

       BONUS!!! 2pm: Ned Doheny (in-store performance)

Dublab will be broadcasting LIVE from Rappcats/12-6pm on Friday, 12-8pm on Saturday

Sunday 10/16: Berkeley, CA – Avalon Berkeley – 651 Addison St (12pm-8pm)

       BONUS! 9pm-2am: Sweater Funk @ The Knockout – 3223 Mission St (San Francisco) (DJ)

Monday 10/17: Berkeley, CA – Avalon Berkeley – 651 Addison St (12pm-8pm)

Tuesday 10/18: Berkeley, CA – Avalon Berkeley – 651 Addison St (12pm-8pm)

Thursday 10/20: Portland, OR – The Cleaners – 403 SW 10th Ave (12pm-10pm)

BONUS! 9pm-2am: Dig-A-Pony – 736 SE Grand Ave (DJ)

Friday 10/21: Seattle, WA – Seattle Center – 472 1st Ave North (12pm-8pm)

Saturday 10/22: Seattle, WA – Seattle Center – 472 1st Ave North (10am-8pm)


For up-to-the-moment details and delirium, follow us on these platforms: