Numero Group: By The Numbers

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.


Radio Radio: Sitting in the Park on WBEZ
July 6, 2016, 10:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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On Tuesday July 5th, our own Rob Sevier appeared on WBEZ’s The Morning Shift with Tony Sarabia. The occasion: to discuss revered record collector and Chicago music historian Bob Abrahamian and the Numero Group compilation he inspired, Eccentric Soul: Sitting in The Park. Tony and Rob’s conversation, which includes stories about Bob and clips from the album, can be streamed by clicking here.

The Numero Group Cassette Show (NTS Radio)
June 30, 2016, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Methodology, Playlists, Uncategorized


For this month’s NTS broadcast, we broke out the boom box and unleashed a whole shoebox of cassette obscurities from our personal collections. Reasoning that cassettes—more than any other singular format—embody a particular aesthetic, we’ve included a gallery of covers to help contextualize the material featured in this set. Rap and new age both experienced booms in the ’80s and therefore represent a large share of the program. However, the cassette allowed weirdos of all persuasions and abilities to circulate their output affordably (see above). Here’s a few favorites:


Split Image – S/T (1990) ℅ Technical Difficulty Productions, Houston, TX



Semply Fressh Posse – The Adventures of the… (1994) Jah International, Jamestown, NC



V/A – Mountain Valley Music (1990) John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC



Sounds Of Papa New Guinea (unknown) Swinging Axe Productions, Northridge, CA



Stephan Micus – Ocean (1986) Self-Released, Ludwigsburg, Germany



Spring – Funkin’ With The Rhythm and Blues (1995) Sounds of Spring Music, Clemmons, NC



Hill Tribe Music (1992) Disco Cassette Chiangmai, Thailand


Honey Dipp – Honey Dipp Style (1995) Kam-Rod Records, Fayetteville, NC

A Numero Guide To Japan
April 4, 2016, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A week ago, we returned from an incredible tour of Japan, where we met many amazing people, ate much great food, and visited many fine record shops. For those of you in attendance, DOMO ARIGATO. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s some highlights.

IMG_2518.JPGFriday March 18th – Wah Wah, The Room, Shibuya (Tokyo) 

The Room, like most venues we played at, is underground (literally and figuratively). If you weren’t looking for the Room, you wouldn’t find the Room. But this is not uncommon in Japan. Some of the best record stores we visited and restaurants we dined at were several floors above street level, with little more than a small placard to indicate what await. And like most venues we played at, the Room was the perfect size. Compact, cozy, but not crowded.


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Saturday March 19th ONDO – Hiroshima

ONDO is a great little organic restaurant with a robust sound system and lively nightlife after hours. Entering through a laundromat, ONDO had the comfortable feel of your favorite neighborhood bar. A wall full of LPs, booths full of co-eds, and a bar full of trouble.


I should introduce to you Daisuke Kuroda (left), who organized our tour. Daisuke is a fantastic DJ, a respected collector, and quite literally the sweetest dude ever. Daisuke does not like to fly, and has only left Japan once for a rare-soul weekender in Germany. It was a privilege not only to meet Daisuke, but get to observe his technical proficiency, incredible selection, and stunning collection. Oh the bottle? That’s Lento; Shoju. Drink it in a high-ball glass with club soda and lemon. What do they eat in Hiroshima after guzzling a few bottles of this? This (Okonomiyaki):



Sunday March 20th Keith Flack – Fukuoka 

We DJ’d in this freaky nightclub for the 6th anniversary of a party called Black Water Gold, which is a sensational cloister of English words. We shared the bill with Philadelphia disc jockey Skeme Richards, who, despite never smiling in photos, is a super nice guy! He’s been traveling to Japan to DJ once a year since 2008, which is a fantastic idea—we would like to do this also. Fukuoka is the birthplace of ramen, and also futuristic police stations and mad scientist lairs like the ones below.




Monday, March 21st West Harlem – Kyoto

We’d heard many globetrotters say that Kyoto was their favorite city in Japan, and so we were eager to see what the hype was about. Kyoto is very walkable, easy to navigate, has an abundance of temples and shrines to marvel at, and a laid back vibe that reminds us of… Vancouver, maybe? While enjoying some fresh air outside of the venue, I heard Don Cornelius’s voice declare, “Out of Durham, North Carolina, the Modulations. I traced the source to a neighboring bar called “Soul Bar – I Gotcha.”


Once I got inside, I discovered the owner and proprietor, alone, watching Soul Train re-runs. I spot a few boxes of 45s behind the counter and come to find out this fellow is one of the OG soul collectors in Japan. Go figure.


Mata ne, Kyoto.




Friday, March 25th Deep Enough Annex – Club Cactus, Tokyo

We come to find out that Daisuke had organized this event as a collector’s summit, featuring some of Japan’s most particular collectors. There is a term in Japan, “Otaku,” which refers to people who harbor obsessive interests and this was essentially an Otaku Invitational. People danced, and cheered, but they also observed, exhibiting intense interest and immense respect for each impossibly obscure record being played by each skilled selector. Once a record had finished spinning, folks would gather by the turntable to take a photo of the label for further research. Surely you saw this on our Instagram?

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Saturday, March 26th Soul Renaissance – Soul Blood, Kobe

I’m going to have to give it up to Kobe for the most disastrous and chaotic record kiosks.


Soul Blood was kind of this magical little cantina on the 3rd floor of an office building, above a 7-11. Where else do the elevator doors open to reveal Daisuke Kuroda playing “You’re A Melody” by Aged In Harmony?

The next day, as we lugged our raggedy bones to the airport, we were overcome with emotion as a handful of new friends magically appeared at the airport to bid us farewell. Who does that? The warm and genuine citizens of Japan, that’s who.


We could never thank everyone, but we’ll start by sending a HUGE Kon’nichiwa to our hosts Seiji Shimizu, Takehira “Shimanzel” Shima, Masahiko Ono, Mr. Narukawa, and naturally, Daisuke Kuroda. A BIG Kon’banwa to our new friends Naoki Ienaga, Yusuke Ogawa, Genki Arai, Ryuhei “The Man” Teshirogi, Satoshi Moriwaki, Erika Kosaka, Makoto “Makatron” Nagatomo, Matt Jungblut, Skeme Richards, Yukari Baba, Takanori Hirano, Yoshihiko Imaru, and Ruminz. Otsukaresama to Yuki Doheny for sharing with us some of her and husband Ned’s favorite tourist attractions, and to Asaf Siegel for teaching us the word “Osusume” (“recommendation”) which indeed took us far at food spots. Finally, a MAJOR Domo Arigato to EVERYONE who came to the shows, pitched in, and showed love for the things we do here in Chicago. See you NEXT SPRING you crazy kids! If you see THIS MAN, buy him a drink (see below)!




Pre-Japan Freak Out at the Owl (Chicago)
March 11, 2016, 10:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Some of the records we’re taking to Japan are not part of our normal repertoire. Some of the records we’re taking to Japan have never left the house. We have to come to respect and identify with Otaku culture, and so we want to bring our very, very best the the nation’s discotheques. However, we also feel an obligation to test drive these odd, obscure, only-known-copy 45s on a functional sound system in front of semi-functional human beings. So where do we go? Where else but the Owl, where our impulsive nature, request intolerance, and irregular sleep schedules make us regulars on both sides of the booth. So join us Monday, March 14th from 8pm until Midnight, where we attempt a test run of all the danceable/demented stuff that we hope will be, as they say, “Big in Japan.”

The Owl + 2521 North Milwaukee + Chicago + Steps from the Logan Square Blue Line Stop

Should you find it easier to just catch one of our Japan dates, we’ll see you there!


Numero Group in Japan March 18th-26th
March 8, 2016, 12:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

On Thursday March 17th, our own Rob Sevier and Jon Kirby set sail (on an airplane) for the Land of the Rising Sun, embarking on a string of DJ engagements across the country. They’ll be playing oddities and obscurities from their personal collections, plus perennials from the Numero catalog. If you are in Japan, or know of someone in Japan, give them a heads up. If you have travel tips, or would like to take us to your favorite record store, noodle shop, or zen garden, say so in the comments field. Konichiwa!

Friday, March 18th + Tokyo
@渋谷 THE ROOM 22:00~
Venue : The Room
Daihachi-Toto Bld. B1, 15-19 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuyaku, Tokyo

Saturday, March 19th + Hiroshima
Venue : ONDO
6-3 Tanakamachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima 730-0026 , Hiroshima

Sunday, March 20th + Fukuoka
“Black Water Gold 6th Anniversary feat. NUMERO GROUP & Skeme Richards”
Venue : Keith Flack
1/2F 1-8-28 Maizuru, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-Shi, Fukuoka

Monday, March 21st + Kyoto
“Jetset Records & Japonica Music Store & FUNK 78 presents”
Venue : West Harlem
Reihou-kaikan B1F, 366 Kamiyamachi,Shijo-agaru, Nishikiyamachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

Friday, March 25th + Tokyo
Venue : Club Cactus
1-15-18 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Saturday, March 26th + Kobe
“Soul Renaissance 3 ~NUMERO GROUP JAPAN TOUR 2016 in KOBE~”
Venue : Soul Blood
2-10-3 Shimoyamate ST, Chuo-Ku, Kobe, Hyogo

Front Of The Flyer


Back Of The Flyer



The Numero Tribute to the Muscle Shoals Sound (RBMA)
March 2, 2016, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


A group like The Swampers by its very nature can and will take many forms, is adaptable, exists on a liminal plane between states of existence and understanding of what an ensemble is. The members, credited as individuals working together, are on far more records than the entity known as The Swampers are mentioned. To find this band, looking for the name isn’t sufficient, one must read the fine print and triangulate details. To make this mix, we didn’t just look for the name, we looked for their fingerprints, and we looked for the benchmarks of the diversity of their projects: across genres, across styles, across the decades, across statuses, and across the labels and production companies.

Thanks to Red Bull Music Academy Radio for giving us this unique opportunity to do what we do (but do it a little differently). Sadly, residents on the United States of America will not be able to stream this on demand like the rest of you Earthlings, but ALL can listen in real time, tomorrow, Thursday March 3rd at 6pm EST. As bad as we want to embed the player in this post, it looks like this is all you’re going to get here on WordPress.