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I’ve long admired Chicago indie label Star Creature Universal Vibrations for its efforts to push the synth-heavy sounds of boogie and modern funk and bolster the international underground community that loves them. The label focuses on contemporary artists and releases, but it also maintains an indispensable archival project in the form of its ongoing Chicago Boogie compilation series. Star Creature cofounder Tim Zawada and his Boogie Munsters partner Hersh Singh (who DJs with the crew under the name Kool Hersh) released the first 12-inch, Attack of the Chicago Boogie, in September 2020. Its four songs bubble with the happy-go-lucky euphoria of the best boogie, and the digital edition costs just $10—not bad at all, given that you’d have to trade in a used car to afford original vinyl copies of each track. (A month after the January 2021 release of the second compilation, Zawada became managing director for Chicago archival label Numero Group, for which I’ve been doing some contract writing—specifically liner notes and PR copy for hardcore and emo reissues.) The newest release, The Chicago Boogie Volume 3: Set It Out, adheres to the high standards of the first two installments as it further documents the fascinating and sometimes strange ways that local artists interpreted postdisco funk and soul in the late 70s and early 80s. The string flourishes in Nimbiss’s sharply funky heater “Paradise” give it an elegant, wide-screen polish. The Light Touch Band’s “Chi-C-A-G-O (It’s My Chicago)” features one of the earliest examples of rap recorded in the city—and its playful disco stomp would make it a killer song even without that distinction. The four tracks on Set It Out work together like a great 20-minute DJ set—that is, they’ll do what all top-shelf boogie cuts do and leave you wishing the party could last longer.
Star Creature Universal Vibration’s The Chicago Boogie, Vol. 3 is available through Bandcamp. (drops 9/1)