With its catalogue of funk, soul, jazz, Nina Simone, Afrobeat and more, Chris Parkin finds out how, for this Belgian reissue label, preserving music is a serious business…
The driving force behind Belgium’s Tidal Waves Music has serious form when it comes to reissuing records. Sebastiaan Putseys started out reviving hardcore punk records in the late 90s before setting up One Way Static in 2012. Focused on “preserving” soundtracks to films by the likes of Werner Herzog, Don Peake and Wes Craven, as well as music by krautrock’s soundtrack-dabbling task force Klaus Schulze and Florian Fricke, the label earned Putseys the cachet he needed to help him launch Tidal Waves with a bang in 2016.
A million miles away from the cinematic electronic sounds of Philip Glass and Popol Vuh that populate One Way Static, Putseys employed his hard-won rep to launch Tidal Waves Music with no less than Nina Simone’s A Very Rare Evening. “It’s an intimate album of late-60s European sessions that hasn’t been available on the market since 1979,” Putseys explains. “Doing a Nina Simone record as your first release is something a start-up label can usually only dream of, so we were really humbled to be involved in that one.”
Since that first attention-grabbing release, Tidal Waves, which is distributed by friends and kindred spirits Light In The Attic, has notched a not inconsiderable 23 releases as Putseys attempts to fill the gaps in his own record collection.
The overarching theme, says Putseys, perhaps a little reluctantly, is “funk-souljazz with a hint of Afrobeat here and there; but we’ve also done releases by guitar wizard Link Wray and some rare 80s new wave 7″s”.
But whether it’s the J.B.’s-influenced stompers of trumpeter Gary Chandler’s sole album, 1972’s Outlook; Bill Mason’s Hammond-powered jazz-funk classic Gettin’ Off from the same year; Bernie Worrell’s insane P-funk monster All The Woo In The World; or a live album capturing Nico’s compelling, furious, terrifying last concert, Tidal Waves’ driving concept has always been preservation. Putseys mentions that word again and again. Like One Way Static, Tidal Waves is his attempt to share the sounds and stories that have transfixed him and which might be otherwise lost to the sands of time.
“We’re currently working on a bunch of unreleased material by some obscure West Coast funk-soul bands you’ll never have heard of,” he says. “We’ll be bringing it to the attention of the world for the first time, on any format. That’s pure preservation right there, man. It’s not just a gimmick word for us. In a lot of cases, we’re saving all this great music from total oblivion.”
Even in a catalogue full of funk, psych and soul-jazz gems – amassed, laughs Putseys, by working with people who are both lovely and “just plain nuts” – Tidal Waves’ future records look like stone-cold classics. Particularly those by long forgotten Nigerian psych-funk band, Ofege.
“They were signed to EMI Nigeria when they were stillat high school,” Putseys says. “We had to be really creative to get the masters lined up for reproduction, but musically, it’s among the best thing you’ll ever hear and the few originals still in existence go for really silly money. So stay tuned!”