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click to enlarge Revolutions per minute: BusCrates browses the 45s at Jerry's Records - HEATHER MULL
  • Heather Mull
  • Revolutions per minute: BusCrates browses the 45s at Jerry's Records

For some people, record-shopping is a hobby. For others, it's an obsession. And for some, it's all in a day's work. 

Among them is Orlando "BusCrates" Marshall, local producer and DJ. BusCrates supports local record stores -- and they have supported him.

BusCrates is between projects at the moment. His 7-inch, 4-track EP of downtempo hip hop, BusCrates' 16-Bit Ensemble, was released last summer by The Harmony Society, a record label started by 720 Records' Andrew Burger. (You can find it at 720's Web site -- -- or at Paul's Compact Discs, 4526 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield, 412-621-3256.) Since then, he's kept himself busy producing for locals like Kid A a.k.a. EMS, or working on his own side projects. But he doesn't have any gigs lined up currently, and the release of his full-length instrumental album, Alarm Clock, was pushed back from last month to this summer. 

In the meantime, BusCrates had time to stop by Jerry's Records (2136 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill, 412-421-4533). 

click to enlarge BusCrates with his best find of the day - LYDIA HEYLIGER
  • Lydia Heyliger
  • BusCrates with his best find of the day

BusCrates' first stop is usually the jazz section. Like many other record-hounds, his assessment of an album begins with a quick scan of the cover, and then closer inspection of details like the year it was made, where it was recorded and what instruments are featured. And like many other serious record-hounds, BusCrates has been known to give himself an added advantage. If he knows he will devote the day to shopping, he sometimes brings a portable turntable and his headphones to create his own personal listening station. BusCrates frequently shops on the principle that if you hear something you like within the first few seconds of listening, it will probably be worth the purchase.

On this particular excursion, BusCrates was pleasantly surprised to find a better-than-usual selection of '90s hip hop. Unfortunately, he was shopping alongside friend and DJ Pete "Nice Rec" Mudge ... and each of them repeatedly stumbled across something the other wished he'd seen first. 

BusCrates swears he doesn't consider record-shopping a competition, and the two raced through the hip-hop section in a friendly head-to-head. On the other hand, neither DJ cut the other any breaks. And with a laugh, BusCrates says that when he's out scanning titles, "People see me and just turn around." Even he finds it almost impossible to beat J. Malls -- a local DJ who hosts the Interval jazz night at East Liberty's Ava lounge -- to all the spots. 

If BusCrates finds something he knows someone else will like, he will keep it in mind. "I'm not stingy. I always put my people on it. That's just me." This time around, for example, he pointed Nice Rec to an exercise album titled Jazz Dancing. Despite its badly dated cover art, the album contained some sample-worthy passages. And in accordance with the BusCrates philosophy, Nice Rec decided to purchase it immediately after hearing the intro to the first track.

Meanwhile, BusCrates made some finds of his own. He picked up a double-LP with music by composer Don Voegeli -- Mike and Sally Oldfield's Pekka Pohjola. He also scooped up Organized Konfusion's "Numbers" 12-inch. But the best find of the day was a 12-inch U.K. import of Michael Jackson's "Rock With You."

"One of my best experiences buying records was when I bought a copy of Frank Cunimondo's Echoes -- directly off of Frank Cunimondo." This wasn't just a lucky record-store find: BusCrates tracked down Cunimondo's phone number and contacted him directly to see if he would sell him a copy of the album, which he did. 

"That," says BusCrates, "was amazing."


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