For the next installment of our tour-de-record shops, we swing into Olneyville. Located in the corner of the hippest of mills in the hippest corner of Providence, Vasili Kochura and Zachary Warf’s Music Research Library have created a true hub where jazz, soul, hip hop, and funk reside. In a mill just across from Fête lies a trove of second-hand vinyl just waiting to be discovered, devoured, and brought into the light of day.
The Music Research Library stands out as a place of exploration and, as the name states, research. It’s not merely a place to pick up a dusty copy of CSN and Y Deja Vu, but rather a place to dive into the stacks and emerge with something truly found and enlightening.
While the shop stands as a go-to for DJs, it remains open to the curious looking for something to uncover and put on their record table. With a listening station in shop, the Music Research Library accommodates hours of time devoted to finding the newest addition to your record collection. Pro-tip: Grab a post record-dive drink at Troop or a weiner at NY System to make a real day of it in Olneyville.
What genres of music would you find in your shop?
We specialize in secondhand jazz, prog, funk, soul, hip hop, and library music, but we also have a large selection of rock, psych, folk, blues, and world music.
What record would be playing when you walk in?
We are always diving into some obscure world, such as Soviet synth funk or Spanish jazz-rock, anything that will inspire and stimulate the senses. Right now, I am listening to En El Ombligo De La Luna by Luis Perez, an excellent entho-ambient LP from Mexico.
What kinds of people would you find perusing your shelves?
A lot of sample and hip hop heads show love for MRL, but we’ve seen a lot more general customers of all ages coming through as well. I think something that keeps people coming back is having a listening station.
What is different about discovering and listening to vinyl in a shop from streaming an album off the Internet?
I think for us, it’s always been that moment of discovery. We go through phases of what we’re listening to, what we’re searching for, things that are on our radar, and then some record will come out of nowhere and completely surprise us, like this isn’t what we were looking for, but it’s incredible.
What’s the single-most exciting/unique/baffling vinyl record you have sitting on display in your shop?
One of the most exciting things for us is discovering new music from the past. We recently started a label in order to put out an unreleased French prog album from 1981 by a group called Evohe. Dark, technical, and instrumental with long, twisting compositions following the steps of bands such as Universe Zero, Magma, and Weidorje. We’re super excited to have the opportunity to release this incredible piece of music and help share it with the world!
Why do you think it is important to have neighborhood record shops curating, collecting, preserving, and sharing music?
I think it’s all about the culture. We wanted to create a shop that we ourselves and like-minded heads would want to shop at, from both a listener and sampler perspective. Also, being huge aficionados of library music, we felt that it was largely under-represented at record stores, especially in the US.