Behind every great label there is a strong curatorial hand, an individual or group whose singular or collective vision helps guide their labour of love onwards with memorable and compelling results. Andrew ‘Lovefingers’ Hogge has done just this with ESP Institute, a label whose impressive output from an international cast of friends and like minded individuals transcends simple categorisation but feels perfectly at home. Emboldened by a strong visual aesthetic that’s been the work of one person throughout, ESP Institute has casually attained the kind of revered status that makes it easy to forget Hogge only founded the label roughly three years ago.
In the space of just a handful of EPs and a smattering of remixes, Amsterdam graphic designer-turned-producer Marco Sterk has proved to be a serious talent. His material, like much of that on Lovefingers’ eccentric ESP Institute label, demonstrates a love of both dark and light sounds, treading the fine line between grandiose, rush-inducing electronica and murky, basement-friendly house. It’s this contrast, fused with a love of near Balearic melodies and titanium-clad drum machine rhythns, that gives the Dutchman his distinctive sound.
Juno Plus Podcast 47 is an exotic blend of music curios from across the globe, courtesy of ESP Institute regular Young Marco.
Lovefingers’ ESP Institute label seems to deal in darkness and light. Check many of the label’s immaculately presented releases, and you will find this contrast cropping up time and time again. Compare, for example, the bleak but weirdly beautiful darkness of the two Shocks EPs with Young Marco’s blissfully Balearic “Darwin”, or the chugging K-hole vibes of Spectral Empire’s recent Soft Rocks rework with the glistening goodness of 2010’s Cos/Mes album, Gomez Land.
Rush Hour’s resident secret weapon Young Marco will return to New York imprint ESP Institute with the Video Days 12″, set for release at the end of this month.
ESP Institute have announced details of the debut self titled album from Land Of Light, a new collaborative project between Johnny Nash and Kyle Martin.
The underground music scene is full of unheralded talent – people and labels whose significant contribution to a sound or style often goes overlooked. Amsterdam-based Marco Sterk could well be one of those people. A graphic designer by trade, he is responsible for the distinctive look and feel of Rush Hour’s many releases. But that’s not all. He’s also the man behind the stop-start Hand Of God label, an imprint whose sporadic releases gainfully attempt to join the dots between classic and contemporary house, leftfield disco and, on occasions, Italo.
ESP Institute graces our shelves with the second COS MES 12 inch ahead of what’s rapidly becoming a very eagerly awaited album here at Juno HQ. “Gomez Land” is typical of the Japanese duo’s ability to craft uniquely hypnotic techno music from less than common sounds. If you can imagine the noises of a tropical rainstorm being rearranged to a captivating 4/4 rhythm then your ears will welcome what unfolds on the A Side. The brilliance in COS MES is the ease with which they slip between sounds within the confines of a track, most notably in the mid point section where a gentle but insistent piano riff loops around your brain augmented by snapping kick drums and ethereal vocal edits before being engulfed by a steadily rising acid drone and wood block rhythm. This is rich electronic music that grabs your attention for a different reason with each successive play.
ESP call on TBD, the rising stars of the NYC Disco axis, to give the track some added thump and Justin Van Der Volgen and Lee Douglas duly oblige, complementing the brilliance of the original with a cascading acid line here, heavily dubbed effects to the percussion there and a liberal dose of dynamism added to the bass. All the elements combine with blazing radiance on the mid point descent into industrial white noise. The ascent from this into a demonically insane synth line that rides the track out marks a master class in remixing. Brilliance all round.
ESP Institute delivers the third of a quartet of COS/MES vinyl EPs ahead of the release of the Japanese duo’s eagerly awaited album for the label. The press release claims “Chaosexotica” is COS/MES’s most aggressive arrangement to date and we’re inclined to agree, having had this 12” melt our brains upon first listen. From the relatively simple beginnings of minimal syncopation and intense sub bass, a hypnotic melody grows and mutates brilliantly, pulsing with acidic menace. Eventually it forms the shape of a mid melting synth hook augmented expertly by a choir of vocal harmonies. Asking anyone to try and better such brilliance is the definition of a thankless task, but Thomas Bullock is clearly the exception to the rule as his Welcome Stranger remix is superlative. Clocking in at some 13 minutes, Bullock delivers a stripped back rework that drips with psychedelic intent, the singular throb of the bass the one constant amidst a succession of dubbed out abstract arrangements that burrow deep into your psyche. A remix that should be devastating when played in the right environment: which is around 5am on a Sunday morning in some dark basement with speakers bigger than the dancefloor.