2013 sees Eglo celebrate four years of releasing music with their first label compilation Eglo Records Vol 1, a year in which label head Alexander Nut ponders the next step for his close-knit stable of artists. Tom Banham speaks to Nut along with Fatima and FunkinEven.
What makes a great record label? It’s a subjective matter, of course, and the ingredients of success vary from label to label, and from scene to scene. Keen students of legendary labels, from post-punk outlets such as Stiff, Celluloid and Factory, to modern day underground success stories such as L.I.E.S , International Feel or Night Slugs, will tell you that there are certain characteristics that remain constant throughout. These include, but may not be limited to, a distinctive musical aesthetic, a vibrant group of key artists, an attention to detail lacking in lesser labels, and a steadfast artistic vision that never wavers, regardless of sales. Oh, and owners that don’t just know their stuff, but are open enough to new sounds to take calculated risks now and then.
This year we decided to expand our best tracks of the year list from 50 to an admittedly bulging 100. The simple fact is, listening to records as we do, day in, day out, we hear a lot of good music. Some great music, in fact, and in our top 100 we have specified exactly what drew us to each title – was it the quirky B-Side, the anthemic opener or, as with our number one selection, the entire EP? Read on to find out…
Eglo’s rise to become one of London’s premiere record labels has been built on various facets since its inception in 2009. Musically, the buttery soul of Fatima, the analogue degradations of FunkinEven and speaker box boogie of Arp101 amongst others have been complemented by the tireless vision of label boss Alex Nut, a man who has seemingly seen many a label run to the ground through mismanagement, and as such was finally forced into doing it right. From the outset however, Floating Points (aka Sam Shepherd) has always been the jewel in the Eglo crown, with his obvious enigmatic musicianship matched increasingly by ambition that veers towards the grand scale – see the Floating Points Ensemble material for the most overt example of that.
This latest keenly awaited release from Floating Points is a further stunning example of his ambition and production prowess, with Shadows primed as the first part of an ongoing experiment in immersive audio-visual displays between the producer and designer Will Hurt. Anyone who indulged in the pre release fanfare for Shadows will no doubt have basked in the excellent video for “Sais” which perhaps best portrays their experiments with software that generates visuals based upon activity from drum machines and synths. The vectorised nature of those experiments is replicated on this release via the spot varnished finish that covers both the outer and inner parts of the gatefold sleeve. That’s just one aspect of a truly impeccably presented release from Eglo, with the heavyweight vinyl that clocks in at 190gm housed in curved HPDE inner sleeves. Of equal importance, naturally, is the music and the five tracks here are perhaps Shepherd’s most accomplished to date, taking full advantage of the space afforded across the four side of vinyl.
“Myrtle Avenue” is a dreamlike way to open any release, plunging into vast, widescreen expanses of texture and detail, further cementing comparisons with Theo as the freeform keys align with undulating layers of percussion. ”Realise” and “Obfuse” are the precursors to the stand out tracks that occupy the second twelve, but are in no way filler, with the former teasing out finely placed 808 programming over pensive simmering patterns, whilst the latter is a fizzing, stripped down drum machine workout akin to Space Dimension Controller’s recent “Usurper” during the opening moments, though the metallic fierceness is offset by the eventual arrival of yet more tenderised synths.
And thus we come to “Arp3”, which has been mentioned in glowing terms by those lucky few for far too long and finally committed to the release it deserves. It’s a track which will secure Shadows a place in many hearts more, expertly billowing into a haunting techno production filled with so many production intricacies and deviations of a rhythmic nature, you feel compelled to lift the needle back to start many times over. The aforementioned “Sais” seems like the perfect choice to occupy the final twelve inches, with Floating Points finally revealing the full fuzzed out, orchestrated glory of a track which was only hinted at previously via the dubbed version which was released on Record Store Day. Shadows proves to be an illuminating insight into what 2012 and beyond holds for both label and artist.
Earlier this week we revealed news of the forthcoming double vinyl release from Eglo Records’ finest – Floating Points – and the label have now released a delightful video for “Sais” that fully complements the sumptuous eight minute production.
It feels as though Sam Shepherd’s output under his Floating Points guise has been huge of late, so prevalent is his name in the current dance music landscape, but really his legacy thus far is made up of just a few pristine gems. Thankfully, the latest two-track jam for his own Eglo imprint sees no dip in the quality, further cementing his reputation as a naturally gifted producer steeped in an understanding of soul and groove.
The A-Side “Marilyn” is destined for countless airings this summer, bursting with effervescence and pure good-times vibes from the deceptively smooth intro to the bumping boogie of the drop. It’s the sheer musicianship that instantly places Floating Points above the glut of have-a-go beatsmiths, as expressive warbles and flairs flirt with each other before the funk slams in from out of nowhere. That aforementioned drop is certainly a magnificent one, precision-honed to break a grin across every mug in shouting distance with parping bass and the barest of percussion to propel things along.
“Farukx” however is a perfect antidote to the peak-of-the-summer tones resplendent on “Marilyn”. After lilting to life on a bed of wistful strings, when the beat does come into play it’s a steppy stumble of gossamer hats and snares that manage to trip over each other in disjointed harmony. There’s a yearning quality to the music that tugs at your heartstrings, occasionally reaching a crescendo with a flurry of the rubbery synth that drives the A-Side.
Musician, DJ and all round smart cookie Sam Shepherd – aka Floating Points – entered the world of production in 2009 with a flurry of releases including Love Me Like This, J&W Beat and perhaps best of all, the Vacuum EP. These revealed a signature style that breezily combined deep house, soul, hip-hop and jazzy textures into dubby, undulating joints characterised by a hypnotic sense of movement. As a co-founder and central member of the tight knit Eglo Records family, Shepherd now juggles his time between DJing (he holds a residency at London’s Plastic People), producing his own music and studying for a PhD in neuroscience. As far as life commitments go, it’s a diverse and eclectic stew that shines through every time he DJs, with sets that regularly veer from jagged IDM to heaving techno and classic disco and funk.
Since that initial slew of releases, solo Floating Points material has been relatively scarce – unsurprising considering Shepherd’s hectic lifestyle – yet amazingly he admits to having 30 tracks finished and ready for release. The rightly lauded “Shark Chase/People’s Potential” 12″ emerged from the shadow of the Vacuum EP in early 2010, and in more recent times we’ve seen the much-discussed “Marilyn” and equally delicious “Sais” dub. Then there’s his production work for Eglo chanteuse Fatima and his pride and joy, the Floating Points Ensemble, which debuted with the “Post Suite” single on venerable London imprint Ninja Tune. Juno Plus scribe Helen Luu caught up with Shepherd after his vinyl-only set at the recent MUTEK festival in Montreal to chat about why he doesn’t want to make a solo album, his scientific alter ego and his audiophile passion for the EMT German broadcast turntable.
Despite its many charms, Minehead’s Butlins resort in mid March is patently not Barcelona.Yet it’s here, out of season by the Bristol channel, that a musical movement is brewing to rival that of Sónar as one of the world’s premiere events catering for discerning electronic music.
Bloc, now in its fifth year, has grown exponentially since its launch and the line-up assembled for the 2011 showcase was, on paper, its strongest yet. In many ways it’s a canny move to book the event so early in the year, as it allows organisers to operate unencumbered by the goings on of the UK/European summer festivals that duke it out from June to August. It also offers actual beds to revellers, and those of us of a certain vintage welcome the chance to rest our weary heads somewhere comfy, rather than climb into a freezing tent and sleep for exactly five minutes before waking up to scorching sunshine/pissing rain (delete where applicable) and a parched mouth.
Eglo Records take over East london venue CAMP next month to celebrate their second year in business with a bumper lineup that includes the great and the good of the London label as well as Mary Anne Hobbes.
Ninja Tune are offering those not fortunate enough to have grabbed their recent XX box set a further chance to enjoy the exclusive Floating Points Ensemble material featured with the release of the two tracks on a double A side 10 inch.
There’s plenty of post Field Day parties on offer tommorow but the much lauded Juno Plus stamp of approval goes to the Eglo crew’s party in the intimate surrounds of the CAMP basement just off Old St, with DJ sets from Floating Points, label boss Alexander Nut, Funkineven, Fatima, Shuansie and a ‘very special guest’ from the West Coast (who’d be a very successful Ice T lookalike).