Review: The esteemed ESP Institute label overseen by digger extraordinaire Lovefingers seems to be right in the midst of a purple patch right now having just dropped excellent long players from Young Marco and the Blase duo of Secret Circuit and Suzanne Kraft. Ahead of exciting returns for Tambien and Tornado Wallace, ESP offer another sublime slice of electronic funk for the open minds out there from Nenad Markovic's 33 10 3402 project. This is the second installment of Markovic's Mecanica series and it's a sound we've personally some to associate with Beppe Loda's infamous mix tapes from the mid-80s cosmic scene in Northern Italy. Both tracks are heavily reminiscent of that era, where brash African drums meet intricate electronic manipulations and funky basslines. A beautiful crossing of post-punk, cold wave and funk. Sublime!
Review: Andrew Hogge's ESP Institute enjoyed a fine 2013, issuing a range of music from Tambien, Pharaohs, Tornado Wallace and Shocks that have deftly widened the label's sonic parameters whilst very much retaining the overarching aesthetic approach the man known as Lovefingers has cultivated. This release sees yet another label debut and it's a new name to us here at Juno; 33-10-3402 is a code name for Nenad Markovic, an imaginative and limitless musician and producer from Belgrade, Serbia. The Mecanica single is apparently the first in a trilogy of "opium den and whorehouse inspired" releases planned with the label and the two tracks further demonstrate just how wide of the mark it is to brand ESP just another disco label. The title cut is an erratic, abstract exercise in cacophony, with Markovic treating a stuttering vocal and crazed drum programming to all manner of delay - no one would bat an eyelid if this came out on PAN. "Byot" meanwhile offers some soothing sanctity and is reminiscent of the excellent KWC 92 LP recently issued on L.I.E.S.
Review: This is Autre's debut release on ESP Institute, but he fits right in with the label's aesthetic. As the title track demonstrates, this emerging producer shares the same love as Loverfingers' label for freeform dance music. 303 lines spiral gently and atmospheric chords ebb and flow majestically over an off beat groove that sits somewhere between deep house and electro. It's a heady affair, with cosmic keys introduced to make it all the more intoxicating. "Frigo" is just as distinctive: over cowbells and snappy beats, an electronic salsa rhythm unravels, containing enough soul to keep even the most demanding DJ happy.
Review: Bartellow is German producer Beni Brachtel, an artist that has been in involved with Lovefingers' ESP Institute for some time and as a member of label favourites Tambien, alongside Marvin Schuhmann & Valentino Betz of Public Possession. It's a pretty diverse affair on his debut Pankorama LP, starting off with the rather rather Pal Joey sounding "Sala Sensi" before he dives into some cosmo-balearic tinged ambient on the lovely "Clypp". Dusty swing-fuelled underground house is covered covered on the appropriately titled "Shufflington" or especially the stopmin' "Operator In Excelsis". "Notion" bridges the gap between label head Andrew Hogge's fascination with the exotic and analogue electronics wonderfully.
Review: Bartellow aka Benedikt Brachtel returns to ESP Institute with remixes of tracks from his 2017 album, Panokorama. First up is Florian Kupfer from L.I.E.S, who turns "Sala Sensei" into a teased out lo-fi jam, with cavernous filters cascading into epic drops. Gilb'r from Versatile also opts for a dubbed out take on the same track, but it has a softer, more shimmering approach as a dub groove chugs away in the background. Given their reputation for making lean, linear club techno, it comes as no surprise that Skudge's take on "Clypp" is an expertly streamlined, tracky affair, but this is a largely out-there remix package, as evidenced by Ground's warbling, sub-aquatic take on "Clypp".
Review: Darmstadt's Benedikt Frey has been one of the most exciting talents in electronic music in the last few years. With releases on local institution Live At Robert Johnson and Barcelona's Hivern Discs in addition to his experimental project INIT (with Nadia D'Alo) he returns once again to Lovefingers' Los Angeles based imprint. This is the second time after last year's impressive The Lobbyist EP. Be prepared for more cosmic, post-Kraut psychedelia of the greyscale kind from Frey on his first ever full length release. Highlights include the brooding industrial punk-funk of "Controversial", the slow burning hypnotic techno epic "H For Hysteria" or the Can styled progressive rock of "Keygrind" which really shows off the diversity. Add to that the the woozy acid tribalism of "Push" or "Patcher" which are perfect for setting the mood early at Offenbach's favourite clubs.
H For Hysteria (Tolouse Low Trax remix) - (5:18) 120 BPM
Private Crimes (DJ Normal 4 remix) - (5:13) 142 BPM
Private Crimes (DALO remix) - (7:24) 130 BPM
Review: Last year, ESP Institute put out Benedikt Frey's debut album and now they offer a remix package that's just as impressive. First up is I:Cube, who reworks "H for Hysteria". Currently riding high on the back of his brilliant Double Pack release, the French producer turns it into a deep, flowing affair, led by subtle acid tweaks and hushed atmospheric chords. In Tolouse Low Trax's hands, the same track morphs into a stripped back, bass-led affair, while DJ Normal 4 offers an idiosyncratic take on "Private Crimes", with deep acid lines and a ghostly vocal sample burning their way through rickety break beats. Rounding off this impressive remix package is DJ Dalo's take on "Crimes", where a spooky break beat sound prevails.
Review: Following on from last year's remixes of Artificial on ESP, Benedikt Frey returns to the label with some fresh material. "Interlinked" is a robust electro affair, bolstered by steely drums and tweaked acid that support an ominous vocal sample. It sets an ominous tone for the release. The mood remains the same but the delivery differs on "Pilot", where Frey lays down understated bass notes and gloomy atmospherics. While "Interlinked" sees him pick up the pace and resounds to a low-slung groove, it too boasts haunted vocal samples and eerie synths. The fuzzy, murky rhythm of "Pedal to the Metal" closes out this superb EP of electronic mood music.
Review: ESP Institute has always sought out unusual interpretations of electronic music. This latest offering from Benedikt Frey is no exception, as it sees him push the boundaries in a way that releases for Creme and Mule had only hinted at. "The Lobbyist" is a gnarly, rugged groove, gradually unraveling and full of the kind of intrigue that its title hints at. "Cupid's Delight" is even slower and more deliberate, with breathy soundscapes and twitchy percussive ticks adding to the sense of mystery. The release closes with "Gravel". Again the sense of otherworldliness prevails, with the rhythm at a dead pace and its fractured, disconnected groove sounding like tiny stones rattling around inside a tunnel.
Review: Tusk is the second outing on ESP Institute by Cleveland, an alias for the Brussels-based producer Andrea Mancini. While it does not have the immediacy of some of the label's output, it does tingle and sparkle with understated brilliance. On "Aku", Mancini conjures up a vivid, complex rhythm track, peppered with reverberating tropical animal sounds, hollowed out drums and a dash of intelligent techno melancholia. The title track is even more impressive; similar in rhythmic construct to "Aku", it is imbued with glorious, jazzed out melodies and tinkling bells and is shot through with a wonderfully hypnotic bass that insinuates itself into the listener's consciousness.
Review: Emerging last year to rework Benedikt Frey's "Private Crimes" on ESP Institute, Dalo aka Nadia D'Al? now delivers her debut EP for the label. The title track is a tight, jacking affair, led by a pulsating acid line and featuring a doomy vocal accompaniment. On "Myth", she veers towards a more industrial sound, with bleak synths unravelling over a primal pulse. That sound is further teased out on "Cnt", where Dalo delivers shrieking vocals over a dark, dense rhythm, chiming bells and a visceral, building bass. Rounding off the release is "Agenda", where a heads-down, pulsating ebm-style groove prevails.
Review: According to ESP Institute, Damien Lynch is "a gentleman you've met in a past life". That's certainly true for those who checked his previous productions under the obscure Sarsparilla [sic] and Diamond Dagger aliases. Unlike those, which were inspired by classic electro and Italo-disco, the two tracks that make up this ESP Institute debut are deep, woozy, atmospheric and sensory. First up is "The Heights", where fluttering riffs, horizontal chords and luscious melodic flourishes ride a gradually building - and eventually pulsating - groove. "Safe House" is a more melancholic affair, despite the presence of some particularly bold and heavy percussion, with lilting marimba melodies, undulating arpeggio lines and tear-jerking pads catching the ear.
Review: Damien Lynch has been busy of late, serving up a superb slab of electro-influenced experiments for Lunar Disko under the Diamond Dagger alias. Here he returns to ESP Institute under his given name, serving up the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut 12", The Heights. Opener "Brunette" is a deep and softly spun techno shuffler, with quietly spacey stabs, swooshing pads and stoned electric piano motifs enhancing the hypnotic, late night mood. "Forced Relax" is equally baked, but noticeably slower. It, too, sounds like a yearning, early morning transmission from some far-off planet, beamed down by a sleep-deprived astronaut pining for a comfy bed back on Earth.
Review: Juan Ramos and Luca 'Trent' Trentini come together for only their second EP as Greenvision. Rambutan will come as a surprise to fans of ESP Institute's free flowing disco sound, and could conceivably have been released on an experimental techno label. This approach is audible on "Banana Paradiso", where a doubled up, gnarly rhythm houses spacey passages and a sinewy, bleepy bass. The title track strays further into an offbeat direction thanks to Greenvision's smart fusion of abstract beats, tonal sounds and a stop-start groove. They leave the best to last however, with "The Color Of Maracuja" unfolding to the sound of melodic Asian elements and frazzled acid lines.
Review: Osaka's GROUND is no newcomer to the world of experimental electronics, with the artist's last official EP having come out all the way back in 1995 as a self-releases 7" on the forever-defunct 595-76-8239 Music. Sunizsm is his debut LP, with a few of these tunes already out in the last few months on separate EPs, each one of them backed by a series of killer remixes, of course. The LP as a whole, however, is a startling beauty, dipping and diving from dance music to the abstract, rich in Ground's Japanese aesthetics. "Logos", one of the tracks released already, is a tripping bundle of percussion and Eastern vocal chops and, among our other favourites on here, there's also the off-kilter chimes of "Hanasai", the moody bass tones of "Feel It", and the hypnotic journey that is "Sunizsm" itself. House-not-house for the DJ-not-DJs.
Review: You certainly can't accuse Japanese chill-out producer and found sound enthusiast Ground of sticking too rigidly to a well-defined blueprint - the three tracks presented here don't sound anything like each other! In its Original form, 'Follow Me' is a world music-leaning Balearic number, with a hefty bassline, mantra-like female vocal, aquatic sounds, heavyweight hand percussion and an overall hypnotic feel. The Jay Glass Dubs Mix then takes the track into seriously out-there experimental territory, before the EP's completed by 'Ozone House', a percussion- and vibes-led affair with a pronounced Far Eastern feel. If you dig Gilles P or Bonobo, you'll probably dig Ground, too.
Review: ESP Institute has become synonymous with championing left of centre dance music and this debut by Hoshina Anniversary is testament to the label's knack of supporting unusual releases. "Sagano" revolves around a low-slung groove and robust drums that support droning textures and colourful synths. On "Haru Wa Akebon'", the Tokyo producer moves towards some semblance of convention; designed for more discerning dance floors, staccato percussion and an understated, pulsating rhythm play host to warm house keys and the sound of machines malfunctioning in the background. It rounds off the latest eccentric EP to be issued by the ESP roster.
Review: Having delivered a couple of quietly impressive solo EPs for Keep It Zen and Saft, as well as a highlight of Disco Bloodbath's label as one half of Al Gobi, Ian Blevins pops up on Lovefingers' ESP Institute with a pair of tracks that the LA label claim will "boost your Serotonin levels". Certainly, "Hannibal" is a definite mood enhancer, with bubbling, high-pitched electronic melodies and spacey chords riding a fizzing, Detroit-influenced analogue house groove. "Welcome Aunt Poly" is an altogether deeper and drowsier affair, with rich, stretched-out pads reclining over a shuffling, cowbell-laden rhythm. It feels like the sort of track that could induce a "moment" when heard at the right time, despite its' relatively simple - if not less delicious - construction.
Review: Having delivered a couple of quietly impressive solo EPs for Keep It Zen and Saft, as well as a highlight of Disco Bloodbath's label as one half of Al Gobi, Ian Blevins pops up on Lovefingers' ESP Institute with a pair of tracks that the LA label claim will "boost your Serotonin levels". Certainly, A-side "Hannibal" is a definite mood enhancer, with bubbling, high-pitched electronic melodies and spacey chords riding a fizzing, Detroit-influenced analogue house groove. Flipside "Welcome Aunt Poly" is an altogether deeper and drowsier affair, with rich, stretched-out pads reclining over a shuffling, cowbell-laden rhythm. It feels like the sort of track that could induce a "moment" when heard at the right time, despite its' relatively simple - if not less delicious - construction.
Review: 11 months on from his first appearance on Lovefingers' impressive ESP Institute imprint, Juan Ramos returns with two more chunks of throbbing late night heat. Once again breaking up the rhythms for an altogether groovier experience, virtual A-side "ATKM" sees the producer joining the dots between bubbling techno, rolling proto-house and Young Marco style new age house. There's an extra-humid feel about the track that follows, "Globalizacion Acido", with Ramos gleefully joining the dots between bustling Afro-acid, trippy tropical house, unsettling alien funk and percussive tribal motions. It's utterly bonkers, but also rather stunning. The boy has clearly got talent.
Review: Lovefingers seems to be struggling a little with what to write on ESP Institute's distinct centre labels. For this Juan Ramos 12" - the producer's first for the New York based imprint - he's posed a question: "what colour Speedo should she wear this summer?" By the sounds of the fuzzy, broken beats, popping electronics, tribal percussion hits, drunken melodies and stretched out chords that mark out "Last Of The Natives", we'd suggest a rich shade of green. That said, if you also take the woozy, intense and cluttered - but nevertheless impressive - flipside "Enemy Of Enemy" is friend into consideration, dark brown might be a better option.
Review: Following Eps on well-known underground labels such as Whities, Berceuse Heroique and Diagonal, Daniel Koehler makes his debut on ESP Institute. It's a release of contrasting styles: "Melencolia V" is a cosmic affair led by sensuous strings and shimmering synths that unfolds over an unhurried back beat and is sure to work best at sun-up. "Invidiosa" is a radically different affair: set to a high-paced tempo, its hollowed out drums take the listener down the rabbit hole and back over the course of seven minutes. As always, ESP Institute can be relied on to dig deep and deliver left of centre electronic music.
Review: Four years after its original release, tracks from Land of Light's eponymous album get a new set of remixes. Fans of Lovefingers' ESP Institute label may recall the orginal remixes, released back in 2012, and this new set are just as essential. Kuniyuki Takahashi's take on the title track sets the tone, with sensuous ambient textures and gently warbling guitars creating an atmospheric mood. Tambien's version is just as esoteric, but slightly more understated, while Seahawks rounds off this latest remix package with his take on "Bell Rock Outpost". Juddery, slow-paced drums and warm, jazzy piano lines create another beautiful piece of music - tailor-made for those sunset moments.
Review: ESP Institute excel at two things very important to labels; releasing interesting original music that spans feelings, tempos and genres yet fit into the overall aesthetical approach and enlisting some fine artists when it comes to remixes. Last year's self-titled album from Land of Light, the collaborative project of ESP regular Johnny Nash and former Spectral Empire producer Kyle Martin perfectly encapsulated the former and this addendum EP does the same for the latter. Peaking Lights, Tiago and The Backwoods all bring their respective styles to the fore in impressive fashion; in thee hands of Aaron "Peaking Lights" Coyes, "Strange Attractor" is transformed into luscious, dubby expanses nudged forth by a lazy motorik beat. Complementing this, Tiago gets his salsa on with a guitar flecked rendition of "Isle Of Tears" whilst Jap crew The Backwoods provide the defining dancefloor moment with their take on "Higher Love".
Review: Lemmi Ash is a new project comprising producer Martin "Martinou" Str?mstedt and long-term ESP Institute affiliate DJ Samo. The act's debut release, Osmin Uratoma leans towards the label's more techno-facing sound; "Lemmi Ash Theme" is built on a dense, low-slung groove and wave upon wave of filters, while "Apsu" is a loose, percussive affair, featuring powerful sub-bass and organ riffs. The duo go off the abstract deep end with "To Dare is To Do", which features shimmering synths and dreamy vocals layered over a stop-start rhythm, while "Horror Vacui" closes the release in melancholy, dubbed out mode.
Review: Given that Neil McDonald aka Lord of the Isles has released on notable labels like Firecracker - and its offshoots - as well as Phonica, Mule and Permanent Vacation, it was only a matter of time before ESP Institute tapped him for a release. That said, McDonald does not follow a typical deep house trajectory here. Indeed, the title track, in its extended version, is a distorted jacking affair, shot through with dark waves of acid. While Ian Blevins' version offers a pulsing, less visceral alternative take on "Weh-In", overall this release is jittery and hyperactive, as the abstract twists and growling bass of closing track "Pik" demonstrates.
Review: In Waves is the debut album from Lord of the Isles aka Scottish producer Neil McDonald. As expansive as a boat ride through a rain-swept Highlands loch, it starts with the wispy, ethereal ambience of "Airgoid Meall" and "Years Away". The playful, stop-start rhythm of "Liobasta" provides a kooky interlude to the generally deep mood, before "Obar Liobhaite" plunges back in with floaty, serene ambience. That reflective sensibility is again temporarily pierced by the acrid, spiky rhythm of recent single "Weh-In", but in the main, this is a reflective work, best characterised by the neo-classical piano composition, "Gualainn".
Review: According to Lovefingers' typically eccentric sales notes, these two tracks from Man Power (AKA similarly quirky producer Geoff Kirkwood) will "put a wrench in your holiday". Kirkwood has been globetrotting a lot lately, and both cuts here sound like they were inspired by visits to hot, steamy countries. He kicks things off with the subtle positivity of "The Tourist", where swirling chords and tumbling synthesizer melodies ride a busy, bouncy, and pleasingly off-kilter, tribal drum groove. While excellent, it lacks the surging positivity, glistening Balearic touches and wonky analogue bottom-end of flipside "Oye", which sounds like an Adriatic anthem in waiting.
Man Power & Last Waltz - "Nee Shitteru" - (7:20) 117 BPM
Review: Geoff Kirkwood aka Man Power has appeared on a range of underground labels over the past few years and with the exception of Optimo Trax, it's ESP Institute that is most suited to his left of centre electronics. Working together here with Last Waltz - who has released on World Unknown and Tusk Wax - he delivers two fine jams. "Tistish" resounds to a muddy bass, noisy interference and some of the spookiest synth work this side of Legowelt's Squadra Blanco project. On "Nee Shitteru", the pair strip things back, but don't lose their sense of humour in the process, as tribal drums underscore vocal chants and rough acid lines.
Review: In recent times, Mark E seems to have been returning to his disco and Balearic roots, albeit whilst retaining the stretched-out deep house vibe with which he's most famous for. It's little surprise, then, to see him blending the sun-ripened goodness of the Mediterranean with his usual attention to groove on this double A-side delight for Lovefingers' formidable ESP Institute imprint. "Laurentian Abyss" is particularly enchanting, with muted steel drums and a touch of accordion offering a focal point for a jaunty, Latin-influenced house groove and dreamy pads. "Emergency" continues the rush-inducing feel of the A, with chiming melodies and starburst chords riding a thickset, synthesizer-heavy deep house rhythm.
Review: Serial collaborator Mister Ho - co-founder of Klasse Recordings, fact fans - first joined forces with up-and-coming producer Heap earlier this year. Feeling Hopeful is the speedy follow-up to that record, and once again sees the duo in the loving arms of Lovefingers' ESP Institute label. The title track sets the tone, with duo layering twinkling organ motifs and undulating bass atop a chugging, mid-tempo house groove. As if to prove that they're capable of making more obviously cheery music, B-side "Gis Gis" is a spacey, analogue-rich affair, with a fizzing drum machine rhythm underpinning dreamy chords and vintage, late night melody lines.
Review: Tel Aviv's Moscoman returns to the always reliable ESP Institute for more of his infectious oddball grooves which continually defy categorisation. Much like fellow homeboys Red Axes and Autarkic, his sound sits somewhere between disco, house, synth pop, punk-funk and even balearic; and indeed that's the spectrum of sounds explored on his new album titled A Shot In The Light. There's some lo-slung, latin infused disco deepness on the "Mexican Cola Bottle Baby", trippy cosmo/psychedelic shenanigans on the hilariously titled "Losing My Wedge", the moody and entrancing journey that is the title track (which pushes the same territory as Barnt or Marvin & Guy) and there's even some darkwave electro: like on the epic closer "Death At The Funreal".
Review: Following a couple of impressive outings on Cosmo Vitelli's I'm A Cliche imprint, well-regarded Israeli producer Moscoman makes his ESP Institute debut. The Tel Aviv native is in fine form, too, delivering a pair of tracks that blend trippy, psychedelic electronics with clear cosmic disco and no wave influences. Opener "Akachi" is arguably the bigger of the two, with swirling effects, tribal chants and bongo-laden percussion peppering a long-slung disco-not-disco groove. "Nobody Else" has a more trippy and trancey feel, with looped, slowly building guitar and synthesizer parts - all drenched in special effects - rising above a hypnotic, drum machine-led groove.
Review: Given the quality of their respective releases, you'd expect this first collaboration between Moscoman and Red Axes to be rather good. Predictably, it is, with both tracks offering the perfect balance between weary late night atmospherics and intoxicating dancefloor shuffle. Opener "Dikembe Manatu" builds the action around a foreboding bassline and dense African percussion, with metallic melodies and druggy electronics expertly layered atop. Virtual flipside "Rage In The Cage" takes a different approach, with sleazy, late night electronics and throbbing analogue refrains contrasting neatly with the trio's unfussy, cowbell-laden percussion. Both tracks sound primed for dimly lit basement spaces and intimate parties the World over.
Review: DJ/producer Mr Ho is the co-founder of Klasse Recordings, while Heap is man behind Vienna's Discuss Throwers parties and online store. Together, they've penned this rather fine two-tracker for ESP Institute, whose tongue-in-cheek label copy promises cuts that are neither, "too salty or too sweet". Happily, it's definitely not bland or tasteless, either. "Collision Resistance" is relatively simple in construction, but surprisingly powerful - all muscular analogue bass, thrusting drums and trippy, late night textures. "Veils Of The Beloved" is altogether more loved-up in feel, with dreamy pads, tuneful marimba motives and bubbling electronic bass. The bassline, in particular, is little short of stunning.
Review: By anyone's standards, ESP Institute enjoyed a hugely successful 2016, delivering a string of fine singles and killer albums from Moscoman and Lord of the Isles. This first digital missive of 2017 is equally as impressive, and comes from the previously unheard Nancy Azzuro. Opener "Grace" is undoubtedly impressive; a rolling trip into 21st century dub disco territory blessed with killer percussion work and an addictive electronic bassline. "Illustrations & The Large" is a deliciously woozy and melodious chunk of softly spoken Balearic deep house, while the loopier "Teen Bee" fixes ghostly melodies onto a loose and warm disco-house groove.
Review: Canadian producer Nathan Micay follows up releases on Whities, 17 Steps and several editions of his own Schvitz Edits series with this energetic pair of tracks for Los Angeles based ESP institute. The Berlin by way of Toronto artist (formerly known as Bwana) further explores aesthetics of '90s trance music on the hypnotic and elevating acid express that is "Never Rhythm Game" followed by a deep, moody and introspective electro number in the form of "Team Player".