VA: EPM Selected Vol. 4

2016 sees EPM celebrating fifteen years of music industry service with a number of events, including this fourth chapter in its ongoing series of roster-oriented compilations (EP releases and club parties in London and Berlin also are in the works). Names such as Paul Mac, Carl Taylor, Kristian Heikkila, and Esteban Adame will be familiar to those who've followed EPM's journey, but they're only a small number of the artists featured. And while the presence of Robert Hood is an obvious feather in EPM's cap, he's hardly the only producer whose music rewards one's attention; the others are all experts in their own right and all capable of filling the club floor with sleek house and techno tunes.

The seventy-minute set gets moving on a polished note with Ben Long's “Toltec,” a classic slice of modern techno, and rarely stops for breath thereafter. Naples producer Francesco Terranova achieves liftoff with “Magnetica,” an equally classic riff on frothy, locomotive techno that's got more than a little bit of tribal juice pumping through its veins. In subjecting the listener to a fusillade of synth effects and beats, Lee J. Malcolm's is as arrestingly designed a production as its “Trashcan Riotface Queen” title suggests it might be. In addition, Donnell Knox works up some gyroscopic dazzle on his D-Knox cut “Out There,” and Taylor's exuberant “Violet” impresses as a particularly memorable example of techno at its most joyful and uplifting.

Detractors sometimes label minimal techno faceless, but if that's true how does one account for the instantly identifiable character of Hood's tracks? As exemplified solidly by “Shaker,” his productions are distinguished by a refined aesthetic quality that sees everything superfluous omitted and only the essential included. None of the eleven cuts is a belter or raver, though Greg Gow and Gareth Whitehead's wiry stomper “Circuit Breaker” and Dan Curtin's high-octane “To Modify” come close; EPM's artists generally opt for cool control, but there's nothing objectionable about that when the level of artistry's consistently high.

April 2016