Spotlight 15
Favourite Labels 2014

Poppy Ackroyd + Lumen
Avec le soleil sortant ...
Brooklyn Rider
Del Sol String Quartet
Nick Gill
Stefan Goldmann
Chihei Hatakeyama
Robert Honstein
Jonas Kopp
David Lackner
Last Ex
Neil Leonard
Little Phrase
The Mark Lomax Trio
LA Percussion Quartet
Near The Parenthesis
Newman and Cox
Pan & Me
Bobby Previte
Marc Sabat
Hein Schoer
Wadada Leo Smith
Templeton + Armstrong
Ken Thomson
Ulterior Motive
Joris Voorn
Andrew Weathers
Ezra Weiss Sextet
Stefan Wesolowski
Keith Worthy

Compilations / Mixes
EPM Selected Vol. 3
Universal Quantifier

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Blu Mar Ten
Michael Jon Fink
Oceanic Triangulation
Northumbria and Famine
Total Science
Simon Whetham

VA: EPM Selected Vol. 3

To be frank, the remix compilation genre doesn't top my list of favourites, but the consistently high quality of the digital-only EPM Selected Vol. 3 trumps whatever reservations I might have. On the one hand, it's an unabashed sales pitch for the EPM roster, given the inclusion of tracks by figures such as Paul Mac, Carl Taylor, Kristian Heikkila, Lee J. Malcolm, Esteban Adame, and The Third Man; on the other, it's a steamy seventy-minute set that argues as much on behalf of remixers like John Heckle, Robert Hood, Ben Sims, Marcel Fengler, and Legowelt as the originating artists. This is one collection where every one of its ten tracks hits one sweet spot or another.

The release's tone is immediately set by Heckle's handling of The Third Man's “Double Dawn,” whose acid-tinged techno-funk groove is toughened up so much the result is positively militant. Fengler brings a little bit of a Berghain sensibility to his hammering, Ostgut Ton-styled overhaul of Paul Mac's “Hotel Insomnia,” and, with Ben Sims at the helm, Malcolm's “Oh Yeah” mutates into a gurgling, severely dubbed-out high roller. In addition, Silent Servant (Juan Mendes) hot-wires Gareth Whitehead and Greg Gow's “Vacant” with a motorik techno-funk pulse, while Vince Watson does much the same in irradiating Kristian Heikkila's aerodynamic “02.” In a refreshing change of pace, Detroit Grand Pubahs, heavily armed with percussion and claps, pulls the collection away from its hard techno focus for an infectiously funky soul-house take on Luis Martinez's “Do Me.”

Though it's high-quality stuff from beginning to end, a few cuts stand out as especially strong: Robert Hood's unmistakable fingerprints are all over Carl Taylor's “Debbie's Groove,” what with its dizzying Floorplan-styled attack, disco strings, skipping snares, and repetitive vocal coos, and G Flame's (Colin McBean) supercharged reinvigoration of Paul Mac's “Drums N Breaks” makes for a compelling techno-funk ride. That cover image, by the way, is well-chosen, considering the unrelentingly high-energy character of the release's thunderous techno grooves and synthetic gleam. It's a take-no-prisoners kind of set, one proudly willing to strut its muscular stuff.

November 2014