Various Artists Eglo Records Vol. 1
Alexander Nut's and Sam Shepard's Eglo label is an enterprise that truly deserves to showcase itself on a compilation like Eglo Records Vol. 1—a collection which encourages listeners to feel the breadth and cohesion of the label's aesthetic and discover the common thread which connects each affiliated artist. Across two discs, the musicians working with Eglo's unique blend of organically ripe funk and machine-built dayglo shine, and common pool of influences—boogie, house, jazz, soul, and J Dilla-school hip-hop—are explored and organized in a way which gives a well-rounded impression of one of the most reliable labels to emerge in the last few years.
The collection opens with "Radiality," the debut release from co-owner Shepard (a.k.a. Floating Points), as if to show us right from the start where this all began. "Vacuum Boogie" follows in majestic fashion, its treacle trudge and funky pounce sounding like it has barely aged. Floating Points' wide-open starscapes of this kind—like on the scattered flourishes of "Marylin" and the bejewelled layers of velvet texture in "Myrtle Avenue"—dominate close to half of the tracklist, and with good reason.
At its most reckless, Vol. 1 is capable of standing up to the most percussive and raw dancefloor tracks; for example, see Floating Points' ominous and rough-hewn "Shark Attack" and Funkineven's gritty reimagining of dark, bubbly acid on "Heart Pound" and "Roland's Jam." But there is also a brilliant inclusiveness at work, as the loud and muscular house experiments stand side by side with sparse, jazz-touched vocal tracks. "Innervisions," a pained and captivating collaboration from Floating Points and Fatima, finds the singer in an unusually lonesome and wistful state amongst the producer's synths.
If the meat of the "Eglo sound" is provided by the ample skill of Floating Points and, to a smaller degree, Funkineven, then Fatima is certainly its frontwoman. Her own discography covers even more territory than the label's assorted output, and the command she has of her engaging voice and its subtle inflections reflects that history. She appears throughout Vol. 1 on tracks like "Kleer" and her own incredible "Soul Glo." These collaborations with Funkineven sound like what a joint venture between Erykah Badu and Luke Vibert's Kerrier District project might produce, but with more sass and effortlessness.
Cologne singer Shuanise, one of the label's most promising new additions, plays second fiddle to Fatima on "Catch," an itchy, techy tune by fellow German producer Hubert Daviz. Eglo's fresh international slant is continued on the contributions from low-key LA hero Gifted & Blessed, who appears here as The Abstract Eye, and Belgian artist Arp 101, whose "Dead Leaf" shows just how rich and accessible Eglo's style can be by allowing drum & bass stalwart Alix Perez to help explore the tune's boogie-slow pace. Still, there is a velocity to tracks like "Flush" and "U," though it doesn't quite have the same intricate syncopation that characterizes the strongest, most unique material on Vol. 1.
Those already familiar with Eglo will be pleased to see that there are four previously unreleased tracks included at the end of the second disc. "Wires" is an epic number from Floating Points that goes further into serious jazz ideology than anything he or the label has released before. Shuanise's "Mercy"—presumably produced by Shepard, too—is another triumph that shows there is plenty more music on the horizon from Eglo. Taken altogether, the label's compendium is a great showcase of sounds that go beyond electronic music, or, really, any single niche. It presents the essence of Eglo within its woozy and wavy Afro-futurism, clear atmospheres, orchestrally detailed synth patterns, and tightly sprung rhythm sections, which jump between jazzy, man-made timings and digitally enhanced percussive strength. The sometimes elegant, often sweat-drenched, and inherently heartfelt energy spread across Vol. 1 defines Eglo as a proprietor of true soul music.
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