Various Artists – Eglo Records Volume 1
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.
If these are the criteria with which we should judge aspirant labels, then Eglo Records is fast becoming a legendary imprint. It ticks all of those boxes, and then some. The label is run by the like-minded but decidedly different Alexander Nut and Sam ‘Floating Points’ Shepherd; one’s a bundle of unrestrained energy famed for his slamming DJ sets and associated excess, the other a more laidback student of soulful music in all its forms. With them at the helm, Eglo has slowly built a discography packed with inventive, next-level electronic music that defies easy categorization. The duo’s artistic vision – influenced by the sounds of London and beyond – hasn’t wavered, even if it has shifted a little over the years.
Like great labels of the past, Eglo’s success has been built on working with and nurturing a core group of artists – the likes of Funkineven, Fatima, Arp 101 and, of course, Shepherd’s Floating Points project. Since launching in 2009, the two label owners have fostered a ‘family’ feel that has brought the best out their artists, leading to numerous collaborations and a collective rise through electronic music’s massed ranks of less talented wannabes. Cleverly, Eglo has avoided the trap frequently fallen into by successful labels of rapidly increasing their output. As this first label collection neatly shows, Eglo have been relatively parsimonious in what they release. In fact, they’ve averaged just over six releases a year, a remarkably small number for such a well-regarded imprint. Still, it’s better to release fewer great records than more mediocre ones.
Eglo Records Volume 1 acts as a perfect label primer for those new to the label’s charms; in little over two hours, it offers a neat appraisal of the label’s output to date, showcasing the delicious breadth, variety and quality of its releases. Some of the label’s greatest ‘hits’ are present, from the game-changing brilliance of Floating Points’ “Vacuum Boogie” and icy, futuristic synth boogie of Arp 101’s “Dead Leaf”, to the ragged analogue house of Funkineven via his “Heart Pound”, “She’s Acid” and full-throttle “Roland’s Jam”. Complementing this, Eglo’s more soulful side is present and correct with Fatima’s intoxicating “Innervisions” complemented by the heart-aching downtempo wonkiness of Mizz Beats’ largely overlooked “Scientific Brainpriest” and the Rhodes-laden simplicity of Shaunsie’s bite-size hip-hop soul jam “Catch”. These tracks, and those that space doesn’t allow us to mention, bristle with the sort of advanced musicality rarely found in dancefloor-focused electronic music. It must be the jazz influence.
Pleasingly, Nut and Shepherd have decided to include a quartet of previously unheard tracks that make this collection that extra bit special and hint Eglo’s future endeavours will remain as bright and diverse as the past four years.Chief among these is the previously previewed “Wires”, another example of Sam Shepherd’s immense musical talents. Stretching out over 11 impeccable minutes, it morphs from an organ-laden hip-hop instrumental into a yearning chunk of far-sighted, string-laden jazz that’s befitting of a classic spy thriller. Nearly as good is Fatima’s “Visit You”, a decidedly wonky slice of loose, slick, slo-mo R&B that recalls her superb 2011 EP Follow You. Shaunsie’s droning, next-level electro-soul jam “Mercy” and Gifted & Blessed’s mutant boogie jam “Reflexes” – all shimmering synths, alien melodies, bowel-bothering low-end fuzz and pitched-down 909 cowbells – are equally as inspirational.
1. Floating Points – Radiality
2. Floating Points – Vacuum Boogie
3. Funkineven feat. Fatima – Kleer
4. Shuanise – Catch
5. Fatima – Soul Glo
6. Funkineven – She’s Acid
7. Floating Points – Shark Chase
8. Arp.101 – Dead Leaf
9. Funkineven – Heart Pound
10. Arp.101 – Flush
11. Mizz Beats – Sanctuary
1. Fatima feat. Floating Points – Innervisions
2. Floating Points – Sais(Dub)
3. Floating Points – Marylin
4. Funkineven – Roland’s Jam
5. Floating Points – Danger
6. Arp.101 – U
7. Mizz Beats – Scientific Brainpriest
8. Floating Points – Myrtle Avenue
9. Fatima – Visit You
10. Floating Points Ensemble – Wires
11. Shuanise – Mercy
12. GB Presents The Abstract Eye – Reflexes