Review: "Fluid as a paintbrush yet precise as a scalpel" is how ESP Institute boss Lovefingers has described these two tracks from sometime Gifted Culture Collective member Autre. It's a fairly apt description. Check, for example, A-side "Everybody In The Past", where colourful, broad-strokes riffs, paint-roller chords, mangled acid lines and intoxicating synth solos decorate a bustling rhythm track. The delightly jaunty, sunny and percussive flip-side "Frigo", meanwhile, is the audio equivalent of an early period Picasso painting being paraded around a small Mediterranean town accompanied by a synthesizer-wielding house band. Which, we think you'll agree, is a very good thing indeed.
Review: Following up 2016's Kyoto EP on ESP Institute, here is the return of Cleveland. Interestingly enough he's not from the midwest USA but in-fact from Luxembourg (with Italian roots) and based in Brussels. His music isn't nearly as confusing though; on the contrary "Tusk" simply sounds like 'oriental electro' (if we've heard such a thing) even more than Japanese Telecom would. B side cut "Aku" equally borrows from Detroit bass aesthetics, yet crosses over into minimal techno - albeit unintentionally we assume - grooving much like current sounds of the Berlin underground as heard on labels like Time Passages or Libertine. A.E. Mancini has released previously on other fine imprints such as Hivern Discs and Oskar Offermann's White.
Review: We were a little surprised when Lovefingers announced that German techno veteran Roman Flugel would be releasing an album on ESP Institute, but in hindsight we shouldn't have been. Flugel has always been more than a mere producer of forthright dancefloor fare, with a deep discography that includes experimental works and a keen interest in ambient soundscapes. It's the latter strand that he mostly explores on "Themes", a 13-track cut whose fluid, bubbly and ear-catching cuts variously doff a cap towards Japanese new-age business ("Theme II"), Broadcast style IDM ("Theme III"), Kraftwerk style modular electro-pop (the exotic "Theme IV"), chiming bliss ("Theme VI"), deep space creepiness ("Theme X"), Jonny Nash-esque sunset vibes ("Theme XII") and hushed, mid-tempo horror-techno ("Theme VII").
Review: Long-serving British producer Toby Tobias returns to ESP Institute for a second time. Intriguingly, A-side "Second Stimulus" - arguably one of his finest cuts to date - is a little more robust and bass-heavy that his usual offerings, with floatation tank motifs and cascading chords rising above a bold, chunky, sub-bass-rich groove. It's undeniably floor-friendly, but also deliciously spacey and quietly melodious. Turn to the flipside for "Synchro Surfer", where expertly dubbed-out synth refrains rise above a deep, purist tech-house groove. It's the sort of record we'd have expected to hear at a Wiggle party in the late '90s, which is no bad thing.
Review: In a 2010 interview, Tornado Wallace explained the inspiration behind his distinctive title as "something between a deep south blues artist or a logger from Nebraska". In subsequent years the Australian has seemingly swapped the south blues artist for something southern Italo, keeping the Nebraskan edge with his logger's beard. This is demonstrated in wondrous fashion on the water-coloured artwork to Thinking Aloud, his debut EP for Lovefingers' ESP Institute. Heavy bass plods switch to a walking bassline in "Bit One", as motorised and starry arpeggios weave between breathy vocals that are as much human as they are synthesised. This is complemented by "Cloud Country" which lowers in BPM with more Italo inspired arpeggios, pulsating toms and sprinklings of Latin sounding synths. The title track "Thinking Allowed" hogs the flip, slowly revealing itself to be a Balearic burner of the highest calibre. It opens with an analogous kick-snare combo and a "higher-self" spoken word spiel that's reminiscent of Will Powers legendary "Adventures In Success". Peaks come; troughs go as the track builds sublimely before dovetailing back to its original form. Welcome back sir!
Review: Gifted Culture Collective member and occasional S. Moreira collaborator Xinner has decided to inaugurate a new alias, Robotron, via a first EP for ESP Institute. The man-machine's first missive, "Dream Resonator", is rather delightful, and sees him warp chiming, crystalline synthesizer melodies and glassy-eyed IDM style chords around an inventive and entertaining rhythm track that sits somewhere between Drexciya style electro and jazz-fired broken beat. The same rhythmical dexterity is also at the heart of similarly rush-inducing flipside "Ice", where bolder melodies and chunkier bass catch the ear alongside some suitably futurist electronics.
Review: Amsterdam-based graphic designer turned producer Young Marco has previously shown hints of greatness, most notably with a pair of superb 12" singles on ESP Institute that layered picturesque melodies atop huggable analogue grooves. Here, he delivers his debut album, Biology, and it's every bit as warm, imaginative and luscious as his previous work. Each of the album's seven tracks is something of a gem, from the crystalline, new age house of "Sea World" and Vangelis Katsoulis-inspired ambience of "Out of Wind", to the Italo-influenced dancefloor pulse of "Suzaku" and rush-inducing, synth-heavy brightness of "Can You Really Feel It". It's one of those albums that will brighten up even the dreariest of days, and those sets are arguably few and far between.