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: Between Unthank, Firecracker, Cocktail d'Amore Music, Mule Musiq, Permanent Vacation, and ESP Institute, it is safe to say that Lord Of The Isles is a much coveted artist. It would also be safe to say that he makes pretty damn good music that has landed on some pretty damn good labels. But, this is no surprise, each one of the man's releases is drenched in quality, and he has a knack for delivering spaced-out house music that sits at the very outer edges of disco. He returns with a new LP for ESP, a label that is constantly on our radar these days, and it feels like a match made in heaven; fifteen tracks of pure electronic freedom, whichever lens they're being filtered through, and from raw, disjointed boogie, through to kinetic ambient scores, or even segments of shimmering deep house, this is the stuff you need. A masterful and perfectly executed album.
Review: After years spent operating in the grey area where deep house, techno and tech-house meet, Raphael Ripperton has decided to indulge his ambient side. He's touched on the style on previous albums, of course, but "Contrails" marks the first time he's completely eschewed the demands of the dancefloor. He should perhaps do it more often, because it's a genuinely evocative, atmospheric and eye-opening excursion. The double album's 14 tracks are full of subtle differences and gentle stylistic shifts, from the ghostly electronics and hissing aural textures of "Lonely Walk" and the stretched-out, Tangerine Dream style analogue synthesizer fluidity of "Lavaux", to the Pete Namlook style deep space wooziness of "Where The Wind Blows" and the Steve Reich-meets-Gaussian Curve shimmer of "Dedale".
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.