VA: EPM Selected Vol. 1
EPM makes no bones about the fact that EPM Selected Vol 1 is a deliberately designed advert for the music label side of its operation—not that anyone would begrudge the company in these times for doing whatever it can to get music by roster artists like Paul Mac, Carl Taylor, Kristian Heikkila, and The Third Man across. It's a moot point anyway, as the sixty-eight-minute compilation, which leans towards the label's housier side (and adds a couple of unreleased exclusives to a selection of highlights from the past two years), holds up perfectly well on purely musical grounds.
Esteban Adame previews his upcoming debut album with “The Reason,” an iridescent exclusive that inaugurates the set powerfully with a svelte fusion of emotive, strings-heavy atmospherics and driving house beats that are equally crisp and tight. Thoughts of Ibiza won't be far away when Marius breezily rolls out congas, disco strings, and a rollicking, bass-spiked house pulse for the sunkissed splendour of “Jet Set”; in stark contrast, Heikkila's “Stakker” (from 2012's Kombinations) oozes, appropriately enough, a stalker vibe in its emphasis on dark techno grime.
Skip the introductory minute of Lee J. Malcolm's “Rhodes Home” and proceed directly to the fulminating breakbeats and organ-drenched psychedelia that give the track such individuating character. Though it never careens out of control, the ride is nevertheless wild and epic, especially when a euphoric peak crests at the six-minute mark in a way that's frankly awesome. Though one pities the producer who has to follow that scene-stealer, Luis Martinez makes a pretty strong case for himself with “Marife,” a jazz-inflected exclusive that weaves Latin-styled acoustic guitar and piano playing into an irrepressibly swinging house framework.
In contrast to the other contributors, Taylor gets two swings at bat, with the first “Lost Memories” a punchy, Detroit-styled techno throwdown from his 2011 set True Faith, and the second “Only U” a euphonious jam tailor-made for open skies and trouble-free times. And don't leave early ‘cos if you do you'll miss Mac's “Hotel Insomnia,” a light-speed, string-drenched techno anthem that roars with a supernova-like energy. In sum, the compilation earns its recommendation on quality grounds, but also for the fact that it includes the right number of tracks—ten being neither too little nor too many—and gives each one enough time to make a case for itself without overstaying its welcome. While no game-changer, EPM Selected Vol 1 certainly presents a strong argument for EPM as a quality label enterprise.