Esho Funi 1
Record label: Esho
Format: CD
Release date: 17 April 2001

It was last summer when Ism's sister label, Esho Recordings, began to make its presence known. Ism had already been defying dance floor conventions for about a year with its genre-bending tracks. Having done that, label owners Swingsett & J. Warrin dedicated the Esho imprint to deep house, and clubs worldwide are better for it. With only a handful of singles pressed, their sound has been perking ears, turning heads, and moving bodies. Esho Funi 1 (mixed to perfection by San Francisco producer Julius Papp) places the focus on this label's first year of releases, while also mixing in licensed material from like-minded artists.

Right from the beginning, it's clear that Esho is creating future soul. The layering of percussion, lush vocals, and other instrumentation makes for essential after-hours spins. Dave Warrin leads the pack as Mindflight; both "Lightsource" and "Trato" are the epitome of sensuality and sophistication. "Shine On" (recorded under his own name) inspires rhythmic surrender with its deep bass and beautiful vocals supplied by Carol C. (who's also a wicked drum and bass DJ). She also spreads scats like spices on J. Warrin & Premo John's "Airstream."

Esho's tracks are in good company, as Papp keeps the groove locked and the selections top-notch with singles from Estereo, Earth Project, Peng, and other labels. The At Jazz Dub of Wei Wan's "Feelin' Me Feelin' You" is a definite favorite, as well as Julius's own "Libido," which teases the crowd with a slow build and finally drops them in a pool of Spanish guitars. Also worthy of mention is Papp & Dave Warrin's collaboration, "Lookin' Up" (featuring the vocals of Shakti a.k.a. Lisa Shaw), which acts as a thread weaving in and out of this mix's fabric. There's not one filler track to be found on this CD. If this keeps up, Esho Recordings will have a "buy it on sight" reputation preceding them in no time.

{cali ginseng}

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