Title: Eskimonde – A Decade Of Eskimo Recordings
Release Date: 5 Nov 2012
Label: Eskimo Recordings
Format: 5CD (3CD + 2 bonus mixes)
Cat. #: 541416505648
I was working as editor at dance magazine Jockey Slut when the first Eskimo compilation arrived in the year 2000. It immediately caused a stir with the erudite staff. Firstly the artwork and packaging was a cut above the rest: unfashionably lime green, on a matt card containing minimal information and the statement ‘Contains 100% Pure Emotion’. It also came from Ghent in Belgium and wasn’t the banging techno R&S had made the city renowned for.
Beginning with Harry Thumann’s Underwater (which annoyed someone in the office because they had been the proud owner of a rare copy for many years) and featuring 70s disco and funk by the likes of War and Fatback Band. There was also the deathless pop soul of Hall & Oates’ I Can’t Go For That (which was reprised later as a sample on De La Soul’s Say No Go, the closing track) but also obscure acid hip house tracks like KC Flight’s Planet E and new soul gem Revival by Martine Girault. We didn’t know what Eskimo was, who Dirk, Mo & Benoelie were who had compiled this triple vinyl selection but we could tell this was a labour of love and we were keen to know more.
The compilations that followed stuck to the Eskimo ethos that new and old music, when well selected, could form something fresh. For want of a better word it was balearic in attitude, akin to DJ Alfredo’s approach in Ibiza’s Amnesia in the late 80s. What united this music was its timeless quality and originality. Volumes 2-4 plucked nuggets like Laidback’s 70s mood-pop Bakerman and juxtaposed it with the perv-house I Called U from Lil Louis. Relatively well known tracks like Frankie Knuckles Your Love were included but so were offbeat curios like Dubtribe Soundsystem’s Do It Now and rarities like Felix Da Housecat’s My Life Muzik.
In 2002 the trio introduced a darker sounding strain of compilations called Serie Noire. This felt more like the Ghent we were more familiar with, with its history of mid-paced new beat sounds. Termed ‘dark pop’, it was impeccably chosen and programmed and spiked with surprises. From Manchester, a Factory records track Looking From A Hilltop by Section 25, from New York Metro Area’s contemporary, string laden Miura and from outer space Big Man Restless by Kissing The Pink.
In January 2003, around the release of Serie Noire, Mo & Benoelie, who were going under the name The Glimmer Twins by this point, came over to play Bugged Out at The End in London. Hearing them play for 3 hours – and probably the only DJs at the club who used numerous 7-inch singles – bore out their catholic tastes. They went beyond Balearic and at one point segued Irene Cara’s ‘Fame’ into a dark proto house track (from Birmingham) called Jesus Loves The Acid by The Ecstasy Club. Shortening their name to The Glimmers they became hugely successful DJs (a long time coming, they started in their teens) and spread the Eskimo ethos worldwide.
The Eskimo story evolved. The compilations were still defined generically but came with a DJ attached. So Ivan Smagghe presented Death Disco in 2004, a prescient mix that echoed the Serie Noire sound. Headman’s Dance Modern, Optimo’s Psyche Out and Rub’N Tug’s Campfire compilations all followed, the architects all sharing the same approach as The Glimmers – to dig deep in the crates to form a unique listening experience. Chromeo and Radioslave both compiled idiosyncratic albums, given free reign to do as they pleased and the great Daniele Baldelli, a huge influence on the Eskimo ideal and sound, released Cosmic Disco?! Cosmic Rock!!! in 2008.
Artists like Ray Mang who had been included on the early compilations, were given single and album deals and the label became a fully fledged independent and conduit of new talent. In 2005 Europe’s finest purveyors of cosmic disco, Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, released their eponymous debut, the cornerstone track Boney M Down is included on Eskimonde. A real coup for Eskimo, it led to single and album deals with the like-minded Aeroplane who in 2007 released the sumptuous Caramellas (included here) and Pacific Air Race, immediately causing a splash across Europe and particularly in the U.K becoming the label’s most recognised act.
Alongside these illustrious duo’s came further experts in slo-mo, sensuous grooves that can be heard across Eskimonde. In much the same way Serie Noire complemented the electroclash scene ten years ago, these tracks echo DJs who are championing sub-120 bpm sounds in the UK, most notably Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnson’s A Love From Outer Space. Low Motion Disco’s name could be the very definition of the label and their contribution, with Sebastian Tellier, reflects on the Five Stair Steps soul classic Ooh Child. Hot Toddy’s I Need Love is slow even within its surroundings and Morgan Geist’s remix is an exercise in restraint, luring in the listener as it unfolds and glides to a piano laden conclusion. Spaniard Ilya Santana’s Transborder is an elegant languid groove, fulsomely produced. Stratus’ Footprints cements how important bass-lines are to any Eskimo release and cosmic disco is defined by the UK’s Reverso 68 upholstered with a Todd Terje mix. This being Eskimo there are idiosyncratic choices along the way with Hiem’s electro pop Clubscene Popscene which includes the risible line, ‘I wish she had a book for every pill she took!’
At 5 CDs and nearly 70 tracks Eskimonde is a testament to Eskimo’s decade-plus visionary output. It comes complete with a remix album that is testament to the respect they command from DJs and there are remixes from legendary figures and hot new talent. The elusive, cult figure Harvey turns Dr. Beat’s Mediterraneo into a sea gull and fuzzy guitar laden, percussion driven delight and remixer du jour Solomun shows why he’s so in demand with a mix of Low Motion Disco’s Love Love Love. There are more fast rising stars and disco blog favourites included here: the mysterious Claptone tackles Dirty Minds I’m for Pleasure and Surrender! revive a vintage disco track from West Phillips. There are long standing label favourites too like It’s A Fine Line (Ivan Smagghe and Tim Paris) and Reverso 68 who rework L.H.A.S. Inc. and Stars On 33 respectively. If ever a track encapsulates the label’s ethos of reviving and re-hauling the classic then it’s having a young pup like Moonlight Matters remix a track made the year he was born: Allez Allez’s 1981 homage to Grace Jones ‘African Queen’.
Eskimonde would not be complete without some fresh input from The Glimmers, and here they split up to provide a DJ mix each. There are exclusive remixes within that both get the Ghent treatment: West Phillips 1983 tune I’m a Sucker For A Pretty Face reworked by fellow Belgians Soulwax and The Glimmers own unreleased remix of Aeroplane’s We Can’t Fly (previously rinsed to death on YouTube!).
The music within Eskimonde is so far removed from the synthetic throwaway world of EDM. This music is well-heeled, organic and sensuous, teetering on the edge of disco and rock, the pace hypnotic to coax you into a trance without the need for theatrics and histrionics. It will of course be beautifully packaged like it’s predecessors and cherished by its owners.
John Burgess (Sept. 2012)
1/5CD – Retrospective Part 1 (‘best of’ the Eskimo back catalogue)
1. Ilya Santana – Transborder (Letherette Remix)
2. Hot Toddy feat. Ron Basejam – I Need Love (Morgan Geist’s Love Dub)
3. Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas – Boney M Down
4. Aeroplane – Caramellas (Original)
5. Simone Fedi – Bitter Devotion (Ewan Pearson Extended Remix)
6. Downtown Party Network – Days Like These (Vocal)
7. Bottin & Rodion – Galli (Give It Up) (Edit)
8. Hiem – Clubscene popscene (A just us Diskopop version)
9. Stratus – Footprints
10. Reverso 68 – Piece Together (Todd Terje Spinning Star Mix)
11. Low Motion Disco – Things Are Gonna Get Easier (Sebastien Tellier Vocal Remix)
12. Allez Allez – African Queen (Quiet Village Dub)
2/5CD – Retrospective Part 2 (‘best of’ the Eskimo back catalogue)
1. Low Motion Disco – Love Love Love (Aeroplane mix)
2. LSB – Original Highway Delight
3. Maelstrom – Petrichor
4. Aeroplane – Without Lies (Breakbot Remix)
5. Reverso 68 – Tokyo Disko Part 1
6. In Flagranti – Personal Angst
7. Visti & Meyland – Yes Maam (All Nite Long) (Trentemøller Remix)
8. Allez Allez – Allez Allez (Lindstrom & Prins Thomas Remix)
9. Dance Disorder – My Time (Radio Slave’s Rekids Tribe Mix)
10. The Neon Judgement – TV Treated (Tiga’s Treated Vox)
11. The Sexmachines – Okay (Whitey Mix)
3/5CD – Remixed (newly commissioned remixes)
1. Aeroplane – We Can’t Fly (Oliver Remix)
2. Low Motion Disco – Love Love Love (Solomun Edit)
3. Kris Menace Presents Stars On 33 – Something You Can Feel (Reverso 68 Remix)
4. West Phillips – (I’m just a) Sucker For A Pretty Face (Surrender! Remix)
5. Dirty Minds – I’m For Pleasure (Claptone Remix)
6. L.H.A.S. INC. – A Feeling (It’s A Fine Line Remix)
7. Aeroplane – I Don’t Feel (Deetron Remix)
8. Dr. Beat From San Sebastian – Mediterraneo (Dj Harvey Remix)
9. Blende – Fake Love (The Living Islands ‘Tropical Doom’ Dub)
10. Jean Winner – Alive And Kicking (Zimmer Remix)
11. Drop Out Orchestra – Sun Machine (diskJokke Remix)
12. Allez Allez – African Queen (Moonlight Matters ‘I Love Grace Jones’ Remix)
4/5CD – Bonus mix 1 (incl. Eskimo back catalogue)
1. The Glimmers – Mo’s Selection (61’47”)
5/5CD – Bonus mix 2 (incl. Eskimo back catalogue + 2 excl. edits)
1. The Glimmers – Dave’s Selection (62’02”)