The label head of the outstanding Omni Music, Eschaton, is leading the charge with some of the best underground Drum & Bass currently being released. The first ever mix for Inside the Rift was done courtesy of Eschaton, and I was excited to hear that he was releasing a brand new two part LP entitled Short Stories & Strange Interludes.
The first LP clocks in at a hefty 1 hour 42 minutes and is complimented by a second 1 hour 50 minute companion piece.
Each LP is 25 tracks each and only costs £2.50 (10 pence a piece for all of my math geniuses out there.)
Eschaton drops by to let us know what's up.
Prox: We spoke a bit earlier about the shifts that are currently taking place within the genre and “ripping up the rule book.” Could you discuss how this project is subverting the norms that we’ve come to expect from DnB?
Eschaton: I think there's a great surge back to the original jungle sound, with a plethora of labels catering to that audience now. Labels such as Scientific Wax and Subtle Audio have always championed that neo-jungle sound to great effect so it's good to see that continuing and growing. Omni Music has always been about everything deep I liked about DnB, from the neo-jungle sounds to soaring atmospheric breaks, so I slightly cater to the jungle crowd, but as much to the atmospheric crowd and things in-between. It's good to see a lot of the Oldskool labels coming back to prominence, and the majority of the new music is up there with the quality and vibe of the classic days. It's good to hear the roots of the music coming back to the fore. I've been releasing all sorts on Omni Music since it started but have always kept the breaks in the productions and I actually remember some reviewers calling Omni releases oldskool-sounding, which to me they never really were, the breakbeats never went away it was just labels like Omni on the fringes that refused to give up on them.
In terms of subverting the norms with these LP’s, which also refers to what we discussed about me “ripping up the rule book”, the first thing is that these LP's aren't exclusively DnB, although the backbone of it is that, but different obscure sounds and styles float into the running time. Secondly, they kind of turn their back on the surge of the jungle popularity by being nothing like that. I could have decided to make the LP's jungle orientated, but there's enough of that around already, made by artists that are way better at it than I will ever be, so I wanted to offer something different to listeners.
A lot of these are short little ideas that could have been made into longer tracks, but the LP's by that stage were supposed to be done in a different way, shying away from each track having to be a 5 minute plus opus or dance floor piece, something that had variety and interludes, so quite a lot are very short pieces.
I could use my imagination and create some out there ideas too, as for me the ethos was that anything goes for these. I wanted to look at this music in a new way and create something that was fun to make and easy to listen to and varied, no anthems, just me and my strange imagination, taking the music where it went. I think people take things too seriously at times too when producing and be a little too clinical, certainly I do when I sit down and start writing music. So this time I wanted to just relax and have fun with the whole concept. They're unlikely to win LP's of the month but that was never my intention. I don't think any of the individual tracks are examples of my best work, it was just about the joy of creation and experimentation. The older tracks I sourced fit in with the bizarre experimentation I was looking at (such as Moodswings which is a strange roller that defies a specific category, I don't know what was going on when I created it) so they complemented the vision and made their way on to the final tracklists.
At 25 tracks each for just £2.50 it works out at 10 pence a track, which is nothing when you think of how many hours I have taken to create them. I took the decision as well to release it for the time being only on Bandcamp as I can set the individual track prices much lower than a store such as Beatport etc sets them, and when a track is 2 minutes long I wouldn't expect anyone to pay £1 for it. The first LP runs in at 1 hour 42 minutes and the second 1 hour 50 minutes. Originally it was going to be 1 long LP, but I thought better of it!
Prox: Conceptually and tonally, how does this one differ from Interstellar Signals? Was it harder to create?
Eschaton: These were actually easier to create I think, but it is hard to gauge overall as they were all created individually for different reasons at different times, and with Interstellar Signals I had the general idea of what I wanted it to sound like and created the tracks to fit that idea.
The idea for Interstellar Signals was to experiment a bit more and I was inspired by 80's synth tracks and 2000's era Blame tracks, so wanted to make some DnB taken in a completely different direction, one that almost ventured into Electronica. I was trying to blur genres in a way but keeping it at a Drum and Bass tempo, not sure if it worked though! I even managed to avoid using an amen break for the entire LP, which is rather unusual for me haha. Out of my LP's it hasn't done as well as my others, probably due to the more experimental nature of it, even though I have always experimented, perhaps this was just a bridge too far.
These 2 new LP's are a mixture of some very early tracks, such as Gaia and Bad Trip, which were part of a project called Space 2 Pace from a while back that Ricky Force was heavily involved in. Respects to Ricky by the way, an example of someone who has always championed the Deep Jungle sound and has stuck to his guns consistently and never fails to make me smile when I hear something new of his. Anyway, where was I? Oh, Space 2 Pace, the project faded into nothing eventually so I thought these were interesting little pieces that could form part of these new LP's as the tracks are probably unheard by most people and fit the strange vision I had. Others were created live and recorded spur of the moment with no project file left (such as Drumming on Jupiter), a lot were supposed to be on other LP's or projects but for one reason or another they either couldn't be fitted on or weren't quite finished or I had an artist hissy fit one day and decided it was big pile of dog poop, later to go back and alter it when enough time had passed. Others I intended to do more on but liked the original vibe and decided to leave them as they are, and others were just little sketches and ideas I sat down and created spur of the moment and deliberately left shorter. Some in retrospect could be shorter, but sod it, what's done is done.
Prox: Some of the titles for this one are hilarious. How did you come up with them and which are your favorites?
Eschaton: Ha, well I give as much thought to the title as the music itself really, and sometimes I have titled a piece before I start it, then that leads me in the production process to make the music evoke what the title suggests. That's probably only 3 out of 10 tracks I produce though, the other 7 I name by listening closely to them after I have finished them and seeing where my mind takes me and what I think the music is showing me.
That's not the question you asked though, with these albums it was slightly different in that it swayed to 1 out of 10 being named as I sat down to start producing. The way these LP's evolved was haphazard as mentioned before as they were from here there and everywhere with new bits thrown into the pot, and nothing like my usual way of making an LP. Most were untitled or I just gave them a silly name, in fact some of them had an earlier different silly name that I decided didn't suit it properly so I sat and listened again once finished and then let my mind take me to what it felt like. Some came quite naturally though due to things happening and people experienced at the time of making them, in fact I will explain some of them actually so they make a little more sense.
Pareidolia – This is a really really old track, I think around 2009 – 2010, possibly earlier. This was a track finished that I wanted to tweak a bit to make it sound more professionally produced but the original project file died on me, anyway that's irrelevant, I was on holiday back then with this track finished, at that time I didn't know it was the only version I would have of it! and it was a very rare occasion where I actually lie still on a beach as I normally get bored very very quickly. Anyway, to cut a short story back to short instead of the longer story that it's turning into, I listened to this on a Caribbean beach while looking up at the sky as the clouds rolled by and took on all sorts of bizarre shapes and started to resemble different things as my mind was trying to make patterns and familiarity out of randomness, which is called, you guessed it, ka-ching...
Mr Spandex Pants – Ok, this is very random, this was a tune I was playing around with and at the same time period that this 'playing around' was occurring there was a guy who appeared out of the blue at the gym who turned up in very very tight spandex shorts which shouldn't be worn by anyone over the age of 65 (and erm, yes he was)..so my wife and me used to call him Mr Spandex. He unexpectedly ran like a complete deranged maniac on the treadmill far quicker than should have been possible with the spandex holding his unusual self together, and he was happy about being this way and almost smiling, so the track was named after him and his deranged happiness. He has since vanished again, hopefully he will arise once more next summer as happy as ever and I can make a sequel.
Super Happy Fun Fun Times – This was another one named due to something that happened while I was making it. I basically made this on one night with a view to expanding on it initially. That same night we had a group of 10-15 Japanese Girls/Women move in to a farmhouse opposite us for the night, who woke us up at 1am with hysterical screaming. We went to the windows to see if anyone was being murdered to look over from our top floor into their farmhouse to see them all jumping up and down inside in complete mania to whatever was on the TV and they continued to do it and do it and do it, Bouncing up and down in sheer joy.
I don't think I have seen any group of people so enthusiastic and happy about what on earth it was that was on the TV....so that track is now named in their honour, and thankfully no one was murdered. As far as I am aware.
I think my choice of titles reflect my rejection of taking things too seriously while making and compiling this. I guess if everyone stopped taking everything too seriously across the globe then we'd be in a much better place by now. This is my small contribution to counteracting that.
I don't think I have a favourite track title, perhaps The Ayahuasca says No as it just conjures up images of a psychonaut getting something he didn't ask for or want, clinging on for dear life to his bed as he dribbles incessantly as his reality is twisted into the size of the point of a needle and then explodes on the other side, or something like that. I'm sure we've all been there ;) Just me? Oh ok.....
Prox: Jacques is actually one of my favorite from both of the projects. Have you ever considered putting together an entire album in the vein of this track?
Eschaton: Actually I haven't, that's a possible idea when ever I get the time. I've obviously delved into strange 140bpm techno and a bit of ambience so that's possibly a good idea for a future LP. The track was created a few years ago after the passing of our German Shepherd and I made it in a very melancholy mood and is named after him, well actually made for him. But getting back to your idea, that's something I will certainly think about doing. I'm currently working on an LP for Boomsha Recordings and on a load of tracks with the incredible Enjoy, plus a few other bits here and there, but once they're done and dusted I may get into chill mode :)
Prox: You also put together a show for Alpha Radio. What made you decide that this was a move you wanted to make? How does it help you as an artist?
Eschaton: Well Darren from Boomsha Recordings is one of the masterminds of the radio station and invited me to join in, and as I don't have a regular show on any other station like Bassdrive or Jungletrain I thought it was a great opportunity to promote the label and play a selection of tracks that inspire me. I already did a monthly Omni Session mix so it was a way of continuing that in the form of the radio show as well as expand and play other styles or years. My show is every other Tuesday at 8-10pm UK time. Generally I play a Drum and Bass/Jungle mix on the first show of the month, which is replacing the Omni Sessions and the 2nd show will be anything from 1990-1991 Oldskool Hardcore, or mid 90's electronica or ambient, basically whatever I feel like. It's good to have the freedom to play a mixture of different things, as I have a huge collection of vinyl from 1984 onwards and I miss mixing a lot of it, especially the early 1990-1993 hardcore. So there will be plenty of that in the coming shows :)
Prox: Could you tell us about some artists and shows you’ve been checking out lately?
Eschaton: Well I'll concentrate on the new artists on my label otherwise I will be here for a week listing people.
I've been privileged to have been sent and then subsequently release some incredible music from newcomers K3Bee, Dynamicz, Binary, and Ego-Free Sequences. If you haven't heard any of their recent music I have released then you need to change that otherwise you will never realize that your life isn't complete ;)
I've been really loving the recent stuff I've been releasing from Pageant, who is an exciting new talent who creates such beautiful melodies, as well as Fr.om who just goes from strength to strength in my opinion. It has been a pleasure to continue to hear and release music from AP Organism, who is the only guy know who can create an amazing track while cooking a Sunday Dinner, hahaha. He is a unique talent, he's not DnB but his music is sooo deep, it's sublime. His occasional partner in crime Outluke is definitely a talent to look out for, a lovely guy to work with and so talented, he's brimming with great ideas and vibes.
It's great to hear my Granny Enjoy finally getting the exposure he deserves (don't ask why he's my Granny, it's a long story!). We have known each other for a while and have collaborated a lot, and are doing so again soon when I stop fiddling about with other projects and traveling to strange places (sorry about that Alex!).
Got to give a big name check to Okee who I have featured on Omni Music many times and still manages to perfectly capture that late 90's Good Looking Records vibe, he's a very underrated producer who more people need to hear, and it's always a blissful listening experience when I press play on one of his tracks.
Also, if you haven't yet, check out A Cosmic Gift, a collaboration between long Omni veteran Parallel and Richard Houghton. What they create is something truly special, and needs to be heard far and wide.
It's been great as well having the atmospheric giants Pariah join the label with some previously unreleased tracks salvaged from DAT's, some timeless music that has been amazing to get out there for people hungry to get hold of them after all these years. Plus Pariah have been a big inspiration in starting my own productions, so it was a dream come true to be affiliated with them.
I have also been loving the forthcoming LP by Cryogenics on Boomsha, it's an incredible mix of slower tempo classic sounding atmospheric jungle, something he is perfect at creating. I've worked with Cryogenics a lot and this is apparently his last Jungle/DNB work at least for the time being. It's a fantastic example of his skill and creativity and a fitting closer to that chapter of his. I'm looking forward to hearing what he creates next and will be sure to try and get some of it on Omni Music in the future.
I've been really loving the newer material from Abstract Drumz too, his last EP on Omni Music needs a listen by anyone seriously interested in clever drumfunk breaks worked in with beautiful melodics and strings, I highly recommend it. There are many others I could list too so if I haven't mentioned you that's only because this answer would turn into a novel, but I loves ya's all the same.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Eschaton: There is no final, what appears final is just the beginning of a new chapter :) Sorry, strange hippy relapse there :-P
All that's left to say is thanks to everyone who has supported Omni Music, it always means a lot. If anyone has demos to send and is unsure whether to do it or not then please just send away as I can always offer production advice etc, as I know it's tough when you first start out. And lastly, tune in every other Tuesday to the Eschaton Alpha Sessions, check the Omni Music.
Facebook page for details of when the shows are:
Take care everyone.
Want to stay updated on new interviews and posts? Head over to the Inside the Rift Facebook page and leave a like or follow me on Twitter @insidetheriftx, Instagram @insidetherift, and Soundcloud @Insidetherift! You can also support me by Contributing or on Patreon!