Isabella Road EP is Eliphino’s first solo EP since 2013’s ‘I Don’t Care’ on Hypercolour. Re-emerging in style, he has broken his musical hiatus not just with a cracking EP, but also the first release on his own label, Joy in Repetition. The label, which is co-run by Andy Lemay (Head of Press and Partnerships for Dimensions Festival), aims to explore any aspect of soulful electronic music that inspires the pair, and, as they both have different musical tastes, it manages to avoid the linear output that comes with a strict attachment to one specific genre.
The Leeds-born, garage house mastermind, who took his name from a Muppet Show joke, commenced his musical career by playing at house parties from the age of 13. He gained his first club experience at 15 by lying about his age in order to play the sixth-form ball. His musical interests have shifted over the years from playing mainly 90s hip-hop and performing at a Wu-Tang tribute night to his modern day soulful electronic music.
In a recent interview with Stamp The Wax Eliphino states that the past three years have been filled with procrastination that stemmed from an anxiety about finding his identity as an artist in a scene that was rapidly evolving and splitting into many directions. Over the past year he has lived in Berlin, taking a break from London with the intention of gaining some perspective through deep self-reflection which is is mirrored in the sometimes sombre sounds of the new EP.
If you’ve heard Jackmaster’s DJ Kicks mix, you’ll be familiar with the heavyweight synths and foreboding drums that make up ‘Isabella Road’. Eliphino’s first vinyl release came via Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings, so it seems fitting that ‘Piano Day’ was premiered by him too. Despite the name, the track doesn’t actually contain much piano, instead touching on jungle (Eliphino’s self-professed first love) and, like ‘April’, uses broken percussion in contrast with cinematic melodies while ‘Link Later’ closes the EP with a return to lush house.
It is safe to say that even if the music industry has shifted over the past three years, Eliphino’s absence has not left him behind. Instead, with talk of collaborations between Joy in Repetition and exciting artists, the release of Isabella Road EP and several summer festival dates on the horizon, his return has been triumphant.