Justin Zerbst In From the Cold EP
Thanks to the Eklo label, four lost gems from the Australian house producer see the light of day.
Australia’s house-music legacy may be a bit sparse, but in the case of Red Ember Records, a project based in Perth during the late ’90s, their footprint has been an enduring one. Justin Zerbst, an affiliate of said label, put out a flurry of high quality releases in that era that have since gathered cult status among record diggers today, but had subsequently fallen inactive. Now, Parisian imprint Eklo, known for their refined minimal sound, plunge into the treasure trove of Zerbst’s lost tracks for the In From the Cold EP.
Opening cut “Subtraction,” which had already had an outing on a rare Red Ember pressing, is perhaps the most obvious attraction here. It is ordered chaos, as Justin takes a high-tempo trip through a plethora of crazed noises that somehow all meld together effortlessly atop a sturdy kick. “Syrup” rolls with a similar sound, but with the focus on an acid hook that grows into a climactic drop. Things step a few rungs deeper in “Timor Echo,” which is carried by shimmering synths through to roughly the five-minute mark—then hi-hats finally come in, and the track transforms into galloping techno. It is only in the melancholic “You Can’t See Around Corners,” when gentle pads wash over marching percussion, that there is a moment for reflection. Though it is shame that Zerbst’s tracks were not made available back in the day, perhaps now on this platform they will finally get the audience they deserve.