American Apparel cotton t-shirt with Environ Records logo - size large
Notes: Environ was born in the spring of 1995 in the college town of Oberlin, Ohio. The Detroit-inspired "Premise EP" (produced by the label's founder, Morgan Geist), a veritable Roland orchestra of crisp beats, emotive chords and acid basslines, sold out its small initial run through Dan Curtin's Deep Distribution. Dreamy Dutch duo The Connection Machine, then fresh from releasing their ground-breaking debut on Carl Craig's innovative Planet E label, joined the maiden voyage with a slow-motion remix clearly intended for the head rather than the feet.
Signing Wang (already a cult hero via his outstanding Balihu disco label) marked an important shift for Environ. Besides the obvious stylistic swerve, Wang's EP was the first solo release by an artist other than the label's founder. Inspired by Wang's vibrant productions and increasingly dissatisfied with the P&D arrangement, Environ was brought back home to the States in 1999 with a new project: Metro Area, the brainchild of Geist and Darshan Jesrani. With the record's hot pink and lime green artwork and fresh sound, the domestic renaissance of the label felt as exciting and brave as the first release.
Review: It would be fair to say that Morgan Geist's Megaprojects series is an attempt to go "back to basics". Not only are the tracks created using - in his words - "cheap drum machines and vintage synths", but also pay tribute to some of his earliest inspirations. In practice, that means doffing a cap to fluid and ear-pleasing early deep house on the glistening "Manic Cinq", pitched-down Italo-disco and bass-heavy early British techno ("Fuzzy Detail") and tactile, breakbeat-driven late '80s house (the rather wonderful "Buy Freedom"). Arguably best of all, though, is closer "OCGC", whose psychedelic acid lines, tactile synth bass and cheery synth melodies make the track sound like a cross between vintage Metro Area and Orbital's "Halcyon".