London’s primo dance record shop Phonica has been curating a small but tasteful catalogue on their in-house label since 2009. The latest addition to the stable is Will Lister, who also puts in time behind the record counter. You might question a shop releasing music by its own staff but Lister’s debut speaks for itself – a lively trio of house cuts that sparkle with personality.
All three tracks are cut from the same cloth, combining loose-limbed grooves and bright, jazzy synthwork, and Lister gets impressive mileage out of the formula. Crafting house music that draws from the sound palette of cosmic disco and jazz isn’t exactly new, and this is where the EP stumbles slightly – it bears more than a passing similarity to the early music of Floating Points, and comparisons inevitably follow.
But there’s room for more than one producer within the style. Where Lister’s productions lack the finesse of Floating Points’ jazzy epics, he makes up for it by structuring his music in tighter club moulds. Phantom leads with giddy synths over a clattering rhythm and unpredictable bassline swerves, but settles for its second half into a propulsive groove. The highlight comes with After The Light, which shuffles along with a warm Rhodes riff and busy, frayed hi-hats.
Agency is a more singular effort, its taut rhythm bristling with detail over bright synth flares. If the Phantom EP doesn’t quite blaze with originality it’s no slight on Lister – these are remarkably vivid, accomplished tracks. And if you’re going to pick an artist to influence your first forays into releasing music, you could hardly do better than Floating Points.