Responsible for revered tracks like label head Ewan Jansen's "Submerge" and "Swanbourne" and Justin Zerbst's "Driftwood," Red Ember is easily Australia's classiest contribution to global house and techno, and yet it remains relatively unknown. But this is changing. The last few years have seen a renewed interest in Red Ember and its founder. Seekers and HardWorkSoftDrink, closely watched labels helmed by DJs known for unearthing lesser-known tunes, have both recently released fresh work from Jansen, introducing new audiences to his musical and spacey sound.
Many who pick up Aqua Libre will be pleased with its sound quality. Each track's low-end is warm, and the melodic elements (bright chords, chimes, pads) are crisp in the mix—the opposite of some of Red Ember's more raw earlier records. But like those releases, the instrumentation on Aqua Libre is rich and cheery, as though it was inspired by what the label describes as "the ocean and the river during long hot summers" in Perth. The chugging "Plankton" is the EP's most club-ready tune, but "Freckles" and the title track are no duds—expect both to bring smiles to the dance floor. The downtempo "Castel" rounds out an EP that signals the return of one of dance music's most underrated operations.