An unexpected preacher of love.
It's a strange world we live in. Who could’ve foreseen that a wedding singer from Ras al Ayn, Syria with over 500 albums under his belt would become a cult hero among club connoisseurs?
But there is an undeniable bond between the legacy 50-year-old delves in - a synthesized version of the Levantine dance music Dabke - and so-called acid house. In both cases musicians cultivate undulating synths and effective rhythms, and in both cases it feels like your head is about to explode from the stimuli, while the hips take on their own lives. It is completely irrelevant where you hail from - all it takes is a sensory apparatus.
Then it's really no wonder that gurus like Four Tet (who produced his breakthrough album Wenu Wenu), Modeselektor and Gilles Peterson are honored to have worked with a master like Souleyman. When so much of this day and age is in utter chaos, there’s comfort to be found in how the Syrian sings about the great theme of love as the war drum beat rages on carelessly. This is, after all, dance music's virtue: The ability to dissolve us in time and space, building bridges where walls previously were to be found.
The Guardian: “Irresistible, hyperactive electronica”
Pitchfork: “The music here can compete against any kind of dance music being made right now, and succeed.”
The Quietus: “When the buzzsaw, ear-piercing keyboards and
thumps of the drum machine hit your eardrums, all rationale is
Egon (Now Again Records)
Eothen Alapatt, aka Egon, was Stones Throw Records’ general manager from 2000 until 2011. Alongside art director Jeff Jank and producer Madlib, he came on board when founder Peanut Butter Wolf moved the label from San Francisco to Los Angeles. During his tenure at Stones Throw, he oversaw the label’s transformation from a boutique hip-hop imprint to a globally-renowned bastion of good music; from 2001 until 2010 he produced, A&Red or managed the majority of Stones Throw’s albums – including Madlib and DOOM’s Madvillainy, J.Dilla’s Donuts and Aloe Blacc’s Good Things.
The success of Egon’s first Stones Throw anthology, 2001’s The Funky 16 Corners, inspired him to found his own label, Now-Again. Now-Again’s original mission was to focus on similar reissues of regional American funk and soul. Funk bands such as the L.A. Carnival, Ebony Rhythm Band, Kashmere Stage Band and Amnesty have seen their music released on the label. But, in recent years, Egon has taken Now-Again on a journey across the world, tracking down artists, brokering licenses and issuing anthologies of what he terms “psych-funk” from countries as varied as India (Atomic Forest) Indonesia (Those Shocking Shaking Days), Zambia (Rikki Ililonga and Musi-O-Tunya, WITCH, etc.) and Iran (Kourosh Yaghmaei).
Egon has also taken more to new artist development and signings on Now-Again, with bands such as Seu Jorge and Almaz, Malcolm Catto’s Heliocentrics, the Whitefield Brothers, Karl Hector and The Malcouns, Chop and Dimlite. Now-Again also represents catalogs that range from Nigerian fuzz-funk to Swedish hard rock to Brasilian psychedelia to the jazz, funk, soul and disco that Now-Again is known for. Drawing from these resources of clearable samples , Now-Again also releases limited edition “library” releases of music by the likes of Oh No, Maker and Cook Classics made specifically for television and film use.
Egon is the creative director of the J. Dilla Estate, is partners with Madlib in Madlib Invazion, a production company and label known for issuing the Freddie Gibbs Piñata album and Madlib Medicine Show series, and partners with Johan Kugelberg in Sinecure Books, an independent publishing house dedicated to producing books and records of 20th/21st Century popular art, music, and photography. He is a published writer, and writes most of the liner notes for Now-Again’s releases. He most recently published a column, Funk Archaeology, for NPR and Red Bull Music Academy.