Having earned an endorsement from Armin van Buuren, and extravagant praise from such publications as Mixmag (“the best thing to happen in trance”) and DJ Magazine (“sensational”), British trance and progressive house artist Oliver Smith is clearly making an enviable name for himself on the EDM scene. His newest track, “Pressure,” is well worthy of release on the prestigious Anjunabeats imprint. The opening of this track is so euphoric – so harmonious, so pleasing to the senses — it makes the perfect musical panacea. With releases like this dropping just weeks into 2013, this year is promising to be a stellar one for EDM.
Gosia Mrugala is a Toronto-based blogger and reviewer. You can read her blog HERE, and follow her on Twitter HERE.
Continuing with a look at some new videos, I have a treat for the trance addicts: a new one from Dennis Sheperd. This talented German has been busy these past five years establishing himself as a headliner, and his newest track — featuring vocals from Molly Bancroft — shows exactly what he’s capable of: a satisfyingly rhythmic collection of keys, melodies and just enough bass to keep that smile on your face.
The video starts off a little awkward (check out the dancers in the background!), but the strength of the song really makes this one worth putting on repeat. You’ll be able to buy it on Beatport on August 13.
This summer isn’t just about fabulous festivals — EP releases are dropping fast and furious, too. Exhibit A: the latest from talented Toronto producer Poupon and Montreal duo Prince Club, who have pooled their creative juices and poured the resulting cocktail into their DAW of choice … and voila: the Technique EP.
Fans of their last collaborative EP (Platinum) should be thoroughly impressed with what they’ve come up with here. The title track sounds almost filtered, but in a classy, polished way — as though it’s already bumping from your basement. The (sampled?) vocals are mesmerizingly catchy. Those arresting ahhhhhs feel at once tribal yet utterly modern. Like “Iron & Water” by Gingy & Bordello or “Something” by Meech, this track has the kind of consistency that makes you want to loop it for hours and hours. Deep.
“The Block” is dangerous. It borrows the immortal 20th Century Steel Band sample from “Heaven And Hell,” famously lifted by Jennifer Lopez — and you immediately get why J.Lo’s effort fell short. But this track is more than just the sample: it has a pace to it. Though it stays at the same 122 as “Technique,” it seems to make you move faster. A perfect track to throw on at your party just when everyone is comfortable on the dancefloor.
So. Another Canadian EP, another success. And again, a reminder of why EPs are so essential. As much as I love albums, I wouldn’t be able to wait until Poupon and Prince Club release an long-player. This is the tease and taster we crave and need. Technique‘s technique will leave you satisfied.
Quietly — or rather, in point of fact, not so quietly — Provoke has been dropping some real bombs: in terms of tracks, events, and everything in between. Their latest release, which landed just a couple of weeks back, has more momentum than the LeBron in game five against the OKC Thunder.
The combination of Gabe Gallucciand Jed Harper on the track “Falcon” is hotter than anyone could have even expected. A minute of thumps get your pulse racing at 128. Then the keys. Strings interweaving — a slight echo, a touch of reverb, but a powerful, ringing presence. It’s the big-room feel Jed Harper is known for. And Gallucci steps in with the “air shartz,” as I like to call them, and the rest is just plain insane, mayn.
“Falcon” is big-room heavy duty all the way; add four stellar remixes from the likes of Kim Fai, Northend, Stranjah and yes, Jed Harper himself, and this release is an absolute must-have. While Stranjah’s remix takes things in a drum-and-bass direction, Kim Fai and Northend stick to that progressive template. But it’s Jed’s own remix that takes the cake here.
Sometimes you’ll get a release where the remixers try to do too much, aiming for wholesale renovation rather than a simple add-on or enhancement. Happily, this is not one of those times. Each of these artists takes what’s best about the original and adds a distinctive personal touch. You can hear their creative additions, but the track you love still shines through, intact. Maybe nothing to you, but this is something I greatly appreciated.
We take a break from Porter Robinson week to give you our latest edition of Scott’s Selections. Our mini-mix for June is 17 minutes of the freshest bangers on the planet: a collection of tracks that will turn your party into a rager in a matter of minutes. Brodinski, Felix Cartal, and Pleasurekraft are just a few of the artists to make this month’s cut. Download the mix from SoundCloud, then grab the tunes you like at Beatport.
Some tracks are made for the clubs. Some are made for parties, while others are made for chilling out. And some tracks are made for another planet. Certain DJs have the ability to create something special from the most unearthly sounds imaginable.
As for example: We Plants Are Happy Plants. Hungarian producer Peter Bergmann makes innovative, “soundtracky” tunez that would feel right at home at the movies, yet hit the sweet spot for all us EDM fans. And they bang, too.
His latest offering, “Earth Mars Venus,” is a track tailor-made for an interplanetary cruise: dark yet inspiring, and perfect for a Monday. Be sure to pick it up on iTunes — and check out the video.
This seems a proper time to pay tribute to Germany. With the UEFA Champions League final — the “Super Bowl of Soccer” — slated for May 19 in Munich at the jaw-dropping/awe-inspiring Allianz Arena, it was always going to be a special time for the country. That the home team has surpassed all expectations by miraculously making it to the final – a first in the history of the competition — just makes it all the sweeter.
Meanwhile, in the competitive arena that concerns this blog, Germany current runs neck-and-neck with Sweden in terms of exporting EDM talent to the world: Moguai, Digitalism, Cosmic Gate, and Zedd — these are just a few of the German artists you’ll find ensconced in the top tier of electronic music’s own champions league.
And let’s not forget the Godfather of German dance. Grammy winner Paul van Dyk has managed to maintain household name status — in EDM-friendly households, at least — for a decade-plus. That alone is enough to certify him as a legend. And his new album, Evolution, finds him re-creating himself, with a sound that’s current, fresh and unique. Forget legend — try icon.
I’ll zero in on the tracks I’ve enjoyed. In fairness, though, they’re all really meant to be heard at a Bal en Blanc type of festival with thousands of other people all tuned in to the same vibe you’re on.
* Symmetries stands out for me because its 130-ish bpm tempo sets the standard for an album that is clearly made for dancing. So often, trance albums have … well, let’s call it a Cinderella storybook type of sound. Great for those long walks through the enchanted forest, for sure. But those of us who live in real life in real time, a 10-minute ballad with two minutes of full-out kick, clap and snare is sometimes just … a little much. Now maybe that pegs me as less than a fully fledged trance fan in your eyes. I assure you, to the contrary, that I am — and that the kind of trance sound van Dyk experiments with on this album is precisely the kind I’ve most come to love.
* The Ocean is something special. A trance song with female vocals is usually only going to go as far as the songstress can take it. And Arty takes it all the way to the edge of the Pacific. (Barf in your mouth at the play on words, if you will, but there it is.) There are points in this song, at 0:45 and 3:13, when the filter really starts kicking in and you feel, in your bones, what trance is about. Cinderella storybook, but with a conscious beat. Hard to describe, easy to listen to.
* Verano is a big room anthem. I mean, f**k genre boundaries. van Dyk sees what’s good, wherever it is, and goes to there. This song sounds conjures up all that’s best about Avicii, yet it’s van Dyk all the way. Proof that this established artist is still perfectly happy playing around with new sounds. Credit must go to Austin Leeds, whom I’m sure helped with the “evolution” of this track. (See what I did there?)
* I Don’t Deserve You. OK, at first I thought this was going to be a trance version of Milhouse’s “Can I Borrow A Feeling” — basically a little melodramatic and over-the-top. But the beat van Dyk lays down really throws the vocal and the vulnerability of the lyrics into sharp relief. You’re the first face that I see and the last thing I think about. I think we’ve all been there.
* Lost in Berlin. Simply put, the kind of EDM track I love. In your face from start to finish, all style and flair. Catch me dancing to this at 4am like it’s noon.
* Rock This. Now, just wait a bloodclot minute! Isn’t this supposed to be a trance album? You know, all flowers and rainbows and shooting stars and s**t? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, man. Mr. van D goes for some glitchy, amped-up electrofunk on this one, creating the biggest drop on the album. Go on, rudebwoi!
* All the Way. Hmmm. Now, this song bit me on the ass the minute I pressed play. Something sounds awfully familiar, though. I’m getting a “Mason-Exceeder” feel — but the way van Dyk plays with the sound is so original that I say what the hell: bump it!
* If You Want My Love. Saving the best for last. It might sound pedestrian to some, but for me this jumps off the Pioneers for me. As in: potential top 40 classic. Or at least prime — and I mean PRIME — remix material. Give it a shot!
van Dyk has really experimented with an array of styles and sounds on this stellar collection. Albums really seem to be making a comeback in EDM right now, and when you see iconic artists like Paul van Dyk and Cosmic Gate at the forefront of this revolution, it gives you faith that we’re in for a good run in these next few years. No question: this is Germany’s moment.
And the awesome continues. (Who said April is the cruelest month? Oh, right: this guy.)
So anyway. Our long-awaited bpm:tv DANCE 2012 compilation CD hits the streets today, with a lineup that includes Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia, Martin Solveig & Dragonette, Nervo featuring Afrojack & Steve Aoki, Sak Noel … and many more, as they say on the television. Mixed, as always, by the estimable DJ Marky D.
You can find bpm:tv DANCE 2012 at Best Buy, HMV and Walmart, or BUY IT ONLINE.
INTERNATIONAL LOVE (CLINTON SPARKS & DISCO FRIES RADIO MIX) – PITBULL feat. CHRIS BROWN
BODY WORK (CLUB MIX EDIT) – MORGAN PAGE feat. TEGAN AND SARA
BIG IN JAPAN (DENZAL PARK REMIX) – MARTIN SOLVEIG & DRAGONETTE feat. IDOLING!!!
TURN THIS CLUB AROUND – R.I.O. feat. U-JEAN
PASO (THE NINI ANTHEM) – SAK NOEL
ANTIDOTE – SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA VS. KNIFE PARTY
MUTATE (ORIGINAL EDIT) – SIDNEY SAMSON & LIL JON
AURAL PSYNAPSE – DEADMAU5
WE’RE ALL NO ONE – NERVO feat. AFROJACK AND STEVE AOKI
LONELY TONIGHT (ORIGINAL ENGLISH RADIO EDIT) – HOLD UP
I COULD STAY (CHR REMIX) – KREESHA TURNER
MR. KNOW IT ALL (BILLIONAIRE REMIX) – KELLY CLARKSON
Yesterday being Valentine’s Day, all my thoughts were focused on a very special someone. Oh Dillon Francis, I sighed. When, oh when, is this EP going to drop? Like Juliet on her balcony, I sat staring blankly at his Soundcloud, Facebook and Beatport pages, refreshing every 10 minutes or so minutes in the hope I’d be able to post in the afternoon. Oh Dillon, where art thou? Sadly, I was left spurned and heartbroken. And as you can see on you could see on his Facebook wall, a lot of other people were waiting impatiently too. Dillon’s EP with Cory Enemy had been such a success that it left us all salivating for the new one. But it seemed our hopes were to be dashed for another day …
… until around 7 pm when, in the midst of a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner, my BlackBerry informed me that the EP had finally dropped. And it was on like Donkey Kong.
I immediately asked permission to slip on my earphones give a listen. My date rolled her eyes, but graciously gave her blessing. And what I heard was exactly what I ‘d expected: high temp electro, with precisely timed build-ups, all at a relaxed yet amped pace. Dillon oh Dillon, you bless us.
However! Only three tracks, one of which had been previously released — it left me wanting … scratch that, craving more. There’s an ongoing debate out there about the death of the album, and as EDM fans I think we have to acknowledge that it’s our genre leading the massacre. Long gone are the Tuesdays when your favourite artist would drop off 14 tracks on a bright, shiny new CD. Now it’s all little bits and little nibbles throughout the year. Does that suit you better? Would you rather hear one or two new tracks every month, or get a lump sum of 14 new bangers all on one day, once a year?
It’s definitely something to be discussed. Dillon kinda gets a pass, because everything he seems to drop is, as Dylan would say, “hot fiiiire.” Check it out and send me your comments here or @SAWStruck.