And here we go. Y’all getting sick of me talking about festivals? Well sorry, but tuff f***ing luck. Because this weekend Toronto the place in the world to be for EDM. Or any kind of music, actually.
Sure, Montreal has Osheaga happening, which promises to be nuts in its own right But Toronto is bringing the heavy, what with VELD and HARDboth going down this weekend.
What’s HARD, you ask? Just a little gathering featuring the likes of M83, Buraka Som Sistema, Austra … oh, and Justice. Sorry, let me rephrase that: JUSTICE!!!! The French icons make their looooooooooooooong-awaited return to Canada in style. Fort York is a special place to be this weekend.
And then there’s VELD, the brainchild of Canada’s own EMD titan, Deadmau5. Check out this lineup: Avicii, Kill the Noise, Mord Fustang, Bassnectar, Cosmic Gate and soooooo many others are busy tearing Toronto’s Downsview Park a new one. Rain is in the forecast for Sunday, but it’s gonna get real messy long before that. Canada, this is our weekend!
And with that, it’s on to …. THE SWEETS!
This will get your weekend going just right. A free download that hits the spot.
Just to be clear, this is not a winner-take-all competition — just a celebration of the top producers from those 16 countries that will be competing in UEFA EURO 2012, starting this Friday in Poland and Ukraine.
One thing about us Canadians: we care passionately about our roots. Though we all proudly bear the maple leaf tattooed on our hearts, most of also feel a strong connection to the place our family tree sprouted — from the islands of the Caribbean to Africa and Asia. And so, for those Canadians with ties to the Continent, this tournament is a chance to show pride in where you come from. Hence the flags on cars, the packed bars, and the general camaraderie that will make this month a festive time indeed.
Now Europe, of course, is also home to some of some of the world’s best dance music. So it seems only fitting that we should hold our own little opening ceremonies, soundtracked by the finest dance sounds from each of the Euro 2012 countries. So let’s jump right into it, starting with the most underrated of the four groups …
Russia – Swanky Tunes
Just like their national football squad, the boys in Swanky Tunes are a highly skilled but often overlooked unit that has plugged away for more than a decade but has won wider recognition only in the last couple of years. The group started out, back in 1998, with a strong techno sound and have since reinvented themselves, only to come around full circle of late. A recent R3hab remix and a collaboration with Tiësto is proof that Swanky Tunes are finally starting to receive the recognition they’ve earned. This video takes you on a tour of Mother Russia.
They’re probably the least known of all DJs in this group, but make no mistake: SHato & Paul Rockseek put it down. The two have been regular guests on what was the Judge Jules show on BBC Radio 1, which should give you an idea of what time to expect their sets. They play late and they play the big room. Blessed with a distinctive musical touch, the pair find a way to offset that banging progressive sound with just the right touch of melody. The Czech squad are no pushovers, and this DJ double act embodies the spirit perfectly.
OK, The Polish Ambassador (a.k.a. Ample Mammal) was actually born in America — Oakland, to be exact. But David Sugalski is as Polish as they come. He seems years beyond his age, and light-years beyond our sound. Seriously, it’s like this guy takes round trips to Pluto and returns home with stuff we haven’t even thought of inventing yet, then plays it to a (lucky) few ravers who fall in love with it so much they resist sharing it with anyone. In short, he’s a DJ’s DJ. If you’re fortunate enough to see him play, expect the crowd to go apeshit — just like they will when co-host Poland kicks off the tourney this Friday.
Tournament winners in 2004, Greece will look to use some of that Athenian luck to reclaim top spot this year. Meanwhile, in the EDM Euro 2012 tourney, Greece can justly claim the biggest name in its grouping: Christian Cambas. Soundwise, he’s working the same side of the street as Sharam, PleasureKraft and Nicky Romero, and he does it just right. Embodying the essence of Greek culture (and not, fortunately, the Greek economy), Cambas makes mature, sexy tracks that sound perfect on a boat rocking in the crystal blue off Mykonos, but are also rugged enough to stand up to the wear-and-tear of play in sweat-drenched clubs. Cambas is a name you’ll be hearing for while — and you could be hearing it everywhere. I mean, nobody picked Greece to win in 2004, and look how that turned out. Could Cristian Cambas be the next Guetta?
CONSUMER WARNING: The bass on this album has been clinically proven to cause full and debilitating mind-and-body addiction to electro.
Go for it!!!!!!!!
(What? Do you wan to live forever or something?)
Finnish electro-house artist Huoratron (a.k.a. Aku Raski) has no restraint when it comes to his productions. He goes for it — and boy, does this guy deliver. There’s a raw underground feel to much of his stuff, and this albums is absolutely awash in it. It’s a rare and refreshing quality nowadays, as EDM colonizes the mainstream. Cryptocracy is an electrifying pastiche, melding electro and underground with a scorching, rock-styled sound: a stalwart, forceful work. After playing the album through and looking up a few videos of him spinning, I’ve made it a priority to catch him live at the earliest opportunity. This is one performer I am very eager to see behind the decks.
Check out the videos and tell me if you don’t agree …
On to the album. Here’s a track-by-track rundown:
1. Cryptocracy – An amazing start to the album, opening the minds of his listeners and luring them into uncharted corners of his musical labyrinth. Check out the video for this track; turn up the volume, give in to the sound and let Huoratron take full control of your mind. It’s a mental ride you won’t forget.
2. New Wave of Mutilation – Mu-ti-late: to deprive a person of a limb or other essential part. This track will deprive you of all senses other than hearing — in the nicest possible way. My recommendation? Don’t fight it … not that you could. Just give in and let the new wave take total control.
3. A699F – Listen at the 0:30 mark and you’ll get a distinct “Happy Violence” vibe. This one left me eager to press repeat repeat repeat — but with eight more tracks still to go, we soldier on.
4. Bug Party – Frenzied. My body absolutely refused to stay still for this one. The farther I follow Huoratron on this wild sonic journey, the more I get the “bug” to see him live!
5. Dungeons & Dungeons – Here, Huoratron pulls the listener into the dungeon of his musical mind and unpacks the instruments of euphoric torment. And it hurts so good.
6. Sea of Meat – And here a fashionable dubstep feel takes over: electro wobble wobble dub. Not a personal favourite of mine, but still an ear-pleaser.
7. Top 1% – “Do it again.” And again. And again. Huoratron keeps finding peaks and depths you didn’t even know existed. With this one, he made me an official convert to the electro chiptune sound.
8. Force Majeure – Here, things take on a nightmarish tone, sucking you into dark realms of the unknown on the scariest roller coaster you’ve ever ridden. This track left me utterly speechless.
9. Transcendence – Homestretch now. Throughout “Transcendence” you hear alarms, as if warning you about the presence of dangerously powerful bass. And with good reason: I was sitting in a friend’s car listening to this track while she dashed into a store and — no word of a lie! — it triggered the alarm on a parked car nearby. The power of this track can only be fully appreciated on good speakers or headphones. It’s like an endorphin overdose surging through your whole system, till it feels like your head may explode. When it comes to a raw, underground hard bass sound, you’ll find no superior example.
10. Unblinking Eyes – At first I felt as though this track ought to have been the album opener: it has a great build to it and really hypes up the listener. But Huoratron knows what he’s doing. It’s genius to make this the album’s finishing touch, because it just leaves you craving more. A masterpiece.
Gosia Mrugala is a Toronto-based blogger and reviewer. You can read her blog HERE, and follow her on Twitter HERE.