What’s house? What’s trance? We’re clearly entering a new era of electronic dance music, one in which both commercial and independent artists see no genre bounds. The melodic, arpeggiated melodies of trance music meld with the hard, march-like beats of house. The instability of dubstep’s wavering bass adds a much-needed breakdown to any 4/4 track. And, with the love of everything retro, the mechanical character of synthpop and early techno creeps in, a nod to classic influences while remaining firmly planted in the present.
W&W’s latest, “Lift Off,” is one such track. Coming out on Beatport on December 3 (and available everywhere else on December 17), “Lift Off” seamlessly blends classic elements of trance and house, while its robotic character has a timeless vibe – one equally apt at mimicking older sounds without seeming dated or like an ironic wink to something totally passé that’s now trendy.
The rising Dutch production duo of Ward van der Hurst and Willem van Hanegen released “Lift Off” through their own Mainstage Music label, and have since been described by Armin Van Buuren as one of the up-and-coming acts to watch.
“Lift Off,” even with the group’s debut album Impact dropping in September 2011, is a track to take notice of. Support from the No.1 DJ in the world aside, W&W, through “Lift Off,” show they have what it takes to straddle commercial sounds while still staying true to the genre’s roots.
“Lift Off,” rather than ease the listener in gradually, starts off with a percussive bang that segues into a crescendo. Although a bass drop occurs 30 seconds in, the series of crescendos, accented by what appear to be samples from an actual lift off, create the character: We’re just starting and this is going to be something big.
But, does that actually happen? The repeated crescendos transition into a hard dance floor track, of repetition, stomping beats, and metallic clashes. If W&W were aiming for a futuristic-retro vibe, they
certainly achieve it. The beats give the track a marching, minimalist quality, one appropriate for the dance floor regardless of genre and era. A breakdown with a mechanical quality dissipates into a series of undulating, theremin-like glissandos, with a vocoder low in the mix. While their contemporaries attempt to mimic a keyboard line or use sampled guitar, the instability and ‘50s space age quality of the theremin-like sounds hints at a bygone, very period-specific trend when the capabilities of electronic music were extremely limited.
But the mechanical-organic quality extends beyond how the track is put together, and instead pervades the dance floor. This isn’t a pop track masquerading as EDM; rather, it’s a versatile dance track that, through its sheer forward motion propelled simply by the straight, booming beat, commands you to get up and dance.
“Lift Off” is a promising preview of something bigger and better to come from W&W’s murky genre-blending realm, we’ll have to wait and see. For the moment, the duo is touring North America until December 31.
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