This week, artists dabble in old school, attempt to blend country and dubstep, and prove that, after a few listens, by-the-numbers progressive house gets old real fast. Chill out, feel the energy, or get out on the dance floor with many of these strong, new tunes.
New This Week
Velferd – “The Aspens Turning Gold” (December 31 on Hell Yeah)
Subtle nu-disco elements emerge gradually on this track that shows Velferd’s mastery of the ambient buildup. Light and airy circular arpeggios form the foundation for softer percussion and synths, morphing into other pleasant or discordant combinations along the way. If you like your EDM fast, “The Aspens Turning Gold” seems tedious; for everyone else looking for that chill-out record, the minimalism juxtaposed with the slight disco groove is perfect.
Capa – “Chances” (December 31 on Toolroom Records)”
Another melodic house exercise in the same vein as Aviici, Capa also proves to have a knack for melody, but the repetitive interval pattern of synth strings shows that something pretty and fun gets dull fast. “Chances” starts strong but goes nowhere.
Drop Goblin – “Sheer Terror” (December 31 on Play Me Too)
Contrary to the title (you’d expect this to be a Skrillex-esque exercise of discordant, harsh tones), “Sheer Terror” is a low-key dubstep track built upon a three-note motif. A descant of spoken words gives it an ominous character, but the track itself veers closely to what’s now being called post-dubstep.
Rob Adans – “Abash (Sebastien Drums & Whelan & DiScala Remix)” (December 31 on Doorn Records)”
Channeling Deadmau5’s earlier tracks, this remix by Sebastien Drums, Whelan, and DiScala takes on a harder, rougher character. A heavy beat swathed by bigger, syncopated synths creates a track sure to get everyone out on the floor and stronger than the original.
Stefano Pain vs. Marcel – “Go” (December 31 on Juicy Music)
Names for EDM tracks often seem random, unless lyrics are involved, but in the case of “Go,” the rhythm and dynamics fabricate an apt scene and character. A consistent crescendo and the sensation of driving forward make “Go” a “go-to” track for the dance floor or festival.
Zection – “Redneck Vanilla” (January 1 on The Subtape)
What better way to start off the New Year than with some countrified dubstep? Not down for it? Zection’s “Redneck Vanilla” is, perhaps, one of the odder dubstep offerings: embellishing now-standard genre elements is the hollow twang of a banjo. Although initially innovative, the combination and repetitive pattern gets old quick.
Emmanuel – “Innerspace” (January 1 on 100% Pure)
The more you listen to EDM, the more you realize certain tracks are perfect for festivals and others for longer club sets. “Innerspace” falls into the latter. This catchy, rhythmic-emphasizing house mix retains the classic elements of 20-plus years ago (how many tracks can you say that about?) but still maintains a modern character.
Zoe Xenia & Cari Lekebusch – “Good Love Sweet Love” (January 4 on Kling Klong)
Out of the extremes of brostep and melodic-leaning house, this collaboration reaches a midpoint of techno beats and deep house elements. Chopped up vocals dispersed between glitch-minimal beats crescendo and bridge old and new school EDM, albeit leaning closer to the latter. In this day and age, when everything EDM is bigger and supposedly better, the restrained approach of “Good Love Sweet Love” is refreshing.
Sultan & Ned Shepard feat. Max’C – “Ordinary People” (January 4 on Spinnin Records)
Sultan and Ned Shepard’s latest effort aptly lives up to its title. With the exception of Max’C’s soulful vocals, the rest of “Ordinary People” is nothing special: run-of-the-mill progressive house that starts synth-heavy and shifts to harder textures.
MSC Admirer – “Every Day of the Week” (January 4 on HouseFactorya Records)
Although lyrics are an afterthought of nearly all EDM tracks, particularly clumsy combinations detract from the overall feel. A percussive, old-school techno groove supports “Every Day of the Week,” but uninspired lyrics create an uneven vibe.
Duckface – “Crazy Puppet” (January 4 on Lentos Records)
Nothing’s particularly bad about “Crazy Puppet,” but nothing’s terribly remarkable about it, either. An indie house track apes mainstream elements, seeming like good but vapid fun in the process.
R3hab & Shermanology – “Living 4 The City (Plastic Funk Remix)” (January 6 on Tiger Records)
A by-the-numbers progressive house track goes through a darker metamorphosis. Harder, more percussive beats add an edge and fully pull the R3hab and Shermanology version from unremarkable pop to fully dance floor ready.
Frankie Dep – “The Tattoo I Wanted” (January 7 on Area Remote)
Although other singles this week have delved into a classic techno or house character, “The Tattoo I Wanted” gives off a synth-pop vibe. A repeating flute and synth strains, with a glitchy tribal undercurrent, harks back to a more experimental time in EDM history.
Muzzaik & Dave Martin – “Let’s Go” (January 7 on Toolroom Records)
Perhaps the strongest track of the past week, “Let’s Go” opens with a strong buildup and continues to gain momentum throughout the duration of the track. A winding bass and percussive elements add to that motion and give it a larger, grander feeling without relying on big beats.
Dean Cohen, Eran Hersh & Darmon – “Recently Lost” (January 7 on Ultra)
A sizzling, syncopated synth line opens “Recently Lost,” with slippery, discordant glissandos added by the middle. That juxtaposition between a danceable beat and a hummable melody, with just a little bit of grit, is beginning to pervade a frequent number of EDM tracks, and as a result, “Recently Lost” is neither offensive nor terribly memorable.
Rawrberry – “Movie Stars” (January 7 on BagEyed Records)
It’s hard to tell if Rawrberry is intentionally creating a paradoxical track or making a statement about celebrities’ and Hollywood’s vacuous character. A glitchy, light opener gradually gains depth over the course of five minutes, but with the exception of taking on this heavier feel, “Movie Stars” is slow-moving yet carefully planned flash without enough substance.
Koishii & Hush – “C’est Tout Est Noir” (January 8 on Grammatron Recordings)”
What could be an overly-influenced 1980s-inspired recording, the John Taylor-featuring “C’est Tout Est Noir” plays to the strengths of the Duran Duran member’s voice. Rather than be overly retro, this seductive house track, a single from the duo’s upcoming album Odyssey, features a catchy yet complex syncopated synth line and switches to a darker character midway through.
Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven (Paul Oakenfold Remix)” (January 15 on Atlantic Records)
Just how much of a mix master is Paul Oakenfold? An already-strong topper on the pop charts gets an effective dance makeover in his take on “Locked Out of Heaven.” Although heavier and more energetic than the original, the remix works with Mars’ distinct voice – not against it – and bridges both meditative and edgy characters. Unlike Tiesto’s overplayed take on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” last year, Oakenfold’s remix has a fresh, innovative approach that complements the original.