Music for the Masses
by DJ Ron Slomowicz
A roundup of great electro, indie dance, future bass/house, deep house, glitch, and progressive tracks.
KLLO - Bolide - [GHOSTLY]
When music makes you stand up and say “what the hell is this,” you know it is something fresh. Coming from down under, KLLO’s new track “Bolide” could be described as glitchy garage. It’s not exactly 2 step, as the beats aren’t that predictable and rhythmic. It is closer to the hallucinogenic and disorientating groove that Fono created on his groundbreaking track “Real Joy.” I would KLLL to hear a DJ work this into a mainstream set if just to see the confused people try to find a steady rhythm to move to. That’s not meant as an insult since it takes creative visionaries like these cousins from Melbourne to inspire people to explore new sounds. Could you imagine how insane a KLLO vs Flume track would be?
Axwell /\ Ingresso - Dream Bigger - [Def Jam]
Sometimes a lame vocal topline can kill a great track. Watermat “So Real” and Swedish House Mafia “Your Name” come instantly to mind. So do yourself a favor and listen the original instrumental version of “Dream Bigger” with its cool and retro Daft Punk-goes-electro vibe.
Axel Knox - Living in the Moment - [SHIFTAXIS]
That glorious moment when potential is realized... When I wrote up the last track from Axel Knox, “All Night,” the mixing of classic piano house and orchestral strings was fresh but there was a lack of polish. Two weeks later comes “Living in the Moment,” and we hear a massive growth in production skill. While there are just two lines of vocals, the meaning is fully expressed and understood as if it was a traditional verse-chorus-chorus. He wisely moves away from the future house cliches yet manages to keep the bouncy energy and fun as a counterpoint to his seemingly trademark orchestral flourishes. With the right promotion, this track could launch Axel Knox into the playlist of every DJ. With a second topline to fully flesh it out, “Living in the Moment” could be a pop/radio crossover for the summer festival season.
Offaiah - Trouble - [WHITE LABEL]
Trouble is easily described as a sampled vocal, incomprehensibly filtered, that becomes clearer as it is repeated with less effects each time and layered over a shuffling house beat. There are countless tracks like this leaked on white label on a weekly basis. It takes something a bit odd or unique to catch people’s attention. Supposedly hailing from Argentina, newcomer (or at least he didn’t exist online until the Miami Music Week) Offaiah uses the Charlie Puth refrain from Lil Wayne’s 2015 hit “Nothing But Trouble” to construct an instantly recognizable yet quirkily original house track. What really makes the new track stand out is the gospel-y chanted note at the start of each line which is also lifted from the Lil Wayne song. There is clearly a lot of buzz on this track with BBC DJs Annie Mac and Danny Howard championing the newcomer’s debut track with an almost religious zeal. They, like most DJs, will consider the track to be on fire. Say the producer’s name out loud and you will get that horrible pun.
WYTE LABL - I Need You EP - [VIRGIN/EMI]
From a White Label to the British duo called “WYTE LABL.” I guess we should be thankful that at least they are not completely afraid of deploying vowels. Jeff and Aaron first caught our attention last year with their debut “Runaway’ that sounded like a brilliant hybrid of MDNGHT and first album Disclosure. After a stream of insanely strong remixes (Nick Brewer, Lucky Charmes, and Alan Walker) comes the almost reverentially old school house ‘I Need You” EP. If you look past the “House You” track that is tarnished with overused house cliches, you are left with the brilliant 2-step garage inflected “Come Down” and the insanely catchy title track. The lyrics of “I Need You” seem instantly recognizable and you will be singing along, yet they are not traceable as sampled. The classic house sound is captured flawlessly down to being just a tad sloppy with vocal production to make it sounds like a truly authentic '90s underground house record. While we await the release of this EP, scroll through their Soundcloud and check out their new remix of that Blonde/Craig David monster hit “Nothing Like This” and the nearly 2 hour long and correctly titled Best of 97 Garage mix.
Billie Ray Martin - The Glittering Gutter - [SONNENSTAHL]
While many worship Billie Ray Martin for the classic “Your Loving Arms” and accompanying ’Deadline For My Memories’ album, it was only after she escaped the tyranny of a major label that she unlocked the bounds of her creativity and allowed us to experience her unique vision. Her love of blues and Motown soul fueled the underappreciated classic ’18 Carat Garbage’ album as well as her recent release ‘The Soul Tapes.’ While it’s hard to choose a favorite from “The Soul Tapes,” the cautionary tale of “The Glittering Gutter” comes off like an uncensored update of “Copacabana.” While the minimalist Mooli remix keeps the vibe of the original, club remixes by Dirty Pop and Offer Nissim twist it up in quite an unexpected way. Offer Nissim starts off with a stripped-down melodic beatless intro which builds into pounding tribal beats suitable for any major circuit party. The Dirty Pop take would be easily described as dirty. The progressive, electro, and tribal hybrid emulates the theme by keeping things messy with random electro noises and seemingly offbeat phrasing that catch you off guard the first time through but then seems to work after a few listens. While it is challenging, not easily accessible or commercial, there is a creative mind at work that seems to be perfectly in sync with Miss Martin. If glitchy tribal happens to not be your thing, check out Billie’s recent minimal masterpiece “After All” for a completely different flavor.
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