Music for the Masses
by DJ Ron Slomowicz
A roundup of great electro, indie dance, ambient, future bass/house, deep house, and progressive tracks.
Grum - Drifting Away - [ANJUNABEATS]
The next time a festival kid says they love progressive house and their playlist is full of EDM bangers, tell them to listen to “Drifting Away.” Scottish producer Graeme Shepherd, aka Grum, is single-handedly reclaiming the genre prog-house and making it mean something real again. “Drifting Away” is a gorgeous track full of layered synths with a feel that is both retro and modern at the same time. The feel is similar to Eric Prydz “Generate” or even some of the deeper Pryda tracks. Adding in the beautifully melodic dropout with the angelic vocals makes listening to “Drifting Away” an emotional experience. No molly required.
Echoes - Blue Deep - [ECHOES MUSIC]
That moment when you hear something that truly moves you. British singer Echoes is unlike anyone out there. Her voice is a mix of Erykah Badu and FKA Twigs, soulful with a dreamy edge that floats perfectly over the ambient trippy track of “Blue Deep.” It’s a very modern take on soulful R&B, equally smooth and raw with the glitch grit and pretty synths perfectly balancing each other. Since this is Clubplanet there is obviously a dance mix for club consumption, and a more perfect producer than Pablo Novelle couldn’t have been selected. The Swiss producer keeps the vibe of the original in song and mixes the gritty and the pretty with elements of noise and harsh effects balance by a nuanced take on classic house. This isn’t the generic future house that we are continually inundated with, yet it provides the perfect structure for Echoes’ vocals to shine in the forefront with a healthy dose of studio wizardry to flesh it out for a clubgoing track. In other words, Pablo didn’t just the throw the acapella over a standard track - he experimented musically to create a remix that expanded the unique song to a new audience. After listening to “Blue Deep” and the remix for the past hour, I am thankful that her song “Valentine” and gorgeous cover of “Broken Wings” are on her Soundcloud and ready to be added to my ultimate chillout playlist.
Hermitude - Gimme - [NETTWERK]
Hermitude tracks are always quite fun because you never know what you are going to hear. It could be trappy, dubbed-out bass, organic hip-hop, soundscapes, or some twisted mixture of everything. Their creativity and experimental vibe is what makes Hermitude so unique. So, as a fan, on first listen to “Gimme” I was in shock. It really sounds like they decided to deconstruct the major elements of Diplo’s “Butter’s Theme” to create a trippy dubbed-out soundscape. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant and inspired track, just that they shouldn’t be surprised if they get a White Hinterland-esque call from Diplo. If you look up the word ironic in the dictionary.
Infinity Ink - Full Capacity - [DIFFERENT/PIAS]
Maybe they will be more than a one-hit wonder? British duo Infinity Ink exploded on the international dance scene in 2012 with the darkly intense track “Infinity.” The bassline-driven track sounded like nothing else out there and inspired many covers and bootlegs - most notably the desecration by Pitbull and Flo Rida for “Can’t Believe It.” After seemingly disappearing for three years, they return with an EP comprised of deep and future house tracks that sound like they came out of nowhere - “Too Strong” and “How Do I Love You” (featuring the gorgeous voice of Yasmin). While both are nice, neither convey the sheer brilliance and cutting edge vibe of their big hit. Then “Full Capacity” comes into focus and it feels like an Infinity Ink track. So much so that it almost feels like the are pulling a deadmau5 and trolling us. The track is quite similar to “Infinity” and the two voices are clashing about entry to a private undeground party. The more evil voice is playing the role of bouncer, saying “hear you knocking but you can’t come in” while the second voice is pleading his case for entry. It is only when he says “the brother of the mother of the DJ’s friend” that you realize the whole track is satire, making fun of the elitist underground electronic music culture and those who assume they are celebrities based on who they know. Maybe the past few years have been a bit rough on the duo as they saw a quick rise to stardom and then a quick descent to anonymity? Regardless, “Full Capacity” feels like it should have been the immediate follow up single to “Infinity” with it’s witty sarcasm poking humor at an EDM culture that takes itself way too seriously. To take some liberty with deadmau5 memes, DJs are just button pushers who play with ghosts.
Morten - Fiyaa - [DIM MAK]
If there is one thing we should ask of DJs, it is that if they are going to make bangers - do something creative and memorable. Have fun with it and make something that sounds different and stands out. “Fiyaa” is just that. The electro-fueled bass house track obviously DGAFOS as it jumps around between tempos and genres with ragga, big beats, tribal chanting, glitchy noise, big drops, hard electro, and synth stabs coming in out of focus in four minutes of dance floor bliss. In this world of ADHD electro, it superserves the festival kiddies with the ethos, if you don’t like what’s playing right now, it will change within 16 seconds. Yet with everything going on, the track is cohesive and brilliantly eloquent. Thank you Morten.
Frankstar vs Tom E TuTone ft Kym Sims - Deep in the City - [4th QUARTER MUSIC]
Kanye West ft Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign - Fade - [DEF JAM]
With the future house and deep house subgenres over the past few years, clubland embraced whatever house music is currently being defined as. However, with this modern iteration it felt like the original producers, DJs, and artists were getting lost in the shuffle. Over Memorial Day weekend, a party in Millennium Park celebrated house music and the legacy of Frankie Knuckles with DJ sets from from Joe Smooth and DJ Heather. As part of the celebration, legendary pop house diva Kym Sims (“Too Blind To See It”) premiered her new single “Deep in the City” on a local radio station. The frolicking old-school house production by Frankstar and Tom-E Tutone is a tribute to the deep roots of Chicago House with Kym namechecking many of the DJs who paved the way (Marshall Jefferson, Steve "Silk" Hurley, and Frankie Knuckles are just a few that are mentioned). It is not only a history lesson for those discovering house music for the first time, but a wonderful reminder for the good times had by those who found Jack at the Warehouse. In that same deep vibe, Kanye West samples the refrain “Deep Down Inside” from Barbara Tucker’s classic house record “Beautiful People,” along with Mr. Fingers’ “Mystery of Love” on his song “Fade.” Now, while I will not say that I am a huge fan of the composition as it exists on his album ’The Life of Pablo,’ I do respect him for bringing classic house music to his legion of fans. The crew at X-Mix constructed a special bootleg mix which DJs refer to as a hybrid - starting off at one tempo so a DJ can mix in, dropping down to a slower tempo for the original song, and then speeding back up to the initial house tempo so the DJ can mix out. Using the “I Feel It” vocal sample from Rare Earth’s “I’m Losing You” and Barbara’s “Beautiful People,” the remix has a cool, playable feel while keeping the dirty, gritty, unpolished feel of an obvious bootleg (or of classic house music). Both of these songs give you a chance to experience deep house in a new way.
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