Music for the Masses
by DJ Ron Slomowicz
A roundup of great house, electro, progressive, dubstep, and europop tracks.
Way Out West - “Set My Mind” - [ANJUNABEATS]
Earlier this year, progressive masterminds Way Out West released the epic “Tuesday Maybe.” Their first original production in almost seven years excited just about everyone in the underground club scene as their signature sound came through crisp and clear - slightly updated - with all the emotional chords and synth work that you would expect. As the first taste from their forthcoming album, it set quite a high bar. “Set My Mind” is not necessarily a left turn but maybe just a slight lane change. It is clearly a WOW production, but by embracing the de rigeur future house beats, some glitchy effects, and odd vocal processing, they’ve set their sights on expanding what they could or should sound like in 2016/2017. For example, tribal chanting vocals similar to “Tuesday Maybe” appear in the intro, but transform into a lead vocal that is quite a challenge to understand. Yes, you can hear “set my mind,” but some of the other phrases are open to interpretation. That’s actually a succinct way to describe this track. No, it isn’t a classic-sounding WOW track like “Tuesday Maybe,” but that clearly isn’t the goal. That track was their reintroduction to remind us of why we love/loved them and it seems like the rest of the album will be them exploring and expanding their sound to not only reach a new younger audience but also show us what they can do creatively.
Fono ft Durante - NRG - [POLYDOR]
From the first listen to “Real Joy,” we’ve been following the music of Fono quite closely. The was just something so fresh and different about his sound - the hallucinogenic synth pads, flanged beats, and staccato rhythms. Actually, it is the way the beats go off and on count that really induce that unique feeling. He keeps these signature elements as he has explored pop (“Everybody Knows”), and dream wave (“Feet on the Ground”). For the new single “NRG,” he brings a touch of modern r&b into the mix. The vocals are a bit more sparse than the two previous singles, and that lets the new flavor really take the focus. His EP ‘Kinetic’ is out at the end of the month and we look forward to see where his musical journey will lead us.
Doctor P - Show Me Love / Snakes and Ladder - [CIRCUS]
The Circus is back. Doctor P makes creative and out there dubstep tracks that will throw you for a loop. The beat structure, tempo, and grooves simply change, randomly, at any moment. There is no preparation or buildup, the track simply just jumps all over the place. Actually, that is the same kind of insane energy that he brings to his live DJ sets. While it’s hard to call a dubstep track melodic, “Show Me Love” would be considered melodic or groovy dubstep. “Snakes & Ladders” is a bit more aggressive, with that repeating laser sound that emulates a snake hissing its tongue at you. This will sound insane on a massive club sound system. These tracks aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you like your dubstep on the off-kilter side, be sure to join up with Doctor P’s circus.
DJs from Mars vs WTDJ - Babylon Justice - [WILDRUN]
As a huge fan of DJs from Mars’ insane mashups and even sicker live DJ sets, on first listen “Babylon Justice” confused me. Their thing is frenetic energy and wild fun vibes. While they do make hardcore, aggressive bangers from time to time, the new song has a dark feel, with the hard-to-understand ragga toasting over DVBBS-esque triplet beats and almost grating electro beats. Watching the video made the song make sense. “Babylon Justice” is about the modern interpretation of a rigorous class/caste structure. In ancient times, there were elite patricians and the slave class. The modern economic and political structure, which has decimated the middle class, seems to be returning modern society to the ancient times. The imagery in the video shows the stark contrast between the rich and elite politicians who control the world and the poor and working class who seem to be suffering at their whim. Quotes of motivation are flashed over the vivid images, making the video one of the most powerful political statements in the EDM world since Faithless’ classic “Bombs” video. This interpretation is kind of deep and I can’t imagine this song is going to be a massive club hit, but you’ve got to give those crazy Italian DJs some respect for using their platform to make an interesting and controversial statement that might inspire us to think and (hopefully) act differently.
Kideko & George Kwali ft Nadia Rose & Sweetie Irie - Crank It (Woah!) - [MINISTRY OF SOUND]
This is that track. I kept hearing this techy house track during WMC/MMW which sampled a vocal bit of an old C&C Music Factory song. Try as I might, I could never figure it out. The track was “Crank It” by Kideko vs George Kwali and was featured on Toolroom’s Miami 2016 compilation. Fast forward six months and they’ve added three different vocals on top to create this frenetic and lovable mess of a record. There’s a female rap (à la Azealia Banks), a female sung part (à la Tinashe), and a male rapper toasting (à la Dizzee Rascal) all working with the original vocal sample from “Crank It.” There’s just so much going on that you just can’t help but get sucked into it. It’s like a room full of six year-old kids or aggressive drag queens all fighting for your attention at the same time. “Crank It” screams like a radio jam yet keeps the cool tech house vibe of the original track.
Years and Years - Meteorite - [INTERSCOPE]
In a perfect world, all of the straight middle American women who go to see the movie Bridget Jones’s Baby will be enchanted by the music and discover that they love the British pop-dance band Years and Years. On a soundtrack packed with classic soul singers (Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye) and modern British pop (Ellie Goudling, Jess Glynne, Ed Sheehan), Years and Years stand out as openly queer yet make songs that are universal in appeal. While their #1 pop hit “King” has a specific story behind it, it also fits Bridget’s journey. Their new song “Meteorite” has that same kind of double meaning, it could either be the fleeting obsessive love from a one night stand or the start of a long relationship fueled by passion. What makes Olly’s songs so perfect for straight women is that he writes from a submissive viewpoint which would often be considered the 'feminine' role in a relationship. In a heteronormative story aimed at Middle American women, it fits even better than you can imagine. The production is as polished as always and with the right remix, “Meteorite” could be a massive club record. For now, just imagine finding the one who ignites your body and makes your earth shake. Yeah, the lyrics are so much sexier than that trite “50 Shades of Grey” nonsense.
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