Music for the Masses
by DJ Ron Slomowicz
A roundup of great house, electro, progressive, trance, and bass house tracks.
kilo, assess, malika, dillon francis, will heard, d-wayne, jack mcmanus, estigma, patrick hagenaar
Kllo - Sense - [GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL]
There’s more to Melbourne dance music than bounce. Cousins Simon Lam and Chloe Kaul have been exploring the world of 2 Step Garage with their recent tracks “Walls to Build” and “Bolide.” Their new single doesn’t really make “Sense.” It’s not bad, it’s just that they’ve chilled down their production to be sparse and much slower - keeping elements of the 2 Step beat structure but with more ambient soundscape textures. Vocals are just as gorgeous and warm as previous songs, so maybe it is that contrast with the cold, sparse beats that they are going for? Or maybe this song just isn’t speaking to me? Considering the other four songs on their Well Worn EP have been on my playlists since it was released last month, you really should explore KLLO further.
Essess ft Malika - Trust in Me - [GET TWISTED]
Bass house is hitting that wonderful spot where the production style is morphing from vocal samples and noise to full on verse/chorus/verse songs. Topping the list is “Trust in Me,” a brilliant follow-up to the massive track “Just Friends” for the London duo Essess. A Spanish-style guitar leads the intro as grooves similar to the previous track gradually build behind the first verse. A dropout with just the guitar in a soft soundscape is the background for some vocal harmonizing before the full-on chorus kicks in with a more aggressive house beat. The track on its own is quite good, but the vocals of Malika takes it over the top. She sounds like Kiesza with a bit of “Dreamlover”-era Mariah Carey phrasing at the end of some of the lines. The original version is quite strong, and remixes by Matt Jam Lamont & Scott Diaz and Taim take the track a bit more club-friendly, with the former going even more classic with the house sound and latter amping up the focus on the bassline for a tougher sound.
Dillon Francis ft Will Heard - Anywhere - [BLACK BUTTER]
One of the many things that you have to love about Dillon Francis, is that when he says IDGAFOS, it pertains to every aspect of his life - especially the music he makes. “Anywhere” is a perfect title for the direction where his music might go. After a string of aggressive and bass-driven tracks (“Shut It Down,” “Candy,” “Need You”), he is slowing down the tempo for a pop-leaning indie dance sound. While it fits the vibe of recent Major Lazer and Chainsmokers tracks, complete with a big featured male vocal, Dillon manages to inject a sense of his, for lack of a better term, dirty feel into the production. It isn’t overly polished, as you hear elements that toughen the sound- making it feel less pristine/clinical than most other pop records. That the lead keyboard rhythm hook is close to a sample replay of El Debarge “Rhythm of the Night” is just icing on the cake.
D-Wayne ft Jack McManus - Love Again - [WALL]
Similar to Dillon Francis taking a left turn with his sound, Afrojack-protégé D-Wayne totally changed his vibe for the new track “Love Again.” Following a stream of single-word titled bangers (Rage, Supreme, Modest, Alcohol) comes the emotional and pretty “Love Again.” Slowing down to 120 bpm, it isn’t exactly trop house, but summery elements are definitely the focus. That dropout after the chorus to mellow grooves and a churchy choral note is pretty but downright eerie considering who the producer is. Maybe something about singer Jack McManus inspired D-Wayne to try a new direction like he did with Groove Armada for the song “From the Rooftops.” Who knows? “Love Again” might become the big pop crossover hit that launches D-Wayne to major commercial success, because it is just that strong.
Estigma - Ankara - [CRITICAL UPRISING]
When I first saw the artist name, I thought this was going to be satire. Look closely - “e” “stigma” - that could be some Borat-esque trolling if ever there was. It took a second to remember that Estigma is the Argentinian producer who rocked the trance world with “The Fallen” nearly ten years ago. Focusing on the music, as we always should, “Ankara” is gorgeous classic trance. Emotional synths, pretty drops, angelic effected vocals, epic rolling build, and energetic beats - the track has everything you could want for prime time music that the #trancefamily will love. I found myself clicking repeat on Soundcloud in anticipation of its release today.
Patrick Hagenaar - Love Rhythm - [ZULU]
On first listen, it’s easy to hear why all the DJs are going nuts for “Love Rhythm.” The combination of dirty bass, classic piano house, and breakbeats make it a floorfiller. It is that perfect mix of old school sounds and new school production. The vocal samples “let me feel the bass” and “dancing to the rhythm of love” also help. For DJs, this track is a great transition tool because each section can be used to change the vibe of a set - transitioning from classic house to bass house or even breakbeat to house.
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