Various Artists – A-Sides Vol. 6

A-Sides Vol. 6

Drumcode has released the 6th installment of the A-Sides series, which is greatly renowned and for a good reason. The concept of the series is to feature tracks that are of high enough quality to be A-sides for their own EPs, but for which other tracks could not be found to complete the release. Each volume features a mix of Drumcode’s main artists along with some new faces. This edition sees the return of legendary household producers, such as Enrico Sangiuliano, Timmo, Luigi Madonna and Roberto Capuano, while welcoming Spektre, Amelie Lens, Mars Bill, Wehbba and others to offer their contributions to the label’s history. Due to the sheer volume of tracks, I’ve decided to select my favorites from this compilation, which are six tracks in total. You can find a link to the full release below.

Amelie Lens kicks off the compilation with “In Silence”, a minimalistic track in her signature style, but with a highly contagious acid twist. The Belgian producer has brought together rolling basslines, acidic arpeggios that twist and turn and calming vocal samples that make an appearance on a few occasions. With just these elements, Lens has created a compelling track that will definitely be of interest to lovers of the harder varieties of techno.

Brazilian producer Wehbba is a newcomer to the Drumcode family and for this occasion he’s created a dark and menacing track that’s nothing like his usual productions. The main focus of the track is a heavy sidechained bass, which has been augmented with rhythmic synth- and vocal patterns. An eerie arpeggio playing in the background creates the necessary tension, while an array of different sounds and effects breaks it up and prevents the track from becoming too monotone.

Adam Beyer and Enrico Sangiuliano have joined forces for the first time and the result is just phenomenal. “Preset Heaven” features an infectious melody, which is backed by subtle pads and Sangiuliano’s signature bass stabs. What gets me most, though, are the exhilarating vocals chants that immediately fill the air with love and elation. There’s no doubt about it, this is my absolute favorite track from this release and probably one of my all-time favorites from the Drumcode catalogue.

Pig&Dan’s “La Bruja” stands in stark contrast with their other Drumcode releases and is more in line with the tracks that usually end up on their own Elevate imprint. The structure of the track is simple, which is centered around an exquisite melodic loop. Aside from a few sound effects here and there, the track doesn’t stray very far from the beaten path, which can get a bit repetitive on occasion. For me, though, there’s just something about that irresistible melody that makes me listen to it over and over again.

The opening of Timmo’s “Muzik” features a loomy sub-bass and ponderous vocal cuts that have been contrasted with vigorous percussion. This section plays out for exactly two minutes and sixteen seconds before emerging pads swoop in and bring some playfulness to break up the weary mood of the track. Unfortunately, they only persist for a minute or so, which leaves us with two and a half minutes that don’t bring anything new to the table. This doesn’t make it a bad track or anything, but I will say that I’ve come to expect a bit more from the Bulgarian producer.

Observant listeners will have noticed already that Dense & Pika’s “Just A Beat” has some similarities with “Going Down”, which was last year’s collaboration with Adam Beyer. There are some differences as well, which are the wide selection of reverberated sounds that have been scattered around this production as well as the quality of the sounds, which are exceptionally crisp. Overall the track is quite an immersive experience, which is kept somewhat grounded through the reiteration of coarse vocal cuts.

The “A-Sides Vol. 6” compilation has been released today on Drumcode. You can check out the other tracks on SoundCloud or on Beatport.

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Credits go to M1KRONAUT for writing the intro text (that I modified a little bit).

SAMA – Slow Degradation EP

SAMA - Slow Degradation EP

Dutch producer SAMA is undoubtedly one of the most exciting up-and-coming talents in the techno scene. With tracks recently out on labels such as Hi Tek Records and Pleasurekraft’s high-caliber Kraftek label, it is clear that he is on his way to greatness, and his new release for Spanish label Devotion Records is easily one of his best packages of tracks to be released so far.

The title track, “Slow Degradation,” starts things off and sets the tone for the entire release, using a deep and filthy bass and echoing vocals to shape a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The artist shows his production genius with subtle touches, such as the vocals, which are pitch shifted during the break, giving off an eerie vibe that is supported by a pad of pure moonlight.

“Cherish” is more melodic and uses a deep, throaty synth to create the hook. The music is somber, yet upbeat enough to make the listener want to dance. The main break is quite long, giving the track room to breathe, and makes this one a great choice as an interlude in a long set.

It would be difficult for any tune to top the previous two masterpieces, but “Radical Changes” just might do so. This one is straightforward and bold, charging forward with the force of an army and blowing the club into oblivion. As is the norm for a SAMA production, the synth stands out in this one, a chunky stab which is echoed by a distorted breath, which makes this machine feel alive. To top things off, the synth is arpeggiated in octaves and adds a new dimension of emotion to the tune to balance out the impression of unchecked power.

“Slow Degradation EP” is out now on Devotion Records.

Follow SAMA: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow Devotion Records: SoundCloud / Facebook

Sourmash – Pilgrimage To Paradise

Sourmash - Pilgrimage To Paradise

Respekt Recordings has made a pilgrimage to the 90’s with the 144th release on their imprint. Inspired by the Sourmash classic “Pilgrimage To Paradise”, the label bosses decided on re-releasing the track and providing their own take on it as well. It’s safe to say that this makes it a bit of an unusual release, but for oldskool ravers, the EP is probably a breath of fresh air. Check it out below!

The original mix brings us directly into rave mode with a galloping synth and a reverberated stab. The tumbling percussion brings the track further to life and serves as an energetic backbone to the various melodic layers that are introduced as the track moves forward. This has resulted in a somewhat chaotic mixture, that, with its 134 beats per minute, isn’t very practical for contemporary DJ sets, but is still quite charming in a way.

Spektre has re-mashed the original into a stripped back version in their own signature style. What the track lacks in energy (and maybe a little rave potential) it sure makes up for in structure and playability. All in all, The British producers have done a great job in updating this track, without sacrificing too much of the classic elements that make the original what it is.

The “Pilgrimage To Paradise” EP will be out tomorrow on Respekt Recordings. If you’d like to listen to the original track, check out the sample over at JunoDownload.

Follow Spektre: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow Respekt Recordings: SoundCloud / Facebook

Enrico Sangiuliano – Astral Projection

Enrico Sangiuliano - Astral Projection

Last summer, Italian producer Enrico Sangiuliano shook up the techno world with his “Moon Rocks” EP and now he’s back for the release of his long awaited second EP on Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label. “Astral Projection” is very different from its counterpart, as its focus is not on delivering dancefloor stormers, but on bringing ethereal atmospherics to the listener. The EP, which features two tracks, draws some inspiration from the “Alone In This Place EP” that was released in 2015, but not in an unoriginal way, as the content is still fresh. One thing that has remained the same, though, is the overall production quality, which is the mark of a true perfectionist. Check out the tracks below. You won’t be disappointed.

“Astral Projection” is a calm, introspective track that combines deep reverberations with ethereal pads. A rhythmic percussion layer underneath provides the necessary momentum, while joyous vocal chants and smooth arpeggios take the track to a higher level. The structure of the track is fairly straightforward, but the constant cycle of building up the pads brings the necessary intensity into the mix. Highlight of the track is definitely the one and a half minute break, which increases the pressure to the max, but the drop will leave you a bit disappointed after the memorable “I Know You Must Follow The Sun” vocals.

“Blooming Era” teases the listener with atmospheric toms and faint pads (that resemble an Elvish choir) before unleashing the murky basslines at the two minute mark. From that point on, they take center stage and give the track a somewhat restless vibe. The breakdown provides some relief and here we are introduced to the melodic portion of the track, which comes in the form of reverberated synth stabs and an entrancing arpeggio. After the break, things quickly turn to your regular programming again, only for the melodic parts to re-appear once again around the five minute mark.

“Astral Projection” is scheduled for release on July 17th on Drumcode.

Follow Enrico Sangiuliano: SoundCloud / Facebook
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Pig&Dan – Starting Again

Pig&Dan - Starting Again

Pig&Dan return to their own ELEVATE label after a year of great EPs from various artists on the label, and three well-received EPs which they released via Adam Beyer’s Drumcode. This release consists of four carefully-chosen tracks, and as a result it is absolutely massive and definitely worthy to follow their other recent output.

“Starting Again” is the title track, which opens the EP, and sounds like something that could easily have been on Drumcode, with its dark groove and thundering synth hook. The progression is vaguely reminiscent of a couple of tunes on their collaborative EP with Adam Beyer. It builds up from nothing and introduces an increasing number of elements which eventually lead into the break, where the title words are sang by a voice that folds perfectly into the background. The track is then kick-started as the bass end drops in at maximum power.

“A.M.” is built on a thick beat and cavernous lead, and sounds like a humongous machine which is chewing something to bits in a rhythmic fashion. Every element of the groove is tuned to push the track forward as it chugs its way to the break. At this point an alien, vaguely dissonant chord pattern joins and fades in, causing a peculiarly chilling atmosphere and proving that Pig&Dan truly are unstoppable when it comes to production quality.

“In My Mind” is a bit different than the first two tunes, softer and chunkier, but still with that signature Pig&Dan sound. It is driven by a simple, reserved, though effective, synth, which grows and evolves, while psychedelic, gated vocals provide the harmony.

Finally, “Obsession” provides a distinctive contrast with the other contributions to the release. Instead of being powered by melody, it uses a dark, squeaky instrument to define the atmosphere before the sound changes completely. The “B-section” is focused on a hypnotic pad and pulsing, psychedelic synth, and eventually these give way to make room for the original idea again. The way this track introduces two separate and completely different ideas, then merges them, is something which makes it feel unique, and makes it the perfect closer for this masterpiece of a release.

“Starting Again” is out now on ELEVATE.

Follow Pig&Dan: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow ELEVATE: SoundCloud / Facebook

Claudia Cazacu – Lies

Claudia Cazacu - Lies

Claudia Cazacu has been well-known in the world of trance for years. But she recently showed the darker side to her tastes with her 2015 remix of Frank De Wulf’s “The Tape.” Since then, she has released many techno tunes, mostly through her own Haute label and Andrea Frisina’s Gate Null Recordings. Every one of these tracks demonstrates Cazacu’s unique sound, and in particular, her love for dark and driving beats. “Lies” is her third single for Gate Null, and it is no different.

The track is a massive club-ready tune with her typical dark and driving bassline, this time coupled with a powerful synth hook and beautiful vocal pad. The percussion is expertly arranged to create a sense of hypnotic flow and takes the listener’s mind on a journey.

“Lies” is out now on Gate Null Recordings.

Follow Claudia Cazacu: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow Gate Null Recordings: SoundCloud / Facebook

The Reactivitz & GNTN – Gravity

GNTN & The Reactivitz - Gravity

French producer The Reactivitz has found his way back to Respekt again, but this time for a full EP in collaboration with a name that recently got on my radar, the duo GNTN. These German producers released their first track mid-2015 and have been featured on labels like Familia and Selected, but are now taking the next step to take over the world by storm. In this joint effort they’ve created an attractive sound that comes in the form of the “Gravity” EP, featuring two originals and two remixes, courtesy of Drumcomplex and Giorgio Rusconi.

“Gravity” is an introspective track that presents a mixture of rough bass sequences and light, celestial pads. Adding to these elements is an arpeggiated synth that acts as the driving factor in this track. Even though the composition lacks a main melody, the pads are quite engaging and mix well and interchange often with the other melodic parts of the track.

Giorgio Rusconi’s remix of “Gravity” lacks a bit in the low end, but the Italian producer makes up for that with the calmness he’s created by removing the acute snares and the rough basses from the original. This makes the role of the pads more prominent and gives the track a bit more breathing room. The catchy, tumbling percussion, starting at the four minute mark, also helps in that regard and is simply icing on the cake.

“Think Different” is a bit more static and opens with straightforward percussion in the unmistakable style of The Reactivitz. The main theme of the track is a rigid chord sequence (with slight variations) that has the potential to escalate into something bigger, but mostly simmers for the duration of the track. Airy atmospherics and occasional vocal spurs bring some more ambiance to the composition, but they also can’t live up to the “different thinking” that’s being suggested by the title.

German duo Dumcomplex delivers a very modest remix of “Think Different” that doesn’t stray very far from the path of the original. Apart from some softer touches and the use of ill-placed and slightly clashing sound effects, there is not much of their involvement to find here. I hate to say it, but it sounds like this remix was made in a hurry and I don’t understand why it was even included on this EP…

The “Gravity” EP is out now on Respekt Recordings.

Follow GNTN: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow The Reactivitz: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow Drumcomplex: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow Giorgio Rusconi: SoundCloud / Facebook
Follow Respekt Recordings: SoundCloud / Facebook