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).

Mark Reeve – Run Back EP

Mark Reeve returns to Drumcode for the first time since his debut in 2012. “Drumatic” was well received, and rightly so, for each of its four tracks were deliciously dark and drum-heavy. For this occasion, Mark has cooked up four tracks that are entirely different than anything he has released up to now. He has taken his recognizable style to another level, with new melody and ambiance folded into heavy bass lines and his signature percussion. And the result of this change of style is an EP that might possibly be our favorite of the entirety of 2015.

‘Run Back’ opens things up with an airy piece. The distant vocals blend perfectly into the uplifting melody, and the track explodes about halfway through into a full room techno sound with hard hitting kicks.
Next is ‘Exposure,’ which takes you on a darker ride, returning to that more industrial warehouse sound. As the vocal slowly builds, you are suddenly treated to piercing synth stabs that are surprisingly melodic. All the while the catchy percussion drives the track forward.
Then there’s ‘Hold Me,’ which is our favorite – with it’s chilling vocal that makes us want to instantly close our eyes. You’ll get what we mean when you hear it. Just try it.
Closing things out is ‘Can’t You See,’ a real full-bodied track with a much more complete vocal that highlights a strong break. Overall this track takes on a bit of a “housier” feel to it, in a way that we really adore.

Mark Reeve ‘Run Back’ EP is out on Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label.

Kaiserdisco – Black Light EP

Kaiserdisco returns to Drumcode for their fourth solo release in early November. While they more or less stuck to a specific style or sound for the other three releases (compare “Chinese Junk” to “La Morena,” for example), they have completely ditched the trend for “Black Light EP,” which features three club weapons which (on average) are much harder than almost any tracks they have released before.

With the title track, the destruction begins. “Black Light” has been a very hyped track in the techno community, and it isn’t hard to see why. Combine a sharp and heavy, yet distinctive hook with a dark bass line and thundering beat, and you get nothing but an absolute monster. Couple this with the nice flow of energy, which drops temporarily in the middle to make way for an acid storm, and you have a track which is an instant classic.

The second track, “SQ80,” takes a different and slightly more subtle approach to complete and utter destruction. This track features a slow intro before breaking into a section with a massive 3/8-spaced synth stab. Included are a bouncing bass line and snapping reverberated hats and snares. Sinister hip-hop vocals are used to add suspense before the break. The groove on this track is one-of-a-kind, and works quite nicely in my opinion, making it my favorite track from the release.

The closer, “Manley,” is more the calm after the storm, an Arjun-Vagale-esque tune with more of an early night vibe that is similar to the rest of Kaiserdisco’s Drumcode history. The most recognizable point in this track is the filtered acid synth melody, which combines with the functional groove to create movement while keeping it simple.

“Black Light EP” is out now on Drumcode.

Reset Robot – Rebellion

Reset Robot - Rebellion

Reset Robot, one of Truesoul’s household names, delivers with “Rebellion” his 8th installment on Adam Beyer’s label. As you’d expect, it’s once again a varied EP, only this time with two tracks instead of the usual four. Let’s take a closer look at this EP, that, not only because of its length, but also because of some musical changes, differs quite a bit from its predecessors.

“Rebellion” is an interesting blend of techno and tech house. It’s an energetic, club-oriented track with subtle sounds, effects and the occasional vocal sample, that blend together well and interchange throughout the track. It’s the kind of track that you’d expect to hear in a B2B set from Adam Beyer and Ida Engberg.

Things quickly take a deeper turn with this second, and final track. Unlike the opener, “The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon” is a very atmospheric and slow-paced track that’s perfect to end your set with. That is, if you’re an opening DJ or if you are not too focused on peak-time techno.

“Rebellion” is out now on Truesoul.

Luigi Madonna – Magic Land

As Luigi Madonna is celebrating his third solo EP for Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label, I think that it is safe to say that he has become one of the label’s staple artists. Following up the two masterful releases that have included such beloved tracks as “Primo,” “I Believe,” “Unconditional Beauty,” and “Singer One” isn’t easy, but Luigi has conjured up a suitable successor with “Magic Land.”

Opening the release is the much-awaited “Le Ly Land,” featuring a distinctive metallic lead that wishes and washes over the hats and rides. The tension is released into the break, where a low-pass filter is used to build the tension to the breaking point, along with strange, processed vocals.

“Trust Me” is lighter, with short bursts of hats or vocals here and there. As the music builds and the hats and stabs fly, the hook folds in, slowly bringing the production together into a set-building anthem.

“Dirty Games” is minimal and percussion-focused, with thundering toms and Luigi’s signature metallic hats. The descending hook drops in to provide a solid bit of spice to the dark sound, creating an incredibly suspenseful groove when coupled with the eerie pad.

“Spacecode” acts as an ideal closer, sounding very alien, with an analog pad-style lead and unusual percussion rhythms. The bold bassline and crunchy stab preserve the the track’s danceablity and create a big-room feel. Overall, this track is very unique, making it a stand-out on the EP, and indeed, amongst the recent Drumcode releases.

Out now on Drumcode!

Alan Fitzpatrick – U Said U

Alan Fitzpatrick has long been a favorite of Adam Beyer’s Drumcode Records, and he reached 10 solo releases for the label last year with “Turn Down the Lights.” Now he’s back again with yet another EP for the label, and this three-tracker is one of his best yet.

The release opens with “U Said U,” a melodic peak-time track with some retro elements. The track begins softly enough, first building on the percussion, then fading in the unforgettable string and vocal hook. After a brief first break, the track drops into an entirely different section, with deep and scattered bass stabs.

“Love Siren” is slightly more minimal, but not a bit less powerful. The structure is straightforward, beginning with a minimal beat, then bringing in a delayed drum hit. The pressure builds as the vocals fade in with the string section. A snare roll helps to bring the tension to the absolute max before the beat drops again with a gasp of a one-note saw wave stab. The process then repeats, making for a surprisingly powerful club banger.

The EP closes with the masterful “Rumours.” The closer is a deeper track with a stripped back vibe, beginning with a soft repeated note. This track progresses slowly, and peaks more than two-thirds of the way through, allowing for a long and emphasized build. The single note turns into a short loop, which continues to filter and blend with the percussion until the hook breaks in out of the blue. After a brief-but-fulfilling melodic exploration, the track quickly winds down, wrapping the EP up nicely.

“U Said U” is out now on Drumcode.

Harvey McKay – Glasgow Safari

“Glasgow Safari” marks Harvey McKay’s third Drumcode EP. This one has a high standard to live up to, following the heavy modern classics “Silk Road” and “Lost.” Harvey rises to the challenge and triumphs beautifully.

The EP opens with a light track that is similar in style to “Silk Road.” “The Cure” sees a melodic stab melody mingling with sensual vocals to hypnotize the listener. Added to the mix is the typical Harvey percussion and slicing ride cymbals. Though maybe not as powerful as either “Silk Road” or “Lost,” this track still has a chance to go down in history as one of Harvey’s prime dance-floor weapons.

The first track leads well into “Venom,” a massive chord-driven monster. The track is darker than most of Harvey’s productions, making it perfect for Drumcode. Harvey builds the energy very quickly by bringing in distorted stabs, then quickly following up with classic-style vocals.

A real powerhouse, “Trick Baby” uses a heavy beat to create a groove that cannot be matched. There is no lack of Harvey’s signature vocals in this track, which fill the mix quite nicely, acting as both pads and leads. Well-placed breaks allow the energy to build to the maximum before releasing in a mad flurry.

The closer, “Kill Switch,” is softer than most Drumcode tracks, with a wooden percussion pulse in the background. This one features no melody or pads; only the grating, sliding beat with heavily delayed and ghostly vocals over the top. The hat and drum rhythms are very intricate, and this track has plenty of subtle detail. Interestingly, this track first debuted in one of Harvey’s mixes way back in 2010, but has been reworked so that it only slightly resembles the older version.

Out on now on Drumcode.