Hello all. Its been awhile. I was on a holiday hiatus but I am back and have lots of new music to share with you all. Stay tuned because a few posts will come after this. Lets start out with a sampling from my favorite record label. I recently posted about how I suspected Anjunabeats Volume 12 would be the best compilation yet. I was not wrong. It is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, and I suggest adding it to your collection. Below are some tracks from the compilation.
Here is the full tracklist in the form of samplers. I will guide you through some of my favorites tracks.
9. Smoke & Mirrors- I absolutely love the vocals by London Thor, and the high energy drop at 0:54 is hard to resist. They have release the full version of this track so I have included it below.
13. Memories- I posted about this track and the following track (Enceladus) awhile back. Check it out here.
19. Under Your Skin- Grum is proving to be a progressive genius. Watch out Eric Prydz!
20. Mezzo Forte
24. Kate (2015)- Arty may not have put out anything new on Anjunabeats lately, but his modern refresh of his classic track “Kate” is one of the best on this album.
27. Bigger Than Love- I can’t say enough about this song. I believe this is Bluestone’s first venture into vocal EDM, and he absolutely nailed it. This is possibly my favorite Bluestone track.
28. About the Sun
29. Mirage- THOSE VOCAL CHOPS!
30. A.I.- Many A&B fans do not like this song, but I think they are crazy. This is such a dirty and raw track that oozes character. If you like drops then check out 0:36. I’d say its the best A&B drop of all time.
31. Celestial– This is another brilliant Andrew Bayer track. Check out my previous post on this track if you haven’t already. I described in detail the feelings and images that this song stirs up.
32. Shake the Air
35. Alone Tonight– What a classic. A&B’s genius original is reworked by rising label star Jason Ross. All the raw emotion of the original vocals is left intact yet freshened up a bit. They have released the full track for this as well.
Two Anjunabeats favorites have recently branched out and tried to capitalize on the burgeoning pop-EDM scene. One has succeeded with significant radio time and fame while the other has not had such “success”.
The two artists I am talking about are Audien and Arty. Check out my previous post on Arty’s new album. I think he has done a great job balancing his trance roots while integrating that mass appeal pop sound. Before I launch into this discussion let me give you an example of what each artist produced during their early trance days.
Now lets take a listen to their recent attempts to break into the mainstream.
Arty ft. Angel Taylor in “Up All Night”
Arty ft. Ray Dalton in “Stronger”
Audien ft. Lady Antebellum in “Something Better”
Which do you prefer? For me it is no contest. Arty is the winner hands down, and I think even the “filler” tracks on his recent album are better than Audien’s track. Unfortunately, Audien has had the commercial success because he pandered and found a feature with name recognition in Lady Antebellum. Contrast this with Arty who sought out vocal talent that fit well with what he was trying to achieve musically. Its a shame that Arty’s album won’t get the airtime it deserves while Audien’s average track will achieve notoriety because it invokes the name of a former country star.
Arty’s debut artist album has been out for awhile now, and a post on it is well overdue. Honestly, I love the entire thing from start to finish and would recommend buying it. I think he has masterfully balanced pop and EDM here. Each song has pop sounding vocal buildups, but the drops are undeniably the old-school Arty we know and love from Anjunabeats.
I don’t usually point out only the drops in EDM tracks because there is so much more to appreciate in an EDM track and the context before the drop is also crucial. Im going to break that rule here. This is because the drops in this album happen to coincide with the actual EDM flavored segments of each track. I’ve bolded my personal favorites.
- Shadow- 2:05
- Glorious- 1:38
- Braver Lover- 1:06
- Up All Night- 1:24
- Stronger- 1:22
- Inertia- The entire song
- Closer to You- The entire song
- Last Kiss- The entire song
- Young Again- 1:59
- Feel Your Love- 1:16
- Pink Roads- 2:36
- Waste Your Time- 0:47
- Wicked- 0:39
- Poison for Lovers- 1:33
I’m a huge Above & Beyond fanboy, but I’ll admit that my response to “Counting Down the Days” was lukewarm. It was an appropriate response to a borderline boring track. I think Gemma Hayes is a fantastic vocalist and the song had a good foundation, but it left me wanting a little bit more musical texture, variation, or at least a stronger drop. “Counting Down the Days” lacked an identity. It wasn’t committed to being a club anthem like “Blue Sky Action”, but it wasn’t quite a low key track either. That problem is solved with the following own club mix. Check out 1:45.
Speaking of remixes. Arty returns to the Anjunabeats fold with this incredible remix of “Peace of Mind”.
The trance legend Paul van Dyk (PvD) took over guest mixing duties on last week’s ABGT. I think PvD’s music is among my earliest memories of the trance genre. Check out the end of this post for one of my favorite PvD tracks and memories. He was was of the original pioneers of the genre and one of the first DJs to really be a celebrity. His recent guest mix was absolutely on point and I have selected two of my favorites to share with you.
PvD included a large representation of his fellow Germans in his guest mix. I am more than happy with that decision because they have remained true to that classic trance sound while finding ways to innovate. I have never been to Berlin, but I imagine that a misty night at 11am feels just 1:00. You take a taxi to the club, hearing the tires splash in the occasional puddle. You pull up to your destination and look out the window to see the city lights distorted by the rivulets from coalescing rain drops streaking down the window. You step out and descend into the club. Finally, at 2:25, you enter.
Here is another one that PvD played. This is by Arty, and I think my favorite part of this track comes around 1:10 which leads nicely into 1:40. Finally, the peak comes at 3:27.
Here is one of my favorite tracks by PvD. This is the version that Above & Beyond played in their weekly podcast Trance Around the World aka TATW (the predecessor to ABGT). This is all the way back from episode 177 which was sometime during my high school years. I have a vivid memory of driving to high school early in the morning with this song on repeat. The empty, lonely, and haunting tones of this track fit well with the silence of the dark and snowy landscape. 4:49… need I say more? I love the touch of the sirens in the background.
For some more modern PvD, check out his A State of Trance (ASOT) set and his ABGT guest mix starting at about 1:30:00).
Three prominent tracks from the summer have been remixed, so I thought I’d share them. First up is a remix of Arty’s “Up All Night”. After listening to EDM for so long its pretty rare when I hear a stretch of a track that sounds so novel and innovate that it makes my brain say “Hey ears… get it together. Seriously, whats going on? Thats too good to be true. There must be a mistake.”
1:36 is the first bit of fresh innovation and 3:20 wraps the song up with the same theme. I am so glad its the weekend because this track is getting a proper test drive on the good speakers. Hope the neighbors have a tolerance for loud music that lasts at least 4 minutes and 28 seconds.
Next up is the remix for “Blue Sky Action“. This is painful, but I have to be honest. I was a little disappointed in the original “Blue Sky Action”, but their club remix turned out to be all right, and this remix hits the spot. Again, what I love about EDM is that you don’t have to be stuck with a track that doesn’t perfectly fit your preferences.
My original complaint with “Blue Sky Action” was that it was trying a little too hard to be uplifting. I’m not into that. This remix takes the original track and completely strips away the overdone uplifting theme and replaces it with some seriously chilled-out futuristic spacestation lounge sounds. I feel like a robot should bring me a drink while I look out of the window at a terraformed Mars.
After its all said and done I think that “That Dark” will end up being my favorite track from the summer, and I was incredibly stoked to see that it had been remixed. This remix doesn’t necessarily improve the auditory perfection of the original but it produces its own perfection in another way. It is a worthy equivalent with a slightly different flavor. Definitely take a listen to the original, which I wrote about here. Also, let me just say that Meredith Call is definitely my favorite vocalist in EDM right now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
What an amazing track. This is a substantial and textured sounding production that you can really sink your teeth into. Starting at 0:48, the deep punctuated bass, the smoky voice, and the constantly thrumming synth all conspire together to surround the listener from all sides. Let the dark and smoky vibes of this track envelop you…
I should also note that the original track is brilliant as well, and if you haven’t discovered London Grammar then you should check this out. Below is the original track. I do regret that the gently plucked guitar didn’t make the cut to the remixed version.
Here is a quiz: What is the skyline in that images above?