Ascendant progressive producer Ben Böhmer nails his first genuine anthem with ‘After Earth’, a record that captures his talent for crafting rich, vibrant soundscapes and weaves them into a powerful peaktime moment. There's earthy grit and crackle to the aforementioned atmospherics, which fuse with a strong momentum that’s established early, along with precise chord changes that really haunt and resonate. This energy is channelled into the breakdown and subsequent buildup, though there’s a softness to the melodies, and accompanying hugeness to the synths, that strikes the perfect balance to deliver emotional peaktime perfection.
Max Chapman is part of the next generation of tech-house producers who’ve taken on the responsibility of churning out those powerful, functional records that keep the world’s clubs in constant motion, though he’s cannily also figured out the occasional ravey anthem can do plenty to help you stand out from the crowd. ‘Addicted’, as such, is a hands-in-the-air diversion from his typical rollers, with a twinkly melodic hook and a catchy vocal to boot. And when Chapman unleashes the energy in full after the first buildup, he shows he’s equally as proficient with shaping powerful broken beats, offering a welcome respite to the house crowd from endless four-four.
Donato Dozzy’s unexpected advocacy for trance has been noted in the past (for its aesthetics and ideas, if not necessarily its execution), and it can be heard in full effect with ‘Cleo’. While it won’t exactly sit comfortably among all of the ‘Melodic House & Techno’ in the Beatport charts (its vinyl-only status guarantees this for the moment, if nothing else), there’s a certain floaty euphoria and shimmering harmony to ‘Cleo’ that makes it a trance record in a league all its own. Dozzy captures the kind of lightning in a bottle so many producers strive for, yet fall short of reaching.
'Countach (Kölsch Remix)'
Kölsch does his thing and delivers Cocoon a full-bodied remix that will most certainly deliver a few loved-up moments during the summer season. Butch’s original wasn’t exactly a downtempo effort to begin with, though Kölsch rolls out a string section that he balances with a hefty grind on the bottom end, climaxing eventually with a chorus hook that should prove big enough to shake the entire room at Pacha Ibiza when Cocoon commences its residency. Notably, Kölsch shows equal panache, slowing things down in the middle for tension and dramatic effect.
LA producer Dan Sieg further strengthens his ‘unsung hero’ status with a new release on Mango Valley, that does a stellar job of working noisy techno shenanigans into his typically lush, melodic progressive. His impressive affinity with muscular house percussion is placed at the forefront, with a more muted approach to the melodies this time to make room for the aforementioned gritty noise (which he’s lavished with studio finesse, of course). Plus, there’s another lovely and chuggy reimagining from Mononoid as part of the package, too.
Fehrplay has blazed his own path with his Mood Of Mind label, which carries more of a techno/electro focus and has featured heavily in these pages the past months. Here, he’s been welcomed back by the Anjuna camp for this particularly epic and melodic record. Pitched at more of a trance tempo, though still a damn site deeper than your average Anjunanbeats release, ‘Malnati’ spends its first few minutes bubbling in twinkly atmospherics, before eventually blossoming into harmonic flourishes that convalesce with a particularly extravagant breakdown. There’s plenty of high notes, though delivered with a majesty that's tough to resist.
Steve Brian’s latest offering for Enhanced Progressive is built for shaking the stadiums as much as its title would indicate. An early spiral into a breakdown is peppered with the kind of synth blasts favoured by Above & Beyond, though after the drop, it’s a return to stomping and rolling percussion for keeping the energy high in those really, really big rooms. Brian deserves applause for finding clever new ways to work the Enhanced formula and keep things fresh.
'Television Days (Guy J Remix)'
Clarian impressed with his ‘Television Days’ long-player, and Guy J gives its lead single a proper club re-rub here. Clarian’s vocals and building blocks are largely maintained, with Guy J deploying the kind of dense, proggy soundscapes he’s known for, though with the harsher techno edge that has cut through his productions recently. Swirly, squelchy noise that shows yet again how good Guy J is with shaping those atmospheres that just somehow feel alive.