Asteroid Factory EP
A key producer for the Enhanced Progressive stable who’s particularly gifted at producing stadium-ready progressive that teeters on the edge of trance, Steve Brian delivers his most comprehensive effort to date here in a mini-album of sorts. From the opening singalong crowdpleaser ‘Us', right through until the adult contemporary chill of ‘Phobos’ that gently wraps things up, his versatility and natural affinity for studio work is well on display. Our personal pick of the bunch is 'Jupiter Boulevard', an exhilarating thrill-ride featuring a progressive trance breakdown-buildup combo that’s spinetinglingly good.
"Driving banger from Pete, guaranteed to move a dancefloor."
Served up in memory of all those incredible nights we've spent on the dancefloor of fabric London, Sasha locks down a beautiful mix of glitch and melody here, recalling a few of the darker moments of his early ‘Involver’ releases though with a modern tech-house twist. Sporting a functional groove, there’s some properly trippy work done twisting his vocal samples up in all kinds of sonic knots. However, while the first half is plenty deep, there’s a plucky melody waiting in the wings. A nicely balanced offering that's the best dancefloor record we’ve heard from Sasha in a while.
'Hyperlude (Dosem Edit)'
Another record that found its way into Above & Beyond’s ABGT350 warmup set (and thus into the ears of tens of millions worldwide via the simulcast), Spanish maestro Dosem takes the melodic ebb and flow of the beatless cut from Yotto’s debut artist album and weaves it into an effortless flow of a groove. There’s also some particularly excellent acid unleashed in the moments when the melody slips away, and it’s as if ‘Hyperlude’ was destined for dancefloors from the very beginning.
'Oblong (Forerunners Remix)'
If You Wait
A rare example of powerful progressive that flirts with trancier terrain while keeping things restrained in the melody department, eschewing gratuitous rinse-repeat buildups and breakdowns. Arizona producer Brenden LaBonte aka Forerunners knows his way around deep progressive, but he kicks the tempo into high gear with his remix here, its deep bassline weaving into its dirty central hook, and the different sonic elements whirling up into a fury about the halfway point.
While truly there’s not many out there capable of producing powerful, functional big room without steering off a cliff into cheesy theatrics, the producer quartet we know as Fatum stand out for their effortless gift for crafting records that are big enough for the likes of Armin van Buuren while still working plenty of dirt into the mix. There’s some formidable studio work on display here, and ‘Raid 51’ just comes loaded to the hilt with so much grindy power. Employing some clever trickery in the form of an alternating bassline, orchestral stabs in the breakdown see it flirt with melodrama before it descends into proper sonic madness in the record’s second half.
Argentinian studio wizard Mike Griego feels right at home on countryman Hernan Cattaneo’s Sudbeat imprint, and it’s quality all the way on this EP, with three offerings that all pack plenty of unique personality and charm. Lead track ‘Sienna’ goes all in on its melodies while cultivating a darker groove around the edges, and ‘Drainer’ ups the tempo big time with a cheeky synth riff that merges perfectly with the tribal grooves responsible for its momentum. The finale ‘Bismuth Crystals’ rounds things off perfectly with a dive into icy ambient territory.
Evocative progressive, as melodic as it is deep, appears to be in plentiful supply at the moment, and Imran Khan ticks all the right boxes with the multitude of twists and turns he packs in here.
'Walking With Giants EP'
Another of the killer EPs dropping like a nuclear bomb at the end of the year, both its tracks are good enough to legitimately earn it the label of a “Double A-Side”. Its opener ‘Brainwasher’ crept its way into Above & Beyond’s warmup set at ABGT350 in October, packing plenty of trademark Anjunadeep grooves, while also steering confidently in the direction of a 3am techno headfuck. Meanwhile, ‘Walking With Giants’ keeps the tempo high for a more driving, percussion-driven record that peppers its soundscapes with gorgeous ethereal vocal cuts. Stellar stuff from this US producer.