In February, en masse, Key4050 debuted/dropped their first 32 tracks. O’Callaghan and Kearney’s quality level was north of impressive — however, I don’t think one of them was as fine as new offering ‘Prometheus’. Coming off like a union of Picotto and Vangelis, its drums thump, its reverb's cranked, the bass grooves and, set to a stout tempo, its stupendously dour, cybery synths are killer. Bloody brilliant.
'51°11′17″N 10°3′10″E (We Haven't Lost Our Way) (Mike EFEX Remix)'
‘51°11′17″N 10°3′10″E’ (the geographic location of Schulz’s hometown, as well as the most impressive track from ‘We Are The Light’) is worked over by Mike EFEX. Accomplishing eerie and emotional simultaneously, its vocoded vocal plays perfectly into the hands of Coldharbour’s most interesting latter-day recruit. His technotic direction is further amplified by striking percussion, mesmerising quick-release riffs and a weird, trilling highly effective mainline.
'Carry On/We Are Oxygen'
‘Carry On’s your vocal number here, and like pre-summer’s outstanding ‘The Conditioned’ is lyrically rich with figuration, smart metaphor and awash with can’t-miss refinement. Darren continues that production intricacy into ‘We Are Oxygen’, the EP’s (thank goodness!) instrumental offering. Notably more floor-nodding, it mixes max-effect key changes with longingly sky raking strings.
Stoneface & Terminal With Roger Shah
Future Sound Of Egypt
‘Controverse’ is tech-house on ‘roids, nitro injected by its FX smarts, expansive runtime and minutiae attention to detail. Its soaring break (Shah-influenced, perhaps) opens the track up canyon wide, expanding, swelling and filling the speakers seemingly to bursting. Building the tension to polygraph-like levels, its blistering conclusion is truly something to behold.
'Dark Journey '
The tracks of Alessandra’s I’ve caught recently have seemingly lacked that vital hook or K.O. moment. Misleading title aside, ‘Dark Journey’ sets that to rights. A confident romp first-through-last, its roaring, cut-above production engine brings immediate floor traction. Getting a big side-chain compressed mainline in good and early, it then perfectly tempers the uplift with a bleepy sub-melody.
There’s a well-used sound in ‘Don't Go’ I’ve never liked. It’s that bleak ‘n’ bleached preset, which attempts (or strains) to trigger a ‘feel despondent here’ emotion. Worse, it typically goes hand-in-hand with a lack of imagination elsewhere. Until now, that is. From its mainline down, Temple One works so much heart into every other recess of the track, that, shock, you start to look past it. First time for everything.
'Lizard (Cosmic Gate Remix)'
Wake Your Mind Records
Released the year before they formed, it’s not hard to spot where ‘Lizard’ sits in Cosmic Gate’s influence tree. Reworked for their remarkable ’20 Years’ album, as you’d imagine, it's equal parts fond-nod, refurb, and own-image recast. The rim shots strike, the classical strings stir, and its "gonna get ya" refrain loops. To that comes burring CG-esque distortion, a prominent new sub-melody and a drawn-out, teasingly-tense drop.
The most pronounced riff on Grum’s latest — a squallingly acidic, higher frequency affair — is far from my favourite this month. From there though, ‘Stay’s all aces. The runtime’s generous, during which Grum conjures much elemental mood. Foremost is its vocal, which is beautifully sung, radiates class and taps into the feel of prog-trance’s golden era. Managing to deftly swap between sweet and moody, all within the same lyrical line, post-break it proper drops too.
No sounds too bold, no FX too quirky, no reverb too heavy: these days, that can only mean Estiva. ‘Trip’ commences with a perkily filtered percussion loop that somehow, three minutes in, mutatingly descends into an enthralling, thundering, bass-belching, mid-paced tech leviathan. By degrees, ‘Sequence’ is darker, and significantly more cosmic. ‘Trip’s our pick though.
I suspect that Pavel’s a musical architect at heart, who occasionally feels obliged to throw the clubs a bone. As such, you learn to look at the label releasing to clue you in to what mode he’s in. That artistry’s still evident in the deep and touching tracks ’Aura’ and ‘Violet Sea’, but the tempo and bass have club purpose, while the breakdowns (‘Violet’s especially) add greater warmth than his average.