Yes, the EDM world has been saturated with stadium/progressive house tracks that feature similar three-chord melodies and THAT big drop-out. To stand out, it takes some creativity, and when I first heard “Ruby” on a YouTube video some guy recorded at a festival, I thought Jean-Michel Jarre had redone elements of “Chronologie” for 2013. It is really hard to describe that kind of twirling synth, when it feels like the sound is moving around in space, circling around you. Imagine the phaser effect that DJs use, but in the hands of a musician. Deniz Koyu brings the same kind of magic to progressive/stadium house with “Ruby” that he did with big room tribal on “Tung.”
The intro with the violin furiously playing is dark and foreboding. The vocals by Kaelyn Baer are somewhat forlorn, about finding a girl he was partying with during a massive party and wanting to be woken up before morning (yes, party people really are like vampires when it comes to being exposed to daylight). Intensity increases as the kick drum loops gets louder and more primal, until it drops out with the last vocal note echoing and the repeated hook beginning to come in. The hook grows in power as the drum fill crescendoes insanely, until we have one last vocal request to “say you will remember.” Then, the explosion of the incessant hook brings the energy of Brazilian carnival or a massive mardi gras, that infinite power that a repeated sound has to motivate you to abandon all inhibitions and let yourself become part of the crowd. The seamless blending of darkly pretty subtlety with a rapturous, energetic hook makes “Remember,” the new track by German DJ/producer Thomas Gold, one of the most memorable anthems of the year.
The original dirty dutchman Don Diablo is forever experimenting with his sound (check out the brilliant “M1 Stinger” for his last leftfield track). Teaming with rising UK producer Matt Nash, the result is “Starlight,” a refreshing take on the stadium meme, where the energetic part is more like bouncy electrohouse rather than the overdone three-chord brohouse cliche. The vibe is reminiscent of the tragically overlooked Kat Krazy “See the Sun” from earlier in the year. Watch for this one to be big amongst the superstar DJs, with Axwell championing it on his Axtone label. Featuring vocalist Alex Clare and Kelis, “Give It All” sounds like it might be the major pop hit that crosses Don over to the mainstream. With the downbeat dubstep production, it feels slightly similar to Alex’s pop hit “Too Close,” but the lyrics and tone are much darker – questioning what you would do if your life was about to end and even the meaning of life while toasting a drink, celebrating for reason we don’t know. It’s much more thought-provoking than a typical party record (maybe a testament to the vast unemployment of British/European twentysomethings) and sounds like a political statement that Faithless would be making in these uncertain times. If you aren’t familiar with Don Diablo’s music, after you check out these two songs – go back and listen to “Hooligans,” “Amimale,” and “Make You Pop.”