The whole genre of EDM progressive vocal tracks has become a bit trite, what with everyone using the same plug-ins, ideas, and (most likely) ghost producers trying to emulate hits by Zedd or Avicii. Every so often, a real musician/producer comes along and shakes up the formula with their own unique twist. If you don’t know Westfunk, he’s the British producer/DJ who prides himself on “pimping” out the tunes you love for the dance floor. On his own and together with Steve Smart, he’s remixed everyone from Rita Ora and Britney Spears to Chicane and Sander Van Doorn. On his new track Apollo, he starts with a really engaging piano intro and pretty vocals (maybe Bright Lights?) with a great emotional effect. The buildup may be a bit typical, but the main structure of the chorus is quite special. Rather than having one rhythm structure dominate the full section, there is a call-and-response of two rhythms going back and forth. He basically did twice the work of an average track and excelled with it. That he went with a big beat break instead of a dubstep one is mere icing on the cake. Since “Apollo” isn’t out for a few weeks, head over to his Facebook and satiate yourself with a few downloads of his mashups and white labels.
Here’s one of those leftfield tracks that has been around for a few months and keeps popping up in different places. “We Are Together” is a mix of progressive and indie dance with random elements coming in throughout the track – whistling, guitar line, effected baby voices, sparse keyboard stabs. It isn’t a peak hour club banger but more a of a listening track- like those concept albums that progressive rock bands made in the ’70s. Actually, it has a similar vibe to the progressive track “Bullit” by Watermat that we wrote up last week. There is definitely a rock influence, but rather than aggressive it is much more mellow and hazed out. With all the talk of the big EDM tracks sounding the same, it’s starting to look like progressive is going to be the next sound to filter up after the nu-House. Actually, “We Are Together” could be seen as a track that could bridge the mellower EDM world with the rock world. One thing for sure, after the first listen it is quite addictive and you will probably find yourself whistling along. For club consumption, there are nu-Disco and Deep House mixes by Jody Wisternoff, HOSH, and Piemont.
Lovers of trance and progressive probably already follow Enhanced recordings religiously. The home base of Tritona, Estiva, Lange, and Juventa, the label releases quality tracks on a consistent basis. Aruna is an incredible singer and DJ who has the kind of pretty yet powerful angelic voice which sounds so great on trance tracks. Her collaborations with Ferry Corsten, Markus Schulz, ATB, Cosmic Gate, Myon, and Armin van Buuren definitely showcase that. Following up her solo songs “Save the Day” and “Reason to Believe,” she recently released “Start a Fire,” which pretty much lives up to the title. The production, with Johan Malmgren, isn’t a quick torch but a slow burn that grows with intensity as it pulls you in. It’s one of those songs that might not grab you the first time you hear it but with each listen it will grow on you. For me, it was the track I kept hearing during the Winter Music Conference; knowing that it sounded familiar, but it didn’t hit me until afterwards what it was. If you like vocal trance/progressive with a touch of a pop edge, definitely check out “Start A Fire” and make sure Enhanced releases are on your radar.