Wake Me Up
The new Cubicolor album is a deep dive into melancholic territory, though the trio ensured this emotive energy was captured and channelled into at least a few proper club anthems. ‘Wake Me Up’ is exactly that, guaranteed to provide emotional moments aplenty over the summer. Organic percussion and melodic shimmers lead beautifully into its central chord progression, fashioned like an organ riff that’s juggled with piano interludes; though that’s even before its impossibly melancholic vocal from Tim Digby-Bell is introduced. Evocative, visceral and rich, it will barely need a tweak in the form of a club mix to see it slaying dancefloors.
As perfect a manifestation of ‘functional techno’ as you’re likely to find at the start of 2020, Mark Reeve channels his polished studio talents into a straight-up, calculated crowd-pleaser. There’s a sprinkling of token techno tropes as it opens on a rolling bassline that’s pure progressive trance in the key of Coldharbour; but that’s barely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the extravagant melodic shenanigans that explode out of an early break. The initial flute pipe flutters are grandiose enough, though before you know it, it's escalated into several sacked tiers of pompous melodic bombast. In other words, the dominance of Drumcode looks set to continue.
'Keep Control (ARTBAT Remix)'
It’s crazy to consider this iconic progressive record is 20 years old, though predictably, it’s offered an excuse for the requisite high-profile rework. To their credit, ARTBAT do something certifiably big with it. Deploying their trademark sounds and arrangements to full effect, there’s a lot achieved with the minimal instrumentation, that's arranged sparsely around the iconic vocal of the original for genuinely dramatic results. Produced with laser focus for functional appeal, it was destined to devastate in the clubs (at the time of writing, it reigned No.1 on the Beatport charts).
A slamming main stage offering that’s packed with big room thrills and spills — recapturing some of that crunchy, groove-driven ‘Trance 2.0’ excitement from a decade ago and packaging it up in a slick new setting — ‘Need U’ has it all. A grindy electro bassline launches right into things, with rollicking percussion to match and plenty of polished white noise. Progressive melodies shimmer around the edges, with a heavily processed vocal a prelude to its eventual steer into full-blown trance theatrics. A rare big room record that thoroughly nails it.
'Red Line EP'
Sudbeat is in top form at the moment, though ‘Red Line’ is its best release to date for 2020. All three tracks assembled here are perfect realisations of the smooth, deep, rolling progressive that is the label’s trademark; heavy on the deep basslines, full of haunting sonic touches and deliberately restrained with the melodic embellishments. Matias Chilano carefully builds and releases the tension, and crucially, delivers proper power at a lower tempo.
While ‘melodic house and techno’ might have gone mass-market with often questionable results, Koglin executes this sound with pure class. ‘Sphere’ is situated neatly between festival techno and pumping progressive, washes of melody sitting comfortably alongside techno grit. Driven by a solid stomp as it works elegantly with tension and momentum, the way its ethereal synths swirl in and out of its analogue stabs is just divine.
'The Next Chapter'
Mat Zo eschews the fluffy melodies and trance theatrics for his first release on Anjunabeats in a few years, with a stomper that channels its momentum into its growling bassline. Driving, and sporting some particularly brash percussion, it’s an attempt to channel the darker energies that percolated in trance during the mid-2000s. It’s also garnished with a vocal sample from MC GQ, both alluding to Zo’s background in drum & bass, and his mission to push those genre boundaries.