Elevate is a squelchy bit of EDM with a lovely bounce and swagger. The original version, which has a somewhat radio-ready structure (but not radio-friendly lyrics), has a lovely balance between the rubbery bass and breathy spoken-word mantra (“I can’t think straight, think I’m ‘bout to elevate”) over a confident 126bpm groove, and covers a lot of ground across post-dubsteppy grooves and a surprisingly long melodic breakdown at the two minute mark.
Both the remixes take a more traditional DJ-friendly structured approach, with simpler straighter house rhythms. Curtiba keeps things super-steady, with a walking bassline and trustworthy clap groove (but DJ’s beware the promo has twenty seconds of silence at the end!). Lister UK also keeps things on well-trodden house ground, making nice use of the rolling chords, and throwing in a couple of extra synth lines, including a completely out-of-nowhere shortlived and one-off riff at 2:48 that constitutes the release’s only real surprise.
Steady, middle-ground house music with a slightly forced mantra, it’s workmanlike EDM and house that doesn’t feel particularly inspired but which will definitely keep things moving.
Original Sin is a 4-track techno EP with a gritty and direct industrial feel. Over staccato pulsing synth basslines and simple driving kicks and snares roll a relatively sparse collection of upper elements.
“Pandemonium” has the classic gravelly industrial shout-sung vocal on it, but washed in so much delay and looping that it becomes indistinct, more of a tone than a message. “Straight Outta Hell”’s repeated sinister chants of ‘we are ancient’ are initially clearer, over a faster and more aggressive beat, before opening up into a throat-smashing thrash metal-esque vocal.
“Evil Disorder” is a highlight for me as it feels like a throwback- in a good way- to the energetic trance-techno crossovers of the ‘90s, letting synth and acid high notes off the leash on a slow and sparse journey in the higher register whilst the drums pound hard underneath. It’s a technique that’s repeated in a more low-end-heavy way in final track “The Furnace”.
It’s formula stuff in one way, but it’s nicely executed and produced, and in the aspects where it seems retro, it manages to pull it off.
Endless is a deep house track built on a recipe that’s very familiar, but which still has power. The approach of drifty female vocals over steady, soft-synth-bassed house stepping has been done a hundred times, and examples like “My Head Is A Jungle” can’t be far from mind when listening. But, thanks to a emotive vocal performance and a fairly catchy melody, it does still work, and still feels relevant to the current lockdown ennui even though nobody will be dancing to it any time soon.
The extended mix sets the tone first, and the three remixes are fairly faithful to it, changing sounds and tweaking tones but generally keeping the song structure and overall casual vibe intact. The M.E.M.O. mix is based on slightly harder percussion and sharper, more acidic sounds, while the Odagled remix has a clappier, almost U.S. tribal house vibe to it and lets the chord atmospherics loop around a bit more freely. But frankly, more casual listeners might struggle to spot any key differences, and the two mixes would vie for the same spot in a DJ set.
Of the remix bundle, it’s the Juanjo Tur mix that works best for me- a slightly bouncier bassline and more stripped-back approach lets the melancholy of the chords cut through, playing nicely against a slightly crisper rhythm.
It’s a strong original track, with a nice mood to it, but a bit more remix variety and some changes in energy level would have given this a boost.
There’s not much mystery (sorry, mistery) around the construction of this sweet bit of melodic, super-light techno. It revolves around a soft vocal ethnic chanting sample, surrounded by an atmospheric and positivity-infused chord pattern, over a walking half-house-half-techno beat that keeps the drops and breakdowns incredibly simple and undramatic.
Neither of the remixes shake things up too much. Domonokos Kucsera’s mix adds a slightly more industrial and purposeful snare rhythm, and holds the chanting sample back to give it a bit more impact, while the Taptune remix adds a spacier, bold reverb and sci-fi synth vibe but rolls a similar groove overall.
It’s an reliable if unremarkable pack of tracks that never really delivers fully on its promise on Bulgarian mystery, but offers up a decent set of positive melodic techno, great for some warm afternoon mixing.
Although it’s called Happy Music, the spoken-word sample that forms the centrepiece of Imran Mwangi’s gentle house workout is more critical and negative, a monologue about the government’s removal of music programmes from schools that goes on to speculate that lack of real music tuition may be why sampling is now so popular. Of course it’s ironic than in itself it’s become a sample, especially with its repeated hook of “that stuff ain’t going nowhere”.
But the underlying house track, with a straight beat, jazzy keys and soft low simple bass, does the business and ticks all the right boxes for a mid-set, casually vibed four-four number.
It’s backed with “Elementalta”, an instrumental that takes similarly jazzy keys in a marginally more techno direction, and an Amare remix of the title track that foregoes the spoken word sample and takes the melodic parts in a slightly more electro direction, nicely lightweight but effective.
It’s not the happiest music you’ll hear today, if that’s what you need, but it’s steady-footed quality house music in a classic style.