COMPILATION OF THE MONTH
Tidy Boys & BK
In An Ideal World (Ideal)
The Ideal juggernaut rolls on with Vol 1 of their new compilation series. Ideal is all about good music from across the spectrum of the hard house of old, and that includes tracks with more house than hard, and slower BPMs, through European and hard trance sounds right up to the hoover bangers that endure to this day. The Tidy Boys kick things off with the laid-back housey sounds of Swack (with a track forthcoming on Ideal) and Sam Townend, and build things up to the harder end of the spectrum. BK’s mix is a similar builder, opening with an excellent ‘Danger Dub’ by Olive Grooves (Paul Maddox) and finishing with one of the best remixes of 2012: Ben Stevens’ & Adam M’s remix of the classic ‘Freefall’. Two excellent sets which really set the Ideal stall out.
TUNE OF THE MONTH
No Time To Sleep (Stana’s Tech Maniac remake) (Tech Maniac)
Some admirable dark and dirty tech trance has been coming from Tech Maniac of late. This rerub of the hardstyle anthem out last year on A2 will be a revelation to those who know the original. The vocal is at the right pitch, the screechy synth has been replaced with authentic trance sounds and the annihilating bassline at the drop comes out of nowhere very satisfyingly indeed. Still a huge track, but for a totally different scene.
Swartz & Schulner
A Bit Of 8 (NTR Red)
It’s fair to say that the tech-dance scene has stagnated a bit recently, too many generic tracks with thin, distorted basslines flooding the market. The one thing you can’t say about ‘A Bit Of 8’ is that it’s generic. As the name suggests, 8-bit gaming samples are layered over a pummelling techno body, and yes, it drops in to a sawtooth bassline – but the FX and pattern set it apart from the masses. It flows well and puts a grin on your face; what more can you ask?
The Fast Lane (Punkz Believe In Hardtrance club mix) (Contact)
In a recent interview, Sam said there’s too much emphasis on ‘orange music’ – what he called the new hardstyle sound, led by the Dutch masters – and predicted a return of the hard and acid trance already gathering pace in Germany. This is welcome news; here at Mixmag Towers we wouldn’t mind if we never heard a pitched kick again. ‘The Fast Lane’ is a properly nostalgic romp with a riff straight from 2001. Your day will be all the better for it.
Cherry Bomb (Slingshot)
‘Cherry Bomb’ is one of the tracks that didn’t get included in the download bundle of Ross’s excellent ‘Tidy Producer Series’ album, and it perfectly showcases his harder taste. Expect many of the usual hard house ingredients: a neat hoover pattern, a simple but effective old-skool stabby riff and plenty of vocal snippets, but don’t expect a generic 150 BPM boshathon. This 144 BPM track is different for two reasons: the pure quality of production, and the very brilliant bassline.
Flash Harry vs Lox & Leigh Green feat Niki Mak
One thing that hard house has been lacking over recent years is fresh vocal hooks, and while this one doesn’t quite match up to, say, ‘Reach Out For Me’, the whole package comes together very well indeed. Made at a relatively laid-back 140 BPM, this melodic number carries a deceptive amount of energy through its rolling bass, rhythmic stabs and suitably emotive riff. Handily, ‘Everybody’ can take a bit of pitching up as well, because of the melody’s old-skool stylings.
Ben Stevens & Tenchy
Smart E’s Fireball
This is going to be a big month for Fireball, what with ‘Speaker Freaker’ by these two due to hit stores as well, along with Paul Maddox & Ben Stevens ‘In Your Hands’, which includes a first-class ‘house that is hard’ remix by Paul under his Olive Grooves alias. ‘Smart E’s’ takes a couple of iconic old-skool riffs and a retro vocal and whacks them over a stripped-back body and punchy, offbeat bassline to devastating effect. This track has been going off in the clubs recently – a real set highlight.
Trappy Lil’s Madness (Sam Townend & Jon BW remix) (Hard House LTD)
A new imprint launches this month with the intention of infusing classic tracks with a forward-thinking vibe. First up is a remake of the stone-cold anthem from Hotwax Trax which came with a universally hammered Ingo remix. Sam and Jon have taken both mixes and chopped them together to make a pumping party piece that brings the old-skool sound kicking and screaming into 2013. Could well be a contender for best remix at next year’s hard house awards.
Costa Pantazis meets Guyver
Vienen (NG Resonance Remix) (Metamorph)
Hot on the heels of the sonically massive hard trance original comes this slightly less full remix from a very talented producer in NG Resonance. Stripping back some of the reverb and layers to the synths gives the vocal and melody a bit more room to breathe, and the bassline a bit more room to pump through the mix. It doesn’t do a lot different but it doesn’t need to, the vocal is excellent (but there is also a dub mix) and the melody is pure eyes-closed, hair-raised tackle.
Darkness Falls (Gearbox Digital)
We’re used to a techier sound from the diverse Welsh trio, but ‘Darkness Falls’ is an all-out hardstyle assault on the senses complete with pitched kicks under the riff. There’s an emotional hard trance theme and a warm kick and bass combination underpin the usual FX and choppy stabs, while some excellent programming finishes the track off in fine style. This will be a biggy for Gearbox.
Klubfiller vs Fierce DJs
S!CK’s sub-label for the Fierce DJs looks like it will be a big hit going on the tracks received so far, and will follow the policy of its mother label with the bass-heavy hard dance that’s been rocking the peak-time floors. ‘Wolfpack’ is another sparklingly produced banger with some great bass switches which really mix it up. My only criticism would be that the synth used after the final mini-break doesn’t seem powerful enough to follow the biblical big-room riff in the breakdown itself.