Anachronisms Galore

     As a former Christian, I’ve always held in favour the idea of resurrection. There’s no denying the fact that, over the past year, the Hawt’s writers have had varying levels of involvement with the blog and have struggled to keep it in existence. In fact, the past 4 months spawned a policy of laissez faire as exams were written, “trips” were taken and very few fucks were given. So here we are, apologizing for yet another prolonged hiatus and hoping that what follows will somehow convince you to place us back into your good graces: we’ve returned. The rock’s been moved, the tomb’s been emptied, Scotty’s beamed us up and we’re ready to begin anew and establish a fresh set of guidelines, or a new Hawt, if you will. The blog will now feature a post every Thursday which will highlight that week’s notable releases, any tracks we may be feeling at the moment and any snippets of information we find interesting enough to share. Those mainstays will be coupled with our usual ‘post when you want to’ attitude, which will provide a slightly more active website than before. To top it all off, I’m certain you noticed the  different reading pane with enlarged writing we’ve chosen to cater to our older, visually impaired audience. Having said this, I’d like to personally welcome you all back to the Hawt!

     I was ashamed to admit I did not know who Chicane was. Despite my adoration for trance, the identity of said artist remained a mystery to me. It was early last year that Ellis chose to post “Saltwater,” a golden oldie revered by all EDM veterans. At that point in my musical education, I was apprehensive about delving into the annals of Trance, since the epic climaxes that first drew me in seemed to be absent in older tracks. Later that year, when Above & Beyond played “Saltwater” during their weekly radio show, I reconsidered, did some research and greatly regretted the high school years plagued with mainstream music. I can picture the now 41-year old Nick Bracegirdle looking down on me and shaking his head as I bop mine to some Fallout Boy. Bracegirdle has been actively making tunes since 1994, his first notable success coming under the guise of Disco Citizens with the track “Right Here, Right Now,” an unadulterated old-school melding of trance and house. 1996 saw the arrival of the Chicane alias and the release of “Offshore,” the soothing Balearic chill out classic, known to have given Bracegirdle the title, ‘godfather of the Ibiza anthem.’ It’s in 1997 that Chicane’s first studio album, “Far from the Maddening Crowds,” was released, appearing on the UK Albums Chart for a week and peaking at number 49. After licensing issues with the record label rescinded the release for a full 5 years, the album became a hot commodity and its popularity soared, turning the simple compositions into an extremely influential vehicle for the evolution of dance music.
thousand mile stare deluxe

     15 years later, in April 2012, Chicane brought forth “Thousand Mile Stare.” The 12 track album, his fifth so far, is a veritable piece of art and very unlike any other I’ve listened to in the recent past. This isn’t a release to sift through, pick and choose favourites and discard the rest. Within the spectrum of progressive trance and chill out subgenres, “Thousand Mile Stare” hits every point of interest and all different tastes, resulting in an album that, while regrouping tunes that all sound so unique with regards to one another, all share a universal likeness to the genre which they come from. In simpler terms, every song shares certain aspects from all subgenres within its genre, regardless of the prevailing genre it is attributed. Although it can be argued that all albums do the same, there is an important nuance to be observed. Listen to the album, you’ll know what I mean. Below are 2 tracks that best communicate what precedes and happen to be my favourites from “Thousand Mile Stare.” First is “The Nothing Song,” a beautiful progressive trance track that borders on progressive house, followed by “Windbreaks,” a more upbeat song that masterfully joins the piano with numerous different percussion instruments and background vocals.
Chicane – The Nothing Song (Original Mix)
Taken from “Thousand Mile Stare”
Released on April 16th on Armada

Chicane – Windbreaks (Original Mix)
Taken from “Thousand Mile Stare”
Released on April 16th on Armada

     Chicane wasn’t the only old-school trance heavyweight to release an album this year. Richard Mowatt, better known as Solarstone, came out with “Pure,” a 13 track offering that put an ear to ear smile on all the lovers of old-school trance. For a while now, there has been a divide between trance fans young and old. Those who have been around for a while have seen the evolution of the genre and despise the housier direction in which it is heading. Some of the more hardcore fans even think that today’s trance shouldn’t identify itself as such. Solarstone’s put a muzzle on all such claims. “Pure” is filled with sweeping synths, complex melodies and meaningful vocals; all characteristics of trance from back in the day. Although there is an obvious influence from current tendencies, Solarstone does a great job to satisfy his long-standing fans while still being relevant in today’s EDM. In my opinion, there is one track that stands out from Mowatt’s 3rd studio album. It’s a collaboration with Aly & Fila called “Fireisland,” a beautiful mix of both producers’ styles. The speedy 136 beats per minute and powerful bassline, obviously tied to the Aly & Fila sound, go splendidly with the Balearic vibes and elaborate breakdown Solarstone is known for.
Solarstone with Aly & Fila – Fireisland (Original Mix)
Taken from “Pure”
Released on May 21st on Black Hole Recordings

     On June 23rd of this year, the super group known as Swedish House Mafia announced that they would disband, leaving little doubt as to who would succeed them on the throne of Swedish dance music. Eric Prydz, the architect behind such monstrous hits as “Pjanoo” and “On Off,” is the obvious replacement choice. Arguably the most consistent producer in EDM today, Prydz has established himself as one of the crown jewels of House music, succeeding throughout his career in finding the ever elusive balance between mainstream and underground culture. The origin of his production career can be traced back to an 8-year old Eric convincing his parents to buy him a keyboard. He joined a synth band named Enemy Alliance at 18, spending lots of time tinkering with their minuscule studio set up and crafting his own techno-funk tracks whenever the opportunity would arise. His first solo release would come 6 years later, when one of his demo tapes found its way into the offices of EMI’s New Religion label. Prydz went on to contribute another 3 releases to New Religion, culminating in EP3 and its smash-hit “Slammin’.” Then came the fireworks. Utilizing a slightly modified vocal sample from Steve Winwood’s “Valerie,” the young Swede unleashed “Call On Me” on Ministry of Sound’s Data Records. The single was extremely well-received, opening on both German and Irish charts at number one and topping the UK Singles chart for a full 5 weeks while giving birth to the now infamous music video, widely criticized for being overtly lewd and sexually suggestive.

     In 2004, Prydz’s own name saw a diminution in use, which led to the conception of the Cirez D and Pryda pseudonyms along with their respective labels, Mouseville (techno and tech house) and Pryda Recordings (progressive house). Over the past years, Prydz has gone back and forth, releasing almost as many tracks on both labels, as well as the rare remixes he uses his own name for. Interesting segue about how he’s never come out with an album. On May 22nd, Prydz released his debut album, “Eric Prydz Presents Pryda,” on Virgin UK. The 3 discs regroup 11 brand new Pryda tracks, 2 tweaks on existing ones and a 2 part retrospective mix which includes 24 previously released songs, some of Eric’s biggest and most successful to date. I could keep writing and tell you about the album, or I could let Eric Prydz tell you about it himself. Lets go with the latter.
Eric Prydz Presents Pryda - Track by Track Interview by Eric Prydz Official

pryda album

     It’s very difficult to single out any tracks from this album, because they’re all so very good. As biased as that statement may be (I’m a HUGE Eric Prydz fan), there’s no denying the brilliant care Prydz put into the production quality of his debut artist album. This is however, a blog and I know that very few of you will actually listen to the entire album. That soundcloud clip doesn’t do it justice. So here are, almost chosen at random, two of my favorite songs from the album.
Pryda – You (Original Mix)
Taken from “Eric Prydz Presents Pryda”
Released on May 22nd on Virgin UK

Pryda – Sunburst (Original Mix)
Taken from “Eric Prydz Presents Pryda”
Released on May 22nd on Virgin UK

     Come back next week for more Eric Prydz, as we give you a thorough review of his show at Arena. Not any big events to mention this weekend, so until next Thursday, have a great one!

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