People often talk about the dog days of summer, and the term applies to album releases pretty well, since it’s often been the practice of larger labels to cool their schedules down in the summer months, waiting until the last quarter of the year to drop their biggest bombs. But that also means that the field is open for the indies and the less ubiquitous artists to sneak their wares onto the table without too much undue competition. In the spirit of that notion, you’ll notice the underground bubbling up to the surface as we zero in on some of the most intriguing releases coming our way this month. Continue Reading
Ultra Music Festival fans somehow managed to pull themselves together after day one and were eager to get started for more of the same thrill, masses and music on day two (read our recap of day one here). They filled the venue in no time to get this party started.
On the Bayfront Stage Nic Fanciulli, scheduled for a solo set, played a surprise tag team set when he was joined by fellow house DJ associate Joris Voorn. A catchy, memorable moment was when the duo dropped a remix of Snap’s “The Power.”
One of the anticipations and then highlights of Ultra Music Festival was Fatboy Slim’s spirited set on the main stage. He was obviously and visibly having a blast playing the archives for the veteran fans but also furnishing a new twist of remixes for the newcomers and did not disappoint either group. His winning set included remixes of his famous “Star 69,” an anthem from Ultra of years gone by. He dropped an unlikely but pleasantly surprising (Fatboy) mashup of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” with Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” while also displaying an Andy Warhol style image of Ms. Summer. The image was decorated with sparkle highlights reminiscent of her glitzy disco era from which she vastly contributed.
Fans planted themselves along the crowd-control gates of the main stage for hours and periodically waved flags from their home country, held hand-made, posterboard signs of “I’d Rather Be At Ultra” and endured the hot sun in dedication to catch their favorites.
Speaking of dedication, a male fan in a wheel chair allowed himself to be hoisted up in the third row during Zeds Dead at the Dropzone Stage to be more up-close-and-personal to the artists and show his ultimate fan support. He garnered cheers and applause becoming an instant crowd favorite.
At the Dropzone Stage drum ‘n’ bass great Subfocus played the dance heavy “Out The Blue” and “Get Free” featuring the vocals of Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors.
For a man who needs no introduction these days, Calvin Harris charmed the Main Stage crowd with, “Hello Miami. I’m Calvin Harris. And you’re looking beautiful tonight.” He dropped his Rihanna collaboration smash hit “We Found Love” and his former (and still) Ultra hit “In My Mind.”
Over at the Live Stage German house duo Booka Shade played a live set with their signature percussion, synths, drums and chimes blending a magical variation of sounds so fitting for this tropical evening under the stars in the amphitheater setting.
Throughout the year, under the air of discussion of will he or won’t he play Ultra, Deadmau5 indeed played Ultra and closed out the Main Stage in true Deadmau5 fashion. Recognizable only by his silhouette, donning a mouse head that was a sphere of LEDs with LED covered ears, he appeared flanking his personalized decks, waved to fans then hopped up to man the music controls. He started off significantly deep with a slow mix of his Kaskade collaboration “I Remember.” He played on with “Raise Your Weapon” as the crowd chanted along. Zelda images appeared on the backdrop and DJ deck screens while “Zelda’s Theme/You Need A Ladder” boomed in the background. Periodic blasts of cryogenic and multi-colored streamer shoots filled the stage front and filtered throughout the crowd marking numerous grand finales of Ultra Day Two.
Images by Kathy Vitkus
The classic double disc face-off of house against techno, the rough and the smooth, deep massages and strident face-slapping, the contrast of the heat of the day and the heat of the night, all taking place on the infamous Cocoon canvas.
Joris Voorn morphs funkiness and fear-calming through a fog machine, creating a forever penetrating vibe you can only sink into with scuba apparatus on. Sections allow you to try it on from the dance floor’s outskirts, though Steve Lawler and Ronan Portela’s tribal booms insist on deserting the margins as Voorn gets into a metronomic stride, delving into a cocktail of styles, angles and sneak attacks that come masterfully merged with no small amount of quiet determination.
On names alone Cassy’s mix is impressive. Pearson Sound, Sigha, Paul Woolford (whose Psycatron hook-up “Stolen” is absolute fire) and Mr G are the pinpoints for techno at its crunching, funk-flattening best, and for mix statisticians, disc two goes through a roll call half the size of that of Voorn’s. Allowing herself the slimmest of organization time before getting into the belly of a supremely well-oiled mix, it’s a vast machine (the drums of Shed, Wax are a case of no demolition job too large), dominating with barely a second’s rest.
File under: Lawrence, Stefny Winter
The Balance series comes roaring back after last year’s S.O.S. misstep with this sprawling double-disc masterpiece from rising superstar Joris Voorn.
This is the best compilation in the Balance series since the James Holden installment back in ‘04. Dutch producer Joris Voorn pushes the envelope of electronic dance music by blurring the lines between DJ and producer. Over 26 tracks he spreads out elements of a hundred different tracks using the best sounds from each one to build up entirely new compositions. While there are others doing this, no one dissects these tracks like Voorn to create luxurious, wide-open musical spaces that add a previously unknown level of musicality to dance music. As a DJ, Voorn sojourns through innumerable genres, even those outside the dance floor, to allow this beast of a mix a chance to stop and reflect. Thankfully, those pauses are never glaring despite some extended workouts as each piece is so intrinsically bound to the mix as a whole that none ever seem out of place. Voorn’s bursting sound palette and creative techniques sound as if they are in constant battle with his relentless imagination on Balance 014 as he wrings out every last drop of quality from each loop and snippet. The results are stunning but hard to categorize and define beyond the trite superlative of “best one yet.”
File under: Sasha, Carl Craig, Lee Burridge