Less has always been more for prolific Chicago DJ/producer Robert Armani (real name: Robert Woods).
From rocking the decks as a teenage DJ to forging dance floor classics in the ‘90s such as “Ambulance” and “Circus Bells” for Dance Mania, his musical approach — a high-octane concoction of pounding overload of house, acid and techno — has never pulled any punches.
Eschewing lengthy intros, buildups and breakdowns in his productions and DJ sets, the God of blazing 303s, 808s and 909s has more often than not leveraged the power of a knockout combination as opposed to lengthy sparring.
Armani’s latest effort, “Full Effect” — which features three top interpretations by Van Recordings label boss Van Czar — is stylistically smoother than the seminal cuts he’s earned his rep for. “Full Effect” is a spirited — albeit brief — 2:17 groove-laden romp fueled by fast-paced keyboard hooks, deep bass and clacking drums.
While this outing is a departure from the more visceral Jackfests he’s known for, Robert Armani is still plenty rough around the edges.
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This week Pioneer DJ released Distant Dancefloors: Covid-19 And The Electronic Music Industry, a 32-minute documentary featuring reflections about the pandemic from a handful of DJs based globally — Blond:ish, Eats Everything, Honey Dijon, Luciano and Rebūke — interspersed will nicely edited file footage of nightclubs and travel.
In the report, DJs recall events leading up to the beginning of the pandemic. They offer thoughts on live streams and what clubs and festivals might look like once the pandemic is contained.
Luciano, who went public in 2018 about entering rehab to kick his 22-year battle with substance abuse, shared interesting insights about being off the road since March.
DJ Rap returns with the “Supernova” – the latest release on her Propa Talent imprint, – which is a delicious slice of rolling drum ‘n’ bass action.
“Supernova” features the sublime voice of Deanna, whose slick vocals sit nicely on atop Rap’s anthemic d’n’b. The emphasis is on precise drums and hefty waves of bass that collide to create an energetic smash that’s ready-made for skanking on the dance floor.
The track flies along with soaring vocals and works in perfect tandem with the soundscape beneath that’s well-crafted for home listening and raving.
The highlight of “Supernova” is the massive drop toward the end when Deanna’s vocals fade in and out before a wave of rhythm erupts to end the track brilliantly. It’s the icing on the top of the cake on a track that is guaranteed to be a firm favorite in DJ sets for the rest of the year and into the next.
DJ Rap has been in the game for the past 30 years and has forged a number of key releases in 2019, a year that has seen her play renowned festivals such as Outlook and Boomtown. “Supernova” sets the stage for momentum that will no doubt continue into the new year.
Until then, releasing vital, forward-thinking tracks of the calibre of “Supernova” will continue to affirm her matchless legacy in jungle and drum ‘n’ bass circles.
When I saw on my Twitter feed that Armin van Buuren had dropped a remix of Van Halen’s 1983 synth-pop number one “Jump” with original VH vocalist David Lee Roth in tow at Ultra Music Festival 2019 (fun fact: Larry Levan played “Jump” at the Paradise Garage for his flock around the time of the song’s release, and, yup, they initially loathed it), I had low expectations but was curious to hear it.
Rock bands getting the remix treatment is nothing new. Everyone from Elvis to The Rolling Stones have had their songs reinterpreted for the dance floor with varying results. But before I could hear the remix I ran the numbers in my head [cue adding machine SFX]: the biggest commercial DJ + one of the biggest legacy rock bands = a nice lil’ payday for all parties involved, especially for Van Halen whose status is locked in who-the-hell-knows-if-they’re-going-to-ever-record-or-tour-again limbo.
The formula for Van Buuren’s interpretation is simple and calculated. He flies Roth’s vocal over a pedestrian EDM track, then brings in the song’s iconic synth line with additional percussion. Introduce a cowbell to the breakdown and – viola! – make sure you spell van Buuren with two u’s on the check.
Writing in Rolling Stone Brittany Spanos described the intro as “Baba O’Riley” esque – er, that’s a stretch – and opined, “The funniest part of the whole thing is that it makes one less nostalgic for the golden age of Eighties synth-rock, and more hungry for the era of Peak EDM that we experienced a mere five years ago.”
I think she tripped over her point. Nostalgia is precisely what’s being peddled here. “Jump” is a pre-internet relic, an artifact from a pre-woke time when Spandex-wearing men with peroxide hair ruled the charts and often behaved very, very badly. In fact, I’ll bet that a good percentage of UMFers had heard “Jump” before at a sporting event or on classic rock radio in the car with their parents. No matter what your musical proclivities are it’s a song everyone knows.
Novelty remixes of pop tracks are disposable fodder, a tactic that’s part of a strategy to get mass attention. The only thing that’s newsworthy about this lackluster remix is that it took 36 years to happen. Having garnered a lot of global attention since Ultra, everyone involved can proclaim mission accomplished.