Swedish progressive house duo Axwell Λ Ingrosso have released their long awaited single “Dreamer” after more than a year of anticipation. Following the release, fan reactions were a mixed bag of emotions ranging from purist contempt to wholehearted appreciation to downright confusion.
The basis of such stark difference in opinion stems from the decision to alter the track’s structural elements or, in layman’s terms, change its drop. Is Axwell Λ Ingrosso’s fanbase truly this vexed over the group’s decision to flip the script on the track?
The collective frustration and confusion was exacerbated by the sheer amount of time that fans spent anxiously awaiting the track’s release, during which fans obsessed over live rips or “ID’s” of the “original” track—which first debuted at Amsterdam Dance Event in 2016.
Progressive house purists claim that the Swedish producers completely stripped “Dreamer” of its identity, and that the group is making an overt attempt to latch onto electronic music’s flavor of the week.
To rebut, others claim that by altering their production M.O., the group is exhibis a healthy artistic progression marked by a willingness to produce a more forward thinking sound.
Since the disbandment of Swedish House Mafia following their final performance at Ultra in 2013, Axwell has been outward about his desire to shift away from the musical styles that characterized the progressive house zeitgeist in the early aughts of the 2010s. Axwell took to social media following the backlash to give his side of the story, noting that fans can listen to the multitude of progressive house tracks in the duo’s catalogue if they desire a more purist approach.
Recent complaints regarding Axwell Λ Ingrosso’s structural subversion of the track’s fundamental elements comes as no surprise, especially considering the group’s emotional impact on progressive house fans throughout the years. Still, the complaints beg further questions regarding how genre categorization and cultural context affects the way music is produced and, more importantly, consumed on a grand scale. Not only do artists create music with its structural and stylistic elements in mind, but many pay close attention to how said music will be perceived in a larger cultural context or within the dance music scene.
Axwell Λ Ingrosso’s newest track “Dreamer” could be characterized as an active attempt to voyage into new sonic territory, a chintzy attempt to piggy back off of the success of EDM’s hottest buzz names in an effort to remain relevant, or something entirely different. Although it isn’t fair to deem the track obsolete or jump to conclusions about the duo’s artistic intentions, fan concerns about “Dreamer” bring forth relevant questions about how context shapes a songs construction and, ultimately, its reception on a larger scale.