Illenium transcends genres; touches listeners to their core with sophomore album ‘Awake’ [ALBUM REVIEW]

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It has been eight long months of releases and teasers, but as of midnight EST on September 21, the wait for Illenium‘s sophomore album is finally over. Nick Miller, the man behind the productions, is undoubtedly known as one of the more prolific producers of our era, thanks to his consistent output and meteoric rise. While Miller has carved out the future bass genre and helped define its sound, this LP proves he has the ability to transcend genres and appeal to a wide variety of fan bases. This is no small feat that is becoming an increasingly difficult road to navigate as a producer in a day and age, where electronic music fan bases are becoming more fragmented as the industry continues to commercialized.

Awake will only further his prominence as a producer with its 13-tracks ranging from feel good music to intense bass laced drops. Miller even dabbles within the indie electronic genre, showcasing his ability to diversify his oeuvre while still maintaining his signature style.

Illenium-press photo

There is no stronger start to an album than “Needed You” featuring Dia Frampton. The song, which is opens to flowing vocals that melt into an incredible bass drop, resonates in the listener’s mind far past the song’s close. The track combines Illenium’s mastery of mystical elements and sounds as well as powerful bass juxtaposed with unique vocals. Should there be one song selected to describe the tone for the entire album, “Needed You” could certainly vie for this position.

Five singles from the album have been released this year including the second track “Crawl Outta Love,” whose subtle intro with Annika Wells’ vocals and piano deceivingly put the listener at ease. The track hits listeners in their core with its heightened tempo and all-consuming drop. “Fractures,” “Feel Good” — co-produced with Gryffin — “Sound of Walking Away” and most recently “Leaving” make up the rest of the tracks from Awake that were previously released. Representative of Illenium’s talent and engaged fanbase, these five tracks combined have already amassed nearly 83 million streams combined on Spotify alone.

The third track, “No Time Like Now,” although short, is where we see Illenium begin to swerve from his established style into a more indie electronic sound, with guitar forming the backbone of the song. It is a good segue into the fourth track “Free Fall,” which delves back into the resonating bass intercut with melodic vocals.

“Where’d U Go” showcases a collaboration between Miller and his roommate Said the Sky, otherwise known as Trevor Christensen. The upbeat track immediately draws the listener in with a catchy beat that falls almost immediately into an intense drop. As the track continues, vocal layers of a children’s choir lightens the track before submerging the listener back into the hard drop that would resonate with dubstep, future bass, and progressive fans alike. “Where’d U Go” is one of the more upbeat tracks of the album, so those looking for a workout anthem or night out tune should look no further.

Illenium Said the Sky

Illenium stars to venture into more commercial territory with the second half of the album, although this is far from sellout as the tracks still maintaining a distinct edge. “Lost” with Emilie Brandt veers into a progressive house vibe, with the catchy vocals carrying the track. As with all of Miller’s version of “commercial” music, “Lost” is still far different than anything one would hear on the radio.

“Taking Me Higher” wouldn’t be out of place on Passion Pit record. The track is an interesting juxtaposition of sounds, synths, and styles that melts into a perfect tune for a relaxing afternoon.

Prized vocalist MAX — who has recently collaborated with Rain Man, 3LAU, as well as Flux Pavilion — is featured on Awake‘s penultimate entry, titled “Beautiful Creatures.” Guitar once again is used as the foundation for this track and paves the way for MAX’s vocals to be the centerpiece of the song. It can only be described as melodic with a hint of mystical, and is likely to be a radio hit.

Illenium finishes the album on “Let You Go,” a collaboration with Ember Island. An orchestra compliments the vocals on this downtempo affair, and serves as a beautiful, fitting ending for a beautiful album.

While many call albums an outdated form of releasing music, we can only be thankful that Illenium ignores this and decided to create a masterful full-length in Awake. The producer has left another imprint that further solidifies his prominence in the electronic music community. It is no secret that Miller is a breath of fresh air within a genre that is receiving increased skepticism for turning pop, to say nothing of stale, and, indeed, his music has the unique ability to be played on a radio without compromising its integrity.

 

 

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WATCH: Take a look into the making of ODESZA’s ethereal track, “Meridian”

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Coming off the wild success of their third studio album, A Moment Apart, the guys of ODESZA haven’t shown signs of slowing.

In addition to their ambitious touring schedule, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have just released a promotional video into the making of “Meridian,” the eighth track off the their latest LP. The video traces the beginnings of their creative process from their studio in Seattle, as they play with different samples and synth patterns, to the seasons shifting in Washington, to the moment their work all becomes reality as they debut the track live during their grandiose Red Rocks performance last May.

ODESZA’s A Moment Apart sold 63,000 units in the first week, the best ever sales week for the indie-pop electronic producers to date.

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Lane 8 releases eclectic new ‘Fall 2017’ mixtape

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Daniel Goldstein, the man behind the subtle and yet complex Lane 8 sound, has just released a new two-and-a-half hour long mixtape as the 18th installment in his seasonal mix tape vault. The San Francisco-based producer’s “Fall 2017” edition is an eclectic, relaxing, and wildly colorful deep/chill accompaniment, with it’s long build-ups, budding bass lines, and playful tempos. If one listens closely enough, you can even hear the trees turn their colors, the temperatures drop, and the days fade earlier into nights.

Lane 8 has one more stop along his “This Never Happened: Summer Gatherings” tour. Tickets and information can be found via his website.

 

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Autograf – Sleepless in NYC (Original Mix)

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Autograf have released a new single on Armada named “Sleepless in NYC.” The groovy tune is downtempo, contrasting with the upbeat-sounding title of “Sleepless In NYC.” Smooth vocals lead into the drop, which has a cheery, catchy vibe despite its chill 100 BPM.

The Chicago trio is known for performing live with instruments and creating their own visuals. “Sleepless in NYC” is a track certainly worth listening to live with its stunning vocals and instrumental infusion.

Catch them performing at the Electronic Music Awards next week.

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Arty – Supposed to Be (Original Mix)

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Between Arty and Alpha 9, it’s hard to keep up with the onslaught of new music the Russian producer has been releasing as of late. His newest single is titled “Supposed to Be” and is out now on STMPD Records, Martin Garrix‘s label. Arty joins a small group of artists who have been carefully chosen to release music on Garrix’s emerging label.

The track itself is downtempo with a tropical pop flair, and it will likely appeal to a much broader audience with its catchy vocals combined with the unique style. Arty spoke about working on the song and its meaning to him as a producer.

“Working on this record was an unbelievable experience. The lyrics are so meaningful and powerful that I wanted to make sure that all of the instruments I was using were reflecting the overall significance of the song. We all go through the tough moments in our life when we lose purpose, get stuck in the past, and don’t see how to move on. At these points, we need to remember that God is smiling on us and we have so many reasons to live.”

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ODESZA’s ‘A Moment Apart’ is evocative, organic, and profoundly resilient [Album Review]

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Tomorrow marks the exact three-year mark since ODESZA released their second LP, In Return. Today, September 8, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have stepped out of the woodwork for their third full-length album, A Moment Apart, out on their Foreign Family Collective imprint.

The relentless touring that followed ODESZA’s sophomore LP gave way to rainy Seattle studio sessions in the winter of 2016, with finishing touches being made earlier this spring. The result is a 16-track treasure trove of indie-electronic gems that represents ODESZA’s artistic evolution and their penchant for raw experimentation.

“This newest album, I think, is a lot more about growth and progression and maturity. I don’t think we’re trying to reinvent the wheel, its really just about us pursuing our sound to the fullest,” Mills revealed in a recent interview.

Building upon their Pacific Northwest folk-inspired sound, ODESZA’s A Moment Apart plays with weighted atmospheres and shimmering synth lines while invoking familiar feelings of nostalgia, optimism and hope. “We kind of rediscovered [our] sound, in a sense, and reconnected to it,” says Knight, “It has flavors of what was, but is also something new and progressive.”

odesza-press

Photo courtesy of Avi Loud.

The album, is without a doubt, a statement that ODESZA’s dynamic range is worthy of pop mainstream attention. Only time will tell, but there are two thematic qualities as to why the LP works so seamlessly: close attention to form and genre, and a dedication to organic experimentation.

What is immediately evident off the Seattle-based duo’s humble masterpiece is its stunning ingenuity and its delicate balance between the ebullient and ethereal, from it’s dreamlike melodies and glitchy sun-kissed vocals to it’s crunchy drums with their large sweeping bass lines.

Take the album’s first couple of instrumental tracks, “A Moment Apart” and “Boy,” which ODESZA has been teasing in their live sets since early spring. The tracks stand as the instrumental launching pad for blasting off into ODESZA’s rich, corporeal sound – one which collapses both time and space dimensions – wrapping the listener into a cocoon of emotional longing for what was, what is, and what has yet to come.

As the album progresses, a clear picture is painted. A story begins to emerge in sound. Rather than making a statement of longing for summer, as with their previous Summer’s Gone LP in 2012, Mills and Knight bring listeners with them on an emotive, cyclical journey through the four seasons.

The album’s twelfth track, “Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings,” resembles the dark, rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest, while, at the same time, expressing a longing for summer, all packaged into one chilling ballad. With indecipherable synthesized vocals, which sound as if they’ve been rinsed through an old phonograph, the top lines slowly building over a powerful string section and pulsating timpani drums.

“Cuidad,” the following track, carries with it the warmth and glowing fervor of summer, with it’s more scattered tempos and upbeat appeal. The result is a playful track that is simultaneously lighthearted and fun while being both dark and daring, uplifting and, at times, melancholy.

Speaking to Dancing Astronaut on the LP’s development, Knight referred to A Moment Apart as the full embodiment of the seasons in Seattle, noting how location has an immense impact on their sound:

“Seattle is known for it’s kind of rock and folk and kind of indie scene so a lot of those elements make it into [our] music. And this album specifically is very organic and I think we were trying to hold on to more organic instrumentation and I think that is due a lot to where we come from.”

A Moment Apart is chock so full of rich narratives, and pulls from so many complimentary genres that one can easily see how they all come together into a seamless story arch. Chalk it up to Clay and Harrison’s expert understanding of form as well as their dedication to integrating live instrumentation while on tour, which includes their Northwest-bred band – complete with a crisply rehearsed drum line, a horn section, and lead guitarist and old college buddy, Sean Kusanagi, who also doubles as their filmmaker.

The album’s very organic, very introspective nature actually belies the raw energy of ODESZA’s consistently sold-out live shows. This live ethos cuts across the new album in dynamic, layered songs with raw overtones and cinematic appeal, such as the RY X-assisted track, “Corners Of The Earth,” the instrumental track “Meridian,” and the all-Spanish ballad featuring The Chamanas “Everything At Your Feet.”

Time and again, Mills and Knight have shown deep drive and humility for working with others. Indeed, the entire assemblage of work is filled with radio-ready hit collaborations with the likes of Russian pop-folk sensation, Regina Skeptor, and the reigning
“King of Soul,” Leon Bridges.

Clay and Harrison have admitted that they prefer to work with lesser known names for how they aren’t tied down to one specific sonic direction and thus more often willing to experiment with their organic soundscapes. Yet, perhaps the album’s most captivating song is the haunting Regina Skeptor ballad, “Just a Memory,” which the boys revealed, after an intimate hotel rehearsal with Skeptor, they completely stripped down the instrumentals to capture the raw energy with which she imbued the hotel room.

ODESZA and Leon Bridges Eric Tra

Leon Bridges performs with ODESZA at Bumbershoot. Photo courtesy of Eric Tra.

While it has received mixed fan reviews, the album’s fourteenth track, “Falls,” is an inspirational, uplifting ditty which fuses dream-pop ingredients with elements of world. With anthemic lyrics that are as palpable as it’s sound design, the track spotlights the smooth, soaring vocals of Sasha Sloan over a gentle horn section and the electronic duo’s signature drum work. Each added sonic layer becomes a new piece of the story that wraps the listener up into new plot lines rooted not in words and lyrics, but inside musical form itself.

A Moment Apart stands as a nostalgic and spiritually-adept magnum opus of lyrical and instrumental sound. It is a collection of tracks that are as euphoric and expressive as they are evocative and substantive. One might, therefore, go as far as to call the album a crowning achievement of ODESZA’s career, in its commitment to both musical convention and organic experimentation as well as in how it ventures to piece together spatial and temporal layers into a larger sonic storyline. Certainly, it is ODESZA’s most narrative endeavor to date. Or, in other words, it is the most nuanced, intentional, and fully-fleshed out project on their resume.

What stands out most about the album, however, is how it is overwhelmingly corporeal. A Moment Apart is, more than anything else, an immersive, embodied, all-consuming exploration of the inner self, one which begins at the ears and delves deep into the psyche, catapulting its listeners into both the happy and hard times, while tapping those universal memories to remind us we are both one and the same. The album reminds us that the human experience is as joyous as it is painful. It is both gritty and soft, both bleak and wildly colorful, cinematic and emotional, imaginative and real, raw, organic, and profoundly resilient.

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Glenn Morrison feat. Deb’s Daughter – Little Piece Of Summertime

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Glenn Morrison is a rising Canadian talent who has gathered millions of plays on recent releases like “Goodbye,” and has even hit the Top 40 Billboard Charts in Canada. His momentum continues as he ramps up for his September 30th album release Dark Waters. The lead single, “A Little Piece Of Summertime,” is the embodiment of what’s to come in the LP, with the single styling multi-genre aspects that combine with pop to create a clean, graceful feel as it unfolds.

“A Little Piece Of Summertime” can be streamed in full below.

 

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Flapo ft. Josh Rubin – Us (Original Mix)

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Colombian producer and instrumentalist Flapo has spent his life expressing his intimate creativity through music. At a young age, he discovered instruments like guitar and bass, and he eventually began producing everything from hip-hop to electronic.

“I really wanted to do something different with this track. Josh and I wrote this song back in 2015 but it remained untouched for all of 2016. I decided to get back at it this year, when I finally had the inspiration to finish it. I hope you guys like it as much as I do.”

His latest, “Us,” features a more downtempo vibe with an easy beat, bittersweet lyrics and colorful vocals by Josh Rubin. Flapo is known for his relaxing, yet enthralling style that features vocalists who mesh perfectly with his experimental, laid-back feel. With his latest, Flapo brings a flare of his own artistry to the table, showcasing a song that can only be described as a mellifluous, transcendent masterpiece.

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GRiZ shares chill 4/20 ballad with ProbCause & Jaye Pryme, ‘Smoke That’

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Although GRiZ released a full 13-track Good Will Continue (Remixes) project just a little more than a week ago, the Colorado-based future funk artist has been busy in his home studio collaborating with some of his friends. After all, Grant Kwiecinski, the man behind GRiZ, is known for regularly hosting live studio feeds on his Facebook page for his beloved fan base, the most recent of which was a jam session hosted at his flat in the Rockies.

“Smoke That,” out Aug. 28, is lighthearted downtempo track that truly speaks to Grant’s love of the ganja. Produced on the national 4/20 holiday with close collaborators ProbCause and Jaye Pryme, the track features all the beautiful funk elements GRiZ has become widely known for, including a saxophone melody and futuristic synth chords, along with some chill candy-glitch samples. The result is a fun and lovable ballad that highlights Pryme’s angelic chorus vocals and ProbCause’s hip-hop lyrics on the verses.

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DEVOTED – Santa Fe feat. Billionaire (Original Mix)

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Record Record, the Parisian import of Point Point, started their own compilation series called Filet Mignon during the label’s inception with the purpose of uncovering new talent through the label’s artists. Recently reaching the milestone of the compilation’s fifth edition, Filet Mignon 5 is composed of 16 tracks including standout pieces from Dombresky, Aazar, Acaer, and more. French upstart DEVOTED shone on his contribution, “Santa Fe.” The track is a breezy, downtempo number complemented with Billionaire’s tranquil vocal touch.

Stream the full compilation below.

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