First Listen: Anonymous producer SQUIRM launches an intergalactic adventure on debut ‘Traveller’ EP

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First Listen: Anonymous producer SQUIRM launches an intergalactic adventure on debut ‘Traveller’ EPSquirmn

Anonymity has become a powerful tool for artists in recent years, with artists like Sia and Marshmello hiding their faces and letting their work and collaborative outputs define their respective brands. However, few artists have used anonymity to define a completely new character with a narrative and a new world for listeners to explore. That is until SQUIRM veered off course and crash landed with a new five-track Traveller EP to introduce the enigmatic new project.

Word is that the mysterious new SQUIRM had established themselves under another moniker in the past, though the exploratory new guise comes with a fresh, experimental sonic aesthetic different from previous projects.

Traveller plays like a story — there’s a beginning, middle, and an end — teetering between floor-ready house, pulsing tech tropes, and 8-bit inspired electronica. Intriguing vocal accents carry the EP, which gradually sways from ambient moments to bubbly, shuffling breakdowns from front to back. The EP tells the first chapter in SQUIRM’s story, detailing the alien producer’s arrival and setting up the ensuing intergalactic thrill ride. It’ll be interesting to see where the mysterious SQUIRM goes from here — follow along as the story unfolds.

Good Morning Mix: Cruise through the start of your day with AMTRAC’s ‘Motorway Mix’

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Good Morning Mix: Cruise through the start of your day with AMTRAC’s ‘Motorway Mix’1200p Amtrac Image

Today’s mix to start you on your day is a reminder to artists large or small everywhere that sometimes, the best way to refresh yourself creatively is to dive into the music that personally inspires them. It does not necessarily need to be the music someone like AMTRAC — the artist behind this “Motorway Mix” — consistently makes, either.

The new mix is an exploration that can keep anyone’s feet grounded with an hour-long blend of tunes. Instead of the underground deep and tech house we usually get from the American DJ and producer, this mix is follows a whole new tempo and sound. Journey through the mix and peek at the sounds that comprise AMTRAC’s influences: groovy nu disco riffs, acidic retro electronica, and funky soul. Like the title suggests, this mix is probably best paired with an extensive open highway drive, but at its best is a soundtrack to personal reflection for both the listener and the artist at work.

Best Albums Of 2018…So Far

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It brings me an ample amount of joy to make the following statement; 2018 is the best year dance music has had in a long time. Since the EDM bubble blew up in the late 2000s and the commercial and mainstream takeover we’ve seen in the 2010s, there has been a noticeable decline in the

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Introducing Dorfex Bos: A rising underground bass talent talks inspirations, collaborative hopefuls, and his penchant for low-end vibrations in debut ‘Opinions’ EP [Interview + EP Review]

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Who exactly is Dorfex Bos?

Dorfex Bos may not be a household name in electronic dance music, nor may he ever wish to be. However, the Madison House-signee is one name in underground bass that we’ve been keeping tabs on here at Dancing Astronaut since appearing on Bassnectar‘s tenth full-length studio album, Into the Sun, back in 2015.

“Lorin [Ashton] is an absolute beast. He’s a genius,” Dorfex Bos told us in a recent interview. “I’ve never met someone with such a clear vision of what they wanted and the skills to make it happen so fully.”

Dorfex Bos is Angelo Tursi, an artist emerging from the early 2000s West Coast bass scene. His music is easily discernible by its eclectic, heavy sound stamp that weaves together elements of lush downtempo, dubstep, and left-field electronica.

But, like most free form bass music artists, don’t ask Dorfex Bos to force himself into any narrowly-defined categories. “I don’t really identify completely with any genres,” Tursi says of his experimental sound. “I’m known for making deep, trippy, cinematic tracks that I guess is considered ‘bass music,’ but I’m not really trying to put myself in that box.”

The Brooklyn-based beatmaker further alluded to the bass music genre as one that is as loose and expansive as it is subversive and very much open to creative interpretation:

“I feel like ‘bass music’ as a genre is very much solely focused on the body experience. I like to weave in a melodic and harmonic element that takes the whole experience a little deeper. My music has [an] emotional flavor that I feel is missing from a lot of ‘bass music.’ “


Dorfex Bos plays the Incendia Stage at Okeechobee, Florida, 2018. Photo courtesy of Madison House.

“Okeechobee was absolutely bonkers. I was set to play a smaller, late night stage…and there were a few thousand people there. It was a beautiful sight. It was a super tight, deep set.”


Dorfex Bos is known by many for his iconic collaborations with Bassnectar, including the self-titled track “Dorfex Bos,” which first appeared in 2004 on Diverse Systems of Throb, along with “Horizons” and “Other Worlds“— two mind-melding numbers that appeared on the recently-released Reflective EP.

“Our last two collaborations, ‘Horizons’ and ‘Other Worlds,’ were made in my bedroom studio on two separate occasions. We would start playing with ideas and very quickly a very clear and defined sound would emerge. It’s crazy making music with him because I have to keep in mind that tens of thousands of fans are going to experience these tracks in arenas and stadiums and you have to think about how they are going to sound in huge venues. It’s different than writing music for clubs. It’s a bit of a mind fuck.”

Recently signed to the Boulder-based powerhouse booking and management firm, Madison House — who also represent electronic music careers of Bassnectar, Clozee, Crywolf, Golfclap, Mt. Eden, Polish Ambassador, The String Cheese Incident, William Black, among many more — Dorfex Bos now brings his debut EP, Opinions, to the table. He is poised to stand alone as a new power player within his area of expertise.


“This EP is very special to me. Each track encompasses a specific and unique combination of mood and groove.”


The four-track project is an aural representation of a roundtable discussion on the sheer eclecticism and diversity of sound within the underground bass music scene. Rather than a cohesive journey of musical story-telling, what Tursi is laying down in his Opinions EP is a track-by-track catalog of playful sonic surprises with ever-evolving synth patterns, broken beats, and newly emerging bass lines around every turn. Perhaps no one puts it better than Tursi on his Opinions EP:

“It feels like a cocoon-deep welcoming, charged with just the right kind of rhythmic energy to keep it moving forward into the unknown. It’s music made for dimly lit dance floors or late night car rides down empty highways.”

Tursi’s auspicious sound sits on the horizon of where bass music is heading: It’s a purview into another world, catalyzed by a full-bodied, all-encompassing listening experience. Opinions serves as his artistic vessel into charting this plane: It’s a sonic mosaic that Dorfex Bos pieces together layer by layer, bit by bit, through each of his meticulously-crafted productions.

Take the EP’s eponymous leading track — a stunning, yet jarring composition laced with a sounds often mirrored by Bassnectar himself in his recent work. Complete with gritty electro-style synths, robust, grounding basslines, and highs that resemble the emergency sirens of a national weather warning system, it resembles an aerial adventure through hypnotic sound fx“It’s so big and expansive, it feels like you’re soaring on the back of a dragon very high up in the sky and you can feel the wind whipping through your hair,” says Tursi of “Opinions.”

 

Building upon the steady momentum set by the EP’s beginning, “Teen $pirit” begins much lighter with a keen focus on arpeggiated chords and captivating toy-box synth work. After the song’s first drop is where the intensity culminates into a more foreboding mood; yet, with the continuous use of light-hearted synths, users need not be apprehensive in giving themselves over to the song’s darker elements.

 

“Cyalafalora” subsumes the EP’s most mysterious appeal. Laid across an experimental landscape, the track features outer space bass elements, retro 1980s synths, like something out of Stranger Things, and laidback tones that allows the listener to explore the unmapped terrain of the human psyches. Upon the song’s second drop, Dorfex Bos takes a complete 180-degree turn into what sounds like a completely different song. 

 

Finishing off the EP is “Ralph’s Dance,” complete with a dark, anthemic quality that only Dorfex Bos can replicate. It catapults listeners into a side show circus tent, as if one is lining up to watch a traveling freak show somewhere in an arid desert county in the 1950s. 

 

In short, Dorfex Bos’ breakout EP is a statement of what is to come from the rising artist. Though eclectic as ever, that isn’t to say that the EP is disjointed by any means. For Opinions features a unique, experimental, and amorphous sound so as to explore the deeper possibilities of free form bass. “It’s thick, it’s bouncy, it’s deep, it’s dreamy,” says Tursi.

Dorfex Bos plays the Incendia Stage at Fractal Beach, Florida, 2018. Photo courtesy of Dorfex Bos.

“I wanted to present a mini-journey of what Dorfex currently represents and what I’m doing in my live sets — which is [using] very big, expansive beats with a mysterious, almost haunting, narrative running through it.”

Still in the early development phase, Dorfex’s live show is a rollercoaster ride of raw, undefined emotion and low-end frequencies that incorporates original tracks from Tursi’s sizable back catalog of music. Visually, there is still much left to map out for the young artist: “Up to this point, I have been the sole designer of all Dorfex visual art. I enjoy having a lot of creative control over how my work is presented. But I do look forward to collaborating with the right artist in the future if that magical synergy is there.”

“The live show is very me in that it will be an interesting dichotomy of ‘dark’ and ‘light’ imagery.”

Tursi’s approach to his live experience is laced with the kind of DIY sensibility that runs deep within the spirit of the underground bass scene. It is a sense for which he also takes cues from Tipper, whom he has opened for in the past, and Bassnectar, who he will open for during night two of Freestyle Sessions. On playing the upcoming event, which will be full culty bass heads:

“I’m super excited for Freestyle Sessions! I’m playing on ‘Dreamtempo’ night so it’s going to be a dreamy, bouncy set. I’m not really nervous about it, a lot of Bassnectar fans come out to my shows and they are usually super engaged and excited about me playing.”

As for his other upcoming appearances throughout the year, Dorfex Bos is also booked as direct support for The Glitch Mob on their new album-accompanying world tour, dubbed “Blade 2.0,” a interactive live music spectacle with visuals powered by Dell and an immersive VR experience from Strangeloop Studios.

“I’ve been friends with Ooah and Boreta for a very long time, about 15 years,” Tursi explained matter of factly. “They got in touch with me because their original support Elohim was unable to do [one particular] date.”

Dorfex Bos was beaming at the opportunity to play on The Glitch Mob’s cutting-edge stage set-up. “It’s a game-changer,” alluded Tursi. “I very quickly said yes because I know they have a very open-minded fanbase that would be down to go on the Dorfex journey, which is going to lean a little on the cerebral.”

With mentors like Tipper, Bassnectar, and The Glitch Mob — each with their clearly-defined respective sounds, and their shared roots in psychedlica and new-age spiritualism — there is no doubt that Dorfex Bos is one breakout artist whose climbing the swift ladder to success. Not only is he set to expand the sonic worlds of the three aforementioned artists, who all share a similar musical flavor, as well as crossover fanbases, DA asked what other artists made Tursi’s list of collaborative hopefuls.

“I’d love to work with Four Tet… he’s been a big inspiration to me for years. I’d love to make something with Potions (of the Lab Group)… he has such an amazing sense of sound design. Some other names I’d like to throw out on my collab wishlist… ELWD, Nils Frahm, EPROM, Oneohtrix Point Never, FlyLo, and Björk.”


So what exactly is a Dorfex Bos?

“I like my audience to experience ‘feels,’ and not just solely a beat to bang their heads to. It’s a fully sensory experience.” – Angelo Tursi

Tursi conjured up his moniker from a wildly imaginative place. The root, “Dorfex,” refers to some imaginary rural county in the British countryside, complete with lush rolling hills and dew-filled forests; the stem, “Bos,” he’s always thought about in terms of a fantasy computer-coded language. Juxtaposing the two creates a kind of elemental synergy — between nature and machine — for the artist. It’s a space Tursi says he enjoys dwelling in, both mentally and physically.

As for Dorfex Bos’ vibrant future, 2018 has much in store for the Brooklyn-based producer, including several more releases and collaborations for which the artist remained rather vague about going into detail over.

One thing we know for sure of the left-field bass producer is that he has a clearly-marked sound, with a penchant for low-end vibrations, and a definitive map for where he’s going.

 

How this will come to take shape for the audience?

Only time will tell.

 

But Dorfex Bos is not just a moniker, or even a man behind a moniker. According to Tursi, it’s a fully immersive experience: “The Dorfex Bos experience is a balanced combination of bass heavy beats and a rich cloak of melodies and harmonies that feel very much like a film score.”

Cinematic and fully sensory, on the one hand. Heavy, cumbersome, and yet fully palatable, on the other.

Monolink describes growing into his musical self and the inspiration behind ‘Amniotic’ [Q&A]

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In recent years, a new type of artist has been developing in Germany, one as unique as he is talented. This artist is called Monolink, and his music is a blend of his own voice, his guitar, and craftily arranged, satisfying electronica. His music has been so well received, in fact, that some are pointing to him as one of the most innovative new artists on the scene. After several years developing his  project and building out his repertoire, he released his highly anticipated debut album, Amniotic, on the boutique German imprint, Embassy One Records. We caught up with Monolink to see about getting a better understanding of who he is, and from where his music comes.


Amniotic is an interesting title for your debut album. Tell us about what that word means to you in this context, and why you chose it.
The title came to me when I was writing the lyrics for the opening track, which is also called “Amniotic.” Amniotic fluid is the liquid that an unborn baby lives in, and for the first months of our lives, it is the only reality we know, where we only float in our subconscious. The song is about being born, or maybe the moments right before, and I felt like it suited the whole idea of the album very well, since it’s my first full body of work.

You have such a unique sound. Who are some of your musical inspirations?
I always felt very much inspired by Nicolas Jaar and his approach to electronic music. For a long time, it was mostly based on sampling and editing old songs with new sound elements. To me, that sounded like the future, and a dystopian one, due to the quality of the old samples. When I heard Darkside’s (one of his side projects) first EP, it was unlike anything I had listened to before, and I knew this was something I’d want to do as well.

I was also always really interested in stories and lyrics. During the time I was playing as a singer-songwriter, my main inspirations were Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and all those old masters of words. So the whole idea for this project was to bring those two worlds together.

Tell us about how you got started making this form of live electronic music, coupled with your voice and your guitar. What lead you to start this project?
I guess moving to Berlin in 2009 had a strong impact on me. I was really inspired by the music scene here. The first years, I was playing in bars and on the streets, and I was all about folk music. I was then drawn into the world of electronic music, the clubs, and the whole community around it. It was completely new to me, and unlike anything I had known before—a different way of listening to music. There were still stories being told, not with words, but with energy and repetition. You would listen with your body, and not so much your mind. That fascinated me, so I soon started producing electronic music, taking material from the songs I had written before. I also realized I could play my songs live instead of just sampling them. I still wanted to play concerts and create a live music experience, but I also wanted to add a new layer of sound, letting people feel it and dance to it.

We know you’ve been out touring around the world for quite some time already. What’s one of your best stories from life on the road?
I once got to play for the queen of Thailand! After I finished school, I was traveling in Southeast Asia for some months, and I joined a Thai band in a little town close to Bangkok. We played cover shows in clubs and bars, until one New Year’s Eve, when we were booked to play the queen’s party, at her summer residency. It was a huge, beautiful place, all surrounded by a national park. When the queen arrived, the band had to stop the music, and we all got on our knees to pay respect. The queen, for some reason, was dressed up in a cowboy costume and walked right up to me (I was the only foreigner there). She asked me where I was from, and when I said, “Germany,” she laughed and replied to me in German, telling me that she studied in Switzerland. She then, for the rest of the night, made all her announcements in German, with me being the only one in the room who could understand her. It made me smile. This was long before I started Monolink, but still a story I like to remember.

After releasing a full-length album like Amniotic, what comes next for you?
I’m working on a full concert show with a band at the moment, which is really exciting for me. As much as I love playing at techno events, playing shows in concert venues will open up so many new possibilities: working with lights and visuals, creating a full body experience. We’re going to start touring in fall, and after that I want to start working on my second album.

We’ll close with a fun one. If you could have one artist remix a track from the album, which artist and which song would you choose? Why?
I would love to have David August remix. I can really relate to the music he makes; I feel like we have a very similar view on sound aesthetics. Which song is a difficult one, though. Maybe the opener, “Amniotic?” I don’t always like the way my vocals sound on record, but in that track, I love the way the harmonies work together. I think he would like it, too.

 

Feature Image Credit: Hailley Howard

DJ Koze transcends dance with new LP, ‘Knock Knock’ [STREAM]

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Producer and hardware extraordinaire Stefan Kozalla, known musically as DJ Koze, has just released an immensely soulful, unhinged body of work.

With a choice sampling from Bon Iver’s “Calgary” on “Bonfire” and features from a diverse cast that includes Róisín Murphy, Pampa Records’ own Sophia Kennedy, Speech from the 90s hip-hop outfit Arrested Development, and more, Kozalla transcends the dance music space he’s roamed for so long.

Knock Knock’s vast influences and coalescing styles are more than just a testament to his breadth as a crate digger; in fact, he’s poking fun of the repetitive nature of contemporary dance music with the lead single “Pick Up.” The mastery of his 70s influences and minimalistic Kompakt-aligned groove reigns supreme, too. Somehow, it not only works, but it sounds natural.

Knock Knock’s uncluttered. It flows like a DJ set — travelling seamlessly from one soundscape to the next.

Though his physical move towards a life of peace and quiet might suggest Koze’s departure from dance may be imminent, the music present here tells us differently of his legacy. There’s a reason why Koze is one of electronic’s biggest enigmas — but rather than questioning the motives behind such a work, we ought to just let it rest.

Tor lays down an eclectic, low-end wonderland ahead of Lightning In A Bottle [Mix]

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Tor

Amidst a blanket of monotony in the bass world, Tor has risen as one of the new wave of forward-thinking talent introducing an aural breath of fresh air.

The producer wriggled his way into the spotlight not too long ago thanks in part to Emancipator, and quickly made a name for himself thanks to his creative arrangement and fearlessness around pushing his own musical boundaries. His debut album on Emancipator’s Loci imprint, Drum Therapy, was met with critical acclaim, thus leading him to land a second album on the label in 2016 that most would say conquered the Sophomore slump.

Tor will be making his Lightning In A Bottle debut come Memorial Day weekend, where he will be delighting his crowds with a multifaceted performance. Before seeing him, however, he decided to make an official “introduction” to his work:

“I wanted to make this mix as bit of an introduction for people who maybe haven’t heard my music before, mixed in with some songs I’ve been enjoying lately as well as a showcase of what I’ve been up to recently with some unreleased remixes and hints of what you might hear at my LIB set this year. Cheers!”


Tracklist:
Tor – Two Suns
Tor – Two Suns (CloZee Remix)
IHF – Departure
CloZee – Secret Place (Tor Remix)
Tourist – Hush
Maya Jane Coles – Bo & Wing
Nuage – Every PPL
Tor – Vaults
??? – ??? (Tor Remix)
RUFUS DU SOL – Innerbloom (Tor Remix)
??? – ??? (Tor Remix)
Edamame – Sable (feat. Tor)
Affelaye – Whir

Henry Saiz & Band define music as a connective force in hauntingly daring LP, ‘Human’ [Album Review]

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There are few forces that unify humanity as greatly as music. It feels as though we’re inherently drawn to rhythm and sound frequencies woven into notes and melodies, with great philosophers like Pythagoras even boasting about its healing powers. More recently, a study proved these notions with the discovery that brain activity is heightened when experiencing live music in a social setting.

Henry Saiz is one who’s been touched profoundly by these properties throughout his life, and has brought a brand new layer in their exploration through Human. The crowdfunded audiovisual album — his third  — is his most ambitious endeavor to date, seeks to connect music to the place it’s written as well as the people listening to it.

His funding campaign considerably exceeded goal, showing just how much trust his fans, and other interested connoisseurs, placed in what would come of this mission. To accomplish it, he and his band embarked on an expansive journey alongside the world, carefully selecting ten magnetic locations to inspire each chapter of the story. A video accompanies each chapter as well, offering a deeper look at the inner workings of the album’s creative process.

“I’ve always considered electronic music as a starting point — a territory without borders,” stated Saiz at the beginning of “Downfall,” Human’s leading single and video. It’s meant to illuminate the album’s core message and aesthetic, synthesizing elements across electronica and ethereal vocals into a bitterweet symphony. Beauty, wonder, and a hint of darkness are captured in “Downfall,” allowing the song to double as a reflection of humanity itself — as perceived by Saiz.

The band venture out to the Canary Islands to begin their, settling down in the picturesque beach town of Lanzarote before traversing over to Australia. Both these places are abundant in natural beauty, and their landmasses are both largely unpopulated; thus, they made for excellent “invitation[s] to escape reality,” per Henry in the second episode of the Human docuseries. “Haven” and “Ghosts,” the finished products of recording in these areas, certainly achieve their intended goal of inserting a sense of surrealism into the album, using futuristic vocals, drums recorded in cavernous volcanoes, eclectic rhythms, airy synthesizers and other dreamy elements to do so.

Next up, “The Golden Cage,” Henry Saiz and Band take listeners to Dubai, which is considered a highly developed and progressive city-state within the Middle East. Its urban atmosphere and oasis-esque location are translated into a flowy soundscape with a hint of edgy, progressive rock-inspired guitar riffs at the end that are reminiscent of solos strummed out in 1970s stadiums. Likewise, “Dragon Hills,” inspired by Saigon, also plays around with retro elements; albeit, in synth form and with added Southern Asiatic melodic arrangement to better emulate its setting.

We head back into the wilderness once more for “Human,” “Time Machine,” and “Me Llama Una Voz,” which were penned in the Kenyan savanna, Joshua Tree, and the Argentian Andes, respectively. Saiz heavily touches upon the tribal, carnal parts of the human nature in these records, with each sharing a common theme of mysticism hidden in their melodies.

“Human” is a rare vocal-less composition on the album, forcing listeners to find piece and meaning within its harmonies and hollow percussion. “Time Machine” is as psychedelic as the desert it was inspired by, hooking the mind in splashes of indie-tinged verses about rebirth and eerie recordings in the background. “Me Llama Una Voz” conveys its sonic message by weaving pan flutes into is underlay, verses sung by a local vocalist, and expansive melodies that give off the feeling of trudging through the mountains — much like Saiz and his band did while searching for inspiration.

Despite the unique instrumentation and vocals that Henry uses to distinguish each song from one another, they are ultimately quite similar in style. Not only does it make his third album a cohesive story, but it additionally shows off just how similar humans can be, despite the distance that separates us. Everyone is drawn to a well-arranged song with a jarring melody, for example, no matter the genre. In creating an electronica album that refuses to adhere to a specific archetype while remaining cohesive overall, we are seeing Henry and his band demonstrating this fact in real time.

Photo taken from Henry Saiz’ Facebook

Human finally closes with a piece called “Answer,” almost challenging to listener to define their own perception of humanity. This piece is particularly special, as its home location was Antarctica. Like “Downfall,” a bittersweet nature pervades once more as its vocalist states that “this story never ends.” These words ring true; life seems to be an eternal learning experience for all involved. For Henry Saiz & Band and this album project, however, one theme rises above all else: music is a unifying force, and a key to finding one’s own meaning of life and connectivity with others.

Bronze Whale – Patterns

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Bronze Whale

Electronica aficionados have found a consistent talent in Bronze Whale, a rising duo from Austin, Texas. They’ve captured the ears in underground circles with their pleasing mixture of eclectic synthwork and captivating arrangement.

Their newest piece, “Patterns,” is an intriguing number that will settle nicely into their repertoire. It traverses through several layers of nostalgia, which is manifested through warm synth chords and vocoded vocal edits. These recurring motifs indeed play out in “Patterns,” and mixed with its vibey verses, fits well in multiple settings.

 

Premiere: Clarian – Television Days (Guy J Remix)

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Clarian

Television Days already had a lot going for it prior to its release due to the fact that Balance signed it into its arsenal. The debut LP by Clarian explores soundscapes from the past and present, bound together in a cohesive aural tale that highlights the French-Canadian artist’s genre-defying tendencies.

Recently, the title single of Television Days was sent out into the electrosphere to be re-worked, with one of those chosen being the venerable Guy J. The progressive stalwart maintains the nostalgic synthwork and vocal edits of the original, but amps it up a but with driving percussion and a contemporary overlay. While Clarian has created a spot of sun in “Television Days,” Guy J takes it back to the shadows of the discotech.

 

 

“Television Days (Guy J Remix)” releases on April 20. Order a copy here