The star of Basic Moves continue to shine brightly with the release of the debut LP by Dana Kuehr, a simmering and and lushous audial journey that touches upon a wide reaching array of influences and spaces.
One of Electronic Music's great abilities is its propensity to continually shift, churning through the notions with ease as a track evolves from one point and into something else entirely. When tracks of this nature are placed side by side, you get an incredibly rewarding experience, and this experience is found in spades on the debut LP by Dana Kuehr. Originally from the States but now based in Belgium, Kuehr has been a regular presence on the excellent Kiosk Radio station for some time, with her shows taking in everything from blissed out dub through to uptempo euphoric steppers, and are well worth a listen in order to get a glimpse into her sonic motifs and stylings. Kuehr began debuting her own productions in 2020, with an appearance on the '6AM' various artists record released on Ojoo music with the track 'e.piffany (how do we continue)'. The tune is immediately inviting, as a warm as hell bass line intermingles with a delicate yet energetically satisfying drumming sequence, all the while a heavenly series of pads do the business in the backdrop. The tune pairs the frantic drumming styles of old school house with a techno tempo, with a classy gloss painted on top that gets the emotions going in all the right places. Kuehr would follow this up with another appearance on a various comp, this time with her track 'Parallel Play' featuring on the 'Listen Festival Compilation 2022' album. This number is much more of a swinger, with a highly thoughtful bass line keeping things ticking over as emotive subtitles make their presence known inbetween the drums, with the eerie keys that come through towards the end really hammering through into the haze. The sense of evolution is strong within both of these mentioned tracks, but they present themselves in very differing ways, and hint towards Kuehr's approach to composing tunes and how they allow themselves to morph and grow as time passes by.
The time seems right for Kuehr to introduce her vision to the world, and the 18th release from Basic Moves serves as the perfect start to what we are sure will be a long and very successful discography. Over the course of six tracks Kuehr outlines a musical mantra that swerves between a number of genres and styles, all of which is expertly pulled together by hypnotically rhythmic and substantially melodic structures, that draw the listener deep within and hold them very close to the beating heart found within the mix. Each track has a wonderful character on an individual basis, acting with an identity that draws power from many places but as a collective the experience is incredibly satisfying, with enough depth to provide a headphone listen at home alongside providing a blissful and powerful time when standing within the club. The tracks grow, the swerve in energy between tracks a pure delight to indulge in, and to put it simply, the stars align in the most effortless and enjoyable of ways. So without further delay, lets dive into this excellent album, one which offers up the widest spectrum of feeling possible...
Up first comes 'How Do We Continue', an earlier release from Kuehr but one that opens things up very nicely indeed. The bassline and keys come into view from the off, interlacing themselves with a wondrous array of natural and worldly sounds, and it is from this intoxicating opening salvo that the kicks come into view. Hats and claps join into the mix, along with a beautiful muted key sequence which really does the business through the middle of the composition, as additional rhythmic elements make their presence known to great effect. The track continues to move along and ever so slightly evolve, with the drumming doing much of the morphing with little variations keeping the mind very much engaged. The dip in energy around the half way mark sees the main key sequence drop out to provide some room for the bass and drums to do their thing, with this switch up then shifting perspective once again as a new chord progression comes into view, a delightfully uplifting movement that is hands in the air stuff if we ever heard it, but in the most quietly emphatic kind of way. It stirs the dreamer inside us, as our eyes close and our mouth shifts into a wide as hell grin, our souls lifted up high as we drift through the dance, satisfied and nurtured every step of the way. A great set up for things to come. 'Almagest Slide' comes next, and this one capitalises on the relationship from the previous track with positivity and meaning. The drums have a nice little swing to them, the bassline muted but allowed to permeate through the haze at all the right moments, as the melody in the backdrop does all kinds of superb things, mixing between distant emotive rhythms and foreground euphoric excellence. The track shifts into a large scale after the opening salvo, involving the listener within an ocean of undulating beats and deeply absorbing samples, with the emotion laid bare for all to witness and in many ways providing a space for the listener to occupy with their own mental wonderings. Everything slowly drops away to give space for a somewhat junglist leaning beat, with this space then providing the foundation for the keys to slide back into view with purpose, their presence never lingering for long though as time management is effortlessly handled here. We simply allow the music to continue holding our hand, and what a journey it has turned out to be. Flawless stuff.
'Cloud B' comes next, and this one begins with the lead melody to get us going. Windy chords shift along up top as the beat starts to rear its head, shifting from a slumber and into a fully blown canter, the bass line of course perfected and blended into the rhythm section expertly. The resulting pulse is overly enriching, the dancefloor set alight by a careful but exciting evolution within the structures that keeps the mind ticking over, its placement somewhere within the layers. The track continues to move along with intent, purposefully covering all the ground set within the parameters and finding plenty of space beyond to grow into, with the most obvious step into new ground coming around the half way mark as the track shifts into a new melodic segment. This provides the listener with something new yet utterly familiar, and its a joy to loose yourself within. Superb stuff. 'great lakes empty beaches', and this one begins with the keys to set the mood. The drums come into view ever so slowly, and the additional sounds that emerge are as Detroit as they come, with acidic lines covering much of the below ground as hats start to make their presence known. The beat that comes to the fore has an electro edge to it, swinging beautifully as plenty of space is given to the melodics that persist up above, their presence shifting in and out of view to great effect. The track takes breaks when required, allowing the stanzas to flow between each other, the transitions of which are handled superbly and given plenty of time to breathe. The bass line continues to mesmerise, its form always pushing through and providing a great contrast to the space age chords that sweep across the top ends. Great stuff.
'Realm 6' comes next, and this one starts with the singular and the rhythmic to get things going. A note is stretched out up top, high octane yet all encompassing, as the beat starts to rear its head alongside a stab that you know will begin to feature more prominently as time passes by. A graceful arpeggio then comes into view as the snares and kicks become more prevalent, the track really showing everything its got as things evolve and grow in a very organic way indeed, with nothing feeling forced. The chord that comes into view around the two minute mark takes the breath away, our anticipation set at the highest level, and Kuehr suitably capitalises on this with the introduction of the kicks and the building of energy to feverish levels. We are all for it and grab on with both hands, the track eager to show us around the space in which we find ourselves, with more time dedicated to exploring the furtherest regions of this mesmerising soundscape. To wrap things up, we have 'BECAUSE', and this one starts with perhaps the most melodic segment we have experienced yet. A vocal sample calls out above the emotive shifts, presented with heaps of energy and when the drums come into view we get fully on board. The track invites, entices and lifts up all in one swoop, the biggest of hearts and the finest of emotive journeys, as we are swept away within a sea of joy and feeling. The intro always hints at more to come, as like with previous efforts this one sees the switch in tone and scale, the keys moving from a slow moving experience through into full on heaven mode, and if this came on in the dance this would move the earth beneath. A wonderful way to end things, on a excellent record that from start to finish does all it can to revert expectations, change perceptions and in all, provide the listener with a first class listening experience - it does all this and then some. Very, very impressive.
Dance Music is dynamic, it is ever changing and it can speak in many audial languages, and when this is all bottled so successfully we can only stand back and take it all in. Via a blaze of razor sharp beats and wonderfully melodic structures, Dana Kuehr had set a basis for the formation of her debut LP that goes above and beyond in its ability to move the mind and the body. Each track deftly handles progression and momentum, allowing for the listener to delve deep within its layers and transpose the soul into the melodic progressions with intent and meaning, and this continual invitation into the fold only strengthens the relationship we have with this record. A journey is found here that points to so many points in time but ultimately comes across as a superbly informed and delectably fresh experience, and one which we feel will lead to many more pieces of excellence to come. Superb, on every level imaginable.
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