Liquid Earth - Liquid Earth (N/A, 2020)
Cutting edge techno just got even sharper with this wondrous slice of melodic and destructive dance floor heaven.
For some in the current musical landscape, infusing all that went before with all that exists now has become part of their mission to further dance music. An obsession with older sounds in many ways is very understandable, given the fact that these genres and styles never really drifted away or went out of fashion. Instead, they resided in the minds of those who experienced it all back then, and have been left as a form of legacy for those who wish to dwell within its ever lasting sonic world. The visions and elements that composed of these genres resonate so much perhaps due to their powerful blend of beat with evocative harmonies, crafting those moments on the dance floor but also in a home environment that you can't really beat. Genres such as techno, dub techno, progressive house, breakbeat and deep house all had a hand in this nurturing of melodic exploration, each taking turns for various artists to try their hand at the formula, in order to achieve emotive perfection as a result. The effect is overwhelmingly positive, a generation who raved to these tunes have safe guarded their legacies to just in their minds, but in their record collections or online forums, their memories never allowing them to let go of how that one particular Peacefrog cut sounded on first listen, or that Guerrilla track captivated them deep in the rave, or that Zoom Records tune blew their minds in the depths of the dance floor. Music is very much quantified by memory, either by how one is reminded by other individuals or scenes, or how the song places itself deep within a era gone by. Many producers in the here and now clearly have a real passion for the deep passions and feelings associated with the progressive and deep melodic side of dance music, and this is very much evoked within their carefully curated and impeccably delivered tunes. Tunes that have a root placed within the ideals and philosophies of history, but the sound is plucked straight from the present, its tone and textures familiar to those who perhaps haven't gone back through the annuals, and those who live and breath it. Sometimes, when done right, you wouldn't check to see if the track came out in 1990 or 2020, as it just retains this timeless aura to it. When that is achieved, you have something truly special on your hands.
In terms of diversity, song construction, vibe arrangement, and technical excellence, you need look no further than Taylor Freels to satisfy all of those indicators. A producer respected far and wide for his forward thinking take on dance music, be it the hypnotic and the emotional, the deep and the metallic, or the soaring and rhythmic, Freels has tried it all over a distinguished and lengthy career via various alias. His music always toes the fine line between the full immersion within the sounds gone by, but always brings you back into the present at all the right moments, a combination that has succeeded significantly through flair and compositional consideration. He has a real knack at holding the listener in the palm of his hand, our engagement never ceasing to be reduced, as through each cut we simply marvel at the goodness contained within. Its perhaps the spectrum of mood and tone that always shifts between each release that conjure up the magic, a unending gift that consistently retains our attention, euphoria and immersion working in unison. A approach that only serves to inspire those within the scene, an approach that furthers the genre by applying layers and considerations that perhaps Urulu himself can only pull off. From looking back through his Urulu discography, that has been the drive of his creative outputs, where you see a shift from the straight up to the more rhythmically rich; whereas before the focus perhaps remained on the interlaying of sweet chords to get maximum impact, his music then evolved into one of multiple sensory inputs, where textural drumming become just as important for setting the tone as the chords. Not to say either or is better, but it shows a wonderful journey from point A, to a point that is yet to be determined. Some select choices include the deep and supremely impressive 'Play Something with Words' EP, from 2014; the excellent piano house leaning 'Banshee Boardwalk' record from the same year; the dense and flavoursome 'Tochigi Descent' EP from 2016; the intensely progressive 'The Banshee' EP from 2017; and the brilliant 'Foreign Depths' EP from 2018, which is this writer's favourite of his. Under his Kepler Sound District name, a new side to the sound emerges, one where rhythmic tendencies move between harmonic and percussive elements. Both releases under this name are well worth checking out, a proper excursion through dubtacular chordal arrangements and spectacular drum switches that take your breath away. Both names are worth it to check out, so please do, its quite the trip!
So now we arrive at the record to be reviewed today, his second effort as Liquid Earth, 'Liquid Earth'. Following on from his epic tech house tinged 'Microsmosis' EP from last year, this record grooves a little further into the realms of the 90s, where the hypnotic ness is ramped up a notch and the layering of elements compiles into a very neat package indeed. Like a delicate blend of progressive house, early UK techno and rave tinged stompers, this record has all the bountiful character of releases gone by, but like mentioned previously, that sense in ability that is sometimes only felt from certain producers. Its a beauty, in short, so lets take a dive.
Up first we have 'A Little Nucleus (Liquid Earth Mix)', and we immediately jump straight into it. The beats hammer it home, the dynamics crafted to give that perpetual sense of forward momentum, their structure and design doing enough already this early on. The vocal sample permeates over the top of proceedings, before the chirpy bass line wonders right through the middle. Then from above comes the deep hazy chords, layered up with one taking prominence whilst the other gently graces the background of the song. Very much like the engaging drum patterns, the harmonic elements are equally compelling, as they take a break to add in more rhythmic stabs and gentle key lines. These interplay with the bass line so effectively, before it breaks down one final time for the chordal elements to swing right back into it. Vibrant, evolving and effervescent, there is a real infectiousness about this track, and it bodes well for the rest of the track. Next comes 'Lowrider', and it begins with the spaced out chords blinkering in and out of view. The drums excitedly emerge from underneath, gaining traction as the tune begins to pick up momentum. This structure builds itself up so gently, little pieces becoming part of a larger whole, time uniting these siblings together as the track continually builds up steam. The pressure is eventually released as the kick comes through, but only for a minute is it allowed to persist, as we descend into the chime chords, low key synth lines, and an acidic tinged line that holds it all together, a sequence layering that amounts to this unreal audial experience. The drums by this point have remerged, keen to give back to the life blood of the song, their presence greeted with pleasure and delight. The mid part of the song sees the tune take some down time, looking once more to build itself up once more. The drawn out way it achieves this makes you really wonder, a hyper precise and technically executed kind of sound, but only this sort of plain of existence can be crafted with an innate passion and vision. Mind-blowing, to say the least. Up next comes 'Human Condition', and the scene is set once more with the keys. Fast paced, they work alongside the singular kick with a breezy energy, as light acid lines abound in the distance. The drums then up the ante, their tone upped by the intro of the percussive elements. The track is quite sparse compared to the previous, but no less impactful, with the elements working together to craft a world filled with life and character. The playful chords, the energetic straight up drumming patterns, the exuberance and overall feel, its all just very very very good.
Up next comes the 'Defense Mix' of the previous cut, as we begin in familiar territories. The tone however is slightly different, already a bit more in your face, the chords evoking the lasers and haze of the rave to greater effect. The groove builds up quickly, receding before an explosion into full on mind blown kinds of territories. The vocal sample keeps cropping up, reminding us to open our eyes every now and again, as the tune looks to retain its momentum through the inherent focus on the drums. The melodic work is where its at here, the keys and chords constantly shifting to keep the atmospheres going, the drums then following their lead into the realms of pure ecstasy. The burning intensity washes over us, as we Long to hear this tune played on the biggest sound system known to man, the music shaking the walls as we give ourselves in to it completely. Wow. To finish up, we have 'Gummo Hardrive', and where else do we begin but the low ends! marvellous. The combo two lines team up for the final time, as their partnership in sound allows for the drums to slide into view. With the progressive blueprint outlined, the song then just naturally flows on from this point, the bass line slicing right through the middle of proceedings, the hypnotic blend more on point here, the frequencies looking to retain our interest through their looping nature. That all switches up, as the vocal line captivates, before the tune trims itself before crafting one final moment of sheer delight. Its more subtle, but just as potent, an exercise in the dub and the joy of It all. Amazing scenes.
Liquid Earth could exist in another period of space and time, but it happens to exist within the here and now. A delicate lifting of 90s signature elements has feed into an dazzling display of progressive brilliance, a blend of understanding and passion that is pulled off with such finesse and grace. The kind of record that does so much more than pay homage - it joins the dots, it creates the bridges, its fuses styles and notions together, a record that gives back almost as much as it took in. Only a few can pull that off, none more so than Mr Freels. An absolute triumph.
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