Introducing Electronic Blog Is Electronic by yours truly, Michael “Gein” Kelley! Electronica has long been one of my favorite genres of music. In fact, you might be surprised to know that it IS my favorite genre! The tunes these artists unleash upon the musical world tend to go unnoticed, but Electronic Blog Is Electronic plans to give you a break from all the heavy action every other Sunday with a wide variety of styles. Progressive trance? Progressive house? Darkstep? I’m going to cover it. So kick back, prop your feet up and enjoy the tunes.
I think the best way to kick this column off would be with my favorite artist of all time, Airwave.
33-year-old Laurent Véronnez, the Belgian man behind Airwave and over 30 other projects, is not only my favorite, but one of the most talented too. From his ambient alias Planisphere to his diversified side project Nova, Laurent has been apart of (whether it be creating or helping) somewhere around 500 tracks. And every single one I’ve heard has been quality.
However, his main project is Airwave, a progressive trance entity where the A+ material goes to infinity and beyond. Having only 4 “true” releases spread out across 9 years, he manages to go where few artists go in a lifetime. And it’s all up from here.
Believe is Airwave’s first release, coming out in 2002. Fusing softer beats and 90’s-style synths and sounds, Believe began the journey of Airwave’s underrated yet illustrious career. In 2004, Airwave released I Want To Believe, which was a 2-disc album that contained Believe on the first side (a few tracks remixed) and brand new tracks on the other containing future classics like “Space Diva” and “Lightspeed” (which the latter of would go on to get modern treatment).
Then, in 2006, Airwave released what I consider to be the greatest album of all time, Trilogique. The album’s name alone has gone on to be my internet moniker for many games and websites. Clocking in at a mixed 3.4 hours, 3-disc Trilogique presents a simple idea: logical evolution (hence the name of the album). Each track is designed to flow into each other as an evolving entity. At the same time, each disc is a different genre of music. Disc 1 is extremely melodic progressive trance, disc 2 is more grey (breakbeat-y with a hint of industrial, melodies aren’t soaring and mostly focusing on powerful basslines and beats) and disc 3 seems like an amalgamation of the previous discs, but in ambient form. Powerful, club-like beats, engaging and enveloping atmospheres and top-of-the-line production makes Trilogique a full-blown instrumental album no one should go without listening to once. It is the only Airwave album to be mixed.
(For those who don’t know, mixing is a process by which songs are edited to seamlessly flow into each other to create an immersive and engaging aural experience. This is what DJs do live: they play a set that contains a bunch of songs that flow together. This is for consistency sake, since the basic formula for most electronic music is build up->climax->comedown. If the beat stops, so does the party! On top of that, the full versions wouldn’t fit all on the same disc so this shook off file size without losing quality).
Just 2 years later, Airwave released Touareg. Clocking in on 2 discs at 2.3 hours, Touareg showed Airwave was capable of releasing flexible and diverse music. It featured a lot more trance-y elements (including exceptional vocalists), but also the creativity of Laurent. One of the main instruments in the track “Candy of Life” is him shaking a box of Tic-Tacs! Instead of going all out and releasing three from-the-ground-up discs like Trilogique, disc 2 contained modernized versions of his classic work.
Then, in 2009, Airwave released Quadri. While it’s only a collection, it’s a collection of over 100 Airwave tracks. It has all of the music from his main albums plus some remixes. The real catch, though, is that it contains all the tracks from Trilogique in their unmixed state. If you’re an Airwave fan, this is the ultimate collector item.
And that brings us to 2011. The future for Airwave is bright. Releasing phenomenal music throughout his career, Airwave has overcome all other artists to sit as king on the throne of my musical preference. Laurent is currently working on his next album under the Airwave alias, due out for sometime this year. And you can bet your ass I’m going to pay top dollar for it, like I have with all of his work.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably interested in what this glorious musician has to offer, whether it be pure shit or pure bliss:
This, dear readers, is my ultimate favorite Airwave track. Ever since I bought the album (paying a good 30 bucks or so for an import), this has been the song to catch my ear time and time again. The oscillating melody, the big beat and the massive soundscape all drive this song home as not only a fantastic dance track, but a casual listening one as well. The best by the best. This is the mixed version so that is why the song starts and ends so abruptly.
Coming off disc 1 of Trilogique, “Sunday Break” delivers subtle melodies over a breakbeat beat. Truly one of the greatest off this disc and one of Airwave’s finest. This is unmixed.
Coka? Who is that? Coka is the vocalist in this track, bringing his African culture-infused voice to this bliss-filled trance banger. “Coka’s Song” appears on Touareg and is my personal favorite off that album. Coka also appears in a more melodic track as well. A real piece of art.
That wraps this up, folks! Thanks for giving this new column a read. I hope there are some electronica fans out there that are interested in exploring a genre without guitars and drums. I’m not sure if I’ll stick to the format of this because it’ll be difficult to do similar with other artists that don’t have as fleshed out of a career, but I’ll try my best to just let the music do the talking.
Feel free to suggest artists or criticize in the comments!