Simple, but Hardstyle

I briefly scratched the surface of some of the more recent Hardstyle releases through both my inbox and YouTube today. That allowed me to find two releases I’d like to mention here: One from D-Block and S-te-fan, and the other from Da Tweekaz and Neilio. The reviews of these tracks will be combined into one post for two reasons: One, because both are considered to be melodic tracks; Two, both of them still manage to make decent tracks just by keeping things simple, which is something I think any budding producer should learn how to master.

Let’s begin with D-Block and S-te-fan’s ‘Higher’. Personally, I felt as if the introduction built up to the climax more slowly than the other Hardstyle tracks I’ve heard. However, this also allowed for any variations that followed to stand out. Specifically, when the low-pitched vocals said “let the music take you higher”, snippets of the ‘er’ syllable get repeated, then tuned into notes that form a melody, merging itself into the rest of the composition. This was followed by alternations between chord notes and notes of the main melody. Very blissful indeed. Unfortunately, the biggest weakness of this release is repetitive lyrics. Catchy and addictive, but repetitive. I would have loved to loop this more if there were better lyrics.

The next track by Da Tweekaz and Neilio, titled ‘Freedom’, is an attempt to make something that Hardstyle lovers can dance to gloriously. I used the word “attempt”, because although I did enjoy the melody, I felt as if the words carry a lot of weight. Those lyrics may be more suited to something rougher or tougher, like Ran-D’s Defqon.1 2015 anthem. However, I didn’t find it difficult to let that slide, because if anything, this track can still make people feel something on the dance floor: It’ll make people want to celebrate. The octaves in the kick-chord-kick-chord alternations sounded like a carnival theme. Combined with a twinkling melody and synth twists, you can’t help but imagine colourful lights flying past your eyes.

If you’re a producer looking for some introduction to the very core of what makes Hardstyle work, but don’t want to dive into the depths of ancient history, these new tracks are certainly worth looking into. ‘Higher’ has been released through Scantraxx Records and ‘Freedom’ from the Dirty Workz label.

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Da Tweekaz ft. Elke Diels – Letting Go

After the venue for Bass Control 2014 was announced, I wanted to find out about my favourite Tweekay boys and what they were up to in the musical realm of Hardstyle. I came across this recorded performance video on the 18th of July and felt like I died from happiness. It wasn’t in the iTunes store, and it wasn’t released yet. Since I wasn’t receiving promo mail from Dirty Workz, all I could do was wait.

As of the 7th of August, the official music video has been released, and the release date has been announced as the 1st of September 2014. I didn’t notice until the 15th of August since I was busy with homework, but it’s better late than never. Without further ado, it’s time for me to deliver my two cents on the brilliance of this tune and why I’m so excited about its release.

First of all, we all know what ‘Let It Go‘ is and where it’s from. The track became an instant classic when it was released, because its empowering message was one that resonated with people from all walks of life. Da Tweekaz themselves have released a remix of this tune. I always love it when they put a Hardstyle twist on popular songs. It’s a daring, reckless, yet playfully ingenious thing to do. Their twists always manage to match their wacky everyday personalities perfectly. If you saw the performance video I linked you to earlier, you can see how their playfulness flows into their live performances. If you follow their social media, you’ll see how they do all sorts of funny things. In fact, if you’ve seen them live, like me, you’ll know how enjoyable it is to see and hear Da Tweekaz having fun. Remixes of popular songs are always good for a laugh and surprise on the dance floor.

From the popularity of ‘Let It Go’, to the remix of ‘Let It Go’, there’s no denying that Da Tweekaz have openly professed their love for this tune. Many others have in similar ways, and you only need to Google things like covers and bootlegs to see how many people have already done so. However, making a track like ‘Letting Go’, is taking things to the next level. I don’t think the similarity in the title and the theme is a coincidence at all. In fact, it seems to be their way of saying: We’re not done yet, surprise! Many artists normally stop after they finish their covers, but it is the ones who choose to step out of that comfort zone, then create something entirely new that are going to have the greatest chance of succeeding. It’s hard to walk out of something so memorable, but Da Tweekaz managed to do it, and they did it brilliantly.

‘Letting Go’ incorporates subtle Drum & Bass percussion in the beginning. With the soft yet vulnerable layers and vocals, it can even sound like something quite meditative. Sprinkles of guitar throughout breakdowns are beautifully magical. Then, the main melody trumpets its way in. The chords gradually climb its way up, and aren’t just cliche ascending scales. It’s a great representation of how things are in life when people try to overcome difficulties. It’s not just a simple case of ‘up and go’, since people can only make their way to the top after overcoming obstacles. The lyrics for this track are simple yet powerfully universal, because it tells the victorious story of opening oneself to new experiences. After the pain of holding back, it reminds others about the relief of release. It’s basically just like the feeling of going to festivals after several days of hard work and other mundane routines. People enter into a world where they can temporarily cast all those worries and negativities aside, to feel free. The music video takes the approach of moving on for a breakup, but really, the track can be applicable to so many different situations.

Da Tweekaz, I can’t wait to see you again. I won’t be able to let you guys go!

Neilio - WINMY EP

Neilio ft. Ohwin – Wish I Never Met You

Published on Beatsmedia 22/11/2013:
http://beatsmedia.com/review-neilio-ft-ohwin-wish-i-never-met-you/

Allow the piano notes to soothe your soul before kicks take you into an explosion of ecstasy. ‘Wish I Never Met You’ is an emotional track that will mend the hearts of heartbroken folk before it blasts the pain away.

In the build-up, all elements sound balanced despite their variance in pitch, especially when the amplifier overdrive tones and vocals co-exist. This is followed by two surprising elements: The solo of the mild chorus melody, and the kicks that sound like they’re floating slightly above it momentarily. Most Hardstyle tracks tend to demand some sort of furious hit or clap right before the kicks come in, and then get right into the deep bass. The track’s gradual dive into deepness can be very pleasurable, especially when accompanied by bittersweet lyrics.

However, there is one odd downside to the track, and that is the sudden elevation to a higher key towards the end of the preview. To make a more specific point, the vocals were excessively modified, even though it would have sounded just fine naturally.

Nonetheless, overall, ‘Wish I Never Met You’ manages to achieve a good balance between delivering expectations and introducing innovation.

The track has been released in the WINMY EP through Dirty Workz on Beatport.

Balance 7/10
Melody 7/10
Lyrics 8/10
Kicks 8/10
Overall Rating 7.5/10

Goliath – ‘Unacceptable’ EP

A mysterious DJ has claimed the medieval name Goliath and presented a debut release called ‘Unacceptable’ on Dirty Workz’s sub-label Anarchy.

Goliath - Unacceptable EP

‘Unacceptable’ vocals have an element of emptiness. It retains only the high pitch of an old witch’s eerie warning, making it sound like twisted fairy tale. The kick has much clarity, with a pow punch that Hardstylers will all love. The build-up is completed with a unique, cheeky, muffled whoop. The wispy eeyores create anticipation, over and over again. It’s like listening to it with fresh ears every time.

The melodic screeches of ‘Scarcity’ are quite complex, resembling a strained scream as well as the scratch on the decks. The human touch is precisely what plucks the heartstrings. Demonic build-ups and tease rises and falls with excellent control. Its kick has an element of sharpness, subtle as thorns on a rose. It rustles like bushes as it vibrates along with the deep bass.

The witch’s whispers reappear in ‘Rockaby’, complemented or balanced out by the bass. Operatic sounds accompany the soft melody, which gives the track a cushion. The kick has more of a wow-sound to it and is well-rounded before it even reaches into the climax, where the roughness is revealed in its full form. Towards the end the loopy highs and lows of the melody just make the listener crave for more.

Watch out for this life-changing release! Its scratches will cut deep into the heart and soul. Excellent tracks are scarce, and this EP lives up to its name! Will it soon get its amazing title on charts?