Reviewed by: Roger Versey
Common Dreams label is ran by well seasoned producer and purveyor of the deep Brad P; and is one of those special musical curators representing the new golden era of techno that we talk about here strong. They release the old fashioned good way, strictly vynl cut; “sorry hipsters, if this saddens you…you won’t be playing Common Dreams releases on your cool ipod docks and hair styling stations disguised as CDR-turntables”…
And surely the music found on Common Dreams contains quite the proper elements of deep techno from lively atmospherics to lush emotive vibes, and the infamous 808 and 909 mechanics. The label and it’s releases are a nod to the past naturally with these elements, as well as a time in present and future where artists can Express themselves through the music. As the label puts it “ Common Dreams has a vision to release carefully selected music that they feel has originality and expression, while presenting contrasting sides”.
Common Dreams has masterfully realized that vision on all 5 of its previous releases including offerings of the fine and deep techno variety from Brad P, John Shima, Reedale Rise, Miles Atmospheric, and Rob Belleville. Maybe delivering one to two eps a year since their launch in 2014, it’s clear to see the careful and rare curation in their small yet full of quality catalog….The beautiful aesthetics of their rare and lovely curations continue here with a legend in the deep house and techno and to those who really know; that’s deepArt Sounds label owner, Mr. George ‘Allstarr Motomusic’ Btp as Dan Piu (deepArts, Moto Music,Childhood Intelligence) with the ‘Alphaville EP’.
It’s a true techno and house hybrid 4 tracker; Dan Piu’s signature dreamy touch is very present with nods to both Detroit Techno and Chicago House during a time he too was churning out endless tracks underground, many only heard in exclusive mixes DJd by himself. And there’s one thing for sure; whether he’s Housing you through the late night as Zarenzeit ( check out the dope ‘Black Inside LP’), or perhaps away from boards doing visual work as Art Jorge, or keeping the golden times and ages true as Dan Piu, and he’s been here all along delivering top quality Deepness for the Real few. To really go in depth more about the man they call Dan would be a full article alone and maybe that will happen one day.
As for the latest music ‘Alphaville’ displays the techno and Chicago house hues of Dan Piu and is the focus of this review.
In an exciting year where Piu has just recently laced us with the stellar EP ‘Ocean of Blue Chaoz’, he delivers timeless techno once again here. ‘Alphaville EP’ creates the mental scenes quite well, for a deep late night or early hours techno affair; the EP is dreamy, soulful, and moody and faithfully carries the Common Dreams vision with a common denominator of Deep. Now let’s explore this mystical land on wax, a future city of dreams and the surreal with Alphaville.
‘Alphaville EP’ accommodates your dreams urgently from its opening moments on ‘Halo City’. Dan Piu brings the groove in immediately with thumping kick drums, along with a groovy real house style bassline riding the bump in subtle fashion; meanwhile snappy hats and cymbals, and tweaked arpeggiated synths assertively accompany the rhythm as the track keeps ascending towards its main groove. Icy bass synths in sci-fi, signature of lovely early 90s Detroit ambience alternate in musical conversation as their robotic tones tap into the present groove; and they lushly accompany the lovely bell accented and spacey synth notes arriving next that serve as the foundation of this tracks melody. From here on out it’s a deep affair tour de force; a subtle synth seamlessly moves in like clouds over the tracks terrain providing a catalyst for the deep imagination as tones evolve higher through octave manipulation. There’s plenty of synth tweaking and going in throughout as well providing highs, beeping taps, and sonar like signals that only enrich Halo City’s mental environment even more.
Those thumping kicks remain, revealing 808 kick drum sublayers throughout, subtle in texture, very present in your ears. Melodic synth taps and whistle like synths of the enlightening variety peak at carefully selected moments throughout the track providing some very surreal dreamy atmosphere in this deep hybrid. Lovely rolling 909 snares make a fashionably late arrival as the track ascends towards it peak and culmination. Indeed, ‘Halo City’ is a deep destination; a major city in this deep land of Alphaville where the business gets started and handled. The job is well done here as ‘Halo City’ will seamlessly draw you into its atmosphere. It has the rhythmic elements of a Chicago leaning house track but faster paced, with spacey atmospherics like that of a deep techno track. And clocking in at just over 8 minutes it’s a deep journey surely. Excellent work here and top emotional sound quality.
‘Halo City’ works great for kickstarting a deep techno or house set or at home elevating your mind to new levels not reached yet.
And of course there’s more here in Alphaville as we get into its second destination ‘Falling Framework’, another excellent collaboration between good friends Dan Piu and Grant (Dukes Distribution,Grant, Lobster Theremin), featuring Eisentanz of Moto Music and Ng Productions. The track begins with sharp 808 kick drums and tweaked out cowbell loops. Cymbals come in on the attack next as a funky late night flavored bassline enters to provide a strong background presence. Shuffling 808 snares drop on in as well for some lovely company and drive the tracks rhythm and groove nicely throughout. It’s not just your imagination in this deep jam as every now and then you will hear a nice deep vocal sample in reverb faintly chanting what sounds like “keep yourself in certain places”, as the track displays why Alphaville should be one of those places.
The deep factor in ‘Falling Framework’ only increases when soulful, bliss accented synth chords provide a lush smile to this tracks deep demeanor as the groove peaks. The main groove is characterized by plush synth stabs, a mystique filled background bliss synth that holds through most of the track, and robotic zaps and deep gurgle like tones alternating like currents over the tracks moonlit terrain. Its atmosphere is seamlessly smoky, deep, and soulful. This track also takes the most club oriented stance on this lovely EP of gems. It’s a little different in aesthetics from the rest of the Alphaville EP, yet there’s plenty of subtle raw space, and a very high deep factor. Dan Piu once again keeps your deep sensations alert, with a special drop in from his good friends Grant and Eisentanz on ‘Falling Framework’. This track provides a very memorable moment on this fine journey of music, and one that will guarantee plenty of groove and love to the real clubs. ‘Falling Framework’ is a very enjoyable track that has great flow with its bassline that draws you into the groove, and never lets you go… and it makes for a very strong Side A along with the first track.
Flipping to the B side of Alphaville EP, futuristic parallel of the past vibes continue navigating the journey strong with ‘Akira 2171’. The track initiates with shuffling hats, and 808 snare hits sub layered by wet zaps with lovely punch kickdrums arriving to back these elements just seconds later. Subtle bass synth acid stabs alternate and transcend lush sunny day flavor to this fine tracks groove, while 909 hats provide fine rhythmic flavor. Those lovely soaked zaps we mentioned before elevate in presence throughout making lovely auditory pathways and quite the synchrony with airy and uplifting synth pads that glide over the tracks main melody. Also for your sensual well being, colourful and melodic synth stabs alternate in and out and are placed just right to give the track a true ascending feel in atmosphere, as a new you looks down on the posers from the mountains and skyscrapers above.
‘Akira 2171’ is a finely produced track, one of those where the elements involved in its aesthetics and programming really tap into your thinking mode buttons, yet you are still helplessly captivated to move by its uplifting and ethereal groove. Again, another strong track, that makes it hard to choose a favorite here; ‘Akira 2171’ has plenty of audio personality and is definitely more on the techno side with its lush otherworldly vibes. It’s also a great early hours or daytime techno track, warm and sunny at moments, just in time for this exciting season and more to come.
Our last stop in Alphaville takes us to some raw moody and cruise jacking house flavors with ‘Ilipsyon’. Dan Piu brings the track in with thick center focused reverb kickdrums and analogue cymbals on the attack. Moody synth notes going through highs and lows then open the door for the early Chicago House style, soulful bassline that is this tracks lovely back groove. Space like ambient synths emit like whistles, providing peaks in the tracks melody as the track smoothly cruises on. You’ll also hear cool zoom effects, the type that sound like a futuristic craft taking off or perhaps landing on the terrain of your imagination. Synth pads bathed in chorus continue to evolve in modulation and create an atmosphere of their own over the tracks raw chi-house rhythms, as percussive flavored synth notes amp up the aggression and mood of the track perfectly. No worries, as you will also get those lovely rolling Chi-style jack snare drum rolls, and 808 hand clap patterns for your groove matters. The synth arrangements in ‘Ilipsyon’ sync quite well and are a work of beauty in how they provide a lot of sensuality in this deep sunset house cruiser of a track.
‘Ilipsyon’ is everything the Real heads like about a deep Chicago House style track…its moody yet sensual synths serve as both layers of atmosphere and melody, while smooth kick drums cruise and peak placed rolling snares paint the picture of a journey through a familiar city, time, and place. You’re left collecting, reflecting, and perhaps in awe as ‘Ilipsyon’ provides the perfect culmination to this superb EP. The track can work well in Chicago, Acid, or Deep House sets without hesitation, and in the comforts of your coolest zone at home, customized for your imagination. ‘Ilipsyon’ is a top quality house track from Dan Piu on a level of it’s own that makes Alphaville feel just like home; go ahead and help yourself to a plate of some deep emotive wealth.
With ‘Alphaville EP’ Dan Piu once again shows that he’s ascended to a level of his own masterfully producing tracks over the last 25 years that are both mental for the dome and for those underground venues that the Real call home. The time is right and The Real know the Deal, and Dan Piu delivers here on Common Dreams and shows why we call him a Legend on ‘Alphaville’. You will get treated to various styles here from deep house and techno hybrids, to deep late night techno, and deep Chicago-style sunset house with plenty of mood; all laced with Dan Piu’s eclectic and dreamy aesthetics, and years of production. These are some of the beautiful contrasting sides of music that Common Dreams vision is delivering to us. It’s very worthy to note the EP’s beautiful artwork; which is sort of a nod to the future cities imagined in early 80s Japanese anime and works nicely for visual stimulation while listening to the music in this EP.
Furthermore, Alphaville EP ’adds another strong record to reflect on in Common Dreams superb quality of releases… Brad P continues to curate magic and provide a great platform for imagination on wax with no concern for the masses, the only requirement is freedom of expression; and with that we’ve been treated to amazing moments in deep techno time courtesy of his vision through his Common Dreams label.
It’s easy to wonder with much intrigue what lies ahead from this amazing label, as well as Dan Piu’s timeless vision and imagination, but it’s highly recommended to go cop it without hesitation… Don’t miss out, call that special dealer line, and indulge in these 4 fine organics for your body and mind.
Listen to Dan Piu – Alphaville EP – Common Dreams Mzk by Common Dreams on #SoundCloud