On this week’s Unsung Heroes, we take a trip in the past and immerse ourselves into a completely different universe of Progressive House. As many of you already know, Avicii has systematically become one of the biggest EDM artists to have exploded onto the scene. His uncanny ability to create catchy melodies has culminated in brilliant singles that have had substantial success in both the EDM and Commercial worlds of music. His career erupted like wildfire after his breakout hit of Levels and was systematically the track that was the most well known of 2012. Since then, he has been creating a new album in the works and has been taking huge risks with certain tracks, incorporating Bluegrass and other genres into his infectious melodies. Avicii‘s success hasn’t come without a large amount of controversy and nowadays, it seems as though there are legions of fans that either love or hate him. Many criticize him for his jump into the Mainstream and others complain about his lack of DJ ability, stating that he just plays all of his hits. But regardless of people’s tastes and opinions, many cannot deny the success and talent that the Swede commands.
Rewind the turntable a few years, before EDM had exploded in America and Progressive House was still in its early stages. Back during the late years of 2008-2010, Progressive House was a much simpler concept, in which low cut melodies, minimalistic basslines and a sense of musical innocence was championed by artists such as Tristan Garner, Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello, Arno Cost and more. Back then, Avicii was a bright and upcoming producer who was known for his brilliantly signature piano sound and incredibly polished productions. During 2008-2010, Avicii ventured into a multitude of styles, including Tech House, Acid House, House and even Progressive. We saw small smatterings of his soon to be Progressive House sound from his single of Ryu and his remixes to Kid Massive‘s Touch Me In The Morning, Tiesto‘s Escape Me and David Guetta‘s One Love. But his remix of Phonat‘s single Set Me Free was a significant turning point in his’s career. Phonat has been a musical rule-breaking legend in the Electronic Music scene and has released a plethora of visionary releases, to which Set Me Free was to be included in his self-entitled debut album. This remix saw a completely mature sound to Avicii and the sound that had emerged was full of Summer vibes and vibrant, euphoric exuberance.
Set Me Free begins with swaggering basskicks that also incorporates a low drum sound through its timbre, which was a common characteristic in many Progressive House tracks during its day. With simple percussion, speedy synth blips and tropical vibes, it chugs along at a moderate pace until the upbeats of a reverbed vocoded voice comes into play. A fantastically chopped up vocal relays its glitchy message with stunning rhythmic effect as each segmented section seems to appear at different points of the headphone (or speaker environment). As ‘Fly away‘ is uttered, a wonderful piano line drips a simple but incredibly catchy melody (with vocal stabs as well), as the beat pulls back in tandem with the feel good vocals. As ‘Take my hand again, fly away with me‘ is told, the beachside basskicks return with an even more powerful rendition of the melody, promoting an amazing sound when the extra synths are tacked on for timbral complexity. As it pulls back to the jungle grooves of the beginning, a gated vocal (which is already chopped up) is overlayed within the grooves with support from various synth effects. As faint seagulls are heard, the vocals become the prominent part of the piece before reintroducing the beautiful anthemic sounds of Avicii.
Avicii‘s mix of Phonat‘s single, Set Me Free, is now available on Mofohifi Records on Beatport, so make sure you head on over and pick up this 2010 gem today.
Keep the music alive. -Q
Unsung Heroes is a weekly segment where we take a look back at an amazing production and bring it back into the light for older and newer fans alike. These tracks were often overlooked, overshadowed by a huge release or are just not that well known to the public here in America. Here, you can find all the hidden gems in many genres and find a new favorite track (or another tool/weapon for aspiring DJ’s).