On this week’s Unsung Heroes, we delve into the past of two prominent figures of EDM and discover how their vastly different styles collided in an unlikely pair of the minds. Whenever we think of Progressive House, there is always one man who has been at the clear forefront of the genre. Thomas Gold has been an essential part of the highly acclaimed Swedish sound that has been championing the Progressive House scene and is good friends with influential artists such as Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Sander Van Doorn. He is associated with the Size and Axtone families and his collaborations with Dirty South on Alive and Eyes Wide Open have culminated in some of the most successful tracks of 2012. Interestingly enough, his journey through sound is an interesting one, as it twists through many styles and genres to match his own, multifaceted musical tastes. Pieces such as his 2011 Rework of Marsch Marsch and his single of Agora show his defining sound of 2010-2012 while his single of Sing2Me and his remix to Miike Snow‘s The Wave is more of the anthemic identity that he has established in today’s times. However, if we decide to look back even further towards his earlier years, we start to see a completely different side to him, one that is more technical, minimal and even industrial in nature with pieces such as his collaboration with Alex Kenji on What’s Up and his remix to Sander van Doorn‘s Reach Out.
On the flip side, the legendary Tech House master that is UMEK has also walked a very ambidextrous line of genres throughout his long career. UMEK, of course, has been gaining huge ground here in America with his high energy Tech sets in important major festivals and is one of the core leaders that helps innovate the style towards the future. Having worked with artists to establish their own careers, his influence has helped artists such as Groovebox, Mike Vale, Siwell, Koen Groeneveld and more. His incredibly popular Behind The Iron Curtain podcast series, along with his incredible 1605 imprint have completely solidified his standing in Tech House for many years to come. However, his image as a leader of Tech House was not his main prerogative back in the day and the further one goes through his discography, the more one realizes just how deep his talents were in the Techno pit. His singles, such as Destructible Environment, A1 and Slap, along with his remixes to his collaboration with Christian Smith on Break It Down and Paul Hazendonk‘s Sweet Torture shows a completely different musician altogether and one that was also a successful pioneer in the murky veils of Techno.
If an artist hasn’t changed their sound throughout some point in their career, then they are doing something wrong. A change to something new is a completely healthy and refreshing aspect to one’s musical abilities and is needed so that one doesn’t end up in a creative rut with the same stale sounds coming through. What makes both careers highly interesting is the fact that Thomas Gold is known throughout America as a Progressive House hero while UMEK is known as a champion of Tech House. But at some point in their careers, they had a similar enough sound where a chance meeting of musical talents could take place. As stated before, UMEK was still in his Techno era during the early years of his 1605 label while Thomas Gold‘s collaborations with Niels Van Gogh, Fatboy Slim and the duo of Francesco Diaz & Young Rebels delivered on Minimal Tech with plenty of Techno attributes. The solution was the fantastic Toolroom Records label, who has been creating one of the most defining Tech sounds for over a decade alongside some fantastic artist collaborations. In early 2010, both artists finally arrived with Thomas Gold‘s single, The Button with UMEK on remix duties. Even though we stated before that their sounds contained similar qualities to one another, each provided a unique flair towards the single and UMEK delivered with a quaking interpretation that combined hardcore Techno flavors with a sprinkle of that Gold tech that was highly sought after at the time.
In the Original Mix, the most memorable part was the groaning vocals of ‘Push the button‘ and UMEK playfully reset the order so that the phrase ‘Button the push‘ sounded like ‘Button to push‘; (hence, the special wording on the remix). However, this silly farce is thrown to the pavement as UMEK takes little time to establish a highly irritated and grumbling bassline along with connecting percussion sections and heavy implementation of white noise effects. Subtlety is a very important aspect to this mix, as the barely definable hi-hat rolls, fidgety synth lines and the tail end of ‘push‘ being used for rhythmic effect actively forces the listener to focus in on each sound, which also allows the music to creep into every crevice of the brain. Alternating ‘push‘ vocals and white noise give way to murky rumbles as the sinister synth lines climb higher and higher towards impending TV static. As the basslines arrive in full force, a fantastic array of Tribal parts combine this mix into three different genres at once in a superb display of orchestration. Then, as it pairs down to a ominous, low drone, the synths gain Tribal attributes as the manic line gives way to a very unstable part of the track, which is signified by the random dropping of pitches and suspenseful strings. Finally, a quick white noise is heard before the rhythmic words of ‘Button the push‘ slams the listener back into the troughs of Techno and the immense weight of his basslines forces dancers to keep their heads down in a dark display of underground hypnosis.
UMEK‘s remix to Thomas Gold‘s single, The Button, is out now on Toolroom Trax via Beatport, so make sure you grab this fantastic piece today. Also make sure to check out the funky, technical vibes of the Original, the warehouse sounds of the Dub Mix and the quirky rhythms of the A/D/S/R remix!
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).