‘Nights Awake’: Kyau & Albert take on storytelling with third studio album
While dance music has the capacity to get hearts racing, to blow minds with drops and to uplift with vocals, it is rare that it takes on a storytelling quality, especially one that lasts longer than a single track. Yet after listening to Kyau & Albert’s Nights Awake, it seems the duo have as much written a novel as they have created an album.
With 15 new original tracks, the album lifts up, brings down and holds steady on an emotional journey that relies on more than a thumping trance beat. To experience the full depth and range Kyau & Albert harnessed for Nights Awake the album is best enjoyed whole, but for those lacking the time we’ve chosen the four tracks that tell the loudest story. Click past the break to read the full review.
The album opens with the orchestral swells of “Encounter,” a composition that sounds like a full-blown orchestral arrangement until a steady percussion breaks in. A beat slowly develops as the cinematic feel of the strings is reintroduced as a bridge and light snyth work in added in. Though the song feels like it could more happily exist in a movie score or symphony than on a dance floor, the production is flawless and Kyau & Albert retain elements of the track throughout the rest of the album. Easily one of the most elegant tracks, “Encounter” sets the tone.
The album’s seventh track, “All Your Colours,” is Kyau & Albert at their best. Featuring the vocal styling heard on “On The Way” and the upbeat feeling the duo has mastered, the tune takes no prisoners in its quest to get listeners moving. Albert’s vocals carry through a build-laden melody as the strings first heard on “Encounter” lay underneath. Powerful, peppy and perfectly mixed, “All Your Colours” captures the euphoria dance music strives to create.
On “Open My Eyes,” Kyau & Albert take a different approach. The duo’s collaboration with Paul van Dyk introduces a less melodic feel as Albert’s vocals lead off but take the backseat to a strong melody with a big beat. PvD’s influence is definitely felt and provides the perfect contrast to Kyau & Albert’s sound, resulting in the most club-ready and pure trance of all the album’s tracks.
The final stretch of the album kicks off with one of its best efforts, “At Any Time.” Bordering on progressive trance, the track keeps the strings that have tied the album together but focuses much more on builds. Albert’s vocals are minimal, some syncopated drums are introduced, and the feeling is one of pure dance floor bliss.
After journeying through pure instrumentals, love songs, lost songs and almost lullabies, the album’s last track is entitled “Do You Still Know,” a question we think is aimed at the listener. If you made it through the entire album, what you think you know about dance music may have gotten lost somewhere in the string crossings and emotive vocals. But that is far from a negative thing.
Those who expected strictly trance from the album got much more, and those who were looking for an album full of singles were instead treated to a 15-chapter story. A heartfelt culmination of over a year of work, Nights Awake is not so much a release as an unveiling, and its intention and effort shine throughout.