Dirty South steps away from the singles for ‘Speed of Life,’ his debut full length artist album
There is perhaps no greater challenge for an electronic artist than the creation of a truly inspired full length album. In a scene dominated by one-off singles and anthemic remixes, the full length is often times ignored, replaced instead by assembly line reworks and productions that ooze banality. Releases in dance music seem to be dictated by a generational attention deficit disorder, leaving few producers willing to tackle an LP. In the past year, however, we’ve seen a growing number of dance music’s best and brightest rise to the challenge.
Speed of Life, Dirty South’s recent foray into the world of LPs, is a glowing representation of the possibilities of electronic music. There are very few frills here. The album is devoid of formulaic builds and drops – the calling card of festival “EDM.” In fact, many of the trademarks of “EDM” have been pushed to the wayside, allowing for Dragan Roganović’s artistic vision to take center stage.
Dirty South’s debut album takes a stand against the general malaise of electronic music that has permeated the culture during its period of heightened popularity. Like a finely woven tapestry, Dragan has crafted an album rich in both character and charisma, utilizing intricately layered productions of finely-tuned electronica to develop a 45-minute glance into his psyche. Produced nearly entirely on the road, Speed of Life mirrors the frantic (and sometimes manic) life of a DJ.
I made this album while I was touring, so basically every spare second I had in
between the shows were used for making music. I hired studios in each city I was in […] I worked on planes, did edits in hotels and anywhere else I could.
Somber vocal tracks are juxtaposed by high energy peak time stunners, creating a sonic roller-coaster indicative of Dragan’s life and experiences over the past year.
Making the jump from singles and remixes to a full artist album often times proves difficult for even the most adept producer, but Dirty South achieves his vision with flawless ease. When creating the album Dragan sought to create something that showed different sides to his production and sound, aiming to put together “a body of work that can be played anywhere, whether in your cars, gyms or in the clubs.”
Dirty South feat. Ruben Haze – Gods (Original Mix)
For just a moment a screaming synth blares, sounding an alarm that kicks off Speed of Light‘s opening track “Gods.” The shrill siren is quickly subdued by soothing guitar riffs, melodic chord play and Rudy’s vocals, all of which work in perfect harmony to serve up a powerful introductory statement for the album.
Dirty South – Super Sounds (Original Mix)
In sharp contrast to the album’s slow-paced opening, “Super Sounds” jumps out of the gate with howling 8-bit arpeggios that flutter over top a gritty electro backbone. The shuffling bassline and big room chord play mark the first of many high energy tracks on the album.
Dirty South feat. Joe Gil – Until the End (Original Mix)
Dirty South’s guitar work returns on “Until The End,” this time complementing Joe Gil’s melancholy crooning. The pitch-perfect vocals and driving chord progressions turn the album’s 3rd cut into a beautiful and heartfelt production – one that is destined for radio airplay.
Dirty South – Champions (Original Mix)
In a furious 180, the stuttered kicks on “Champions” drastically change the album’s vibe. Just as the track builds to its climax, the driving bass line cuts out – replaced instead by cascades of white noise and subdued electro punches. The respite is brief however, with the driving bass reemerging – this time with a vengeance – in a flurry of deeply layered percussion and screaming electro chops.
Dirty South – Sunrise (Original Mix)
After a high energy electronic barrage, the album switches gears yet again on “Sunrise,” boasting a down-tempo beat signature and chillwave vibes. Chopped vocals and hi-hats push the production along, providing the perfect segway into the melodic anthem “Your Heart.”
Dirty South feat. Joe Gil – Your Heart (Original Mix)
Joe Gil lends his vocals for the second time on the album for the big room sing-a-long track, “Your Heart.” Clean melodic breaks and a subdued kick work to create an ethereal production that soars amid tinkling synthesizers.
Dirty South – Reset (Original Mix)
Kicking the energy back up to 11, “Reset” utilizes punchy Dutch siren blares to establish an energetic framework for the 7th cut on the LP. Reminiscent of his productions of old, Dragan returns to the big room friendly chord slams and crisp melodies that put him on the map.
Dirty South feat. Rudy – Something Like You (Original Mix)
Rudy’s heavily robotic and vocoded vocals develop into a poignant chorus, undercut by frantic synthesizers and hints of distorted electric guitar. The “biggest” track on the album, “Something Like You” is evocative and chilling – likely inspired by the loneliness of the road.
Dirty South – Sunset (Original Mix)
“Sunset” is a gorgeous piano interlude with understated percussion and symphonic synthesis. Shakers and Dragan’s punctual piano merge to create a glowing soundscape awash in a sonic sunset of pinks and purples.
Dirty South – Speed of Life (Original Mix)
The title track and final cut on the album, “Speed of Life,” embodies Dragan’s vision for the LP. The track moves effortlessly through a variety of styles – as if representative of a snapshot of the album as a whole, wrapping Dirty South’s debut album up perfectly.
The track “Speed Of Life” ended up being the title of the album as I felt it really summed up the album with it’s mood. It’s a concept track that starts really slow and builds into a banger. The melody and the whole concept of the track is pretty special to me. I think it will take people on an emotional journey if you listen to it from start to finish.