Exclusive: ‘Moments’ signals a long-awaited end to Darude’s 8-year album hiatus [Full Stream]
When Darude released “Sandstorm” in 2000, he couldn’t have possibly anticipated the lasting impact it would have on the world. Used in countless movies, shows, and editions of DDR, Darude’s name is now solidified in electronic music culture as the proprietor of one its biggest phenomena. Shot into stardom so quickly, Darude continued to defy those asserting he was a “one-hit wonder” through other platinum records like “Feel The Beat” and “Next To You.” The DJ was unstoppable until 2007 when he slipped slowly into an extended leave from the industry. While some call it a hiatus, the artist never fully left: “I never stopped producing music; I’ve remixed several tracks along the years… And I’ve done 40-60 gigs a year the last ten years or so.” Along with the birth of his child and living the family life, his production schedule had been widely limited; however, entering into year eight of his absence from the EDM world, the Finnish producer rammed his way back into it a few months ago with the announcement of Moments.
Any old fan of the maestro is in for a surprise when they hear the album. Rising to notoriety via trance when it dominated the airwaves, Darude’s return is a clear departure from what once defined him. In Moments, he steps outside the proverbial EDM box by toying around with a multitude of different styles, several of which appear simultaneously in each track. It quickly becomes clear that Finland’s posterboy is a master of staying relevant while distinguishing himself with a sound that is entirely his own.
“Beautiful Alien” kicks off Memories with homage to “Sandstorm.” A nearly identical chord progression to the 2000 record is clearly heard in the beginning, yet electro synths and vocals transform “Beautiful Alien” into something quite different than its mother track.
“I do HAVE the same synths still from the early 2000’s, and I love to sometimes use them, but I’m pretty much 100% ”in-the-box”, I do everything with Logic Pro and various plugins. For ‘Beautiful Alien’, though, I definitely dug out some older sounds to get that vibe!”
Moving backwards in time, “Be With You” is a contemporary take on funk, with its catchy melody and gallant vocals. It exudes an electro pop vibe, and highlight’s Darude’s newfound versatility.
Venturing into disco territory, we hear “Coming Home.” Mahan Moin’s rich, soulful vocals are the centerpiece of the production. A classic assortment of disco and early house instruments like guitars and piano are used, yet modernized with the addition of synthesizers.
Experimenting with music made for the stadium setting, Darude succeeds at making an impact for Moments’ title track. Saw synths echo in the background while an exaggerated bassline pound out the track’s lead. In lighter parts of “Moments,” Sebastian Reyman’s emotive vocals sing out a cheerful melody.
“I think I’m more confident with my taste and decisions these days. I’ve always loved many kinds of music and as I’ve gotten more experienced and if I dare to say, better with the actual production process, it’s also gotten easier to broaden my horizons and to feel more comfortable to go after something new and different and challenge myself.”
Far from monotonous, “Warrior” blends a dubstep drop, house buildup and empowering lyrics into a cohesive composition. Progressive pianos lightly brush the background, softening the track’s edges.
Darude continues his tendency to mix genres in “Supersized” as well. The listener is carried through a space with impressive, airy synths then brought back down as harsher electro house trademarks take over the drop. Like “Beautiful Alien,” similar sounds used in older Darude productions make an appearance throughout the mix.
Sebastian Reyman returns for “One Lifetime,” an electro house banger balanced out with a gentle, melodic breakdown and the vocalist’s inspirational lyrics. It’s the kind of piece one plays when wanting to feel particularly empowered.
Not completely forgetting his roots, Darude embraces trance elements in “Turn The Light On.” It maintains an elongated breakdown, yet drops back down into a progressive house drop that better suits the piece for modern EDM sets. Will Sly’s raspy voice carries a similar tone to that of Trevor Gunthrie’s in “This Is What It Feels Like.”
Clocking in at nearly seven minutes, “Till I Could Find” is a beefy progressive trance tune with an atmospheric lead. Staying true to his experimentation streak, Darude adds in a dose of electrifying dubstep in the middle.
“Peace Revisited” completes the trance trifecta of Moments. One of the few tracks without a vocalist, poignant violin samples and a robust hook are allowed to shine though as its main focus. Set to a faster tempo than the typical 128 fare, “Peace Revisited” is easily the most traditional trance track of the album.
Finishing off the album on a relaxed note, “No More Tears To Cry” employs ambient synths and dreamy piano chords as a complement to Kristiina Wheeler’s moving voice. The calming tone is perfect for coming down after the highly energetic preceding tracks.
Setting himself apart from what was once considered his signature sound, Darude has come out of his musical sabbatical a much more versatile producer.
“I worked with several collaborators and co-producers (like Tom Fall on ’Moments’), so the sounds ended up being quite varied from track to track, but I think that’s a huge positive. I tried to combine my past sounds with modern sounds, I tried to avoid copycattism, but to find a graspable middle ground for the new generation of clubbers and older music lovers, too… AND I tried not to think about it too much at the same time, but to have fun when making music!”
Though some of the styles covered in the album are more fit for those who prefer contemporary electronic sounds, it’s evident that eight years of observing the scene’s development inspired the producer to connect with this newer generation of fans while staying true to himself and the old guard.
In that lies one thing that has remained constant, pre and post-hiatus: Darude’s deep understanding of the audience he creates for and ability to satisfy a broad range of tastes and styles.
Photo credit: Jakob Burkhardt & Geoffrey D’Unienville