Dancing Astronaut’s Artist of the Year: Eric Prydz
2016 was a phenomenal year for electronic music; it was certainly dance music’s biggest year as a globally popular sensation. To select one artist who stood above the league of formidable contenders as “Artist of the Year” was a painstakingly difficult feat. Our goal was to celebrate an artist whose onstage and studio achievements this year unified fans across different genre persuasions and raised the bar for the scenes culture in the coming years. Artists such as Boys Noize, Justice, deadmau5, Porter Robinson and Madeon are among the acts who achieved facets of these criteria in stunning fashions. However, there is one iconic individual who stood above the rest.
Our readers surely know, at this point, who this individual is.
What would possess a musician to abstain from releasing his debut album after well over a decade of fame and experience? Seemingly, to hold off on this milestone for such a long time would be to squander massive financial and prestigious opportunities. However, the purest of artists aren’t “in it” for fame or money; rather, they take the necessary amount of time and effort to complete their masterpiece as it was meant to be received. Michelangelo spent four years painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Leonardo Da Vinci took the same amount of time in creating his magnum opus, Mona Lisa. True artists know that art is not meant to be rushed.
Eric Prydz is a true artist.
Photo credit: Rukes
While Eric Prydz has served as one of electronic music’s most venerated artists for over a decade, it wasn’t until this year that he finally revealed his debut album, the aptly-titled Opus. It’s clear from the LP’s tracklist that Prydz had been working toward his masterpiece for years, teasing unwitting audiences with cuts from the album along the way.
Retrospectively, Prydz’s revelations of songs such as “Every Day” in 2012, “Liam” in 2013, and “Mija” in 2014 seem as if he was Michelangelo himself: allowing the Vatican’s residents to view finished areas of the chapel, while leaving the unfinished sectors to be unseen and unknown prior to their completion. In it’s totality, of course, Opus is far more beautiful in whole. Highlights such as “Oddity” and “Trubble” harden the LP’s largely mellifluous tone, while “Generate” and the album’s titular closing track extend a mystifying impact to a large, eclectic audience.
Of course, Opus was far from Eric Prydz’s only noteworthy achievement in 2016. Across Eric Prydz’s compositional trinity, the man released a staggering thirty songs this year. Prydz released two unofficially-titled EPs under his techno alter-ego Cirez D, which included the highly-acclaimed (and widely-remixed) “In the Reds,” the primally aggressive “The Tournament,” and the utterly sinister “Century of the Mouse.” As Pryda, his more transcendental progressive alias, Prydz released a 3-track EP (also untitled), which was highlighted by the celestial, yet recondite piece “Choo.” Suffice it to say, Eric Prydz rightfully earned his spot atop our Top 10 Producers of 2016 list.
Photo credit: Rukes
Many fans, however, would not consider Eric Prydz’s greatest achievement this year to be the fruits of his studio efforts. As a performer, Prydz set an unprecedentedly high bar in 2016. His harrowing sets as Cirez D were as well-curated as they were well-mixed, evoking awe from fans on all end of the techno spectrum. Often lasting for hours on end, Cirez D’s sets are as astounding to a Maceo Plex fan as they are to a Gesaffelstein devotee.
However, Prydz’s shows under his given name are his crowning achievement as a performer. The veteran DJ’s live shows have become so legendary that they have spurred a revered series of their own: Eric Prydz in Concert – appropriately abbreviated as EPIC. Its 2016 edition, EPIC 4.0, is the zenith of a DJ career which spans more than a decade. Eric Prydz in concert is, funnily enough, less of a concert and more of an audio/visual journey.
The technical prowess of Eric Prydz’s EPIC stage production is unparalleled. Prydz shrouds himself within a colossal LED encasement, upon which a vibrant, ever-shifting phantasmagoria enthralls his audience. As thousands of lasers project from his inventively lit fortress, Prydz carefully selects music from his extensive oeuvre to score his inimitable sensory experience, taking spectators on a journey with his uniquely immersive visual platform. The energy of the experience undulates as the multifaceted musician shifts between segments highlighting his various alter-egos.
Each year of Eric Prydz’s storied career has been momentous, but in 2016, Prydz raised his own bar substantially as a performer and producer. This pattern raises the question, “How will Prydz top himself in 2017?” Thus far, we know the following: Prydz’s resurrection of his EPIC radio series after a two year hiatus will continue bi-weekly into 2017. Prydz will also premiere EPIC 5.0 in May, though its almost impossible to fathom how he will improve upon his most recent installment. Aside from these facts, for now, all we can do is wait and see.
Eric Prydz is Dancing Astronaut’s Artist of the Year