Reviews

Album Review: Danu5ik-From Sea to Kanata

FTSK

From Sea to Kanata ® 2014 Danu5ik

Danu5ik—the stage name for Edmontonian DJ and producer Daniel Lee—offers up a hefty serving of London-influenced Deep House music on his debut album From Sea to Kanata.

Looking to start off with a record that will be well-received by a diverse audience, Danu5ik serves a cool cocktail of sounds that are one part mellow and one part grungy. “Journey,” situated near the beginning of the Lp, is a soft welcome to the next 50 minutes or so with its ringing piano and droning low vocals.  “I’m here, honey,” a female voice chimes. Danu5ik is here indeed. Both the title of this track and of the album itself are nods to Danu5ik’s recent move to Edmonton from London, United Kingdom.  From Sea to Kanata, Daniel told me in a previous interview, is a tribute to Canada.

Like Deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon,”—albeit much shorter—“Colours in your Eyes,” builds from mellow vibes to up-tempo house. On “Falling,” echoic beats jump between the channels. The song is sprinkled with an array of ambient sounds, that fall away like gentle rain drops. Danu5ik evokes similar sensations in his remix of indie electronic duo Lemaitre’s “Continuum.” One of the more layered tracks on the album is “Nothing.” The buzz of a chattering crowd situates the listener within a social hub. “Nothing is forever/ Nothing is for real,” a female voice chants over hypnotic harmonizing synths.

“Without You (Let’s Escalate),” features seductive raspy male vocals:  “I want you to pull in me/ I want you to wake me up/ I want you to give me/ Everything you can.” The album’s title track, “From Sea to Kanata,” slowly builds in intensity with its charging lasers, pounding bass, and snappy hi-hats. In moments like these, Daniel gives us a taste of the heavier, progressive production that will be much more prevalent in his upcoming sophomore album, Elysian.

Stream the entire Lp below on Spotify.

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Uncategorized

Best Tracks of 2014

This was a great year for music. With this in mind, I curated a playlist of the best tracks–and by extension, albums–of 2014. Foster the People, Run the Jewels, and ALT-J released solid sophomore albums. Arctic Monkeys completely rebranded themselves. We got some more music from Lorde. Death From Above 1979 released music after a 10-year break. The Black Keys released an album that was very Floyd-esque.

As we approach 2015, I am excited from new music from Muse, Kanye West, Lorde, Drake, and Guns N’ Roses. What are your favourite tracks from 2014? Who are you excited to hear a new album from in 2015?

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Artist Profile

An Interview with Danu5ik: Edmonton’s Hottest New DJ/Producer

Daniel Lee, better known by stage name Danu5ik—a play on the words ‘Daniel’ and ‘new music’—is an up-and-coming DJ/Producer in the Edmonton music scene. Born and raised in England, Daniel spent a considerable time enjoying the nightlife and the vibes that sifted through the air of Central London. It was while studying computer science that Daniel fell in love with the distinct sounds of EDM heavyweights like Tiesto. “I loved the electronica kind of sound,” Daniel tells me, “and the fact that it was integrated with computers. In a sense, it was kind of an eye-opener for me as to what else you could do with music. You could create unique sounds that captivate people.” Danu5ik offers up a distinct blend of sounds in his interpretation of Deep house music on his debut album, From Sea to Kanata.

FTSK

The album title, he describes, “is a tribute to Canada and it’s a way of saying ‘this is my journey’. Every track on the album is reflective of that.” The Canadian chapter of Danu5ik’s journey began a year ago when he moved to Edmonton. After spinning at Amnesty Park for a crowd of over 100 and receiving a wave of positive feedback as a result of that appearance, it became clear that he should take up producing and DJing on a full-time basis.

The twelve tracks are an electric blend of gentle synths and grungy bass lines that create the very vibe that Danu5ik wants to bring from Central London to Edmonton. “I wanted something a bit more mellow” Daniel explains, “it is Deep House. Most of the tracks are not really heavy per se and I guess it’s something that all age groups can listen to and appreciate.”

Speaking with Daniel is a very refreshing experience. It is clear how passionate he is about creating music. Music, Daniel insists, cleanses the soul. Something about it releases you and brings you back to normality.

You can download From Sea to Kanata on iTunes or you can stream on Spotify below.

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Reviews

Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper at Rexall Place

All bad things must come to an end. So goes the slogan for Mötley Crüe’s final tour. It is a shame that the end is indeed here, but shows like Tuesday at Rexall Place, cement their place in history–they will not be forgotten. The band played the best songs of their career with a backdrop of pyrotechnics, flames, and dancing girls. I can also now say that I’ve seen drummer Tommy Lee play blast beats upside down on rollercoaster-like contraption. After all these years, Mötley Crüe still knows how to put on a spectacle of excess.

Taken by rebeccasapiano

Alice Cooper at Rexall Place; taken by rebeccasapiano

But I can’t talk about the evening without mentioning Alice Cooper. Cooper belongs to a caliber of musicians that us mortals refer to as “rock gods.” The lines were blurred between concert and theatre.

A black and white banner of Cooper’s face dropped down to reveal the man of the hour—he really deserved more stage time—in an elaborate pinstriped red-and-black jacket and pants. Alice’s unusual voice was accompanied by an onslaught of shredding guitarists.

Despite being the opener, Alice treated us to a full production show. He maintained an impenetrable third wall as he took abuses for the crowd. Punishments included being turned into an ominous Franken-like monster, performing in a strait jacket, death by guillotine and electrocution.

While we may mourn over the loss of Mötley Crüe, we look hopefully to the future. Alice Cooper will return to transform Edmonton into a wonderland for many more years yet.

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Opinion

Pedal Off the Metal?

Featured Image: "Rhoads" by lennyvandijk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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s soon as a vocalist starts screaming, some people are turned off. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the curious question is why?

“I can’t understand what they’re saying” is probably the most common misgiving of those who do not have an appreciation for metal. But I suspect the reason is much deeper and much more unconscious. The same people who express grievances in regards to not being able to understand the lyrics would more than likely than be unopposed to songs in a language they can’t understand.

So why is metal so unbearable for some?

Sensory Overload

I am the opposite of a violent person and yet I revel in the violence of metal. Heavily distorted guitars. Drum fills with a higher rpm than a machine gun. A heavy rain of crash cymbals. Impassioned screams.

Metal is a punch to the face. There must be some complicated psychological factors that determine whether this overload is a positive experience or not, but I don’t know them.

It Can Be Hard to Relate to

People like relatable music. Songs get tied up in memories and emotions. As blogger Steve Losh points out:

Very few people can (or want to) relate to screaming. Screaming is something we usually do only when threatened or angry, which is hopefully a minority of our lives. So once the vocalist is screaming constantly, people that don’t enjoy metal no longer have the element they’re most used to focusing on.

Lack of Background

I play guitar at a very casual level. A lot of my friends who do enjoy metal are also musicians. It seems that certain genres require a context to be enjoyed. I consumed off-shoots of rock at length before delving into the world of metal. After listening to enough rock music, I wanted to hear increasingly complex rhythms and heavier vocals. It was a slow and natural progression that may have never occurred if I didn’t place such a high importance on music.

Do you like metal? Why? Why not?

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News, Opinion

Oh Lorde, Mockingjay Approaches

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Mingle MediaTV/ Flickr Creative Commons

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nyone who knows me well enough, knows I am an avid fan of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series and, by extension, the movie adaptations. The upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 has a lot going for it. For one, the actors are incredibly talented (Especially Jennifer Lawrence—who is also my not-so-secret celebrity crush).The series is a fresh take on dystopian narratives that is filled with relatable characters. As a result, the plot twists–and BOMBSHELLS–are often gut-wrenching. Mockingjay will be no exception.

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Liliane Callegari/ Flickr Creative Commons

But I digress. The reason I’m talking about the Hunger Games on a music blog is, of course, due to its soundtrack. In an incredibly fitting move, Lorde was given the power to curate Mockingjays’ soundtrack. I find it relevant to draw some parallels between Lorde and Katniss. Both 17-year-olds (EDIT: Lorde turned 18 today, happy birthday Lorde!) are the leaders of a revolution: for Lorde the stand is against formulaic pop music; for Katniss, it is against the fascist Capitol. In addtion, both Katniss and Lorde are genuine. They are unafraid to speak their minds and do not tailor their behaviour to others—Lorde for one does not commodify herself for sex appeal in her videos.

She made it very clear that she is taking this project very seriously. As a music aficionado first and foremost, a soundtrack curated by a musician I thoroughly enjoy listening to is kind of a big deal—as an aside, Jay Z’s curated soundtrack for the Great Gatsby is another example of a great curation project.

The soundtrack is set to feature three Lorde songs (including a Kanye West cover remix), one of which can be streamed on youtube. You can watch Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat” and CHVRCHES’ “Dead Air” from the upcoming album below.

What other movies have curated soundtracks, or in general just great music? Let me know in the comments.

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Live Shows

The Black Keys @ Rexall Place

On October 28th, Ohio rock duo, The Black Keys, consisting of Singer/Guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney returned to Edmonton to promote their latest effort Turn Blue.

Their renditions of El Camino and Brothers tracks including “Tighten Up,” “Gold on the Ceiling,” and “Lonely Boy” were electric. One of the stand out night moments of the night was their performance of “Too Afraid to Love You.” The distinctive harpsichord intro rang through the air creating an almost sensual vibe. The Keys also surprised the audience with a cover of Edwyn Collin’s “A Girl Like You.”

The heavy leanings on these two albums, however, left a sour taste in my mouth. When the Black Keys released Turn Blue, I was thrilled by the psychedelic Pink Floyd  sound and aesthetic. This was a new direction, a leap out of their comfort zone. As the set list progressed, I became increasingly alarmed at the lack of Turn Blue songs being played. It became apparent that the Keys are still riding off of the success of their mainstream albums.

That being said, Dan’s signature fuzz sound was just as euphoric as the first time I heard it live back in 2012. Furthermore, Carney is one of those drummers that is unbound by the rhythms that were once laid on the studio version of a track; dynamic drum fills elevated many of the band’s songs to new heights.

Those craving for new material (Hot damn was I ever) finally got what they wanted from the encore. They resurfaced with the incredibly hypnotising “In Time.” The bassy intro filled the arena to the brim. Furthermore, the large circular screen in the background that was emblazoned with the swirling psychedelic pattern was incredibly beautiful and served as a nod to Pink Floyd’s influence on recent Keys material. The closing off of the show with the anthemic crowd-favourite “Little Black Submarines” was incredibly triumphant.

The gritty blues sound of the Black Keys filled Rexall Place on Tuesday and fans left feeling anything but blue.

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