Thursday, 15 November 2012
Something Sounding Sexy I - Rave Piano Riffs
One of the nicest touches, particularly in today's dance music scene where bass heavy mutations bombard your ears at every twist and turn, is a little look back to something retro, in this case the classic rave piano riffs. Often based around simple arpeggio's and with hard hitting stabs that tinkle and ring on top of the lower frequencies, the piano sounds dance playfully up and down, adding some swing and funk, and a certain sparkle that its very difficult to engineer without layers upon layers of MIDI and effect patches.
Harking back to the 1990's warehouse rave scene, and recalling classics from the heyday of late night, highly energized parties, the stabbing piano keys help to maintain the flow of a track and lift it, both sonically and emotionally. Whether sampled, or recorded especially for the track, the shiny melodies and rhythms of the lovely collection of modern electronic tunes that showcase this sexy little musical technique are a great addition to any playlist, mixtape or DJ set. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, more a taster, but if there's any glaring ommisions feel free to suggest others.
Sub Focus - Could This Be Real
Building slowly on warm synths, chubby beats and soft bleeps, the song escalates slowly into a stylish little old school piano tune that fits perfectly with the bassline below it and the vocal samples that herald a drop into squidgy, bassy goodness.
Toddla T - Take It Back
In this track, the piano hits you as soon as you arrive and manages to combine uplifting and skanky, and never really goes away, with reflections on the original riff returning throughout the song, and subtler notes that sit underneath the vocals, and make this tune a classy little banger.
The 2 Bears - Work
Also heralding from the same London dance scene as Toddla T, Work's piano features a complex pattern that leads the melody, with a pattern later copied by the bassline, with wurlitzer keys piercing the glorious low end frequencies with a quirky, slightly off kilter rhythmic feel, but lend the song the feeling of something a little bit special.
Kidda - Under The Sun (Herve Mix)
Between Kidda's vocals and the level of detail that goes into the raviest parts of a Herve track sits a melody that dances away, constantly shifting it's rhythm and flow very slightly whilst maintaining the general groove, despite keeping it's distance from the drops in the song.
Jack Beats - End Of Love (Re-Edit)
On an EP that is sure to set the UKF fans on a dribbling frenzy comes a song that manages to combine ear smashing, brain throttling wobs and bass hits but maintains a sense of cool, thanks to a piano riff that sounds like it was recorded on a toy piano, and complements the sultry, retro vocals. Despite pre-conceptions that heavy bass music can't be groovy, this song wipes them all away on an ultra cool, mildly unhinged piano that delivers a bit of class to the party.
A Special Mention - Danny Byrd
Back in 2010, as Drum & Bass set out to conquer the mainstream and forge new paths into the future, Danny Byrd wrote an album that managed to go forward by looking back with Rave Digger. The album, described by Annie Mac as 'an homage' to the 90's rave scene, featured a veritable feast of rave pianos that told the story of a thousand sweaty warehouse parties, with a reworking of Liquid's classic tune, Sweet Harmony, groovy madness in We Can Have It All, club bangers featuring Netsky & Tomahawk, Tonight & Hot Fuzz respectively, and even tugged on emotional heartstrings with Amen Alley. As part of his promotion for the album, Byrd produced a minimix for BBC Radio 1 celebrating the piano's part in 90's rave, and it's well worth a listen, both for the technical skill and a modern interpretation of the sound that created a defining moment in dance music history.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N0GRf9qM5E - Danny Byrd (The Piano - Minimix)