The master genre blender hits the ground running in 2020 with four breathtaking cuts of the highest order.
Fluidity is a word often reserved for the most chameleon like of producers. Fluidity, in a sense, represents an injection into tracks of all manner of sounds, genres, noises and structures, that melded together with all the right notes and correct transitions can produce something remarkable. This engagement with as wide a spectrum as possible of sounds has always resulted in seismic shifts in electronica and dance music, the mutations and splicing together always birthing new and exciting things. These producers begin from a point in time and groove and manipulate their way towards the end of a pathway that leaves us feeling more expansive as a result, little doors left open to keep going and exploring. Evolution, in this sense, remains paramount, and its such a skill to be able to harness that kind of energy within one track, let alone over a few cuts off an LP or EP. Progressiveness, it seems, remains the king within tracks that really mould and shape the direction of contemporary dance music, feeding into a public consciousness that constantly asks questions in the search for answers.
If one artist encapsulates these kinds of things perfectly, it has to be Mr Pagliara. An Italian native, he has lived in Berlin for some time now, and has held a monthly residence at Berghain for a few years now, and has recently founded Funnuvojere Records. Alongside being a formidable DJ, where he blends only the most melodic and subtly progressive of house, techno and disco cuts, he has released some incredible music over the years. His releases always verge on the fine line between warm house, progressive yet tender techno, whilst adding in some sunny disco and Italo cuts along the way. Whilst this might seem like a handful to pull off, Pagliara always tip toes this line effortlessly, a producer at ease with his own vision and confident in his convictions. Every EP and LP simply builds on these skills he possesses, creating a ball of energy that washes over the listener every single time, in varying tempos, tones and textures. His release highlights include his wonderfully warm house leaning debut LP, 2011’s ‘Focus For Infinity’, which crosses around the spectrum of blissed out tones and blended temps between the highs and the lows; a wonderful leftfield disco tinged EP in 2009’s ‘Toxic Love’; 2013’s beautiful ‘Magic Serials’ EP; 2017’s techno thumper ‘Time and Again’ EP; and 2018’s gorgeous ‘Feel Live’ LP. All of his releases experiment slightly with tempo, groove and progression, but above all else his ability to manipulate synths to give us that in-depth warmness is what champions above all else. By threading together his tracks and discography through the blending of styles and a wide landscape of tonal goodness, Pagliara has crafted many emotional subscapes for us to get lost in. If you ever feel compelled, take a journey through his works, it will leave you feeling enormously fulfilled and inspired at what dance music can do emotionally and sonically.
And now, we draw the focus to his latest release, ‘Nothing Stays in One Place For Long’. On this EP, we see Pagliara up the ante in terms of transitioning between the genres he has held close to his heart. Bold, expressive and euphoric, at times subtle and gentle, he moves through the motions, as ever, flawlessly, allowing the listener to understand the sequences yet always be at the edge of their seat as to what might evolve next. His layering becomes more out there, providing the basis through some incredible drum arrangements that allow for proper cosmic work outs alongside pads that simply glide through space and time. So, lets get into this.
The opener, the title track, begins with the low hum of a synth just waiting to be released. Deep below, it seems to await its calling to emerge from the ground, a rumbling that is suddenly called to arms by a middle line beat of hi hats and kicks. The synth comes to life, blossoming into this full-on squelcher that recedes then delves back below the beat, almost still awaiting its chance to show us its fullness. The beat grows to include some claps, before it all switches up, the squelch replaced by a key line that heralds in high octane cymbal work. The layering looks to provide a platform for every element, the drums set on two levels, as the middle provides the synths space to work their melodic magic. Lines and pads dive and weave around the ever growing tune, as it hits its stride, perpetual motion across the board. The drums move away, showing us the many strata within the track that we didn’t notice were plugging away underneath. It all comes full circle once again, and if this brilliant track didn’t end we guess that he would probably just keep it evolving forever. Up next we have ‘Accidentally We Rushed’, that begins a bit more straight up than the title track. A solid as hell beat is complimented by a series of washed out computer noises, before the most glorious of bass lines fills up the middle. Then we are greeted by a series of synth lines that move between the beat so perfectly, joined by pads that add yet more depth to the proceedings. The beat switches up between the full and the light, adding more of an emphasis to the continual layering of the melodic elements. This is Pagliara at his best, taking the techno feel in the beats and just adding layer upon layer of keys and pads that amount to a euphoric feeling unlike any other. His emotional input into this is paramount, you feel the passion and love oozing from every single note, as the track leads forward towards emotional nirvana. The key solo that comes in towards the end just sums up what this track is all about. A cut for the heart strings as much as its going to move your body. Perfection.
The sunset mix of ‘Avenue of the Palms’ comes next, with the intro taking us away for a minute to pleasant pastures. Whilst the first two tracks transported us to the dance, here Pagliara works from the off on the atmosphere of the track, taking into account the notion that dance music is capable of crafting little worlds. The warm pads that began us on our journey are joined by a solid beat, much more sparse than previously, which helps to draw the focus on more singular progressions, the layering simplified to really draw out every single conceivable emotion from the pads. The bass line hammers along, giving the track a real sense of dynamism and motion, as little variations in the drumming feed into this sense of energy and activity. Around the middle of the track, he introduces little guitar licks, alongside switching up the chords and throwing in little synth solos to boot. Its sort of remarkable that he began the track with a just a couple of layered synths, to the middle where you kinda loose yourself in the complex beauty of composed sounds, moving from the simple to the in depth. The transitions are so smooth, the evolution so expertly delivered its hard to understand how it is done. Damn! To finish things up, we have the Night Mix of ‘Avenue of the Palms’. The beat begins steady and slow on this one, as we hear all the same sounds of the track, although it has this slower energy to it. The Italo vibes come through more strongly on this one, Balearic to the max, with the sun going down and the night time descending. The track keeps this more consistent flavour to it, with its evolutions remaining but a beauty contrast in the sense of tempos and structures that make up its essence. Both tracks work towards evocative scenes, where activity and scenes become all the more vivid and real. Cooor.
We talk about blends, transitions and progressions a lot on Endless Grooves, as if its going out of fashion. Yet its hard to consider just how good this EP is at showing all that can be achieved through an understanding of how you craft a small ball of energy and unleash it through the layering and manipulation of sounds. Pagliara does a wonderful, if near perfect, job at blending and pushing tones to their euphoric limit, but also having the skill to craft tunes that operate on so many levels. On this EP, he crafted tracks that would set fire to any dancefloor, but also exploring the more emotional side of his music, where the beat takes less precedent and the pads and keys take charge to give you a fully loaded sensory experience. Its rare that we find these kinds of tracks in dance music, particularly in progressive tunes, but he does it so effortlessly. Well, he’s been doing that for a while now. An EP that will surely reverb around the world, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, Massimiliano Pagliara has got you covered.
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