Title: Last Night in Utopia
Label: Systematic Recordings
Release Date: Nov 8, 2013
2. One Up
3. Drop of Fears (feat Amina)
5. Bell and Whistle
6. All Night Dancing Party
7. Step Away
8. I Forgot
9. Stella Polare
10. The Background
11. I Don’t Mind
12. Last Night in Utopia
14. Give it Up feat. Sam Mollison
”All sound is musical to some degree, be it the brass ensemble of a train battering a mile away, or the shuffled rhythm of your breath against your lovers heart – even the melancholy choral of your refrigerator’s fan in the middle of the night. The thing I love most about sound is that if you listen with a keen ear, you can hear the most amazing music in everything around you.”
Whether it’s the banal or the beautiful, Seattle based Dave Pezzner doesn’t discriminate when sourcing inspiration for ‘Last Night in Utopia’ his sophomore album on Systematic Recordings. Recorded largely during a busy touring period in December 2011, the DJ, producer and composer who has garnered widespread respect for his ability to trapeze between disco, house and techno without ever losing that organic sense of spontaneity, continues this mantra with this latest opus.
Pezzner describes sketching out a large portion of the album in isolation while in Malta and Rome, gradually building tracks from the smallest, simplest ideas. Elsewhere a sonic inkling would take shape while at the airport, travelling on a train or plane and Pezzner’s laptop would immediately pop open and he’d begin giving the idea colour and form.
It’s a freeform approach that gives way to a divergent palette of sounds all imbued with the appropriate sprinkling of personality and perk to mirror Pezzner’s intuitive production approach and ensures the multi-layered 15-track longplayer is able to roam thematic territory both heady and floor-filling with exhilarating results.
Like any divergent album with more sides than a hexagon, ‘Last Night in Utopia’ isn’t short of surprises or sparkle either. There’s the album opener ‘Birdsong’ that rolls along with a smooth bass swagger and disco squiggle and is endearing in its whimsicality. He straddles evocative soundscapes with aplomb too, with ‘One Up’ underpinned by scattered drum patterns that bleed into the misty vocals of Amina for ‘Drop of Fears’, while later ‘I Forgot’ fuses hazy vocals to create a tension-building three-minute freefall.
Elsewhere he’s assembled elements with all the care of a delicate painter, creating ‘Stella Polare’ as one of those tenderly crafted rainy day house cuts, that’s driven by keys, guitar licks and drums and is remarkable for its carefully considered sonic restraint and subtle beauty. ‘Give it Up’ makes a fine accompaniment as the LP’s second last track – a smokey house cut driven by a warm, velvety vocal courtesy of Sam Mollison.
Among the delicious quirks, there’s also cuts that yank your heart straight to the nearest danceable floor space. ‘All Night Dancing Party’ leaves its blissful filtered house stamp on the album experience and demands multiple rewinds. No surprise it’s the LP’s first single, with remixes from Justin Martin, Robert Babicz and Hanssen. The title track too, is a sublime grower, utilising subtle melodic key changes and is the kind of hypnotic gem that’s tailormade for getting your 5am vodka sweat on to. Even ‘I Don’t Mind’ ramps up the tempo to rave levels, and whips up a volumising blend of acid techno that would be right at home during a session at Richie Hawtin’s ENTER parties.
Never one to toe any kind of sonic line, Pezzner has been plying his craft since the ‘90s, originally as part of the much-loved Jacob London outfit (with Bob Hansen). In 2008 he switched his focus to a solo output, issuing singles and remixes on quality imprints such as 8 Bit, the Crosstown Rebels offshoot label RebelLION, dirtybird, Ovum Recordings, Anjunadeep, Leftroom, Systematic and Freerange, the home of his debut album ‘The Tracks are Alive’, to name but a few.
Now with ‘Last Night in Utopia’ he’s taken the aural experimentation a step further. It’s fifteen tracks of music freestyling, yet with enough form and vision to flow from start to finish, and is every bit the exhilarating sonic joyride you’re expect from a producer enjoying the finest creative purple patch of his career.