Steve Angello – Human
Steve Angello is a luminary. He is known around the globe as one of dance musics most influential artists and has a repertoire that is deeply embedded within the various subcultures of electronic music. The first studio album Angello released in 2016 titled “Wild Youth” has left a lasting mark on his legacy. The album opened doors into new, un-charted areas of music that dance music has previously rarely ever ventured. 2 years later, Angello has culminated new-found energy and crafted up a masterful 21-track oeuvre titled “Human” that is divided into three parts: Genesis, Inferno and Paradiso. The journal goes down as one of Angello’s richest musical endeavours to date.
2018 has shaped up to be quite a big year for Steve Angello, his label SIZE Records has harboured new talent, he reunited and performed alongside his Swedish brethren at Ultra Music Festival, and finally after months of endless hype has dropped his sophomore concept album “Human”. His latest album marks a departure from the Steve Angello that most his fans and followers might know and ascents into the metaphysical realms deep down in his soul. Speaking to the creative process he undertook for the album, Angello expresses “Human is a concept album that I love. No compromise, unfiltered, and straight to the point. It was rewarding to be able to express this piece of me”. The linear progression of Angello’s musical career lead him to have an epiphany where he would find himself undertaking a whole new approach to his music. Angello outlines how “After months of disconnect I felt I had to change the way I made music, change the way I thought of music and the way I felt about music.”.
This paradigm shift materialized into “Human”. There are many overtly religious overtones present within “Human” however this regression extends beyond any religion specifically and represents the artists path towards enlightenment. Angello would go on to say “Music is my blood so my belief in what I create is stronger than higher powers. I am my own god.”. Overflowing with cinematic and cyberpunky vibes, the 21 track collection shows the vast range of productions and collaborations Angello has made over the past months. Only 7 out of the 21 tracks contain vocals leaving the rest up to the meticulous detail and design of Angello. The sonic landscape created in some of the tracks feature prominent kick drums, bass lines and bright, motivational chords and symphonies. In retrospection, we pick up how Angello left more of the progressive instrumentals to be married with vocals. There are many emotional backdrops ranging from melancholic drawn out ballads, to divine sermons such as “Rejoice” with TD Lakes.
Rejoice is one of the more seasoned records on the album and is proper to be the forerunner. Appearing on the Genesis EP, the American preacher TD Jakes delivers a speech pushing the power of positive attitude and stepping into the moment. “Breaking Kind” is also part of the “Genesis EP” . The dark, tumultuous, and grim records are one of the very few inside “Human”, the vocalist Paul Meany takes us on an emotional roller coaster touching on themes of loss, despair, and uncertainty. The Swedish band Highly Sedated released an album on Steve Angello’s label Size Records in 2017. “Flashing Lights” is a very quaint track, it is charged with a motivational ballad that is paired with sparkling synths and vibrant grooves. The simple, elongated vocals pair lovely with the rudimentary house drum beat. “Glory” was premiered in 2016 on BBC Radio 1 and is a full blown rager capable of rallying an army of thousands. “Grace” is a time vault into Angello’s mind, we see snippets of his past as the progressive arrangements gain momentum and mount into the driving bass and pulsing synths. WDL is a rather new name for Size Records, collaborating on “Human” for the track “Are You”. The record with the most amount of mass appeal and recognizable essence, “Are You” will be the crossover track that lures fans in to the rest of the album. “21” exists as one of the most eclectic records Angello has ever done. The drum line speaks to Angello’s versatility as a producer. “Lord” is an acid-house banger that borders on the subliminal. Dark, gritty, and syncopated, “Lord” is a tribute to Angello’s roots as a musician. “Wanna” is a poppy yet epic tune that fills the spectrum with huge amounts of tension and surprising sound design. “The Kiss” is a vibrant, colourful, and climatic record full of some amazing synthesizer work. “God” is perhaps one of the more decorated records of them all, bursting with tension, feelings of impending doom, and is cathartic when you really just close your eyes and let the track consume you. ‘I Know” was part of the “Inferno EP” and features bit crushed drums and phat bass with crunched up compression. Another track within the “Inferno EP”, “Freedom” is the record for which Steve Angello invited Pusha T into the studio for. The American rapper delivers his vocal work over the gritty soundset that is chalk full of acid house rhythms and synth work.
“Fire” is the back bone of the Inferno EP. Aptly named, the record is kicked into over drive and is fully alive and hard not to groove to. “Heroes” is an explosive, up beat, and euphoric number that is both expressive and just badass in general. Hot guitar lines and bass loops, its the creme de la creme. “Shifter” is one of the longer records of “Human”, it is progressive and full of those old-school techno vibes. “Paradiso” is one of the most anticipated Angello productions in a long time, full of jaw-dropping melodies and simple yet beautiful progressions. At the core of the track lies and eminent mood that lifts and drops with flawless execution. “Dopamine” with Barns Courtney was released on “Paradiso EP”. The record was an incredibly successful and critically acclaimed track. The incredible emotion and attention to detail leaves listeners floored. “Breaking Me Down” is one of the few radio-friendly records on “Human”. With fun chords and nicely articulated vocals, the track is easily digestible for the mainstream audience.
Wrapping up this review with two of the most riveting tracks on the entire 21 track album, “Eros” is a hazy, bold, and captivating instrumental that is hypnotic in nature. The perfect close to the abstract and extreme barrage of heavy synths and bass lines all throughout “Human”, “Nothing Scares Me Anymore” is a cutting edge masterpiece. Overflowing with dramatic orchestral arrangements and the grammy nominated vocals of Sam Martin, the piece comes as a breathe of fresh air within the omnipotent and lavish sounds of “Human”.