Welcome to our fifth Bad Haz Techno track review by Hegstraction and new guest reviewer, DJ/producer, Gerard H. This month we have Sam Kitt's latest release, Distorted Dreams, on the Tronic label. Hailing from Wales in the UK, surprisingly he comes from a metal background as a guitarist in a band. However, a few dance music festivals, raves, and ultimately, Creamfields in 2017, flipped him completely to techno, and we are thankful for that transition. Currently DJing a lot of local events in the Bristol area, Sam describes his sets as marrying up dark and hard-hitting basslines with progressive melancholic melodies. Recently, he has had two big track signings with the aforementioned Tronic label, and Respekt Recordings. "Funnily enough, Distorted Dreams started as a totally different track. Much more momentous and thematic, but with a disjointed drop that kind of didn't fit the other sections of the track. I showed it to Christian Smith and Dan from Pig and Dan, at a track review session over at CryptoDjs Discord. They loved the first 1-2 thirds of the track, but didn't like the drop so much. So, together with help from Dan, the track was transformed into what it is today. Much more stripped back from my usual stuff, but it translates better to the dancefloor, which is what we are all here for really!"
For this review, I'm joined by new guest reviewer, DJ/producer, Gerard H. If you would like, you can play the track here as you read the review:
H: "Hey Gerard, great to have you here! Let's crack on; any initial comments?"
GH: "This is right up my street - dark, driving techno with melodic elements."
H: "Yeah, for me, I love the overall atmospheric tension and urgency. As for the hook, I feel there are hooks designed to be hooks, and then there is what the individual listener gets hooked by. The latter is what I'm describing here, and that for me is how the kick and initial synths combine to create that great head-bobbing rhythm from very early on."
GH: "Yes, I totally agree - I particularly like the synth/bass lead notes that bounce either side of the kicks and percussion. It's really groovy."
H: "The kick is fairly solid and melds with the other elements in the track well. It does have a certain softness to its tail, and it leaves me wondering what a harder kick would have done to this track."
GH: "I like the kick; carries really well in the lower end and is nice and punchy. I feel a harder kick will interfere too much with the lead, and the current clarity between the two may be lost as a result."
H: "I'm getting some stonking bass coming through on my studio speaker set up, and I think this would translate really well into a club setting, and provide some great atmosphere."
GH: "Yeah, the bass flows well throughout - however, from around 01:30 there seems to be some clipping that I can hear, might be part of the distortion effects used, but certainly peculiar. Fits the title I guess, ... haha."
H: "Absolutely love the percussion coming in at 30 seconds (very much the kind I use in my own productions); the closed hi-hats give a lovely metallic feel from the off, which is then joined by some typical open hi-hats."
GH: "Standard percussion used; there aren't many techno tracks around that don't use this style/layout of percs - I use it too; it's a must have for me."
H: "There are some atmospheric pads used throughout giving some fullness to the sonic space, adding depth, complexity and dark, velvety texture."
GH: "I usually use a pad to create my atmosphere. I've heard of quite a few different ways producers make theirs - I don't really hear a pad stand out in this track, so I'm going to assume some of the atmosphere was probably created by one?"
H: "Lots of nice synth work going on here. I'm more into all the dark repetitive synth stabs that create a sense of urgency. There's a particular lighter synth stab that comes in at 1:30, which gives me a kind of electronic classic rock vibe that I'm not totally sold on. Replacing that with something much darker would have been interesting, but maybe the contrast would have been lost."
GH: "All the synth work is spot on and complement each other so well. I need to touch on that lead again, though - really like how gritty it is, and the filter automation on it from start to finish is just brilliant."
H: "OK, melodies. The lighter melody arp coming in midway through gives a nice contrast to the dark synths and breaks up the track."
GH: "Love the melodies, as you mentioned, the arp is a particular favourite - just brings everything together and fills the track up really nicely."
H: "The stand out effects for me are on those closed hi-hats; you get a great rhythm that slightly dissolves into the rest of the track."
GH: "Good use of risers and downshifters; also enjoy the occasional perc shots and FX that compliment that synth stab you mentioned coming in at around 01:30 - gives off a real industrial vibe."
H: "For sound design, not as complex as many of his other tracks, but still quite a lot of production techniques and tools being used."
GH: "I particularly enjoy the automation throughout the track on every sound it's used, especially on that lead and the arp - the change at 01:56 is such a good example of what I mean."
H: "1:56? Thanks, I'll have a re-listen to that. Hmm, what's next? Layering. Actually, I think the layering throughout is one of the less obvious qualities of this track; there's never too much going on, but it feels like a lot of the right choices were made to give space whilst also variety and progression."
GH: "The layering is on point throughout. Like you said, never too much going on at once."
GH: "Dark, dark and dark = Like, like and like!"
H: "For arrangement, what strikes me is how the track is really a series of slow builds and progressions, and I think in a set this would be a great kind of 'holding' track to ramp up expectation before mxing in something else."
GH: "Reminds me a lot of how I'd arrange this sort of track - kept it simple and most certainly effective, the progression from start to finish is bang on too."
H: "Top notch mixing as you would expect."
GH: "Great mixing, the frequency spectrum was used really well."
H: "Mastering seems great, and integrated LUFS came out to -7.26."
GH: "A good mixdown is more than half the battle won, so I'm not surprised to say the master is great!"
H: "This has a great dancing rhythm led at first by the percussion, and then the repeated synth work."
GH: "I would say 100%; it gets you going from the first kick."
H: "There are some good trance-inducing sections that could be looped for longer periods."
GH: "Hmm, trance-inducing, the start of the break had me for a bit, but for the most part, I'd have to say no (not in a bad way though)."
H: "Any final comments?"
GH: "Great job on this track by Sam; really didn't mind listening to it 100 times to leave this review :)"
H: "Haha, yes, I've listened a bunch, and gotten more from it each time, which is testament to a great track; I've definitely picked up on more background details on repeated listening. Great work by Sam Kitt, and I would encourage everyone to follow him on all the platforms, and look out for the future releases which he has planned. And, finally, Gerard, what's next for you?"
H: "Awesome! I'll look out for those, and thanks for taking this journey with me."
You can find Distorted Dreams on the following links:
You can also find Sam Kitt on social media:
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