Marco Bailey - High Volume
Mon 18 Mar 13
Marco Bailey – High Volume
While it can be argued that utilitarianism has always been an intrinsic part of dance music, it can also be said that what makes a good “club ready” track is a balance between both usefulness and artistic integrity. It is upon this tightrope that MB Elektronics boss Marco Bailey walks with his new album entitled High Volume. The album comes as the 100th release on the MB Elektronics, and sees Bailey attempting to construct a cohesive passage through techno, tech-house, and downtempo.
The album begins on a more relaxed note with “Grolzham”. The track opens with a soft synth line and Boards of Canada-esque percussive devices, which are soon joined by vocal snippets and a rather beautiful melody. This mood does not last long though - what follows is a barrage of what could be considered “tool techno”, or rather tracks that are unabashedly aimed at moving a dance floor. Tracks like “The Black Crow”, “The Falcon”, and “The Owl” throw the listener head first into a throbbing techno whirlwind filled with booming bass, sirens pitch-shifted into oblivion, and plenty of builds and drops (accompanied by showers of white noise, of course). It is in this way that the titles for these songs are very appropriate, for while they are each a different species, they are all still birds - much like how all of these tracks, while different pieces of music, consist of a very similar formula. “The Fox” and “The Snake” offer up a comparable palate of sounds, the latter engaging in some unique textural moments with its impressionistic rattles and eerie sound design - but again both pieces fail to really stand apart from one another.
From here Bailey shifts his focus (though only slightly) with tracks like “Cash”, “Funk That Groove”, and “Summer Madness” - all of which display the Belgian producer’s love of tech-house. Indeed these tracks would not sound out of place blasting at any club from Miami to Ibiza - especially “Summer Madness” which contains everything from macho vocal samples to hyper-compressed bongo rhythms. This tech-house detour is then followed up with one more techno banger entitled “Horny Tiger” which serves the listener more of the same driving atmosphere Bailey is known for.
The album then abruptly changes gears with “The Airport Lounge” and heads back into more of the downtempo sentiments present in the beginning. The track lives up to its name in that it would provide an excellent background for any hip bohemian lounge - its jazzy chords and smooth bassline making your cocktail more delicious with every sip. Unfortunately it sits awkwardly with the rest of the album in that it doesn’t really flow naturally from the songs that came before it. This can also be said for the dramatic closing track, “She Leaves…”, which is without a doubt the most melancholy moment in the album. It opens beat-less with a bowed upright bass and somber piano chords, creating a stark juxtaposition with the banging rhythms present in the other songs. Now while many conceptual techno albums try to incorporate some sort of “ambient” moment, the one that Bailey offers here comes off as almost too sentimental in that it supplies an overabundance of emotion that does not permeate throughout the rest of the album.
The strangest thing about High Volume is while the majority of the tracks sound very similar, the album lacks any real cohesion. Bailey has truly mastered the utilitarian aspect of dance music but on this has fallen short of creating any real of statement outside of that utility. All of this aside, “High Volume” is a very well produced piece of work that exemplifies a strong sensibility towards the dance floor, and it will certainly provide many peak-time moments for those who witness it in the right scenario.
Review by Nathan Levenson for CGNY
Reviewed using Simple Review