Andrew Bayer: Topping Beatport’s USA Dance Music Charts While Defying Genres
There’s been a surprising amount of buzz surrounding the April release of Andrew Bayer’s second (and newest) artist album: If It Were You, We’d Never Leave. I was rather surprised, not because I don’t like the album, but because I was impressed by the positive reception the current dance music community gave to the ambient and down tempo style of the album.
To me, it seemed like there were a couple of really hot trends in trance music lately: One is the heavy pounding dance-floor trance sound that’s coming from artists such as Heatbeat, W&W, Andrew Rayel and Ummet Ozcan. Another trend is the resurgence of the uplifting trance sound that falls under the “Who’s Afraid of 138!?” brand (and trended worldwide on twitter numerous times with the #WAO138 hashtag!). Andrew Bayer’s latest album is very different from both of these styles. However, despite this difference, its debut on one of the most popular trance radio shows in the world was a resounding success.
So, why all the hype? I think that some of it comes from the status that Above & Beyond gave to the album by featuring it in a 30-minute Andrew Bayer guest mix on Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy Radio Episode 024. Even Andrew himself seemed to want to prep the audience for this style of album as he got ready to take over the decks for the last part of the episode when he tweeted “Who’s ready to drop the tempo by about 50 bpm? :)”
Don’t think for a second that I don’t believe this album deserves every bit of the popularity it’s received, though. The truth is, it’s got a soul, and that’s why I think it ultimately was able to hit #1 on Beatport’s USA Dance Music charts shortly after its release. Dancing Astronaut did an interview with Andrew Bayer on the topic of his new album and Andrew’s comments really cemented my opinion for why people loved the album: It’s a work of art: it’s passion, it’s movement, and it’s refreshing. I do, however, believe that Above and Beyond’s choice to expose their whole Group Therapy audience to the album really brought a lot of people to it that might not have sought out this album or this style of music on their own and that’s a great thing!
The popularity of If It Were You, We’d Never Leave was very exciting for me because I’ve always loved this style of ambient music that smirks at your attempts to assign a genre to it. The instrumentation ranges widely between strings, piano, plucks, guitar, vocals, bright synth pads, and even saxophones and the atmospheric effects of wind chimes and birdsong. The basslines are often syncopated and emphasize the upbeats, creating a jazzy feel in tandem with the rock n’ roll backbeats of a traditional-sounding drumkit. To me, the album is all about atmosphere, texture, and space. The contrast between sections with birdsong and wind chimes, long decays, synths with really long attacks and really big reverb sounds creates movement between sections where decays are short and reverb spaces sound much closer. This kind of textural movement makes the listening experience about movement between spaces and an adventure through sound. It is just rife with ear candy and can be enjoyed both in a state of rapt attention or in a state of passive listening.
It may defy my attempts to box it into a genre but I do believe that it is very much in conversation with another album of this style that’s always been dear to me: BT’s 2006 album This Binary Universe. In the spirit of encouraging music fans to break outside of their listening norms, I want to encourage those who enjoy the atmospheric journey of If It Were You, We’d Never Leave to look at This Binary Universe because it is a phenomenal album crafted in this style and I’ve rarely heard mention of it.
“1.618” by BT, The fourth track from This Binary Universe named after the number phi, The Golden Ratio
“The Antikythera Mechanism” by BT, the sixth track from This Binary Universe
Also, I wanted to spread some very exciting news about another ambient style album: Ruben de Ronde’s latest release From Sao Paulo to Sofia. Here’s the best part: He’s giving it away FOR FREE! It always gets me pumped when an artist I admire offers up the fruits of their labors for free to their fans so if you find yourself loving the atmosphere and adventure of If It Were You, We’d Never Leave, do yourself a favor and get your hands on Ruben de Ronde’s free album From Sao Paulo to Sofia and spread the love for the ambient style!
Ruben de Ronde’s newest Album From Sao Paolo to Sofia available as a free download on Soundcloud
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