araabMUZIK - Electronic Dream

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  • When a "mainstream" hip-hop producer releases a solo album, it's hard to know what to expect. Regardless, I don't think Dipset member araabMUZIK's debut album could be considered anything but a splash of cold water in the face. Electronic Dream exposes mainstream hip-hop and pop's current obsession with cheesy euphoria and trance (Polow Da Don, RedOne, etc.), pilfering synth passages and even entire tracks before demolishing them with his beloved MPC drum machine. It's a familiar sound taken to an unfamiliar extreme, and it's bound to invoke extreme responses. Do you call Electronic Dream an album or a mixtape? It has the feel of an unofficial mixtape—complete with producer tag drops—inflating these songs to chintzy midrange balloons with little low-end, like so much else of this inexpensively bombastic hip-hop. Even the way it flows (abrupt and jerky) has the haphazard momentum of an unofficial mixtape. At the same time, Electronic Dream feels like a lovingly considered record, with the gaps between tracks blurred and bled like the fuzzy borders of a drug-induced dreamworld. The record drops in in medias res with its title track, a slowed-down version of Oceanlab's "Satellite" rendered surprisingly potent. Freed from its chugging chorus and overbearing trance trills, "Satellite" is transformed into aching dream-pop anchored by araab's domineering drums (see also the thrilling way he takes over the lifeless thump of Kaskade's "4AM" halfway through "Streetz Tonight"). Wide-eyed wonder isn't the only mood on Electronic Dream, however. The glossy synths are stained by a looming paranoia as the album reaches its midsection. "Golden Touch"—a rework of Jam & Spoon's "Right in the Night"—is made anxious and nervy, and what was once ecstasy freezes to ice in the veins of the barely-retouched gabber (yes, gabber!) of "Underground Stream." Things start to look up again with the bittersweet "AT2," which bottles up '80s synth revival and kosmische fetishism into a newly euphoric context. It somehow sounds appropriate sandwiched between the decidedly unsubtle "Lift Off" and "Let It Go," and it's one of many powerful moments on Electronic Dream connecting the dots between trance and other genres enough to make one question why music like this is so flagrantly dismissed in the first place. "Powerful" is the key word here; no matter how base or rudimentary Electronic Dream might be, it's certainly affecting, and araabMUZIK leaves no stone unturned in his quest to make the most hated corners of dance music palatable. Fall in love with the music, fall in love with dance, fall in love with anything that makes you want romance. Sure, that's a hell of a cheesy way to end a review like this, but something tells me after listening to Electronic Dream that araabMUZIK wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Tracklist
      01. Electronic Dream 02. Streetz Tonight 03. Golden Touch 04. Free Spirit 05. Underground Stream 06. Make It Happen 07. Lift Off 08. AT2 09. Let It Go 10. Feelin' So Hood 11. Lost In A Maze