Published: December 24, 2013
By: Jordan Calvano
Progressive house might not be the most talked about genre on The Untz, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to dabble. We can’t post about every single song we hear, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t hear it. Sure, maybe we dreaded this list and saved it till the very end, but once it came to writing we were jamming away to 4-on-the-floor beats like a teenage girl at Ultra (minus the fluffies). Just like our electro house list, we have artists from all over the world. Represented on this list are producers from Italy, America, Canada, England, Russia, and way too many Swedes (sorry not sorry). It’s not like we even did that on purpose. It just happened that way. The same thing occurred last year on this list, so at least we’re consistent. Note to everyone in the world outside Sweden’s borders: “Step up your game.”
10. Lush & Simon - City of Lights
We hadn’t heard of Lush & Simon until recently, but stumbling onto their exhilarating collection of tracks was an exciting moment for us. The Italian duo aren’t a household name just yet, but there’s a good chance that will all change by the end of 2014 if they keep making visceral, heartfelt tracks like this one. “City Of Lights” is an instrumental stunner that takes you on a journey across the world. The intro sees the listener boarding a plane, stowing luggage, and lifting off into the friendly blue skies where the adventure really starts. Lush & Simon succeed where other producers often fail by pursuing minimalism, allowing the track to reach its summit without destroying the stable undulation they created.
9. Steerner - Waves
We’ve been following the steady progression of Steerner’s career since the summer of 2012, and since then he has set himself apart from a competitive crowd of young Swedish producers. It all started with “Friends” for us. The track was undoubtedly fire, but almost too catchy. One of those songs you aggressively overplay in the moment, than eventually wear out within months. With “Waves” though, everything is different. Still catchy, but packed neatly with an edge of maturity. The introspective tune utilizes flickering melodies to communicate with listeners, gently building up behind a sea of telekinetic synthesizers and majestic snares. Just like the tide, Steerner’s masterpiece gently experiences a resolute rise and fall while never rushing too fast from either point.
8. Kaskade - Atmosphere
Kaskade hasn’t made things easy for other house artists lately. On top of his illustrious production record which now includes Late Night Alumni tracks, the veteran producer decided singing would be his next venture. “Atmosphere” is a sentimental number that takes you directly into Ryan Raddon’s mind. Not the mind of guest vocalists or ghostwriter, but his. The song feels entirely personal, starting with the line “When I was young I would stand alone.” Even by itself, this lyric speaks volume. Imagine, a man who performs around the world for thousands of people at a time used to stand alone. With the chorus though, we realize that little has actually changed. He’s a star now, but that doesn’t alter the fact that he’s a human being constantly trying to find himself and stay clear of the drama and attention a performer receives.
7. Michael Woods - Platinum Chains
“Platinum Chains” is basically Michael Woods’ take on “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta.” Seriously, this might be the only instrumental track in house music that actually possesses confidence only seen before in hip-hop. You can almost hear Michael Woods laying down cocky bars in his synth selection. He’s making a point to every one of his competitors that he feels good, really good. So good, that he even feels comfortable naming a song “Platinum Chains” and including exactly that within the album’s cover art. But even beyond that, it’s the feel of the song. It’s the crowd’s cheer near the end. He’s not cocky, just wants to remind listeners that he’s doing good for himself. Hip-hop artists do it all the time, so why can’t he stunt a bit?
6. Arty - Flashback
Arty loves producing instrumental tracks. He released stellar collaborations this year with top-notch vocalists like Nadia Ali and Fiora, but the Russian prodigy truly shines the brightest when sticking to the basics. Why ruin a good thing? Sure, the songs that dominate radio waves and Beatport charts usually possess some form of vocals, but that’s just not where Arty’s best work lies. This is what separates a good producer from a great producer. Can you captive an audience over and over again with only your production, or do you need vocals layered on top to make a hit? “Flashback” one again reaffirms this phenomenon, packing an orchestral punch over a hard-hitting yet meticulously crafted ditty.