Napalm & d-phrag – Substance (Balkan Connection)

Balkan Connection returns this week with one of the labels strongest releases of the year. It sees the duo of Napalm & d-phrag returning to the label for their ninth overall appearance. Last week saw the much loved production team with one of their best remixes of the year for Sleepless Nights Recordings and this week they deliver a brand new single for Balkan Connection. ‘Substance’ promises to be one of Napalm & d-phrag’s most well received yet and it comes with 3 remixes from: Matter, Yuriy from Russia and OPL.

The original mix starts off with a tough kick and a very tightly wound groove. The hypnotic energy grows quickly and the charging rhythms complement the tough beats perfectly. Waves of tension filled tones and sonic sweeps carry the track to its second act where the groove strips itself down just a touch. There is no real breakdown here just a stripped back portion which serves as an excellent transition back to the raspy synth lines and waves of menacing drums which dominate the second half conclusion. It’s another outstanding club track from Naplam & d-phrag and it showcases the duos diverse style quite well. Excellent stuff.

The first remix comes from Matter who has been generating some nice hype in the electronic music underground of late. The Aussie producer has already appeared on Underphunk and Stellar Fountain and has a forthcoming production on FutureForm Music which promises to be excellent. Matter’s interpretation of ‘Substance’ is the standout production on the release in my opinion. The Aussie producer has taken the great elements from the original and added a subtle refinement which is really cool. The groove has a wonderful chuggy, bounce to it and the delicate atmospheric haze in conjunction with a bed of acid-styled electronics builds some lovely tension throughout the entire mix. There’s some gorgeous top end sounds here as well which really offset the darker underbelly of the record. Super stuff from Matter and definitely looking forward to hearing more from him.

The second remix comes from Yuriy From Russia who may end up being this year’s most prolific producer. Some guys take on too much work and their production really suffers but Yuriy seems to nail pretty much every one. For his ‘Substance’ interpretation the Russian producer has gone with a old school sounding rework that complements the other versions here very well. A lot of Yuriy’s stuff is on the deeper tip but this one is firmly planted in prog house territory. It’s got a nice energy about it and the hypnotic rhythms are incredibly fluid throughout. The real beauty comes with the soft rhythmic tones which feature prominently in the second half of the record. They add a nice top end glow which is full of warm and emotion. Cool to see Yuriy branching out here and going back to his proggy roots. Well done.

The third and final remix is supplied by OPL which is a new production alias for Amber Long. Most electronic music fans should be quite familiar with Amber as she’s not only provided her production chops but also her gorgeous voice to many tracks over the last few years. Most recently she teamed up Lithuanian producer Kastis Torrau for ‘Menace’ which was remixed by the one and only King Unique and released by Stripped Recordings. For her “Substance’ interpretation Amber has opted for a stripped down but very powerful approach. This one’s all in the groove. The rolling underbelly of bass is incredibly infectious and there’s a unique air of psychedelia as the track continues to build. I see this as a total peak time record with the beats being as powerful as they are. The break offers a brief moment of beauty from the punishing groove with a thought provoking tone meandering close to the heavens. When those charging beats drop back in though expect a huge moment on the floor cause it’s a pretty dynamic re-entry. Needless to say it closes the release off on a very strong note. Awesome stuff from Amber and it will be interesting to see what she does with this new alias.

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