Nick Koplan & Ian Mayer – Riviera (Balkan Connection)

The latest release on Balkan Connection welcomes Nick Koplan and Ian Mayer to the label for their debut EP.

Nick Koplan and Ian Mayer - Riviera

Both based in Russia, (although Ian was born in Hungary) this new collaborative duo is set to make their mark on the progressive underground. With new music also signed to Clinique Recordings the future looks bright and they certainly impress with their Balkan Connection debut alongside remixes from Ewan Rill, Simos Tagias and Anton MAKe. 

The EP gets underway with ‘Sunlight’ which finds Nick and Ian crafting a smooth melodic number. Beginning with big, beefy kicks and a soft hypnotic underlay it doesn’t take long for the duo to introduce some strong rhythmic elements. Warm bass swells flow through an emotive series of chord changes while the musical narrative continues to develop. Several quick breaks followed by impactful drops make for a great first act, and just as the main theme descends over the piece the framework strips down to allow those melodies to work their magic. It makes for an expertly executed second act second act as they’ve managed to avoid any sort of predictable break and certainly warmed a few hearts in the process.

The companion piece ‘Riviera’ comes in a touch deeper but with the same luminous design of ‘Sunlight’. Panning melodies, catchy rhythms and a strong percussive presence, all backed by warm slabs of bass make for a great beginning. The main break flows through an indistinct vocal motif which serves as a great centrepiece, before the smooth groove and blissful melodies return for a strong finish. Beautiful work on both from Nick and Ian with ‘Sunlight’ being my pick of the two. 

There are also three remixes of ‘Riviera’ included which all offer great alternatives to the original. First up is one of Balkan Connection’s primary artists Ewan Rill who puts a more club friendly spin on the track. The Russian artist’s dubby, mildly acidic remodel is filled with strong grooves and still manages to play to the main motifs from the original. A well constructed break teases the epic lines before a quick build reveals a strong third act of re-shaped synth swells and swirling atmospheres. A great rendition from Ewan which should be ideal for the dance floor. 

Next up Simos Tagias delivers a strong mix which again comes with his trademark grooves and great percussion. A bubbly bottom end immediately adds bounce to the framework as waves of drums create a gorgeous hypnotic effect. The synth elements from the original play well here with Simos’ own unique twist on them. It’s a much sparser and more open feel, allowing that flawless groove to shine. A well constructed break, while building some anticipatory vibes, precedes an excellent conclusion highlighted by dramatic stabs and eerie motifs. Definitely one of Simos’ coolest remixes this year and also my favourite on the release. 

The EP is closed off with Anton MAKe who is making his first appearance on Balkan Connection. The Russian producer and Sunset Avenue show founder is fresh of remixes for Massive Harmony Records and Suffused Music as well as a single for Michael A’s Genesis Music. His interpretation of ‘Riviera’ has been the most well received on the release thus far, having already reached the Release Promo Top 100. It’s not hard to see why so many DJs are lending their support as it’s deep, dubby and darker vibe is very well suited to a broad range of dancefloors. It’s certainly the biggest departure from the original of all three mixes with the main motif just getting showcased during the break, and dissipating into and endless hypnotic drift on through a strong third act. There’s some subtle vocal elements which play really well and add a lot to the mix making it another favourite of mine on the release. Beautiful remix from Anton and a well rounded release from Balkan Connection with all three remixes delivering something quite nice. Don’t miss it. 

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