Gareth Emery – Northern Lights – Album Review
Written by Michael
August 27, 2010 10:44 am
The anticipation surrounding Northern Lights, since its announcement a couple of months back, has be nothing short of huge. A combination of his exciting and stunning production skills, as evident in earlier collaborations with fellow Brit Lange such as This is New York and his own In Between Dreams, the running of arguably the UK’s most successful Trance night and his record label Garuda (also the name of the night at Sankeys) has led to the insatiable rise of Emery. 2006 was a huge year for Gareth with the beginning of his own podcast and the release of tracks such as Another you, Another Me, also a collaboration with Lange. 2008 then further cemented his reputation as world class with tracks such as the remix of Myon & Shane 54s Vampire and then 2009s Metropolis and Exposure. Fast forward to 2010 and Emery has a #9 position on the DJ Chart, surely to rise when the new results are released later in the year, and the release of his artist album Northern Lights is finally upon us.
In his own words:
“A key consideration was flow – I didn’t just want a disparate collection of tracks; I wanted to produce an album in the traditional sense that flowed from start to finish as a continuous piece of music, something you could listen to again and again. This meant I had to exclude a few tracks, not because they weren’t up to scratch, but because they didn’t fit. I’m sure we’ll find an outlet for them at a later date. And so the final cut can be broadly split into two halves. The first five tracks are slightly more reflective of the housier side of my sound; that indefinable middle ground where house, progressive, tech and trance meet. Following that, ‘Full Tilt’, serves as something of a palate cleanser, before the last four songs, which are pure, peak-time trance.” Gareth Emery, Manchester, August 2010
Northern Lights is Gareth Emerys first studio album and the smooth, gradual introduction track Stars (feat. Jerome Isma-Ae) is a teasing way of Emery saying, “Just you wait to see what happens next”. The build up is perfectly judged and the sweeps increase in volume dropping us into a simple beat. This guy certainly isn’t in the mood for rushing. El Segundo is next, and the echoing vocal cuts and solid beat hint at what Stars seemed to be building up to. El Segundo takes us further, but we’re still not at the crest, we’re only at the halfway house. Track three Too Dark Tonight (feat. Roxanne Emery) is then upon us and the soft piano and vocals fool us into thinking we’re back at square one, until a heart-beat cuts in and the track drops in to a meaningful sounding combination of double-beat and soaring vocals. We’re soon back down to a simple piano melody though, is this Emery’s attempt at sophistication? It doesn’t quite match the Orchestral delights of Hybrid but it is a nice touch.
Then we have Arrival (feat. Brute Force), and again the beat is more solid and intentional, signalling an impending breakdown and chorus, and the combination of a wind instrument and synths is harmonious. The build-up is much quicker this time and we’re dropped straight into a melody that is sure to drive most people mad considering the lengthy build up of the previous tracks. It is almost as if Northern Lights is one big track split into “acts”. Arrival drops on us a second time, this time even more explosive and filled with energy than the first, the chorus deliberately sustained before dropping back down and we’re into track 5, Into The Light (feat. Mark Frisch). Again we’re making progress and the vocals are decent, though repetitive. The drop is incredible, Emery only gives us a very brief moment before it’s upon us, the soaring synths and revolving credits providing the highlight. Full Tilt has got to be one of the signature tracks of the album, here Emery delivers absolute top notch production and the melody is just sensational, filled with energy and vigour. This guy is demonstrating not only natural talent but a huge passion for what he does. The build up is soft and harmonic, but then mildly explosive, and the melody is as we said – sensational.
The first release Sanctuary is then up next, and this is Emery’s first trance track of the album, as he describes the previous as more progressive house. Featuring the wonderful vocals of Lucy Saunders, who is equally gorgeous in the video as on the track, this is a headlining track that will surely drive the faithful mad with energy and anticipation. The build up and drop, and chorus, are all perfectly judged. Citadel is also a remarkable tune reminiscent of earlier Emery sounds, the use of vocal clips in the build up alongside a stabbing echo and a plucking synth works beautifully, and the chorus is again memorable. Fight The Sunrise again features Lucy Saunders, in spectacular form, alongside a throbbing guitar, deep beat and ebbing bassline. We see a comeback from the piano, this time driving the melody backed by orchestral synths.
All Is Now (feat. Activa) is the finishing track, and it’s a a full on number, building up to a heavy quick beat with light and deep vibes. This is a track which acts well as a conclusion to everything that precedes it. It finishes the story – and wow, what a story it is.
In short: Slick production and excellent use of vocals firmly cements Emery’s reputation as the up and coming Trance producer of the decade. Every track is lovingly assembled to the highest quality, and Gareth Emery knows exactly when to tease, when to build, and when to drop. Although with its weak points, this is a gorgeous album of sensational, sophisticated, atmospheric Trance that will do its utmost to blow you away.
- Stars (feat. Jerome Isma-Ae)
- El Segundo
- Too Dark Tonight (feat. Roxanne Emery)
- Arrival (feat. Brute Force)
- Into The Light (feat. Mark Frisch)
- Full Tilt
- Sanctuary (feat. Lucy Saunders)
- Fight The Sunrise (feat. Lucy Saunders)
- All Is Now (feat. Activa)
- I Will Be The Same (feat. Emma Hewitt)
- Global (Freedom Music Edit)
- On A Good Day (Metropolis) (with Above&Beyond pres. OceanLab) [Edit]
- Sanctuary (feat. Lucy Saunders) [Official Music Video]