Typer Listens – Andy Duguid: On the Edge

New posts on Mondays! (not every Monday necessarily, just…Mondays)

Friday (September 16th) marks 3 years since this album hit shelves and spawned a few successful singles. It’s not a legendary album by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it a remarkably perfect captured image of music from a year that remains so special to me. But, On the Edge by Andy Duguid is remarkably good and worth your listen. The Scottish producer and performer spends more time building work for the club, and possibly even more time doing work in it, which only heightens the significance of when the man sits down and works on an album. The only other full length album in Duguid’s history is Believe, a release that goes back to 2008. Whether or not Believe is the same interesting collected work of artistic pieces remains irrelevant though because On the Edge remains a good album today. It’s a unique take on trance during a big crossroads for the genre as EDM exploded into new markets and producers / artists started wondering whether to join the revolutions being seen by big-room party work or to pursue the things that have made trance what it is in the past 20 years. The answer was: A little of both, but more of the later.

On the Edge is a collection of 12 trance songs Andy Duguid worked on and built from various inspirations (all of which he shared on a cool SoundCloud audio commentary of the album). The album title takes a line from something his brother once told him, Percussion Man borrows a rhythm and beautiful drum sound he once heard from a public drummer, and When You’re With Me explores darker club-based trance sounds clashing against a common emotional point in the album: The feeling that a relationship isn’t quite what it should be.

This album that uses high melodies, piano, and airy staging in its track-to-track mixing is actually using the elements at hand to its emotional advantage. The clash of feelings with anthemic, dancey hits like In this Moment and Paradise (Richard’s Theme) do at times feel like a producer just drawing lines and connecting dots. But the vision, the instruments at play, and the wonderful talent across the board end in an album that works for the most part, really well. Tiago feels like some sort of an unnecessary bridge from one high point into what’s supposed to the next, but Stars is missing something special regardless, making the tiny piece of the journey a little lackluster. But the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

7even, the ending track on the album might be the most fascinating work to come from the 2013 labor of love. The inspiration here was one Olivia Downie, a young girl from Scottland who died at age 7 to a form of cancer called neuroblastoma. The track’s leading piano tones and notes were played and built around the time her death hit the news. 7even itself, with Jaren’s achingly beautiful vocals here, is quite possibly the most emotional / transcendent high place that could end a dance album. It’s jarring as well, something so sorrowful and emotionally wrenching has blasts of noise, beats, sound that one can dance to as we experience airy sounds and vocals so bright as the sky and the sunlight that it’s hard to not be moved considering the inspiration.

On a separate but important note, the music videos are worth a look as well. Only videos exist for In this Moment and 7even but both received some really well structured storytelling. In this Moment has an air of mystery to it as an old man carries a bunch of stones out to the water. But 7even almost packs an extra emotional (albeit creepy in ways) and cinematic punch to an already visual track as it depicts a girl being presented the 5 stages of grief in horrific fashion.

Ultimately it’s a good album with some cool concepts woven through it, definitely worth your listen for the journey leading up to 7even alone. I bought the album mainly because I liked two leading singles off it and wound up considering it as one of the best albums I listened to from 2013. It’s thoughtful, well polished, and it varied itself well enough while keeping a welcome consistency, regardless of whether or not you were listening to a continuous mix or unmixed tracks.

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