Eric Prydz. Pryda. Cirez D. Moo. Many names, one genius. The melodic progressive house producer has been creating massive tunes since his early beginnings in Sweden. From the global sensation “Call On Me” to recent harmonic masterpieces “Everyday”, “Allein”, “2Night” and the Grammy-nominated remix of M83’s “Midnight City”, there is nary a misplaced note, a broken harmony, a tired arpeggio, every piece motivated by a driving passion to create music that rests high above the fold. You don’t just listen to a Pryda track, you’re engulfed by one, plunged into a world of beauty and creativity. His live shows are (literally) epic spectacles unlike any other, his sets are journeys into realms of euphoria you didn’t know existed inside you and every track he puts one of his five or seven names on has a level of polish and ingenuity that many producers would need lifetimes of experience to fathom themselves. I am a fan of Eric Prydz and I will put him on a pedestal higher than anyone else in the electronic dance music scene right now. It was Boston’s greatest honor and privilege to welcome him to one of our mediocre nightclubs last Saturday evening. In fact, I would have welcomed him to a basement with a ten-year-old Eon speaker and my mind would have still been split in half and soaked in musical oblivion.
First things first, here is the set: http://www.1001tracklists.com/24249 Just about two hours of playing time. Forcing him to cease DJing after curfew seems a cardinal sin but this article isn’t about the uptight rules at Prime Boston. Nor is it about the crowd which may or may not have been ideal, though their champagne showers added a high-rolling flavor to the night, elevating it beyond the typical nightclub Saturday I attend in this city. No, this isn’t about those people, shoved together on the small floor like it was the 1960s and The Beatles were on stage in America. No, this isn’t about the minimal production, the looping one minute animation on the TV in front of the booth. No, this isn’t about the sound system, which, though loud, won’t win any style points with audiophiles. No, this night was about the set, the music, the journey and it’s a shame some people forgot that once the house lights went up.
Eric opened with the unreleased track “Welcome To My House”, a deep one with a minimal synth loop over the top that flashes in and out like a beacon to another world, literally Prydz’s world, his house. Following that was another unreleased track and a personal favorite, “Rotonda” a literal rotary of strings and bongo-like percussion that culminates in a spiraling siren, ushering you into a Pryda dimension. A large handful of the tracks selected for this mix were unreleased, at least in the traditional manner of record labels. As to be expected, Prydz stuffed the mix full of exclusives that he’s featured on his EPIC radio show and that have been floating around the Internet as “Creamfields ID 01” or “Circus Helsinki ID” or, another personal favorite, “EPIC Radio ID 03”. The latter track possesses a funky attitude that increasingly embodies recent additions to his body of work. As he adjusted the various knobs on the CDJs, even he could barely resist a subtle dance, bopping back and forth to the beat, playing invisible keyboards in the air. A lot of the transitions were recognizable from his Essential Mix, a must listen for anyone with at least one ear. From “Rotonda” he went into Jeremy Olander’s “Rorschach”, “Power Drive” into “Clapham” and the Chordapella remix of “Reeperbahn” into “Border Control”. Seeing as I’ve heard that mix countless times since its premiere, being able to witness those transitions live, in all their grace and fluidity, was immense!
There’s something about the way Pryda mixes, the way he weaves tracks together in a tapestry of shimmering beats and chord progressions. For example, in that “Power Drive” transition, he left the slightest hint of the main melody in “Clapham” until the song hit a climax and the major “riffs” were swept away, reduced to its barest components. The beauty of his track selection and his sequencing is that each song becomes a part of the next, molded together, accentuating each other, calling out certain notes or samples that only rote repetition can inspire. You zone out, lost in that sea of sound. Vocal treatments barely bring your head above water, but when they do, it’s an alarming hand grabbing you by the collar and lifting you out of the dark depths. “One Day”, “Midnight City (Eric Prydz’s Very Private Remix)” and the “Let Me Feel” remix all aided the set with their simple verses, not an overpowering chorus calling for a group sing-a-long, but an organic lifeline, short yet memorable lines like “One day we’ll all be free” or the chorus sample from Adrian Lux’s “Teenage Crime”. You’re inspired to sing along because you’re inspired by what’s being said not because the DJ told you to. I don’t know how else to explain it. Less is more.
The only strange moment was at the end. He began to play what sounded like an instrumental version of his “Everyday Interlude” when suddenly “Allein” began. The usual polish was lacking and I believe this was mostly due to running out of time. He shrugged to the audience as they chanted for more, mouthing apologetic words lost under the raucous cheers. “Allein” is one of my favorite tracks of all time, so I wasn’t complaining. That song…wow. Every time. If I wasn’t so dehydrated, I’d have broken down right there. It’s been close to my heart ever since the first moment I heard that suppressed synth piano. It brings back beautiful and ugly memories alike, all united under one simple phrase so full of conviction, heartache, success and failure: “Allein, allein”. Again, less is more.
Afterwards, one highlight that stuck with me was during “Border Control”. The song moves along at its usual BPM, probably between 126 and 128. When ever so slowly, it drops. 120. 115. 110. It may have gone all the way down to 90. The key remained the same, the pitch unwavering. And there he kept it, at a steady funeral march for about two minutes, maybe more, Lord it could have been so many more! He slowed the whole track down, perfectly, and then gently, gently, brought the BPM up again, arriving at the native tempo right in time for the giant assault of shuffling synths and blistering white noise in the drop. I’ve never seen a DJ execute that effect with such skill and have it live and breath in the set rather than act as a gimmick to get the crowd cheering. It was a motivated edit, something I’m very familiar with in my line of work. You don’t just make the cut or speed it up or slow it down because it will look cool, you do it to service the greater picture. Eric slowed the track down to service the greater picture his mix was painting and that’s how he seems to treat all his sets, letting each track act as a giant cross dissolve into the next mood, the next voice-less chorus, the next gallery of imagery that his music will inspire in your inferior brain.
You don’t just see an Eric Prydz set, you experience it. I’ve experienced his set three times already and I show no chance of ever getting tired of it. Thank you, Eric. I hope I have the honor of seeing you again soon.
NEXT UP: JEFF MAGNUM @ Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, 2/18