Eric Prydz - Eric Prydz presents Pryda
Thu 24th May, 2012 Music Reviewsin
With the enigmatic Swede poised to launch himself on the US market as headliner of the 15-date Identity Festival tour, the dance world could well be about to witness the second coming of Eric Prydz. While Australian fans have still been left hanging, tour wise, in the meantime we’ve got a damn fine replacement in the form of Eric Prydz presents Pryda, an amazing three-disc anthology that combines a collection of B-sides and rarities with two stunning retrospective mixes, drawing together his finest work in what amounts to far more than the sum of its parts.
It’s easy to forget that Prydz’s true breakthrough moment in the summer of 2004, with his radio anthem Call On Me, a horrifically cheesy (but still somewhat lovable) 180-degree turn for the rising Swedish producer. It delivered an astronomical boost to his profile, before he immediately returned to his clubbing roots to become one of the most successful and influential electronic producers to ever walk the earth.
Listening back now, it’s easy to lose perspective on just how groundbreaking his sound was at the time, simply due to how much it’s been absorbed into club music since. Initially part of the Stockholm crew that included Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, he eventually broke away from his Swedish House Mafia brethren to elevate his music to a different level altogether. ‘Pryda’ was the pseudonym he set aside for his bigger, more powerful club tracks.
The Pryda sound was a formidable fusion of genres that you could never really put your finger on. The strength of the melodies meant it shared at least some DNA with trance (reflected in Armin van Buuren dropping Pryda bombs as regularly as Sasha & John Digweed), though the underlying grooves were much more grounded in house music, with an accompanying deepness that had its roots in the ‘power’ end of the progressive scene. But even more defining was the ‘80s aesthetic, one of the key inspirations behind the explosion of electro house in 2005.
We’ve got a whopping three discs worth of Pryda bombs here, with the first made up entirely of rare and unreleased tracks, kicking off appropriately with Shadows, a hybrid of rumbling bass and shimmering synths that has rocked its fair share of Prydz sets over the years.
From here we move through a selection of deep, melodic slow burners, all offering at least a few twists, turns and surprises. The menacing opening of Sunburst summons what sounds like an alien klaxon call, morphing gradually into a powerhouse trance riff that shares the spotlight with a belting electro bassline. Prydz crafts a soaring tale of sorrow with Leja, while Mighty Love sees him creatively twisting a disco riff into a crashing percussive breakdown that takes hold in the middle.
Elsewhere on this unmixed disc, Prydz steps outside his typically tightly-honed club bangers for a delicious assortment of deep melodies, a few darker adventures, plus plenty of vocals. The centerpiece is the rolling progressive trance of You, with a recurring musical motif that later makes an appearance as an interlude to the grandiose Pjano. The sum of the different parts feels like a genuine prelude to the proper artist album that’s due for release later this year.
For many fans though, the real grist will be found on the retrospective discs, which collect together the most explosive moments from the Pryda catalogue, sequencing them in a journey that’s testament to just how explosive these tunes really were. The peak is reached in the first of these retrospective discs, a driving and melodic mix that’s packed with hands-in-the-air memories. Powering up immediately with Lesson One, it’s brimming with absolute dancefloor destroyers.
For instance; no one who was clubbing in 2005 could forget Aftermath, with its tantalizing 10-minutes of frenetic build, layer building upon layer towards a seizure-inducing impact in the clubs. Similarly, I remember hearing Prydz’s remix of 1983 for the very first time Parklife in Sydney in 2006, with the tent’s previously sedate crowd transformed into a state of screaming, frothing, hysteria.
A few months later Sasha & Digweed graced the decks at Home Nightclub, and the bubbling rush of Frankfurt was selected as the track that signalled the pair’s shift from warm-up into peaktime – and was appropriately greeted by the room exploding in joy, every last packed inch of it. All of these moments are relived with Eric Prydz presents Pryda.
The second disc on the other hand begins by traversing some of the deeper and darker Pryda moments, slowly and surely building the tension, spiking in energy and then lapping gain, before bubbling to a climactic peak. The pace really starts to pick up with Emos, though the twinkling piano riff of 2nite signals the moment where things really shift into high gear, remaining there for the duration before it climaxes in an epic fashion with last year’s anthem Mirage.
Importantly though, these two discs are much more than shoddily thrown together mega-mixes of your fave Pryda moments; they’re gripping, carefully crafted journeys that both tell a bigger story. The care that’s gone into their construction easily trumps what most artists are able to deliver with their albums, and there’s been a huge amount of attention given to the flow of the journey, with the different music elements and motifs, the breakdowns and builds, all reworked in the studio to fit tightly together, transforming each of them into a single grand composition.
While these records sound even bigger in light of the relative restraint of the tech-house revolution, Prydz positions himself effortlessly on the sonic borderlines, allowing him to effortlessly cross over the different scenes and deliver the anthemic moments without musical compromise. There’s a musicality that exceeds what we’re used to in a lot of dance music out there, but beyond that, he’s one of the most intuitive artists ever in terms of knowing what works in the club, with every subtle shift in melody, every drum roll, every build and every swell tweaked within an inch of its life to squeeze the most out of the dancefloor’s reaction.
While that Australian tour might be elusive, Eric Prydz presents Pryda is still a formidable entry into the clubbing canon, plus an explosive listen in its own right. Absolutely essential.