Las Vegas-based DJ and producer Justin Blau, popularly known as 3LAU, once called 2014 his breakout year. The 27-year-old has dropped more than a few hit singles since then, but with the release of his debut album ‘Ultraviolet’ last week, 2018 is shaping up to be his biggest yet by far.
The album, a tightly constructed 11-track project, was released on Blau’s not-for-profit label Blume, and in sticking to the label’s mission to “unite dance music listeners world-wide around philanthropic causes,” he will be donating directly to F-Cancer, an organization focusing on prevention, early detection and support for those affected by cancer, for online stream on Spotify and other streaming services.
In support of the album, 3LAU has announced a massive accompanying tour, for which he says he has very big plans. And with these tracks, each stop is sure to be a mega-production event.
The short, introductory title track drips of Tycho and sets the tone for the beauty to come.
3LAU tracks have grown in their diversity and distinction over the years, yet they kept their ties to his early roots in melodic house.
Through different stages of the album, he explores his natural four-to-the-floor instincts with different takes on the ultra-dancy subgenre on tracks like Close, Walk Away, and the largely instrumental slapper Winter.
Many of the remaining tracks follow a very familiar pattern but Blau takes it to a new level, applying his own signature to the art form. In a similar fashion to the likes of Illenium and Gryffin, he makes use of massive soundscapes involving pounding layers of underlying bass, soft vocals depicting simple stories of love and heartbreak, and scathing synth timbres on what are destined to become chart-burners and festival-favorites in Touch, Star Crossed, You Want More, as well as previously-released single Fire.
There is no doubt it’s a go-to dance-pop formula. Blau works more out of them, though. Each track is fresh, poignant.
Interestingly, On My Own, featuring vocals from Nevve, sets up to take the same shape with its build before dropping into the mellowest drop on the project. A welcome break-up of the heavy melodrama on the early tracks.
Arcana stands alone with its breakneck techno tempo. It creates a beautiful crescendo that walks its way into the song’s final seconds, gives the listener a chance to breathe, and passes them into the delicate finale Worlds Away, featuring Emma Hewitt.
This album is sure to be looked upon as a big step up 3LAU as he move into this new era for ever-rising star. Time will tell just how high he will climb.
Ultraviolet Tour Dates:
Feb 23 – Philadelphia, PA – Noto
Feb 24 – Washington D.C. – Echostage
Mar 02 – San Francisco, CA – Regency
Mar 03 – Los Angeles, CA – Belasco
Mar 10 – Seattle, WA – Sodo
Mar 16 – Toronto, ON – Uniun
Mar 17 – Montreal, QC – New City Gas
Apr 06 – Denver, CO – Fillmore
Apr 13 – Boston, MA – The Grand
Apr 14 – St Louis, MO – Ryse
Apr 20 – Houston, TX – Spire
Apr 21 – Dallas, TX – Lizard Lounge
Apr 27 – Portland, OR – Roseland
Written by: Aaron Nelson
Photos courtesy of 3LAU.