It’s difficult to have a conversation about progressive house and experimental music without mentioning the iconic Andrew Bayer. Widely considered as a star in Above & Beyond‘s prestigious record label Anjunabeats, Bayer has released hits that have become timeless pieces. He’s collaborated with the likes of Boom Jinx, BT, Norin & Rad (forming the trio ‘Artificial’), Matt Lange, and Alan Nimmo (forming the duo ‘Signalrunners’). From the pulsating “Electric Sheep” to the legendary “Keep Your Secrets” driven by Molly Bancroft’s vocals, onward to the rapturous “England” and destructive “Bullet Catch,” Bayer’s continuously pushing boundaries with every release, blurring the lines between labels and genres as he goes. His albums “It’s Artificial” and the experimental “If It Were You We’d Never Leave” are testaments to this; if you haven’t given them a listen, do your auditory system a favor by clicking on their respective teal text.
We’re delighted to hear that he’s releasing a new concept EP, “Do Androids Dream,” titled after the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by American science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, from which the cult-classic film “Blade Runner” was adapted. Bayer is an avid fan of the novel and the film, from which he’s gained inspiration for and incorporated samples into his tracks. The EP’s theme is Bayer’s attempt to bring the human element to electronic music, hence the term ‘android.’ Despite the fact that Han Solo doesn’t make a cameo in Bayer’s musical opus, the EP manages to hit light-speed with its three future-film score instrumentals and two emotionally-gripping vocal tracks featuring the talent of Danish vocalist Asbjørn. Bayer, my dear reader, shoots first. Now that all that background info is done with, let’s submerge into the Bayer-layered rift that is “Do Androids Dream.”
The EP begins with a single ominous, resonating tone per count that slowly progresses into a thunderous epic orchestrated by trance pads and interlaced with a light piano melody; “Do Androids Dream Part 1,” the EP’s first track, is the personification of pure awe. It’s the perfect lead into the next track. Both tracks flow so nicely together that I say they are, in fact, two halves of a whole. The latter track “Part 2” disrupts the former’s serene atmosphere to generate an inherent duality than a dichotomy. The EP’s first beat is introduced in this second track, “Do Androids Dream Part 2,” and is guided by consecutive tones played per count. At the track’s breakdown, there is a constantly slow build-up until a raspy, robotic sound signals the arrival of the drop, which serves to further progress the arpeggiated melody than slap us with ‘moar bass.’ “Part 2” easily puts you into a state of trance, where you are left with your own thoughts in a dream world.
That all-too-familiar broken-Bayer-bassline kicks in at the EP’s third track, “Super Human,” supplemented by the silky-smooth voice of Asbjørn. Unlike today’s EDM vocal tracks, the lyrics are actually meaningful and coherent, telling us the ballad of a lost love that was above that of the human level: supra human. Guided by a resounding, energetic bassline, Asbjørn opens the story with the fateful encounter with his other half as his “systems crash[ed] one by one.” The breakdown is led by a nostalgic, sorrowful piano melody as he recounts the love he shard with his significant other. However, their love drifted apart due to “cosmic confusion” and his fear of “illusion.” Yet, he accepts that his once-other half will find someone new and fall in love again — that the two “were super human.” With this declaration, the track builds up to reveal a repressed, emotionally uplifting drop that equally resonates within ourselves. Bayer does number three full justice with this track. I was lucky to experience the debut of this track (as well as the former two) on the floor of New York City’s Madison Square Garden at Above & Beyond’s “ABGT 100” show last October, and I simply cannot describe the feels that were generated within and without during this track. Needless to say, “Super Human” was a definite highlight of the night, and its release a thing that I’ve been waiting a while for.
Next up is the second and last vocal track of the EP: “Tomorrow Boys.” According to Bayer, the track is “a beam of strange light that cuts through the [EP’s] more high tempo tracks.” The track starts off foggy, with ethereal noises in crescendo that unsurface a “downtempo contrast and counterpoint to ‘Super Human.'” Bayer experimented with a metronome while producing this song, generating a robotic-sounding tick rhythm that leads to a largely uplifting, melodic climax, featuring a sample from his very own “Perth” (did you find it?). During the track’s denouement, drawn-out calls, a faint piano, and space-like white noise fade the track into an infinite abyss. The following track, “Do Androids Dream Part 3,” signals the end of “Tomorrow Boys” and the EP itself with a more light-hearted, hopeful-sounding piano. “Part 3” pays tribute to the “themes in both Parts 1 and 2 in re-imagined ways, and keeps the hopeful tone of the piece intact.” The piano then transitions into a stronger sound supplemented by trance pads in the background. Split into three sections itself, the track gives us a proper send-off with a full orchestra that serves as the EP’s reprise — a thing that “just came together organically,” according to Bayer himself. And as the track fades out with the decayed bowing of the stringed instruments, a delicate, centered fin is displayed in the final scene. Well, folks, he’s done it again.
The EP is set to release in two days on April 13th via Anjunabeats, so what are you waiting for? Get up and dance, and pre-order your copy here. Don’t miss Bayer as he tours North America on his “Do Androids Dream Part 2 Tour,” with major stops at Ultrabar in Washington, DC on the 16th, Maison Mercer in Toronto on the 17th, Ruby Skye in SF on the 18th and The Observatory in Santa Ana on the 23rd! Check out the livestream of his ultra set at ASOT 700 at Ultra Music Festival in Miami for a taste of what to expect from his shows.