Relentless Beats

4 Songs That Made Me Realize I Can’t Miss UMEK at Phoenix Lights 2018

Whether you’re at a festival, a club, or a party in your buddy’s basement, there’s nothing like a dark dance floor. And when it comes to moving dark dance floors, there’s no one who does it quite like UMEK. The Slovenian DJ is a techno veteran of sorts—he’s been laying down tracks since ‘93 and has a resumè that includes sets at Tomorrowland and Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, his own BBC Essential Mix, and hosting the incredibly popular “Behind the Iron Curtain” podcast.

Early in his career, UMEK was known for his heavy-hitting, stark electronica. But between 2007 and 2015—as electronic music wiggled it’s way into the mainstream—UMEK experimented with the lighter, upbeat side of house music. However, his more recent stuff is a clear shift back to his darker, more aggressive techno roots, and I, for one, am not mad at all. So, if you love dark dance floors and moody, gritty techno as much as I do—and you’ll be at this year’s Phoenix Lights—then UMEK is one artist you can’t afford to miss. With that, here are four songs to prepare you for what will no doubt be an amazing set:

UMEK – Deja Vu (Original Mix) [Tronic Music]

This gritty techno beat is one of UMEK’s most recent releases, and it doesn’t disappoint. It starts off with a steady, driving bass line that carries throughout the entire song. Then, around 1 minute 45 seconds in, we’re pulled up and set back down over and over again and occasionally gifted with a cutting synth that gives off some definite Mortal Kombat vibes.

UMEK – Are You Into My Groove (Original Mix) [1605-235]

This is the first UMEK song I ever heard, and in all honesty, it’s probably my favorite. That’s because—aside from being tied to some great memories—this song’s galloping beat takes the listener on a ride that’s hard not to think about long after the song’s ended. It’s dark, bassy minimalism is completely intoxicating, and if you close your eyes, it’s easy to forget that you’re not at an underground dance party in the heart of Berlin.

UMEK – Asiiiid (Original Mix) [1605-233]

The moment this song starts, you already know it’s gonna be a banger. It’s heavy, bouncy, bass is perfectly accented by an occasional loop and momentary key change—all before dropping back down to a minimal bass line. Then, just when you think things are settling down, eerie vocals slowly fade in like a battle cry followed by grinding synth that carries out a frontal assault on the senses.

UMEK – Squadmates (Kostas Maskalides Remix) [1605-232]

You know those people who say electronic music sounds like it’s from a video game? I’m almost certain they’re referring to Squadmates by UMEK. There’s something incredibly nostalgic—familiar, even—about this track, and yet, it’s totally original. It’s springy tones and distorted synths are reminiscent of ’80s synthwave. To me, it sounds like Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack grew up playing Street Fighter, then started going to raves in college.

Ready to dance your heart out to some unrelenting techno? Then be sure to catch UMEK during his set at Phoenix Lights 2018, and I’ll see you on the dance floor.

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