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Sunday 28th, June 2009
Marco V - Propaganda

The diminutive Dutchman Marco V has, in a distinguished music career, cemented a name for himself as one of the most important DJs and producers in EDM. Self-promotion and self-publicity shy, he has always let his music do the talking, subversively preaching his sonic manifesto and subtly shaping people’s musical minds. He has always been a huge part of my musical passion right from the start, though I have drifted away from him over the past year as, like many others, he has begun to explore a more ‘minimal’ sound. It will be interesting to hear how that has crept into this, Propaganda, his third studio album and first for three years. The last, 200V, was by all accounts a superb body of work, spawning some of the most memorable tech-trance singles of the past five years - so how does his latest shape up?

Vibes from the singles preceding the album have been promising, with Coma Aid becoming a club smash and showcasing everything that is genius about Marco V as he takes a cheesy eighties pop track from Kim Wilde and turns it into a cutting edge tech-trance dancefloor smash. It also shows his wonderful flair for track titles too – Coma Aid being an anagram of Cambodia (minus a B), the original track title. Next single, Unprepared, is a typical Marco V vocal track, a superbly moody male vocal, most likely Benjamin Bates as no-one else is credited, with another nod to the eighties in the pulsating retro basslines. On Solitary Confinement he teams up relatively unknown UK singer Khashassi, and her heartfelt, emotive vocals fight it out with scratchy, paranoia inducing synths on one of the album highlights.

However, unlike 200V which had at its core vocal tracks, that is it for Propaganda. Instead, Marco has replaced them with strings, surprising, magnificent strings that burst out in flurries from nearly every other track. In fact it sounds like Marco V is co-producing a new Hybrid album in places, never more so than the wonderful Chemicals, with atmospheric orchestral swells expanding from under a thumping bassline in a way reminiscent of the Hybrid masterpiece Just For Today. Elsewhere there are deranged strings – Treviso – and the beautiful Digital Identity that is based around a sublime orchestral piece in a soundclash with a glitchy minimal groove.

There’s also the obligatory downbeat moment with current single The Man Who Wasn’t There, a blissful, dreamy ambient soundscape that builds to an emotive peak that has more than a nod to his classic stompaton C:del *.mp3. He also gives us an uplifting moment with the trance-influenced Ritual Purification, a superb blend of driving minimal beats and uplifting synths topped off with a great male vocal sample. The thrashy, techno infused Journey Into Sound has its focus on the dancefloor with a punchy beat, bouncy bassline and mind-mashing vocal snippets while penultimate track, Counterpoint is an interesting, if messy, in-your-face mix of ideas that almost borders on psy at one point. The albums closes on a high and the strings come out again for WRC Theme, a future dancefloor anthem if ever I heard one. The main theme is so catchy and the strings so dramatic, I can see this rocking big rooms with big lasers and is a fitting climax to an excellent album.

Marco V proves that his musical imagination is still as vivid and fertile as ever with an album of remarkable depth and intelligence. It is to his credit that the minimal basis of most of the tracks does not work against them as they are bursting with fresh ideas and the warmth of the strings and some very well used vocal samples give the album a vibrant, passionate soul over what could be, and too often are, cold and soulless beats. The album also blows very smoothly as while the tracks are not mixed they overlap slightly and Marco has edited them so they compliment each other perfectly. This is especially evident in the superb transition into Coma Aid. Also there is some great specially commissioned artwork inside the CD sleeve telling a story of Marco battling the forces of evil. The one negative is the scarcity of his characteristic vocal tracks, though again that does not detract too much. Of course, it is not as good as 200V, but then not much is. Marco V proves with Propaganda that, in terms of producing forward-thinking, cerebral and dancefloor-friendly music he is still head and shoulders over most other electronic artists out there. Intriguingly, this is only Part 1 and it will be fascinating to see where he heads next... 4.5/5

Read our interview with Marco V here.

Written by:
Jon Nix

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