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Sunday 22nd, February 2009
Kuffdam - Network
Updated: Monday 23rd, February 2009

Kuffdam is one of Scotlandís best-loved trance DJs and producers and if you follow him on Twitter, that exciting social networking revolution (if you like reading peopleís Facebook updates), you will find that he likes a.) drinking and b.) bacon rolls. Good to see heís not conforming to stereotypes. He first made an impact on our trance consciousnesses with the massive Summer Dream, produced with his Cypriot production partner Plant. That caught the attention of Paul van Dyk and begun a long-running relationship with Vandit Records, who are now releasing this, Kuffdamís debut artist album Network. Despite Plant being credited for engineering the tracks it is released under Kuffdam's name for reasons explained in my interview with him here. The album comprises ten tracks, mostly new but with a few older ones in new mixes, all full length. I personally prefer my artist albums mixed or the tracks edited as I think they flow better, but the upshot of this way is that if you like a track and want to play it out, you donít have to wait for the single release.

The album opens with an utterly chilling ambient mix of Summer Dream that really teases with the all-too familiar sounds of this wonderful track. Itís been a while since I last heard this and I had forgotten just what a beautiful tune it is, and it really works in this version. Listening to this I am reminded me of the classic Michael Woods ambient remixes that he used to make before he sold out to the house devil. Turn Your Hand To This picks up the pace with a very tasty, slightly electro groove. A bit too short, but settles the album nicely into the more clubby tracks to come. Next up is the likely next single, The Last Time featuring Lo-Fi Sugar, the Los Angeles duo who appeared on Paul van Dykís last album and contributed vocals for a recent Starchaser release on Vandit. The track centres on a mesmerising trance groove that snakes and circles with the haunting and pretty simplistic vocals lost deep in the mix.

Shagadelic is another track focused on creating a pulsating club rhythm, and it builds to a very effective climax. This is the sort of track you can imagine a DJ dropping early in the night to move it to the next level, and it serves the same purpose on this album. This is followed by the lead single, Burning Up, which features the vocals of fellow Scot Mark Sinclair aka Terry Ferminal. He adds his distinctive atmospheric touch to the track, married to the outer-space melodies detailing a rocket journey through the cosmos. Network Jam again ups the pace slightly and thrusts deeply into trance territory with a bouncy bassline and twisting, euphoric synths. The two breakdowns are full on uplifters and if you like the Push style, itís safe to say youíll love this one. I can see this doing some serious damage in the clubs.

No Way Out could be even more explosive on the dancefloor however. This is epic in every sense and perfectly engineered for the big rooms, from the menacing rolling bass, the gorgeous flickering synths and various fx that crank the anticipation right up to the devastating breakdown with its crushing cascade of wall-of-sound synths. I fully expect this to become one of the biggest trance tracks of the year, if it doesnít there is no justice in the world! Following that, Heroes is another fast paced trancer that builds up a fantastic head of steam and has a lovely melancholic lead melody - another very strong club track.

The album closes with two familiar Kuffdam & Plant productions, present in new mixes. The Ones We Loved has that wonderful vocal from Terry Ferminal, describing how relationships change as time passes, that Iím sure strikes a chord with many people. This doesnít quite match up to the superb Dogzilla remix, but is a good moody alternative and it is great to hear those vocals again. Dream Makers, with its Willy Wonker And The Chocolate Factory film sample gets a dark makeover but that beautiful melody still shines through, given a fresh twist for 2009. There are some pretty nasty synths in the breakdown and some filthy basslines that all combine to make this probably the best mix of this track.

Kuffdam has crafted a very strong album here with plenty of ammunition for your DJ sets and no weak links. The ten tracks are all expertly produced with wonderful attention to detail, especially in the three massive trancers Network Jam, No Way Out and Heroes. These tracks are absolutely begging to be let rip on a dancefloor and are a class apart from a lot of the generic guff out there. The album builds very well from the more rhythm focused tracks early on right up to full-on euphoria. The listening experience suffers slightly from being full length tracks, with most being over eight minutes, but of course that does mean each track is primed and ready to be played out. And trust me, youíre gonna want to. 4/5

Out now.


1. Summer Dream (Sunset On The Beach Mix)
2. Turn Your Hand To This
3. The Last Time (feat. Lo-Fi Sugar)
4. Shagadelic
5. Burning Up
6. Network Jam
7. No Way Out
8. Heroes
9. The Ones We Loved (feat. Terry Ferminal)
10. Dream Makers (The Album Mix)

Written by:
Jon Nix

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