The Darude Backstory
It is probably safe to say that if you are reading this review, you have probably heard of Darude at one point or another in the past decade. Darude became an international sensation in 2000 when he released the single "Sandstorm" which became a worldwide smash; there was no escaping its power and influence and it seemed to pop up in every club and dance station around the world. What made this somewhat unique was the fact that the song was fully instrumental with no vocals, yet was seductive in its raw power and intensity and gained such mass appeal. Even to this day, you can still hear the track being played at various clubs and with still countless remixes. He did have a few other modest hits, such as "Out of Control," but nothing on the massive scale of "Sandstorm." Darude, however, has not faded into obscurity and has been doing the club scene and creating his progressive and uplifting style of dance music. So, does Darude have the potential for another massive hit in the likes of "Sandstorm" in his future? We get a chance to find out with the release of his new album Label This! on the Robbins Entertainment label.
While Label This! definitely maintains some of his progressive and electro element sound, it is safe to say that this album is also a departure from his past endeavors. While maintaining influences of breaks and techno, this album seems more inspired by a fusion of 80s rock vocals and electropop and the occasional stutter. The male vocals are definitely a change and add a uniquely different flavor to Darude's music that seems to work off and on during the album. The first track on the album quite frankly worried me about the direction of the album, since it seemed like bad remix of a Jonas Brothers track, but fortunately "My Game" works itself out toward the end, though the music would have seemed more important had there been no vocals. "Tell Me," though, seemed more Darude-inspired, and was definitely what I expected to hear with its upbeat tempo- the vocals seemed to flow with the actual music without being the focus.
Darude Working With an American Idol
The next track was definitely a flashback into the past with Darude doing a remake of Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran (So Far Away)," while using the vocals of Blake Lewis from American Idol fame. The first time I listened to this track, I hated it somewhat, because it seemed to lack any edge and seemed a bit commercial with Blake doing vocals, but it does seem to grow on you after listening to it a few times. This is the point where the male vocals don't do the song as much justice and and seemed to echo more of the vocal styling of the original singer instead of setting himself apart. That is just my humble opinion, though, and at least as a whole, it's an improvement over the original version of the song.
Back to the music, though. I do like the fact that there seems to be a consistent flow through the album and every track feeds off the next, providing for a very fluid listen. Such tracks like "Stars(Here With Me)" and "Good Grooves" might have seemed a bit disjointed on their own but definitely work well when they flow together; definitely enhancing the mood of the listening experience. I do love the soft touch of female vocals on "In the Darkness" which seem to seduce the listener while maintaining its dark and edgy sound and climaxing with a great buildup toward the end. This track definitely feels more like a Darude production and leads up the track "Bad" which does not describe the song itself at all. "Bad" feels more like a predecessor of "Sandstorm" with its pulsating beats and hypnotic sounds that beg to be played at its loudest. To me, this is what Darude is all about and where his talent and skills shine the most.