Since 2008, he's released some of the hardest-hitting, entertaining, and energetic dance singles. His style includes edge, style, melody, drama, and intrigue. His tracks remain relatively instrumental and still fairly relevant, the source of endless mashups. His remixes have spanned artists like Britney Spears, Tiesto, Mika, and the Black Eyed Peas. And now, after releasing four singles from it, Wolfgang Gartner has finally given us an album. And not a thing has changed.
Wolfgang Gartner (aka Joey Youngman) is something of an American dance hallmark. His tracks carry weight both in the US and the UK, his style a mish-mash of American and European house. He teams up incredibly well with other artists, notably with Francis Preve on “Yin/Yang” and with Deadmau5 on “Animal Rights.” And when he gets his hands on a track, he tears it down and rebuilds it from the ground up, creating monsters where there were none (“Funk Nasty” by Andy Caldwell) and giving a much-needed boost of dark energy (“Morning After Dark” by Timbaland).
So on Weekend in America
, it seems Gartner decided to stick to what he knew, and thank goodness he did. Where he could have said, “Hey, I have the chance to record and album and really stretch my capabilities,” he instead said, “Hey, let me show people why I matter.” Take lead single “Illmerica.” The track has no vocals, but only a simple and effectively catchy melodic riff. Yet it showcases exactly what is so magical about this producer. Not to back himself into a pigeonhole, Gartner followed up “Illmerica” with “Space Junk.” This track embraces melodies of old video games as it is essentially 8-bit chords arranged beautifully over a punchy beat before it descends into a den of dark synths and aggression. But Gartner doesn't excel with just instrumentals, as he proves when he teams up with will.i.am for “Forever”
, the album's third single. While I question will.i.am's involvement with...anything, really...Gartner gives him far more to work with that David Guetta did. “Forever” is a superb example of what a good producer can achieve. , “Menage A Trois," the fourth single from the album, isn't the strongest Gartner production but it does an interesting job of changing course a couple times during its five-minute length.
The singles are a good indicator of what to expect
While the four singles from Weekend in America
are a great example of Gartner's talents, they are also a good indicator of what to expect on the album. The level of variety, melody, and vocals represented in his four singles carries through to the album. Tracks like “Shrunken Heads” and “The Champ” sound like siblings to “Illmerica,”
while bonus tracks “Welcome Back” and “Cognitive Dissonance” sound like first cousins. Gartner's beats stay relatively consistent on these tracks. Two instrumental tracks do differ from the designated course: “818” takes the beat and the aggression to the next level while “The Way It Was” focuses more on a melodic and softer trip. “The Way It Was,” more so than any other instrumental track on Weekend in America
, exhibits why Wolfgang Gartner should produce for more artists. The flow from captivating melody to dance-ready beats is flawless.
Help from the hip hop world
Of course, if you want proper examples of his ability to support a vocalist, he's enlisted the help of rappers Eve, Cam'ron and Jim Jones, as well as singer Omarion. So we are spared the appearance of Akon, but I'm pretty sure Gartner could even do something new and interesting with him. Eve's forays into electronic music have always fared well, ever since her amazing collaboration with Fatboy Slim for the film Blade 2. Eve's charisma pairs well with Gartner's brand of electro, her raps layering over a sick drum beat. Jim Jones and Cam'Ron on “Circus Freaks” create an interesting, if forgettable, heavy electro experience. But it's Gartner's work with Omarion on “Still My Baby” that trumps the deck here. The track is dramatic and curious, transporting Omarion's typical r&b vocals into outer space on a rocketship made of pure electro.
Gartner outdoes himself on “Still My Baby.”
This is an excellent release both from Ultra Records and Wolfgang. Standouts include “The Way It Was,” “Shrunken Heads,” and “Still My Baby.” Wolfgang Gartner hasn't even hit his stride yet, so here's hoping future releases get even better and better.
Released September 2011 on Ultra Records.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the record label. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy