Fans of light, fluffy trance should stay far, far away from Dado’s latest release, Reload. Recording as Deedrah, Dado turns in a searing artist album full of fervent energy and raw power. Dado, a longtime fixture on the international psytrance scene (releasing tunes with Christophe Drouillet under the name of Transwave, and on his own as Synthetic, Cypher, and Federico Baltimore), eschews tired trance clichés of tempered beats, soaring vocals, and epic builds for rougher, darker music more suitable for grungy warehouse parties than glitzy clubs. Borrowing elements from trance, techno, and progressive house, Dado spins together an intriguing blend of hard-edged sound laced with acid.
Unlike a slew of sound-alike psychedelic trance producers with overactive Roland 303s, Dado enriches his sound with resonant, full-bodied bass as a counterbalance to manic synthesizer flourishes. The title track, in particular, speaks of Dado’s careful attention to detail. A pulsating, full-throttle number, “Reload” blurs the boundaries between trance, acid techno, and progressive house. At well over 140 bpm, this is most assuredly not for the faint of heart. “Purple Unicorn” follows in a similar vein, using spare, subdued bass thuds, light ambient noodling, and gravelly synths for an effect more reminiscent of Bedrock-type subtlety than wild, hands-in-the-air theatrics.
Dado displays rare talent with his neatly arranged, less frenetic compositions. Psytrance, in particular, deals heavily in densely layered, mind-twistingly busy melodic lines, so Dado’s restraint comes off as rather refreshing. He takes “Land of Freedom (2001 Mix)”, a classic Transwave tune, and remixes it into an assertive, emotional, and much cleaner version of the original. “Far and Away” is also similarly balanced, melding hollow percussion, clattering beats, and lonely bleeps into a winding 303 line. “Something is Wrong with the Machinery!” is also quite interesting, dotting a background of submarine bass with soft crackles and pops. The dubby feel of the track contrasts nicely with a menacing synth line, and Dado slowly adds layers of percussion to build a clotted-yet-controlled tableau of sound.
Perhaps the most appealing expression of Dado’s new take on psychedelic trance is “Liquid Skies”. This scathing trance tune boasts a low-riding fog of sound that dissolves into a smooth orchestration of chorus and strings; the manic buildup of swirling acid lines, clattering cymbals, and sci-fi bleeps should have any trance fan dancing like a fiend.
Overall, Reload is a gem amongst a slew of mediocre, trance-by-numbers albums. Full of energy, vision, and imagination, Dado displays the rare talent that has kept him at the forefront of psychedelic trance.