Earlier this week American producer/DJ Ryan Raddon, professionally known as Kaskade, released his tenth studio album: Atmosphere. The album comes at the perfect time as many are doubting the long-term maturity of the dance scene. Many are worried that drug stigmatization and festival cancellations are a serious threat, but Kaskade’s Atmosphere not only serves as a comfort for those worried about the future of dance music, but a window into the growing artistic maturity and prosperity of dance music.
As an album, Atmosphere is both a synthesis of Kaskade’s roots and future. Tracks like “Take Your Mind Off” and “Missing You”, embody Raddon’s vocal deep house roots, as sparse yet twinkling jazz piano licks float along, while “LAX To JFK” and “MIA to LAS” and “SFO To ORD” take it even deeper and drop vocals completely, touching on cinematic and classical elements with ominously plucking string sections. Fans of Kaskade’s most recent, more festival and radio-aimed tracks might not be too happy with this album, but they aren’t left with nothing as “Last Chance” opens the album with some of that infectious energy and “Feeling the Night” builds on that. The album’s standout is no doubt title track and lead single “Atmopshere” as it provides a vocal progressive house anthem ready for the radio, the mainstage, and your mom’s iPod.
Radio ready as it is, “Atmosphere” is not your usual radio fodder. The single uses Raddon’s first ever recorded vocal performance as he sings, “All my life I’ve been a star / Holding a light up in the dark / While I try to keep clear, Of all the waves in your atmosphere.” Perhaps the lyrics are metaphor for Kaskade’s routinely-outspoken efforts to positively represent the American dance scene, as he mixes the perfect amount of radio-friendliness and emotional substance and a modernized verse-chorus-verse to make a pulsating, touching and show-stopping, classic progressive house-inspired track. With “Atmosphere,” Kaskade has put a face and a sound to the beating heart of the American dance music.
Kaskade’s productions, performance, songwriting, and unbridled emotion radiates through out the album and it’s the exact optimism and leadership that have made him an American dance music legend. Our European counterparts might not like our neon and the mainstream media might be ready write us off because “Molly,” but they’d be all selling us short. Although some of the most successful dance music acts and releases have at times lacked substance, Kaskade’s Atmosphere proves that commercial viable and critical success are not mutually exclusive when it comes to dance music. Yes he music is stellar, but it’s the heart and soul that make this project truly special, and ultimately timeless.