A list of Alain Macklovitch’s countless achievements as a DJ, producer, performer and entrepreneur would make for a pretty substantial profile—but Liam has already noted many of these in his great piece “Why A-Trak is the best choice for Spring Weekend’s electronic musician.” So curricula vitae aside, what is A-Trak going to bring to the table (besides perhaps the most suitable dance track for describing what far too many students will be doing on Friday, April 19)? A great goddamn DJ set. That’s what. Although I’ve left my EDM obsession in 2010, A-Trak’s surprise set at Ed Banger’s 7th Anniversary remains one of my top concert memories. Mixing turntable prowess (prowess might even be an understatement) with a deep knowledge of all genres of dance music, A-Trak provides a unique experience that’s impressive to diehards and dilettantes. Familiarize yourself with some of his production work and treat yourself to an exemplary set after the jump.
The Current Hit – Fool’s Gold Records, which A-Trak started with mixtape maven Nick Catchdubs, has always promoted both electronic and hip hop artists, so it’s no surprise that its most recent hit marks an intersection of the two camps. “Trap” (or that Baauer shit for laypeople), a production style epitomized by beat craftsmen such as Lex Luger, became something of a phenomenon in the EDM world last summer and A-Trak’s most recent hit seems to be riding that wave. Featuring Juicy J, El-P, Jim Jones and Flatbush Zombies (and Flosstradamus doing something, I guess), this zeitgeist cut kicks hard and is reminiscent enough of “Harlem Shake” to satisfy most. Double cup recommended.
Electro House Releases – One great thing about A-Trak is that he hasn’t abandoned the late aughts electro house that fell out of vogue when progressive house and dubstep took over middle school iPods across the nation. Early remixes of Boys Noize and MSTRKRFT will give listeners an impression of his production roots, while more recent remixes of Justice and Martin Solveig show how A-Trak’s sound has matured without losing its bouncy, energetic electro character. This sound persists on his most recent release: the impressive Tuna Melt EP featuring collaborations with Tommy Trash, GTA and Spring Weekend After Dark DJ duo Oliver.
Duck Sauce – Forget about the overplayed ooo-hoos of “Barbra Streisand” for a minute and give A-Trak’s collaboration with Armand Van Helden a chance. Back in 2009, the two DJs had the brilliant idea of pulling seventies disco samples (from Salsoul Orchestra, MFSB and others) out of obscurity and giving them the arena treatment with powerful kick drums and the requisite low-pass filter build ups. The results were highly appealing, even spawning a hit hip enough to find its way into How to Make it in America. While Van Helden and A-Trak do perform together under the Duck Sauce moniker, their tracks also tend to make appearances in their respective solo sets. My personal favorite is the early single “Grand Steppin’,” but any proper introduction must begin with “Anyway.”
DJ Set from E-Zoo 2012 – There’s an old adage I just made up which states that a DJ-Producer’s released tracks can only teach you so much about his or her in-concert experience. Therefore anybody serious about preparing for Spring Weekend’s dance party should check out this recording from last summer’s Electric Zoo festival. This hour-long excerpt gives an impression of what an A-Trak set should sound like these days: throwback-style (if throwback means 2008) electro house jams, fun on the turntables and seamless forays into hip-hop breakbeats from 4/4 kicks. Throughout the mix one will find, in addition to several original productions, the crowd-pleasing electro of Mord Fustang and Wolfgang Gartner, an ass shaker of a remix from Luminox and, of course, some French Montana. I recommend cranking this loud—but not too loud—and it should keep everyone satiated until Friday. Track list available here.