Dylan Tauber – I Am Alive
Dylan Tauber – I Am Alive – Album Review
Well this dude has certainly been in the zone over the past couple years. It’s fair to say that Dylan Tauber has always been fairly active throughout his career. You can see music online that dates back to 1999 before the turn of the millennium, and you can see a spike in his activity around 2015 after he’d spent what looks like about eight years away from recording, and you can see this past 365 has been another intensely creative period within his timeline. We’ve been there for quite a bit of that most recent wave, we’ve reviewed records like He Loves Carmen, which we loved too, and we checked out The Lagoon back in September of last year and found a bunch of cuts on that album we enjoyed too. Dylan’s pretty synonymous with quality…dude’s a top-shelf producer when it comes right down to it.
Returning with his third album on the inside of a year, I Am Alive reaffirms his remarkable consistency, and once again supplies you wonderful people out there with another stellar record to listen to. It starts with a track we’re all sure to dig on a universal level, “Love And You Will Live.” The best way I can describe it after having become fairly familiar with Dylan’s music over this past year, is that I pushed play on “Love And You Will Live” and instantly knew he was gonna be on solid ground. Make no mistake, his production is absolutely among the most consistent out there in the scene and the quality of his music is always present – but when he’s got a real inspired idea like you’ll hear on “Love And You Will Live,” it’s every bit as completely apparent. Love the vocals & the main hook of this tune, the sound surrounding it has a stellar level of atmospheric depth; it’s a dreamy cut with an energetic beat; that’s great contrast at work, where each half of those two main ingredients really seems to perfectly complement the other.
“Spirit Guides” would be what I’d consider to be one of the most complete cuts I’ve heard in Tauber’s catalog from concept to sound. From the lyrics of the theme to the stunning shimmer of the vocals that sing’em, “Spirit Guides” has an excellent idea at its core, and it’s executed perfectly overall. Dylan’s got a great gentle beat and synth vibes paired with this spirituality-based tune…I think people will really dig this track from start to finish just as much as I did. It feels like a genuine release of positive energy that is as comforting and warm as the concept of “Spirit Guides” is meant to be, reminding us that there’s always something in the air around us, and that we’re never alone in anything that we ever do. I really think it’s a beautiful concept, it sounds fantastic from start to finish, it’s a very well-thought-out song.
“I Am Alive,” the album’s title-track, is probably the most similar to what we know & love from Dylan’s past catalog…or at least, the most comparable cut we find at the start of this new record. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya, the dude’s a master of the mix when it comes right down to it, and you really hear the skills he’s got shining through the way a song like “I Am Alive” sounds. He’s got a great grip on how far to take the low-end & beat without pushing it too far, and knows exactly how to bring the more melodic elements to the surface, or bury them deep into the distance like we’re hunting audible Easter eggs as we listen. It’s the kind of approach that essentially always gives you a different dimension or sound to appreciate or marvel at while you listen…doesn’t matter if it’s your first time spinning a track like “I Am Alive” or your fiftieth, you’ll likely always find something new about it that’ll only make you love it more.
Dylan’s style of EDM music can be very meditative, relaxing, hypnotic, and captivating when he’s at his best too…I felt like “Reflection” was one of those songs I put on Monday morning, and the next thing I knew it was Friday evening, you know what I mean? You get lost in great tunes sometimes…immersed in a sound you don’t really wanna shake yourself out of, and if you get the opportunity to live within it for a while, undisturbed by the world, it can be a truly profound experience. Just like the title promises, you end up in a calm state of “Reflection” with this song, taking stock of your thoughts, feelings, emotions…LIFE…it’s the kind of track you wanna put on when you’re taking stock of the past, what you’ve been through, how it relates to where you are now, and to help you sort out your future ahead. In short, I’m loving it…”Reflection” is as gentle and delicate as it gets, but a bold standout & strong song.
I really dig what he did with the vocals on “Dreaming” and how far back they are into the mix of this track. It sounds like they’ve got an additional effect or two on’em as well…so it’s like…you hear them, but like an echo of your own thoughts. Nothing’s really discernable word-for-word, which I believe is entirely intentional, and ultimately very representative of the title. Our dreams don’t tend to be the clearest thing we experience in life, you know what I mean? You get fragments, pieces, glimpses of what it’s all about, but rarely is the entire experience of a dream crystal clear. “Dreaming” is a great way to mirror that reality in sound. I love how the vocals become like an additional instrument and part of the melody in the fabric of this tune…it’s outright essential when it comes to the allure & appeal of “Dreaming” overall, and a really clever inclusion into this track that brings this concept perfectly to life.
While a whole lot of Dylan’s music tends to be very atmospheric by definition, a lot of his inspiration throughout his catalog has come from the deep of the sea. So you end up with these airy vibes that have stunning depth to’em, and “Whales” is an excellent example you can point to where that’s going as right as right can be for Tauber’s tunes. The vocals on this track come out brilliantly…the hooks are supremely strong and are a great match for the beat alongside’em…and I think I might have actually loved the spoken-word moment even more than how much I was already enjoying the rest! I think this is honestly a really cute song…and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way whatsoever. It’s like I’ve always said, we’ve all gotta write about SOMETHING, right? So why not “Whales?” Tauber takes a moment here to honor the most majestic mammals we’ve got underneath the waves, and you get a really well-conceived song that celebrates how they’ve been a part of our world for years and years.
I’ll say this…”She’s A Dancer” probably has more addictive hooks to it than any of the songs have had in this lineup to this point. I’m not saying that makes it a better song, I’m simply saying there’s a very good chance this track will be among the most memorable in the set and get stuck in your head a whole lot quicker. Ultimately, that’s a good indication that it’d be a strong candidate to put out there as a single, but I might be inclined to go with a few of the others in this set-list that are a bit more representative of the album as a whole. “She’s A Dancer” is a lot like something you’ve probably heard in the Electro realm at some point throughout your time listening…which by no means makes it boring or any kind of a bad song, just more familiar to our ears even though it’s technically new – make sense? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it every bit as much as I’m sure that you will too – but I could feel myself trying to rebel against it because it was a bit more typical and straightforward than a lot of Dylan’s tunes tend to be. That being said, you’ve gotta admire how much of an irresistible beat it’s got to it, how charming and enchanting the vocals are, and the unbreakable quality in everything that Tauber creates. Whether “She’s A Dancer” is among your favorites or not, the consistency he brings to all his music is staggering.
While it’s probably fair to say that a track like “Rebirth” has a lot less to its DNA than many of the rest do, and that an artist/producer as skilled as Dylan is, could probably make ten tracks like this one before he even has breakfast…I dunno…there’s something genuinely awe-inspiring and powerfully moving about this song. To be completely honest with ya, “Rebirth” is one of my absolute favorites in the lineup of I Am Alive without question, and considering that it’s build mainly on a singular repeating pattern, I gotta tell ya, I don’t know how many artists out there could really pull a song like this one off this successfully. Dylan’s done everything right here, and refined this moment into something wonderful. Personally, I could not get enough of “Rebirth” – I think it’s audibly profound and music you can truly feel right in the pit of your soul as you listen to it. From the warmth of its glow, to the sincerity you’ll find at the core of its sound, everything about this song felt like it was in the exact right place that it should be. I get shivers when I listen to this one sometimes if I’m being truthful with ya…it’s a song that speaks straight to the heart & mind as one, and in my opinion, is actually award-worthy. I get that it might seem like it doesn’t do enough in terms of what we hear for many folks, but it’s perfection to me.
I’d say I pretty much feel exactly the same way about “Warm” right afterwards too – what a beautiful song! This is kind of what I was getting at when the album first began…sometimes you just know that Dylan’s onto the right vibe and about to nail a song for ya, and this was another one of those times for me. I’ll admit, I thought whatever came after “Rebirth” was going to have a real challenge to live up to, but from the moment that “Warm” began, I felt like this song was obviously heading straight to another victory for this Electro wizard. Tracks like “Rebirth” and “Warm” definitely delve further towards the ambient side of the genre overall, with more static ideas at the center of them both, but what can I say – when something’s perfected, you don’t need a whole lot more to go with it, you know? “Why mess with perfection?” is a phrase you’ve probably heard many times in your life – and it’s songs like these last two that highlight what that’s really all about. My advice to practically everyone that’s ever come through these pages of ours and these speakers of mine has always been the same – do what the song is calling for – that’s it, that’s all really. Songs like “Rebirth” and “Warm” are the very definition of what I’ve been getting at when I say that…nothing needs to be overtly complex or complicated, it just needs to fit and suit the moment. Both of these tracks have everything they need and nothing more – I love them both.
Like I was saying from the get-go here, Dylan’s in the zone right now. For myself personally, I feel like I Am Alive is head & shoulders above The Lagoon…don’t get me wrong, there were some undeniably great tracks on that record, but there hasn’t been a single cut on this new one that didn’t hit the mark for me – it’s an outstanding album, and “Carmen” would be right up there among its best offerings too. It’s always my sincere hope that I don’t really ever have to be a critical critic, you know what I mean? Dylan’s taken the need to be that dude away with the level of focus and perfection he’s put into this record…it’s flawless, seamless, and a genuine pleasure to listen to. “Carmen” is another outright profound tune that speaks volumes on behalf of what he’s capable of in the most subtle of ways. I tend to associate Dylan’s music more with the thump of an Electro beat for the most part I suppose, so these last three tracks have been an awesome reminder of how well he does when he heads into the ambient realm. Sometimes when we remove all the bells and whistles, and the beat ain’t the most prevalent part of what we create, we get to the real essence of what creates the magic in the songs we’re crafting – to me, that’s what Dylan’s revealed in these last three tracks…his extraordinary connection with music.
As he ramps up the energy to get his finale goin’ on with the final two tracks, that steady beat we know he loves to add in reappears with “I Love You Forever.” It’s a GOOD tune…I don’t think anyone out there will be inclined to turn this down, and I think for the most part, fans of Tauber’s tunes will be stoked to have the energy reappear before I Am Alive is all finished. For myself personally, it was a tougher switch back into the more upbeat vibe after feeling like Dylan discovered some of his most profound work to-date in the previous three tracks. “I Love You Forever” is much more of a people pleaser in that regard – it’s relentlessly accessible, and I can’t imagine anyone out there not digging some aspect of the sound it’s pumpin’ out atcha. Sometimes it’s all about what we like in an artist’s catalog when they bring diversity into the mix. I think Dylan’s collaborative efforts with vocals always come out great and likely appeal to a more widespread audience without a doubt – but I think it’s tracks like what we experienced between eight-to-ten in this lineup that set him apart from the rest of what’s out there. In any event, it’s not a bad strategy to give the masses what they want too…sometimes you gotta give them one or two when you’re taking a few moments for yourself along the way. If I gotta trade the occasional “I Love You Forever” in order to get three tracks like “Rebirth,” “Warm,” & “Carmen,” I’ll do it every time.
Having the remix of “Spirit Guides” finish off this new album was a good move…in either of its variations, I still think this is definitely one of the strongest cuts to be found on I Am Alive and one that’s likely to catch the most attention from the people out there listening. I’m also a big fan of remixes and seeing what else can be done with a song – and probably not always for the reasons you’d assume. A lot of the time, I just want to know IF something else can be done successfully…I don’t always need to like it any better than the original or even just as much. Ultimately, I believe that when you can achieve another version that really works though, it reveals the fact that, at the core of it all, the songwriting is built to last and could likely be transferrable to a whole bunch of different styles and sounds. When it comes to the “Spirit Guides” (Remix), I actually do think I enjoy this every bit as much as the original, and I’m just as confident that most of you will too – but what impresses me even more is that the songwriting here in this tune gives it the opportunity to live several different lives. We’ve got this one here in the Dylan Tauber remix of “Spirit Guides” – but this could be the kind of song you put out there into the world and see what comes back to ya…kind of like how bands like Bloc Party have invited different people to remix their music and created entirely new albums out of their originals as a result…that kind of thing. It might be something that Dylan wants to have a look at – it’s a great way of sending the music out there even further, and art inspiring MORE art is always a wonderful thing too. As it stands right now, this final cut and remix of “Spirit Guides” makes for a stellar ending to what’s been an album stocked full of quality tunes from start to finish…I’d have to say that I Am Alive is quite likely my favorite record from Dylan Tauber to-date, and a true sign that he’s thriving with his creativity as he’s surging into his artistic prime.
Find out more about Dylan Tauber from his official website at: https://www.swstudios.net
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