Thursday, February 22, 2018

Kan Cold, Hennes & Cold and Derb: Kai Winter Works

Another music post.  I'm spending so much of my time on music, I might as well post about it too.  Kai Winter was a prolific guy back in the heyday of hardtrance.  During the 90s, he released a ton of tracks, actually, with his musical partner Boris Hafner, before the two of them finally settled on the Derb name; the one under which they were most prolific (although the combined output of the two of them under other names is at least as big, if mostly forgotten now.)

For the reasonable price of $6.99 you can get the Derb Works compilation right here, which is 31 tracks (although many of them are remixes and alternate versions of stuff like "In Afrika" or "Derb" itself.)

For another $6.99, you can get the Hennes & Cold Works compilation, which is his work with a different partner.  There's not as many tracks here; only 23, but it's still a steal at that price.

There's a final Works compilation; by Kan Cold which is one of his solo aliases.  This one is only 14 tracks and $5.99.  A few of the tracks are older, and there is a bit more variety in style here.  Both the Derb and the Hennes & Cold (and much of the Kan Cold, to be fair) stuff is very hard with big, heavy kicks, and very dark (there's a few exceptions here and there, like Derb's "Love Trip" though).  You know; the way God meant for Germans to make electronic music anyway.  But the Kan Cold Works does show a few more lighter tracks here and there.

The interesting thing, though, is that even if you added up all of the songs produced by those aliases and all of the others; well over a hundred, no doubt, you still are only scratching the surface of their output.  There are a hundred remix and production credits to Derb alone; and nearly as many for Hennes & Cold, and Kan Cold by himself has forty.  The way remixing works these days is that it's almost as much work as creating an original track; all you don't have to do is come up with the main melody line, and you can probably use a few of the sounds from the original (although part of the point is that you replace a lot of them with your own samples.  It isn't like in the 80s where a remix just meant extending and rearranging the elements of the existing track a little bit.)  And; they did almost all of their work over a period spanning the late 90s to the mid-00s; less then ten years.  Although they did string it out a bit on either side of that bracketed set of years.

It's kind of amazing to me that these guys were so prolific.  We hear in the writing world about "pulp speed" but Kai Winter (and some of his compatriots, like Kai Franz and Frank Zenker, at least) did the musical equivalent of it. Some of the hardstyle guys (like Technoboy, for instance) were just as prolific.  Now, some may say that electronic music is different; it doesn't even have "real" melodies, or lyrics, or real instruments, or whatever, so it can be programmed rapidly.  This is absolute nonsense.  I understand if you don't have any interest in or appreciation for trance music (or any other kind of EDM music, for that matter) but rarely can you just punt with it; there's a lot going on musically—complicated synth riffs that need to be written and performed, and then massaged, and then added to with loads of sounds and counter-riffs and everything else.  There's also a lot going on with regards to percussion, which is usually quite complicated and involved.    If you're imagining that you are sitting in front of your old Casio and you just hit the "hard trance" button and you're good to go, you have no idea how this works.  This music is, whether you like and appreciate it or not, fairly complex musically, and the fact that they were able to have that kind of throughput is pretty remarkable.

Anyways, clearly I'm finding much to like on these compilations, even though there were some songs I already had and knew. The song "Derb" had already been on my radar for quite a while, as it is kind of a hard dance classic of sorts.  I hadn't ever heard the "Kan Cold Mix" of it before.  I don't see it on any of the versions of the "Derb" single released, so I don't know where it came from other than this compilation itself.  It's probably my new favorite version of the song, though.

Curiously, I think I'm not going to end up putting the Merlin (or Merlyn) remix back on my phone.  I had it (with the second spelling) on before, but when I got the whole Works collection and decided to reevaluate what I had on my phone, I decided that that remix just wasn't up to snuff.  Curiously, I had earlier already removed the Arome remix.  On Works this is renamed the DJ Scot Project Remix, which makes sense since Arome and DJ Scot Project are two aliases of the same guy, and in the intervening years since its first release, the second alias has become much more well-known (especially for remixes.)  I decided to add this mix back on, although I didn't do so without first cutting and slicing about thirty seconds or so of this very awkward pre-drop noise.  It's interesting that when I first had this song, that part irritated me so much that the whole track was just unacceptable, but now that I've kind of pruned it just a bit, I think it's actually quite a good remix after all.

Anyway, my selections for today are two from the Derb Works and one from the Hennes & Cold Works: "Derb [Kan Cold Mix]", "Attack [Remix]" and "Get Down" respectively.

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