It doesn’t seem like contemporary EDM artists have quite gotten used to the idea of full-length albums. In an overwhelmingly digital musical landscape that lends itself to the rapid-fire release of singles, most producers pay little attention if any to the collection and presentation of tracks as a whole, and as a result, the concept album appears to be going the way of the very vinyl discs on which it used to be pressed.
For that reason, when a respectable DJ/producer like Arty takes the time to put together a studio album that captures a full range of emotion and takes the listener on a journey through numerous changes, we as critics have to give credit where credit is due. Yes, Glorious is a mainstream trance/progressive house album whose tracks will certainly wind up in innumerable main stage DJ sets over the months following its release. But still, there’s a greater awareness evident in Arty’s creative process – a respect for the medium at hand that gives the Russian DJ/producer a storyteller’s air.
Glorious opens up with “Shadow,” a mid-tempo number whose crisp piano melody and somber vocal top line set the tone for what the rest of the album has in store. It declares that this isn’t going to be a one-dimensional trance album, and you won’t even have to wait long before the road begins to twist in unexpected directions.
The title track swells up into more of what you might expect from the album. While there’s no huge drop to punctuate its heavenly synth melody, verses by Blondfire vocalist Erica Driscoll usher in a rich guitar melody that makes for a thoughtful transition into “Braver Love,” a decidedly more punchy pop-meets-trance anthem. “Up All Night” carries this upward momentum even further, sounding undeniably like a pop song until a drop with expertly serrated synths cuts through Angel Taylor’s vocals.
So far, all but the intro track are songs that Arty has already released ahead of the album itself – and out of all of them, “Stronger” is, for lack of a better word, the strongest. Everything about the track is grandiose – it’s bigger than genres or stage shows or the larger-than-life artist head shots that glow from the animated marquees above nightclub entrances. “Stronger” is a feeling, and Arty was simply humble enough to let his music be its vessel.
At “Inertia,” Arty takes another unexpected turn. A prominent sound in this track sounds almost identical to one of the analogue synths used frequently throughout Disclosure’s Caracal – especially in tracks like “Hourglass.” Aside from that, though, “Inertia” definitely has its own sound to it, while still remaining accessible.
After “Closer to You” waxes operatic, the album utilizes another device that has practically become an anachronism in the modern music world. The eighth track, “Feel Your Love,” is an almost entirely acoustic piano interlude that switches up the flow of Glorious in a most welcome way. “Young Again” then transitions back from it by remaining largely instrumental but featuring a pearly top line by vocalist Bermuda Star that pulls the listener back into full swing.
The inviting synth pluck melody of “Feel Your Love” transitions nicely into a radiant, steel drum-driven progression at the drop before the euphoric synth work of “Pink Roads” provides another respite from the hook-heavy arrangements at the heart of the album. The pop stylings of “Waste Your Time” contrast sharply with the heavily instrumental “Wicked,” whose synths melody almost sounds like something you would hear in a Glitch Mob track. The album then winds down on the same note it started out on; “Poison for Lovers” slows the tempo back down so that Glorious ends at the same speed as its opening track.
By and large, Arty has succeeded in serving up a debut album that does the medium a justice by building a meaningful progression from track to track. While each song fits firmly and safely into the categories of mainstream trance pop EDM, they all still manage to make a relevant statement – both on their own and as a greater whole. With his first studio album under his belt, Arty has proven himself a name to watch as electronic music continues to blossom on a global scale.
Arty has put out a compelling and well-arranged debut album that cements his legacy as one of contemporary EDM's most respectable artists.