Alexander Smirnov a.k.a. Slam Duck, a music producer and a designer from Russia, is a relatively new name on the trance scene. Having his debut release in 2013, he has been consistent with quality releases in the genres of house, trance and progressive, amongst others. He has released his music on some of the biggest labels and been featured on some of the best trance compilations around.
Guided by his love for the trance sound of the past and his ‘walk the walk’ approach to music, he is not afraid of going back to the roots of trance music, or even fusing it with today’s sound. All of which you will hear, in a minute.
The tracks are named after Mercury, which is the closest planet to the Sun. It has the most varying temperature in the Solar System, ranging from -173 °C to 427 °C. You can clearly hear that in this EP, in the difference between the tracks. Both share the same ground in the same drums and percussion samples, but as far as melodic ideas go, they are day and night. The one is warm and bright, the other dark and eerie.
We begin with Mercury I, the warmer of the two. It starts off with bright, beautiful atmospheres and chords. You immediately think of the first rays of light from the Sun hitting the ground on Mercury, increasingly warming the surface. The sounds are beautifully intertwined from start to finish, taking you on a proper journey. To contrast the brightness and warmth of the atmosphere this track has, there is some dark, roaring bass kept cleverly in the background. The breakdown, sweet and short, adds to the beauty of this track, and the climax that follows is nothing short of spectacular. After the climax, the track slows down for a bit, then increases the warmth back again before it slows down until the end. The sun sets on Mercury’s side.
Mercury II starts off a bit more directly. Instantly, we are reminded of the past, with the acid bassline. An ode to the old Platipus sound? Even though the acid basslines and dark, roaring basses are more prominent here, there is still a lot of space that is given to ominous vocals and soft but dark pads that sort of contrast, but complement each other. You can almost feel the darkness, the mystery and the eerie beauty throughout the whole track – but especially during the break. This track grabs you, draws you in, and never lets go until the end. It takes you on a trip. Robert Nickson himself recognized the beauty of this track, featuring it in his mix on the Pure Trance Volume 6 mix compilation.
A real gem of a release, Slam Duck pulled out all the stops with this one. After I listened to some of his discography, and some of what’s yet to come, I am certain you will definitely see his name more in the future. After listening to this EP however, I am sure you will want to. According to the artist’s manager, Rich Solarstone himself was so impressed that he wanted to sign these two tracks 5 minutes after receiving the e-mail with the demos. If you listened to this EP, you will know why.
Mercury EP: https://pure.choons.at/mercuryep
Slam Duck: https://www.facebook.com/slamduckmusic/
Pure Progressive: https://www.blackholerecordings.com/labels/pure-progressive/