An interesting thing happened in the electronic world on Friday night: A little British radio station called Radio 1 was hosting a little show called Essential Mix, and a little Swedish DJ was the guest. His two hour appearance resulted in the mix that launched a thousand tweets, and soon — on both sides of the pond — a #PrydaEssentialMix was trending, with tweets that seemed to literally gush adoration down thousands of news feeds. The love was for Eric Prydz’s Essential Mix, and I was among the guilty gushers.
Before I get into this, let me state that I wasn’t what you’d call a devout Eric Prydz fan. I tuned into the mix at the recommendation of a fellow Dancing Astronaut editor looking for nothing but new background music to make my Friday night dinner to. Fifteen minutes later I had abandoned my panini and was dancing alone in my kitchen.
The set opened with Pryda’s “Liam,” a sweeping house track with an unrelenting beat that had me tapping my knife and bobbing my head as I got out my apple and mozz. It was only when I realized I had been captivated by a beat that hadn’t fluctuated for a full ten minutes that I really started listening – and fruitlessly googling while rapturously tweeting. It turned out the track was just one of the exclusive gems that would both taunt and tease over the next two hours. All told, Prydz dropped a total 14 unreleased Pryda records.
Yet as I kept listening (and at this point, dancing), I realized a tracklist was almost unnecessary: Prydz wasn’t playing tracks, he was playing a perfectly calibrated set. Before I knew what was happening, the vibe went from orthodox house to jungle-deep house, but the cohesive blurring of sound reminded me only of my adventures with trance. If we were on a new track, I had no idea. All I knew was I was listening to glorious, beautiful, uninterrupted sound held together with a quarter note beat. And that was the first twenty minutes.
When the “Essential!” plug broke the reverie it was undeniable that a new “track” had emerged, but to me it was simply a new direction: that haunting, shoulder shaking, hip swaying beat was the same. If I could describe the sound I would, but words like “synth,” “bassline,” or “vocal” have no place in this retelling: The Pryda Essential Mix (or #PrydaEssentialMix, if you’re hip like that) made me feel like it was my first time raving. Or to be more precise, made me wish it was.
Though Benny Bennasi will always have a place in my heart for being the first DJ I’d seen live, that memorable set and this emerging Pryda one seemed to fall into two completely different categories of not just sound, but auditory experience. During this weeks’ Essential Mix there were no breaks, no switching tables, no opportunities for Prydz to throw his hands in the air. There were no audience sing-along sections, no samples that anyone, not even Shazam, would recognize (my Shazam attempts offered me Paul Keeley, Nicky Romero & Nervo and Deadmau5 as suitors for a single still-unknown track). The set didn’t rely on beat-matching: it relied on a beat. And about a half an hour in that beat got even bigger.
After moving through seven songs that were so well enmeshed they could have been just two I recognized Pryda’s “Reeperbahn.” But judging by the tone of the set, it couldn’t have been as simple as that — Essential Mix‘s tracklist informed me it was the Chordapella Mix. Good luck trying to find that one. When Prydz switched gears (noticeably this time), I began to do what will forever be known as the “ID 1” shuffle.
Whereas I previously hadn’t been conscious of the side-to-side bobbing and nodding I was doing, I was now outright grooving to a track that, if I’m not mistaken, hypnotically repeated the lyric “epic.” Though the track temporarily eschewed that first captivating quarter note beat, “epic” is in fact the only word for its slithering seductive synthy sound. My beat floated in and out of the track, occasionally hiding behind an ever-frenzying build, but was back in full spellbinding force by the 45-minute mark. My heartrate reached it’s peak at about the same time.
The rest of the first hour showcased Pryda’s unreleased “Warrior” and the sly “ID 2,” both of which cemented my commitment to buy anything and everything Pryda-imprinted from that day forward. By the time Pete Tong announced the mix’s halfway point, my eyes were closed with visions of bouncing white lights, a hazy DJ booth and an electrified dancefloor and I was lost in the rave of my dreams. This was what a set should be. Hell, this was what music should be. Then a return to the jungley feel and a collision with my coffee table broke into my ravedream and I realized my neighbors were staring.
After four more mind-blowing Pryda tracks you shouldn’t even bother trying to identify, a few texts to friends asking if they were listening (with an unnecessary amount of question marks), and a decision to finally leave my publicly visible kitchen, a bomb dropped. Well, not a bomb, but a deep Cirez D track that brought back my beat and flaunted Prydz’s almost nefarious alter-ego.
After taking me to the dark side (think gyrations), Prydz slid from the “Drums In The Deep” of Cirez D into his understudy Jeremy Olander’s “Apex.” Having builds, one bigger than the next, repeatedly flung at me, by the time he switched to his Dub Remix of Olander’s “Let Me Feel” I did was any 21-year-old girl snowed in on a Friday night would do: I brought my one-man party from the kitchen to the bedroom and started dance jumping on my bed .
Perhaps sensing my own, and the rest of the audience’s, excitement, with just 15 minutes to go Prydz dropped his “Welcome To My House.” If you had been listening live, you likely wanted to live, breathe and die in that house. But then, as if to affirm your faith in the House of Prydz, he gave a brief yet provocative taste of his popular “Every Day” through his Interlude Mix. “If every day goes like this, how do we survive?” the lyrics asked. I was asking myself the same question, and not just because my legs were now aching.
If every set were this polished, this intentional, this emotive and this downright incredible, how would I manage to do anything not related to music?
The ten remaining minutes of the set were not enough: When Pete Tong began to close shop, it was if the houselights were raised before I realized the show was over. It was as if I truly were at that first rave, flushed with the experience but already fading with the knowledge that the moment was ending and all I had left was my slowing pulse.
Somewhere in those two hours I lost my beat; but Prydz not only showered me with amplified beats, he returned the original in such a way I forgot it had ever been gone. He may not have made it possible to identify every track, but he made me stop thinking in terms of tracks but instead in terms of sounds. He didn’t give me songs to sing to at the top of my lungs, but he carefully inserted the one vocal track that mattered, giving the set a message instead of a medley. That is what a set should be. That is what an Essential Mix should be. And this is what a newly passionate Eric Prydz fan sounds like.