Euphoria is a tool that can be utilized by many, but is only truly mastered by few. Electronic music history is rife with gauche, over the top attempts at sending dancers into a blissful state and for every unique, boundary pushing soundtrack, there’s a dozen producers badly aping Vangelis. Trance, in its various forms, has mutated and taken on emotive and structural qualities in recent years, ranging from Lorenzo Senni’s maximalist escapades into peak time hedonism to Copenhagen’s Kulør crew mining techno for a mechanized, edgy euphoria and on to the micro-textures of artists like Dane Law, Sky H1, Ssaliva and x/o. France’s Chams is another artist funneling new modes of euphoria, helming the Abîme label and forging delicate, piano and synth-heavy tracks in his solo work.
By avoiding familiar rhythmic tropes, Chams’ music largely exists in a fantastical middle zone, nodding at propulsion without giving up the light, loping of melody-driven progression. Previous work, under Chaams, explored more rhythmic dimensions for labels like Car Crash Set and [Re]sources, but since the extra A was removed, drums have taken a back seat to extravagant synth arrangements and saccharine piano melodies. Abîme has also tended towards euphoria-inducing arrangements, most notably 2018’s Dangereux EP from Ytem, four tracks of lofty, driving tracks that nod at hardcore with a rare grace.
Chams’ mix work tends to explore Abîme and his own reference points, playing the role of cipher for a range of contemporary material from global artists, both independent and of larger stature. His Astral Plane Mix touches on J.G. Biberkopf, Keiska, Sharp Veins and v1984 and finds room for recent Abîme output, as well as classic material from Croatian Amor, Oneohtrix Point Never and Quirke. Pink Floyd’s wildly over the top “Coming Back To Life” stands out on the track list, but slots comfortably into the mix’s fabric, grasping for and simultaneously fraying heart strings as the cavalcade of melancholy and melodic heights continues on and on. Hit the jump for a full track list and download Astral Plane Mix 181 here.