You might know them from their main stage presence, but these DJs have an alter ego releasing twisted and dark music.
One of our favorite types of sounds at the moment is industrial, deep, and monstrous, making it perfect for late at night when things start to get a little weird. You’ll generally hear the beats of mysterious and darker electronic music after the peak of a club night.
Going darker isn’t always the best for casual listening or catchy enough to play in the car with your friends. It’s the type of sultry dance music that brings you to a sci-fi dystopian future reminiscent of a world like Blade Runner.
This style is best suited for nocturnal settings void of the ritzy and flashy nature of the peak of the night. In addition to it being industrial-like, it seeps of 1980s neon avant-garde culture throughout.
The darker spectrum of electronic music continues to grow in acceptance and popularity with its reemergence from producers in the scene.
All the artists delving into this electronic music spectrum tend to find themselves on the borderline between the darker sides of trance, progressive, and techno. At the core of its sound, it contains the moodier, heavier, and darker elements that we’ve come to love and enjoy.
Artists who explored the realm of darker electronic music include Markus Schulz as Dakota, UK duo Arkham Knights, Sander van Doorn as Purple Haze, and Eric Prydz as Cirez D.
At the forefront of open-to-close sets featuring elements of darker electronic music is none other than unicorn slayer Markus Schulz.
Markus Schulz is no stranger to the darker sound and takes people into the weird and unknown during the rabbit hole portions of his sets. He also releases music under the name Dakota that are deeply personal tracks allowing an introspective look into his life.
Dakota’s latest project, The Nine Skies, is both an album and a live show, which premiered at Dreamstate earlier this year and will be broadcasted live from Transmission later this month.
The tracks, such as “Mota-Mota” (a collaborative work with Koen Groeneveld), are growling with bass, crisp with heavy claps, and broad with its brass synths. For additional Dakota material, make sure you check out the album Thoughts Become Things II on Spotify.
Listen to Markus Schulz Presents Dakota – In Search of Something Better on YouTube:
If you haven’t experienced an open-to-close set by Markus Schulz, then take a listen to his “Afterdark 2017” set to get a feel of what it’s like to go down the rabbit hole. However, I must warn you as the tracks can be haunting with their infinitely rising synth sound before dropping you off into a repetitive daze looping further into the abyss.
Next up is Arkham Knights, who are fusing techno and trance on Schulz’ label, Coldharbour Recordings.
Arkham Knights are relatively new to the scene compared to the rest of the list, but don’t let that fool you. UK based brothers Stuart and Ben Turner blend dark and uplifting to create their own signature sound.
Their sound is aggressive, yet beautiful with its trance-influenced melodies expertly placed on top of intense techno percussion and bass-lines. “Knightfall”, their breakout single, was released on Coldharbour Recordings marking their debut on the label and was part of the Ministry of Sound: Trance Nation compilation in 2015.
Listen to Arkham Knights – Awakening on YouTube:
Arkham Knight’s newest release, “Gravity” is atmospheric with its buildup, getting the dance floor stomping before it reveals its melodic progression into a simultaneous uplifting melody, but brooding with its dark undertones. They even gave their dark spin on Armin Van Buuren’s “This Is A Test” on A State of Trance Ibiza 2017 making it much more palatable than the original.
Another artist showing off their dark, yet euphoric side is Sander van Doorn as Purple Haze.
Sander van Doorn just released his Purple Haze album SPECTRVM and it features 13 excellent tracks showcasing his darker side. The album gives off an eerie atmospheric vibe that is serene but builds into a hypnotic trance-progressive-techno hybrid that will make you dance into the early hours of the morning.
Watch Purple Haze live @ EDC Las Vegas 2017 on YouTube:
There is also a live show aspect to Purple Haze, as well, which keeps the lights minimal to help create the atmosphere you’d find inside an underground club. The set feels modern but has classic rave elements that make it timeless and a set that will be enjoyed for years to come.
Finally, Eric Prydz showcases darker themes with music released under his techno alias Cirez D.
Hardcore fans of the progressive master can name you his multitude of aliases, including tracks released as Eric Prydz, Pryda, Tonja Holma, and Cirez D. His techno influence gained mainstream traction with his track “On Off” back in 2009, a track that has remained in his sets over the years perfectly combined with lasers panning the sky.
Listen to Cirez D – On Off on YouTube:
An even darker track was released this past summer titled “The Accuser” that uses beams of synths blasting us off into space. The track puts you into an alien world of space invaders dancing delicately with its heavy synths. While Eric Prydz plays exclusively at times under the Cirez D alias, you’ll also hear his techno side at least once or twice during many of his sets and when he plays back to back with deadmau5.