Will Atkinson, the kilt-wearing producer from Glasgow, wows the trance music scene with his 17-track debut album Last King of Scotland.
The hype for trance albums is at a high this year as November came in with the winds of autumn. The community was fever-pitched with great new music as Trance Wax‘s debut album induced nostalgia and the power of the energetic reaches of Will Atkinson on Last King Of Scotland was also put on display. No stranger to trance fans – Will Atkinson superbly blends the genre with plenty of energy and euphoria. Yet, he proves he’s more than just your average trance producer on the album, showcasing a love for more than the euphoric uplifting beats and relentless energy of the Gaelic trance market. This journey will take you deeper.
Will Atkinson broke onto the scene with releases on labels like CGI Records and Full Tilt, then strengthened his case as a tastemaker on others such as Simon Patterson’s Night Vision and Oakenfold’s Perfect Fluoro. Modern labels then elevated him to the forefront: Bryan Kearney’s Kearnage, Aly & Fila’s Future Sound of Egypt, and John O’Callaghan’s Subculture. Today he rises above the noise thank to the VII collective and the continued success led him to establish his own label known as Victims Helpline.
Aside from plotting domination with some of the world’s biggest labels, Will continues to offer a creative force in dance music unlike many of his peers – he does not doubt the creative sounds beyond what he spins. Just check out this clip of him opening a Halloween show in Belfast or his recent performance live from the Main Arch that was a stunner as well.
It goes without saying Will Atkinson stepped into the trance market fanbase and offered something incredible with Last King Of Scotland. The seventeen track journey radiates character, poise, and energy in a complete package. Whether it is the creative escapes in “Unspoken Words” or DC Breaks remix of “Happy Hours” or it is the polish of “Beans”, “Rush”, or “Last Night In Ibiza” he flexes not only his talent but the muscle the industry calls out for the most: diversity.
Listen to the Last King Of Scotland on Spotify, purchase or download the album on your favorite platform, and read on for a track-by-track take on it!
Stream Will Atkinson – Last King Of Scotland on Spotify:
01 – Perplexer – “Acid Folk” (Will Atkinson Last King of Scotland Remix)
Boldly declaring that he is not conforming with the first track of the album, Will Atkinson sets forth with the Last King of Scotland remix of “Acid Folk.” Immediately hearing haunting vocal chants and a bagpipe-like melody, one can tell this will not be a common journey in sound. Building up the energy with loops of percussion before dropping into the fury of the main bass and kick, the track stretches out the tapestry – establishing itself as a diverse and driving weave of beats, energy, and arpeggios. At over seven minutes in length – expectations can be thrown out a window.
02 – “Cigarettes & Kerosene” with Cari Golden
Opening with more cinematic technology start-up sounds, “Cigarettes & Kerosene” offers a tech-honed kick drum mixed with graceful vocals. Cari’s vocal performance haunts in the best way possible – a groovy pop-centric affair. There is even some scat vocals in her performance just adding to the fun vibe of the track. The energy of the ’90s called Will Atkinson and welcomed him with open arms! “You’ve got me hooked, ignite, cigarettes & kerosene!”
03 – “If I Spoke Your Language” with Gary Go
Released as a single right before the album dropped, “If I Spoke Your Language” touches the heartstrings. Mixed within is a driving bassline with energetic plucks that hypnotize the mind. Gary offers vocals that recall Racoon’s performance on Armin’s “Love You More.” There is this gorgeous little guitar riff that plays in the chorus that feels so heartwarming too. A stunning single filled with hope that easily solidifies 2020 is not all bad.
04 – “Last Night In Ibiza”
Released in September as an album single, “Last Night in Ibiza” captures not only the island’s mood for trance but also the bliss of the island’s culture. The pads, synthesizer choices, and vocals breath the island’s vibes for warm humid nights built on the backs of brands like Amnesia, Cream, Pacha, and more. The chanting vocals recall the beauty of Orkidea, Solarstone, and countless others who contributed to the island’s sound and heritage for trance sounds.
05 – “Drowning in the Dunes of Time”
The opening beeps and swoops of “Drowning in the Dunes of Time” remind one of the passions of yore. While the pad percussion elements lend themselves to a metronome, the track itself contains its energy. If it was for the break in the middle, the track would almost be solely an ambient affair. This is one of my favorites on the album and reminds me of the beauty of Antiloop’s “Analogue Relaxation” so long ago in 1996. It also serves as an interlude for the next chapter of the album.
06 – “Beans”
When single words take over titles, one always has to wonder about the inspiration. Deep booming bass lines and energetic kicks that would make John O’Callaghan proud take listeners on a fun ride with all sorts of ups and downs. Super-saw leads clash with the dark elements in all the right ways – welcome to the warehouse raves! That fun vocal scream at the drop is too funny. The energy though is fun – I hear touches of Marcel Woods in it, as well as touches of the Arabic or Indian sitar and perhaps even a hidden old school hip hop sample in the later sections of the track. Magnificent!
07 – “Awakening” (Will Atkinson Album Mix) with Paul van Dyk
Originally featured on Paul van Dyk’s Guiding Light album released earlier this year, this spin of the famous collaboration features Will’s style more prominently. I won’t get too deep into it here – it’s obviously gorgeous and at times feels very BT in this mix. A stunning single that definitely warrants your ear’s attention.
08 – “Burning Out” with Harry Roke
Filled with attitude and energy, the uplift is strong on “Burning Out” with Harry Roke. The four-note lead melody evolves thanks to echo effects and arpeggios, the bassline drives the track through each section and the peaks feel right out of the catalog of trance from the turn of the Millennium. That’s not to say it sounds dated – because it does not. Every selection and design has a place and exudes careful consideration. This will gain airplay and be featured on festival stages, once we get there darling. The ending is a surprise and should not be missed either.
09 – “Telescope Interlude”
There’s not much to say – as it states, it is an interlude moving us to the next chapter of the album. The hum to bridge us to the next segment will play brilliantly in Will’s sets as an opening.
10 – “Telescope”
Big synths that play to the ears of fans of Tiësto’s glory years greet fans on this one. The first drop – introduced by a cut of tech-sounding vocal element – bring about the big energy of peak hours – high energy arpeggios lay the pace on thick as the tempo definitely increased over what came before. The break revitalizes with a breakbeat pattern and a sample right out of Interstellar that will feel so resonant. Before cascading into the back half though enjoy an operatic moment. From there – the energy slowly dissolves as the track closes down its nearly nine-minute duration.
11 – “Rush”
“Rush” exudes the strength of the trance genre’s best. There are plenty of sounds and elements that pick off the glorious end of vinyl’s reign in the nightclub. Example: the synth work exudes the beauty of tracks like Selu Vibra’s “Stargazing.” The vocal bit – “We are all connected” – again establishes the strength of our worldwide community and reminds us that we are in this together! Pick the greatest tracks off any label and this one easily stacks up with it. I cannot wait to hear the remixes and single mix of this one – it is a keeper.
12 – “Kismet Energy”
Is this an allusion to the energy of destiny? Hard to say, but Will’s roots do show forth. “Kismet Energy” recalls the hard house of yesteryear, and brings both the harsh stabs and the percussion “donk” right back to 2020. Slices and stabs color the track, but the fury of the beat drives it ever higher. The break gives ample time to breathe after all the energy that precedes it, and then builds back into it, bringing a drop that feels like it ought to please the fans who love the energetic Porter Robinson alter ego Virtual Self tracks.
13 – “Happy Hours (DC Breaks Remix)”
Hello, drum and bass! Will features the DC Breaks remix proudly in the latter half of the album of his track “Happy Hours.” Clearly an ode to drinking with company during, well, the happy hours. Are the lyrics a bit cheesy? Indeed – “It is in the way you walk, the things you talk, make me want to waste my time with you, through the happy hours.” Yet, DC Breaks crafts this track that feels at home for the UK radio scene filled with the sounds of Sub Focus and Wilkenson or Metrik. Groove it up baby, we still have quite a ways to go!
14 – “Long Way Home” with JES
The vocals of JES remain one of the aspects of classic trance that calms the soul. The production here – induced “CD skip” stutters, warm lush pads, and the voice of a siren – exhales divinity. This one is for the headphones or the home Hi-Fi system. If you enjoyed Giuseppe Ottaviani’s 8K Chillout mix, you will love this. Another interlude moment in the journey that Will produced. What comes of this on the single market will be very interesting to watch. “It’s a long way home” indeed.
15 – “Pipe Dreams”
This feels like the direction I hear trance evolving towards. Not the mainstream Armada sound, but the underground club scene that loves to dance. Blending the power of progressive beats and the melody of trance, “Pipe Dreams” stuns the ears with both the mood of Eric Prydz and the strength of the trance maestros like Solarstone or Alex M.O.R.P.H. Regardless of where you fall, this one will be loved!
16 – “Unspoken Words” with Rory O’B ft. Rhianna McMahon
Rotating the mood again, Will provides a track that feels more like a spoken word poem than a track on an album. Set behind a piano melody, Rory O’B weaves a story that unfolds both a tale of hardship and breakup, but also one of understanding reconciliation is not a weakness. “There were unspoken words that could have kept the house together, had they been spoken” rings in the middle of the track. This one is hard but worth the lesson it wishes to share. For this listener, it is a reminder that forgiveness must come to grow.
17 – “In Solace”
Closing with a more ambient piece with droning synths truly plays to the album’s title. “In Solace” feels one part remembrance, one part reflection, and one part ode to what’s to come. If Will’s Last King Of Scotland closes one chapter in his history, it opens doorways to new beginnings and reflects the grandeur of tomorrow.