Greg Downey enlists Beatman and Ludmilla to engage in The Art of Skullduggery as they unleash the label’s second compilation!
Skullduggery (noun): underhanded or unscrupulous behavior; trickery. This word describes the energetic fury Greg Downey presents to the trance family thanks to his label that bears the same name. Created in 2016, the imprint set off to highlight the sound Downey loved and to give exposure to the ever-growing talent pool of trance producers. Last year, he teamed with Stoneface & Terminal for The Art of Skullduggery – a two-disc jaunt through the past, present, and future of the label’s catalog. For 2020, Greg returns to the two-disc format and taps a new partner for the second mix.
Greg Downey takes charge on the first CD and taps plenty of energetic friends: John Askew, Will Atkinson, Ronski Speed, and Zach Zlov to name a few. For the second section, however, he calls Beatman and Ludmilla to the ring! The Hungarian duo brings their pirate radio experience to the forefront in their mix, and tap their back catalog along with Simon Patterson, Magnus, and more to kick the moods around while keeping the energy pointed towards the psytrance crowd. Are we playing tricks and getting underhanded and dirty with all this energy? You bet!
The entire work is thirty-five tracks deep, clocking in at just over two and a half hours. The energy is relentless and engaging, and dancing is recommended! The workmanship here screams polish along with happy energy to greet us when the tide of isolation releases us from the high-water mark. There are moments of uplifting vocal trance, psytrance, and more spiced throughout the sonic experience.
Why not play engage in some trickery of your own by grabbing a copy of The Art of Skullduggery Vol. II on the platform of your choice, then read on to explore some of the standout moments!
Stream Greg Downey, Beatman and Ludmilla – The Art of Skullduggery Vol. II on Spotify:
If the above did not convince you, let us lay out some points you can enjoy as a taste test.
Reminder: there are no low-energy vibes here! The energy offers fury and fun throughout the entire sonic experience. Explore these eight tracks if you still have doubts!
Greg Downey’s Mix:
John Askew – “Tooth Decay on Tuesday”: Dropping John Askew in the mix after the introduction is nothing short of a statement of intent. Greg’s choice of “Tooth Decay on Tuesday” instantly catapults listeners forward and shares a powerful vision of the mix to come. Take the gut check and let’s get going!
Will Atkinson – “Burning Out”: Featured late on Will’s debut album Last King of Scotland, “Burning Out” shows just how perfect it is for the dance floor. The inclusion at track four capitalizes on the early energy and offers a launchpad into the middle of the album. Excellent synthesizer work, gorgeous male vocals that feel just like a rock anthem, and a breakdown to die for – this tune lifts the soul in all the best ways.
Zach Zlov – “Tryambakam”: Ethnic chants that would make any trance fan quiver in sing-a-long delight mean “Tryambakam” screams fun. The psytrance tune plays to the main room crowd – energy, big breakdown, and an explosive drop all spoil the senses. The percussion work catches the ear in its unique approach as well; there are more metallic elements that drive the construct than heard in other works. The power flows in this one!
EverLight – “Neotech”: Fans of tech-trance are going to love this one. Fans of the cyberpunk mood will also enjoy it. There is something about the vocal in this one as it recalls the classic Lost Tribe “Gamemaster.” “Close your eyes and open your mind” rings out with stabs that call the darkest corners of the warehouse to the dance floor. Then the energy drops in the best way possible – superbly crafted!
Beatman and Ludmilla’s Mix:
Beatman and Ludmilla – “Welcome to Skullduggery”: If you construct something in the name of the label, it had better feel like an anthem. “Skullduggery” does that while maintaining the artist’s identity and heritage. It is a dark, moody psytrance tune with a bit of ethnic flair thrown in the form of chants and wood instrumentation. It lulls the ears during the breakdowns, only to bring the energy for all sorts of laser-filled visions. Who needs a rave when the mind’s eye fills the gaps with this tune?
Broken Eye – “Symbiotic Spore”: Psychedelic breaks say “hello” and want to introduce you to the mood they provide. Scattered amongst the beats is a vocal about psychedelic drug use and the break they provide from the world. The energy in this one, and in fact the variant in production technique, provides a nice break in the action of the mix. We have a respite of things to come!
Chris Voro – “Silverhand”: Following “Symbiotic Spore” is Chris Voro’s “Silverhand,” which returns us to the formula we expect. What follows is a well-produced tune that varies in layered complexity. The break oozes chilled vibes while maintaining the energy, and the post-drop elements pass section with executed brilliance and dazzle the ears. All the choices are meticulous.
John Dopping – “Bury Your Secrets” ft. Remeya Kingston (Activa Return to the Breaks Mix): Breaks ride again in this mix! Activa masterfully pulls off this remix with broken beats, gliding synth lines, and supple strings. As one of the longest tracks in the mix, one may find their “self” lost in the vibe and forget how near the end they are. Remeya’s vocals are a reminder of yesteryear – soft, yet strong like early BT work. In fact, as the ending comes for this track, the vibe of BT oozes forth. Masterful work on this one!
If the above excursion convinces you to take up the call and trap this trickery into your collection, do so!
The Art of Skullduggery Vol. II at the core is a strong reminder of the wide variety of trance music out there. It capitalizes on the energy of the genre in both its standard and its psychedelic forms, and in a year that beat us all down, it is a good reminder of how easy we can trick ourselves into a vibe for two hours.