The gates are now open for Markus Schulz’s Rabbit Hole Circus – grab your popcorn and turn the volume up; the show is about to begin!
Coldharbour ringleader Markus Schulz has been working hard for the last two months while teasing his ninth LP, The Rabbit Hole Circus. The initial heads-up was delivered through a video of Markus in a dark room, surrounded by white rabbits, inviting fans to join the circus. A little more than a week later, he premiered the full-length music video for “Eternally” featuring Diandra Faye, and this was followed shortly with the official announcement of The Rabbit Hole Circus Tour.
The tour kicks off Sunday, July 2, at the outrageous E11EVEN in Markus’ hometown of Miami, FL, where he’ll take over the booth for a whopping eleven hours, with live appearances from HALIENE, Emma Hewitt, Sarah de Warren, and Adina Butar. From here, the tour will head to Musica in New York on July 29 before wrapping things up at Avalon Hollywood on August 19.
But, before you adorn your craziest circus fit, it’s time to submerge yourself in the tunes that’ll guide the experience. The Rabbit Hole Circus, out now on Black Hole Recordings, comes complete with a colorful list of collaborators, including the aforementioned tour vocalists, as well as Melody Mane, Pretty Poison, Dan Soleil, Shaun Jacobs, and Radmila Lolly. Markus premiered the album via an exclusive listening party just two days ahead of the release, and as a follow-up, he treated fans to some insight into the creative process on release day. We’ll get into that as you read the review.
Grab Your copy of The Rabbit Hole Circus on your favorite music platform, stream the album on Spotify, and then continue on for my full review!
Stream Markus Schulz – The Rabbit Hole Circus on Spotify:
Soaking in Markus’ input with the dramatic listening experience, it’s time to break down The Rabbit Hole Circus.
The jump down the rabbit hole begins with “Death Of A Star.” Markus, along with Coldharbour regular HALIENE, wanted to design a soundscape like nothing they had ever achieved before. The theme they came up with was simple – HALIENE’s iconic chops paired with a spectral synth. What came out of the studio is a track destined for greatness. The lyrics are deeply yearning and the gentle star-studded instrumental allows the pair to manifest the magic they were hoping for.
“Stay Gold,” with Melody Mane, was selected to represent the restraint of the open to close. You don’t want to dive right into the peak hour. No, you want to let the room simmer. This track does just that, delivering a light festive uplift as the sun sits calmly on the horizon at dusk. There are so many tender moments to be felt throughout, from the daydreamy vocal delivery to the gorgeous piano, graceful percussion, and friendly synth expressions.
“Light On” with Sarah de Warren is up next, and fun fact, the original version was tweaked a heck of a lot. After pouring all of his efforts into perfection, Markus came up with a final edit that’s so good he’s preparing to launch a music video! He was especially excited to share the orchestrated intro. It was created to set the mood and pull on the heartstrings, while the topic reaches out to those who may be struggling. As the energy swells, the listeners trade the darkness of the rabbit hole to fly high on the wings of an angel.
The album’s proud representative, “Eternally,” featuring Diandra Faye, was initially crafted while all the multi-faceted rabbit hole characteristics were hopping and dashing through Markus’ brain. It was all a bit too much, so, he started sifting through them and got the track down to its bare minimum, while moving the other ideas over to different tracks. What we’re left with is a powerful tune that grabs circusgoers by the throat and drags them into another dimension.
Now fully engulfed by the Rabbit Hole, Markus leans into the unconventional.
As a kid, Markus was enthralled by Pretty Poison‘s song, “Catch Me I’m Falling.” All grown up and at a convention, fate would bring him face to face with Jade Starling, Pretty Poison’s lead singer. Fast forward and as he was experimenting with an 80s synth-pop for this album, he realized that Pretty Poison would be the perfect addition. So, he reached out to her and together they brought “Stolen” and all its quirky colorful character to the circus. If you want to travel back in time for a retro dance break then this is the tune for you!
“More Than This,” featuring Dan Soleil, is equally intriguing, featuring separated background and lead vocals, in the quest to promote a Scandinavian essence. It’s minimal by choice and fueled by a carefree personality. Clearly, the deeper we flow into the hole, the more the atmosphere evolves into the unexpected. Take “Guide Me” for instance. Shaun Jacobs’ voice reminded Markus of Michael Mcdonald from The Doobie Brothers, and while this may just be a random nostalgic connection, the sweet singalong groove is undeniable. From start to finish, you’ll feel right at home.
The eighth offering features Radmilla Lolly, a Russian-American singer and designer, who goes to all the Miami Heat games donned in the best outfits. After crossing paths, Markus and Radmilla discussed the Rabbit Hole vision, and ultimately, she sent him a demo of her vocals. Markus instantly fell in love with it and, well you know the rest – “I Fly To You” officially took flight. This otherworldly opera gem sweeps through the sky adorned with rattling synths and vocal gymnastics that will drop your jaw to the floor!
The vocal offerings have had quite the impact, but Markus makes room to let the instrumentals do the talking.
“Voiceless,” An ironically straightforward title, comes to us as the first vocal-free offering on the album, and I think we can all agree that Markus hit the nail on the head with this one. The vision was simple yet it proves itself as a true Rabbit Hole anthem. The rageful soundscape looms overhead like a storm cloud unleashing its thunder, and I can simply imagine dancing in a dark room as the lush auditory rain washes over me.
That was definitely intense and there’s another massive instrumental just around the corner, but for just a second we circle back to the vocals. “Till We Fade” had Markus giggling as he told the story about how it was kind of a challenge to get Emma Hewitt into the studio since she and her best friend Adina Butar, were always on the run having fun. Well, this track is nothing but serious, featuring brain-busting topend thumps, smoky vocals, and overarching drama to keep you from roaming away from the rave.
Alright, it’s time to re-visit the instrumentals with “Liquid Night.” This techno titan was inspired by lyrics from Jim Morrison’s Lost Paris Tapes. Basically, Markus explained how, in 1969, Jim “did some substances” and creative chaos ensued. I know what you’re thinking, “but, what vocals?” While the album version doesn’t contain the specific lyric sample in reference, Markus confirmed that fans can expect to hear the vocal version on tour. For now, plant your ears on the magnificent mind-altering melodics, situated to send chills crashing down your back. We’ve just about reached the peak.
Not wanting to come down just yet, “Waves Of High” had Markus and his wife Adina riding high in the studio. He even playfully admitted to waking her up in the middle of the night to sing, so his vision could cement itself in real-time. Of course, she’s unapologetically dedicated to her craft and down to create anytime anywhere, resulting in an ultra-satisfying final bow. “Waves Of High” links Adina’s preciously unique vocal quality to compelling synth waves and a futuristic undertone, making it the perfect choice for the most massive spaces.
With the final beat, there’s just one question on the mind. Did The Rabbit Hole Circus properly pay homage to Markus Schulz’s most beloved set portion?
The Rabbit Hole Circus did indeed bring listeners face to face with “the weird and wonderful,” encouraging sideways theatrics and enhancing dark euphoria on the dancefloor. With backstory in tow and the beats proving their worth, The Rabbit Hole Circus is a masterpiece that will surely stand the test of time. We can only imagine the beautiful mayhem that’s about to unleash on tour! For now, turn down the lights and turn up the volume as you bask in the ambiance of Markus Schulz at his finest.
But wait, there’s more! One track that didn’t make it on the album is “Stereo 11AM” but Markus ensures it will be released soon. He had to cut the album down to just 12 tracks but made it clear that he was especially regretful about cutting this one. It honors all the morning ravers who couldn’t care less about the rising sun. In true form, he ID’d it at Stereo just a couple of months ago at, you guessed it, 11 am! He may release it as a Dakota track, just like he did with “Avalon 6AM.”
Markus Schulz – The Rabbit Hole Circus – Tracklist:
- Death Of A Star (with HALIENE)
- Stay Gold (with Melody Mane)
- Light On (with Sarah de Warren)
- Eternally (with Diandra Faye)
- Stolen (with Pretty Poison)
- More Than This (with Dan Soleil)
- Guide Me (with Shaun Jacobs)
- I Fly To You (with Radmilla Lolly)
- Till We Fade (with Emma Hewitt)
- Liquid Night
- Waves Of High (with Adina Butar)