Alan Walker, K-391, Tungevaag, Mangoo – PLAY

“ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UNBRIDLED ALAN WALKER”

Tim: Here, a track that, despite being a reworking of one from twenty years back, and having four credited producers, is 100% unbridled Alan Walker. With a VHS filter applied, because we’ve not had enough of those recently.

Tom: You’re not wrong, that is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UNBRIDLED ALAN WALKER. Not just the synth pads, but the rhythms they’re in, the vocal quality of the singer, and the vocal chop-ups during the middle eight.

Tim: Somehow, I’d never really figured out how a dance track can have multiple names on it – like, it’s one guy at a computer, how does it work? Fortunately, we’ve a video that explains it nicely, and suddenly I’m thinking ‘of course it’s like that, that makes total sense’.

Tom: It involves floaty purple things. Of course it does.

Tim: We’ve three videos so far – this one from Alan and another from each of K and Martin, each telling a slightly separate story about how things started happening – it’s a rather nice thing, not least for, yep, all the floaty purple things.

The tune’s the main part, though, with the main hook coming from Mangoo’s 1999 track Eurodancer, and pretty much everything else being Alan’s trademark beeps and bloops. And, well, you know what I’m going to think about it, because like I said at the top, it’s 100% Alan’s sound. You like Alan, you like the song; you don’t, you don’t. And I do.

Tom: It’s an odd one, isn’t it? He needs to keep his sound fresh and updated, or people will get bored — but if he does that, it doesn’t sound like an Alan Walker Track any more.

Tim: Though actually, one thing from that video: do you reckon Alan ever brings his hood down?

Tom: Never mind that, what kind of a DJ name is “Mangoo”?

Alan x Walkers – Unity

“It’s been literally designed by committee!”

Tim: Yep, he’s gone and made a track with his fans, which I guess is both a nice thing to do and a way of getting a load of stuff done for free. Hooray!

Tom: Genuinely disappointed he didn’t go with “Alan and the Walkers”. And, to be fair, co-ordinating this sort of project is at least as big a challenge as trying to make something yourself from scratch.

Tom: It’s been literally designed by committee! That never goes wrong. Or, more correctly, it rarely produces anything exceptional.

Tim: True. Mind you, aside for the fact that the instrumental line directly before the third and fourth “we are unity”s in each chorus is the exact same melody that can be found in Faded (or maybe that’s the point), this sounds like a perfectly decent Alan Walker track.

Tom: It sounds like this was more a way to galvanise the fans than it was to create a big proper release. So while it’s nothing special, I suspect that’s exactly the point.

Tim: Could have been a recipe for disaster, though I guess as long as Alan had full control of everything there’s only so much that could really go wrong. It’s a good track. Hey, at its base it’s an Alan Walker track – of course it’s a good track.

Alan Walker, Sabrina Carpenter & Farruko – On My Way

“I do kind of think someone needs to take him aside and give him a quick ‘mate, just take a step back’.”

Tim: New Alan! Already moved on from the album he released three months back, and according to the video description this marks “the start of a whole new journey that I can’t wait to share with you all.” Not entirely sure about that, though, with the video anyway…

Tim: Now, far be it from me to malign Alan here, but I do kind of think someone needs to take him aside and give him a quick “mate, just take a step back”. Because, man does he have a thing about that logo.

Tom: Exactly what I was thinking. I’ve seen some self-aggrandising music videos before, but honestly making your own brand the centre of a vast conspiracy through time might beat them all.

Tim: Let’s not forget that in his previous trilogy, we saw rock versions of it flying around to defeat one side of a cult war, but now apparently ancient civilisations used to worship it, though evidence is only observable via a weird time portal which, yep, is also in the shape of him. I guess it’s nice to have a theme and everything, but it does seem to suggest a somewhat extreme level of self-importance. Having said all that, if he’s making music this listenable, I’m happy to let him carry on.

Tom: Huh – I had a very different reaction, which was, in short: even a video as well-produced as this can’t make the song interesting. I could hum the chorus after it finished, which is usually a good sign — but in this case, I just didn’t want to.

Tim: Oh, shame – I love that pre-chorus melody, and the dance melody itself I also find great. Sure, I could do with Farruko, but aside from him I’m all in with this. Just, yeah, maybe calm down a bit, mate.

Alan Walker & Steve Aoki feat. Isak – Lonely

“This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track.”

Tim: New one from Alan, sort of – it’s an edited version of a track off his (really rather good) album, which in its original form also featured a rapper, Omar Noir. He’s been kicked off, Isak’s been given an extra verse so it’s not too much shorter, and this is the product.

Tim: And it’s…interesting, in as much as it sounds very, very disjointed.This seems very much a track with some bits by Alan, some by Steve, and some where they sort of mix together, and certainly early on it…doesn’t sound good? I’m particularly looking at you, 0:34, but there are other parts as well that sound a bit off.

Tom: This sounds rather like someone fed a machine-learning system the stems from Alan Walker’s entire catalogue and instructed it to make a new track. There’s occasional bits of other tracks in there, and none of it quite fits together.

Tim: Having said that – large parts of this are great. In particular, most of the vocal parts, and very much the section beginning at 1:34 (i.e. what we can roughly pin down as Alan’s). Other parts, not so much, and actually, much as I’m typically happy to see the back of a featured rapper, it works better with him on it – it’s hard to explain exactly why, but if you have a listen, you might agree.

Tom: I… don’t.

Tim: So, all in all, my main thought is just: why?

Alan Walker, K-391 and Sofia Carson feat. CORSAK – Different World

“Oh joy! Politics! Exactly what we need today!”

Tim: We’ll lay off Christmas for a bit, so I can bring you some NEWS: three years after Faded first came along, Alan’s finally getting on with releasing an album this Friday; it’s about half and half new music’s what we’ve already heard (and weirdly, it’s missing some of his better stuff), but here’s the title track. And hey, it’s got a political message!

Tom: Oh joy! Politics! Exactly what we need today!

Tim: The world’s gone to pot, we can rescue it if we hurry. I’d say that’s a big if, but hey, let’s go with the optimism because the alternative is just hoping that asteroid comes along fairly soon and, well, happiest time of the year and all that.

Tom: And “we’ve got time” isn’t a great message? “We’ve only just got enough time”, sure, but “we’ve got time” implies, screw it, throw another oil-soaked seagull on the barbie.

Er, anyway, let’s… let’s maybe just talk about the music.

Tim: More pop than dance this time, but that’s no big problem because it’s still a great track. There’s maybe less of your typical Alan sound, but apparently ten people (or, if you recall the gubbins about K-391, nine people and one innovative headset) were involved in putting this together, so it’s almost a wonder it holds together as well as it does.

Tom: This really is designed by committee, isn’t it? There’s no distinguishing feature to it: it feels a bit slow, a bit monotonous, a bit… dull. I actually thought it was over when it went into the middle eight, because I thought I’d been listening for a lot longer than two minutes.

When the best bit in your track is the middle eight, that’s not a good sign.

Tim: Strong (if tired and naive) lyrics, good melody throughout and production that is, to surprise, fully on point. I’m in.

Alan Walker feat. Sophia Somajo – Diamond Heart

“It’s safe to say the man now has one of the most recognisable styles there is.”

Tim: Whole lot of good new stuff came out last Friday (not least Cher’s ABBA covers album); there was also a collaboration between Olly Murs and Snoop Dogg, but we’ll put that to one side. Let’s start with this, and the video’s a conclusion to that World of Walker trilogy that made basically no sense. Does this video resolve any of it?

Tim: No, of course it doesn’t – though I’m going to see him in a couple of months, and if he doesn’t have any of the flying things on the merch stand I’ll be thoroughly disappointed. But the music – so, it’s good.

Tom: There’s a point, half way through that first verse, where that certain Alan Walker rhythm appears. I don’t possess the musical skill to say what it is, but it’s safe to say the man now has one of the most recognisable styles there is. The question is, I suppose, whether that’s sustainable into future albums, or whether people like the sound and not the artist.

Tim: Bit of both, probably, and I’d put money on it being either updated for the second album or fully changed for the third. But right now, Alan’s one of my favourite DJs around, and as far as I can remember he’s yet to put out a duff track. And yet…I’m not quite so satisfied with this. There’s nothing bad about it per se, but it’s not quite as great – compare it to there massive sounds of Darkside, The Spectre or Faded, and it doesn’t have the sense of majesty those did. Though I can tell you why, immediately: it’s the vocal.

Tom: What, the not-quite-Sia effect?

Tim: No – I’ve no problems with the quality or anything of it. It’s the fact that it stays there, and we never get a full instrumental breakdown. If we did, I’d realise immediately that the music behind this really is absolutely brilliant. Having said that, I don’t want to get rid of the vocal, because it too is fantastic.

Tom: That’s fair. I think the lack of majesty, as you put it, is also a bit due to the composition. Let’s be honest, the melody’s repetitive enough that it could be a playground rhyme.

Tim: Ooh, bit harsh. Basically, my problem is that there’s too much brilliant stuff here. And let’s face it, there are worse problems I could have – could be writing about that Olly Murs track, for starters.

Saturday Flashback: Alan Walker feat. Gavin James – Tired

“The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo?”

Tim: OKAY THEN so let’s have a look at this, following up from Wednesday’s post. I thought we’d covered all of Alan’s tracks, so it surprised me when I discovered this existed; it made me happy, partly because it’s a good song and partly because it goes some way towards explaining exactly what’s happening in the other videos.

Tim: At least, a tiny bit of the way. We’ve what is definitely a scientifically plausible extinction level event happening, and also a building’s exploded, and there are a lot of people working underground to survive, or at least preserve whatever’s in those boxes, and she seems to have changed sides at point or another because is there another group of people also trying to survive? To be honest I kind of wish the pair of them had just stayed in bed together while it all happened and accepted it, because then I could make a brilliant joke about at least one of them going out on top HERE ALL WEEK, TRY THE VEAL.

Next we’re up to All Falls Down, the official first part, and let’s watch the video because we didn’t actually mention it when we reviewed the track.

Tim: Society is on the way up again, and I think they’re digging up one of those boxes, and opening it up with a circular saw even though there doesn’t seem to be any electricity anywhere else on the planet, but never mind that, because we’ve got some nice merchandise and cult material in there, but then people get bored because there’s nothing to actually do with them, until is that now the other group coming along to educate them? Anyway, now at least we know why they were trying to save what was in those boxes, slightly, because they do look proper fancy.

Part two, now, and let’s put the video here again for simplicity’s sake.

Tim: And…and no. I give up, I really have no idea. The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo? God, I hope part three explains stuff.

Tom: Reader, I’m going to be honest with you: I got about two minutes into the first video and just gave up, so I handed this post over to Tim.

Tim: No one blames you. Starting to wish I’d never got involved, to be frank.

Alan Walker feat. Au/Ra and Tomine Harket – Darkside

“Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.”

Tim: Quick note before we get started: Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.

Tom: I mean, sure, we could go with Fall Out Boy or Janelle Monáe for that reference, but, yeah, fine, Basshunter.

Tim: Got to stay on brand, Tom. This one’s episode 2 in what will, in due course, be a trilogy. Previously we’ve have a prologue, Tired, and part 1, All Falls Down. Let’s skip over that for today, though, and do the music.

Tom: Bit weird to include a war memorial as part of your sci-fi dystopia music video, even if it does look as strange as that. I wonder if anyone knew what they were working with?

Tim: Had to imagine they wouldn’t – not like you walk out of Zagreb International and find that right in front of you. If I had the time and necessary skills, I would absolutely make a video to fit this chorus over Emperor Palpatine trying to tempt Luke, to try to highlight to weirdness of this being an incredibly upbeat sounding chorus for what the lyrics claim it to be.

Tom: Alan Walker’s style doesn’t exactly lend itself to “dark and brooding” easily.

Tim: True, and it’s absolutely not a complaint: I absolutely love it, and to be honest I almost have the same problem with Alan as I mentioned on Monday with Galantis, although perhaps even more so – this is the twelfth time we’ve featured him and he’s yet to put a foot wrong (hell, I even liked his remix of This Is Me).

Tom: Yep, I’ve got to admit: it’s a style that works.

So I like this. I like it a lot, and to be honest, I was probably always going to. But I’m very happy with that.

K-391 & Alan Walker feat. Julie Bergan & Seungri – Ignite

“Alan in a room with a floating consciousness influencing him with invisible brainwaves.”

Tim: Easy intros first: Alan (producer) and Julie (female vocals) are both Swedish, and we’ve featured them before; Seungri (male vocals) is Korean, and we haven’t. Now, K391: a Norwegian ‘artist’, and I think it’s best if I quote from his website: “The artist called K-391 conceptualizes your musical getaway in the shape of a unique headset.”

Tom: You what.

Tim: Well, quite. It continues: “Instead of an actual person or group of people, K-391 is an innovative headset that is the living embodiment of its creator, functioning as a portal to another reality. When ignited, K-391 enables your escape from reality, with music as the vehicle and the destination only limited by your imagination.” Sounds a bit wanky, I know, but let’s listen to the music (and watch the demonstrative video) before judging him on that.

Tim: As with many tracks with multiple producers, I have no real idea who’s responsible for what – it’s entirely feasible that the K-391 construct provided the melody and Alan Walker provided the rave music, but equally I could be way, way off and it was Alan in a room with a floating consciousness influencing him with invisible brainwaves.

Tom: Or it could just be marketing junk. I’m going to assume that until proven otherwise.

Tim: Either way, they’ve come up with a perfectly serviceable dance track, with some excellent RAVE portions in it.

Tom: I swear I’ve heard that pre-chorus somewhere before, but yes, I suppose “perfectly serviceable” sums it up. It’s a little bit stock-music in places, but then when you have this many people (and, presumably, one artificial construct) working on a track, perhaps that’s always going to happen.

Tim: And, let’s face it, a video that does a good job of showing off exactly what they mean, and how music can help as a means of escapism. So however silly sounding their introduction is, I won’t begrudge anyone that. Nice work.

Alan Walker, Keala Settle – This Is Me (Alan Walker Relift)

“Does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?”

Tom: I described the original version of this track as “so polished that you could slip on it and crack your head”, although you were a lot more enthusiastic. The question is: does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?

Tim: Hmm, see I’d been avoiding this one, largely because it was described to me as ‘not ideal’. But go on then, because it is, I suppose, a question I do want to know the answer to.

Tim: Huh – that is nowhere near as bad as I was worried it would be.

Tom: I’m going for “different” and “worse”. Which is a shame: but the original already had percussion and energy, it knew exactly what it was aiming for, this just confuses matters. Unlike a remix that takes an emotional slow number and makes it INCREDIBLE, or that turns a good key change into a ludicrous key change, this… just adds some beats where there didn’t need to be any.

Tim: Ah, you see this is where having listened to that original 20+ times on repeat gives me more info: there’s more than that. In particular, there’s a whole new lovely countermelody under it (which is what you can hear on the obligatory ‘click to subscribe’ bit at the end).

It’s most notable during the chorus, where previously there was nothing – just the vocal – and it actually does add something to it, in a positive way for me. Sure, there was power to come from having the vocal unencumbered by anything else, but I don’t think this detracts from it at all.

Tom: It’s a shame, because there is, no doubt, a good remix to be had here: it just needs to either be much more transformative, or of a different track from the musical.

Tim: Speaking of which, The Greatest Show recently got added to the playlist at work, and my job satisfaction has subsequently increased by at least 150%.