Estonia is a small country located in the Northeast portion of Europe, commonly referred to as the Baltic region. With a population around 1.3 million people and a size comparable to Vermont and New Hampshire combined, Estonia isn’t exactly the center of the dance music world. There is, however, a certain electronic DJ and Producer who has emerged from his peers as a supremely talented and unique artist. His name is Mord Fustang and despite spending years producing singles, EPs, and remixes, last week he finally released his very first artist album called 9999 In 1.
On a personal level I’ve been following the 24-year-old Mord Fustang since 2011 when the incredible “Lick the Rainbow” was on heavy rotation for my friends and me. Any fan of “Lick the Rainbow” knows just how unique the track is – it has one of the most devastating drops in Electro-House in the past few years with heavy doses of Electro wobbles, yet contains uplifting melodies and some perfectly-chosen jazz licks. While Mord Fustang likely took a lot of time to find his sound, “Lick the Rainbow” to me, now defines his style. Fustang’s sound has that futuristic, video game edge that also molded guys like Porter Robinson, yet stays true to dance music often with four-on-the-floor beats around the 128bpm range. Since I discovered Mord Fustang I have made sure to pay attention to all his music and it should be noted that the entire A New World EP, which “Lick the Rainbow” can be found on, is nothing short of incredible. All of Mord Fustang’s releases over the years have built on the unique sound he’s carved out in his productions and they keep our bodies moving the whole time. Even more so, the couple times I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Mord Fustang perform live I left feeling impressed and wanting more.
But I’m not here to talk about the past, I’m here to talk about the present and future of dance music by way of 9999 in 1.
I received my advanced copy of 9999 in 1 several weeks before its release (thanks to the folks at Magnum PR for the opportunity) and it’s taken me just as long to digest the musical journey that the album takes its listeners on. One thing is very apparent while listening to 9999 in 1: Mord Fustang, so far, has not diverted from the sound that drove him to become a globally-recognized name. The entire 10-song effort has elements of those video game sounds and inspirations that have been present across Mord Fustang’s releases. Mord Fustang describes the album as being a concept album, saying that “70% of my body is made of video games.” Magnum PR writes “The title comes from the random numbers the video games of his childhood always had on the plastic yellow cartridges. The album is a 8-bit homage to the nostalgia he has for those games.”
Perhaps that’s why my general thought about 9999 in 1 is that it’s more of the same from Mord Fustang. Depending on your stance, that could be a great thing or a not so great thing. For me, I see both sides of the coin. Every song is different in its own way, making the album a true musical journey, but at the same time we are treated to many of the same wobbles and video-game-esque synths that comprise most of Mord Fustang’s songs. By no means am I complaining, as Mord Fustang intended that “The whole thing is designed for headphones and the dance floor. What I create has to work on headphones, car stereos, and festival sound systems at the same time.” – and I agree that it does work for that. I guess what I’m trying to say is I wish there was something a bit more groundbreaking on this album, purely comparing Mord Fustang to himself.
I’m a huge fan of the way Mord Fustang opens up the album, by putting “1984” at the first spot. “1984” is a downtempo jam, hovering around 110bpm, that opens with a sort of guitar delay effect and builds layers on as if to say “buckle up, you’re in for one hell of a ride”. The next song “Drive” goes back to Mord’s 128bpm House roots with winding melodies and four-on-the-floor kick drums. “Pop”, the lead single featuring LIINKS, is the only track on the album containing true vocal work (some of the other tracks have obscure vocal samples in sections, but aren’t true choruses or verses like “Pop”). The song is excellent and a great choice for a lead single, as the masses tend to prefer songs with lyrics – but the track also contains plenty of drive and will certainly get your head nodding, thanks to a slower and more deliberate beat around 115bpm. “Doppelgangbanger” stands out to me strictly for the live drums. It feels like a march, something an army could go to war listening to and it’s certainly very aggressive before and after the breaks. “Skyward World” is a bit boring for me – it’s a little trippy and quite repetitive, just doesn’t do much for me. I’m a big fan of “Elite Beat Agent”, a fun and driving Electro-House song that gives me those “Lick the Rainbow” vibes. “Milky Way Pt. 2” shows Mord Fustang attacking his Dubstep side, and is a very impressive effort that reminds me nothing of the original “Milky Way” – more something I’d imagine myself listening to while I drove Rainbow Road in Mario Kart. “The Morning After The Morning After Pill” is a creative name for a song that wraps up the album. No kick drums are present, no vocal work is heard, and the album sort of fades to black after a few minutes.
To sum things up I think the album, as a whole, is very strong. You can tell Mord Fustang put a ton of time and energy into 9999 in 1 and worked to remain futuristic in sound. I’m glad there seems to be a general gravitation back towards LPs in the dance music world, and even if it means taking time off from touring or that you don’t hear new music from artists for what seems like eternity, the end result proves it was all worth it. My two biggest complaints with the album are that 1.)in one way or another the songs all sort of sound similar because of the elements used and 2.) a general lack of vocal work. I think Mord Fustang is going to make a huge splash in 2015 and hopefully dance music fans who may not be familiar with his work will be chomping at the bit for live performances and more excellent productions. I think as Mord Fustang progresses his sound he should consider moving away from his comfortable 128bpm Electro-House songs and move towards the lower bpms a la songs like “Pop” and “1984”.
If you like what you hear below, support Mord Fustang and purchase the album on iTunes. Also make sure to show him some love on social media!
© Magic Trooper