The dance music scene is perhaps the fastest-moving musical arena of them all. Tied directly to the advancement of technology and riding the pulsing, creative energies which the dancefloor feeds off, it is a place where living on the sonic edge is not only advantageous but perhaps essential. And if a week is a long time in politics, as the saying goes, it is a geological age in the world of dance music.
That said, there is a lot to be said for remembering where you came from musically and even though the clubland set tends to have its eyes fixed firmly on the next big thing, the next sonic zeitgeist to surf, on being the first to the jump, there is as much room for nostalgia as there is in any other genre.
And The Speed of Light, the latest single from Finnish artist Martin O Kilmer, pulls at plenty of those nostalgic heartstrings, blending 80’s pop vibes and 90’s clubland grooves with more cutting edge melodics and forward-thinking structures. But this is more than just a revisit to past glories. This is the sound of someone studying the past and learning from it rather than just pastiching, plagarising or plundering.
There are also some less obvious, less tangible elements that are harder to put your finger on but which set it apart from the pack. Structurally, it plays with some wonderful dynamics, allowing the music to ebb and flow to great effect and, as the song passes the halfway point, introducing even greater variance, dropping into more lulling lows and poised pauses which make the returning highs even more dramatic.
And for all the general buoyancy and energy inherent in the track, there is a sort of late-night vibe hanging over it. The soft edges and perfect polish of the production seem to add a certain amount of mystery and sophistication, and, odd though it might sound with such an active track, there are moments of understatement and space, perfect placements of atmosphere building anticipation which mark Martin O Kilmer out as being an exceptional sonic artisan.
It is the blend of familiarity and freshness which really makes this work, the fact that it both sounds like an old favourite and a new discovery, a club standard and the sound of tomorrow, that really works.
Martin O Kilmer might work in a very crowded and competitive musical scene but he really knows how to rise to the top. Not for him the obvious sonic punches and quick saccharine hits of the competition, The Speed of Light is a song that is happy to slowly work its magic on you until you feel as if there wasn’t a time when this song wasn’t in your life. And that is one hell of a skill to have.