Kascade was raised in Chicago and is now based in San Francisco, but the music he’s presenting owes more of a debt to the European dancefloor, with nods to The Communards, St Etienne, many a chart-friendly Eurodisco stomper and even the poppier end of Fleetwood Mac in places. On the other side of the pond, he’s played to crowds of more than 20,000, opening for Madonna and Paul Oakenfold, and he’s enjoyed equal success in Australia. His remix of The Pussycat Dolls‘ Don’t Cha and David Morales‘ Here I am have garnered much critical acclaim and he’s soundtracked Budweiser commercials, which makes it surprising that he’s yet to build much of a reputation in the UK. With any luck, Love Mysterious is set to change that.
Be Still in particular, with its breathy, Bjork-like vocals sounds as if it’s brushing itself down ready for an assault on a chart show near you, and the following track In This Life is smooth disco grooves that would get any dancefloor moving, as would Sorry, with its functional house anthem bpms.
In places the beats may be stuck a little too much in late ’80s/early ’90s trance, but in a good enough way that he can be forgiven for it and the steady drum beat in particular is guaranteed to win over most listeners. It’s the mix of female vocalists that make the real difference however – dark and sensuous one minute, breathy and high the next, then playful and teasing in a way that MTV always appreciates.
American dance music paper URB Magazine has named Kascade alongside Kanye West and NYC’s Tommy Sunshine as one of the three most influential DJs in the States today. This may give some indication of why he’s not yet as hot over here as he should be: in the States, he’s got somewhat less competition. In Europe and the UK, he’s trying to break through a stronghold fortified by the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk and Ferry Corsten, and while what he’s offering is exceedingly pleasant on the ears, its not going too far past what they’ve served up already and when it does, it’s only as far as the trip-hop of Tricky and St Etienne. This is more an observation than a criticism: taking other people’s music and bringing out the best in it is what DJs do best, but sometimes that doesn’t translate as well into record sales as it does into a heaving warehouse on Ibiza or down the back of Kings Cross.
Nonetheless, there are some real gems here, from the trip-hop chillout of Distance and Sometimes, to the trancey loops of All You to the new rave leanings of Fake. In fact, with Day-Glo styling and psychedelic t-shirts ready to storm the UK charts once again, Kascade should get Love Mysterious onto as many iPods as possible as soon as he can.