Music is a reflection of the times—a snapshot of the mood of a society and a window into the soul of the enduring human spirit. When enthusiasm is high, anthemic powerhouses tend to arise, urging listeners to have fun, worry less, and party more. And when morale slips, the tones are somber and lyrics turn towards self-reflection.
Inarguably, humankind is currently experiencing the latter, and musicians are listening. As producers emerge from the progressive tones of the 2010s, electronic artists have taken a liking towards deeper, techno-driven sounds. The minimalistic approach practically mirrors society's angst amidst a global pandemic, something Cosmic Gate picked up on and created yet another shift in their musical catalog.
Having recently completed their 20th anniversary tour, the iconic German duo gravitated to the studio yet again, after the runaway success of their remix of Gabriel & Dresden's "Only Road." A Grammy-nominated cut, the track ended up being a catalyst in their ever-winding career, this time laying out the groundwork for MOSAIIK.
Their 11th studio album (in which they give a nod to on the stylized "II" in the title), MOSAIIK acts as a portal into a new universe for Cosmic Gate. The project will be split between two chapters, and in chapter one we find Bossi and Nic Chagall embracing the dark corners of the dancefloor, a bass-driven techno affair.
The first hint fans had of their evolving sound was with "Blame," which serves as the record's opening cut. Featuring the alluring Diana Miro, the song became Cosmic Gate's fastest release to hit a million streams on Spotify. Miro also lends her talents in "Nothing To Hide," satisfying the hunger for not only her mystifying vocals but also a hint of trance in the climax of the track.
In "Your Mind," the boys sample a rave classic, concocting the album's fist-in-the-air anthem. Although C'hantal's "The Realm" has been reworked by artists in the past, Cosmic Gate managed to curate a powerful rendition, making it irresistible to jump at its high peaks.
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In a departure, "Summer Wonder" is the archetypal love song. Full of emotion and yearning for a lover's embrace, the song features vocals by Mike Schmidt. The progressive trance recording is the closest the album gets to connect with the group's previous endeavors, particularly 2014's Start To Feel.
Without skipping a beat, Cosmic Gate realigns the listener's audio senses in "Vertigo." Acting as a jolt to the system, the record orients itself back into the techno lane, after straying from the genre for a bit. A brooding piece, the melancholic tone would feel right at home in a doomsday scenario, or in the confines of a Berlin warehouse. "Vertigo" is a contemporary techno production, a unique offering from the duo and a standout on MOSAIIK.
Julie Thompson lends her sultry voice in "These Dreams," a slow-burning, ambient recording. The ethereal track serves as a great come down from "Vertigo," but it falls short of making a bigger impact on the album. The track manages to survive if only by the sensuous vocals of of Thompson.
Closing out the first chapter of MOSAIIK is yet another 90s sample, this time from Natural Born Grooves' track of the same name, "Universal Love." It mimics the same formula found in other Cosmic Gate tracks: low valleys building up to high-energy peaks. It's a blueprint that works well for the duo, and one that they have a stronghold on.
Throughout this first half of MOSAIIK, we are almost reintroduced to Cosmic Gate. It's a literal mosaic of the over two decades of artistry, ranging from their early hard trance days, progressive mid-years, and now a deeper, techno-permeated future. The patchwork of genres Cosmic Gate are known for seamlessly blend together, blurring the lines of what trance, progressive, or techno should be.