If you have been in tune with the evolution of pop music over the past decade, you have heard the impact of Danny L Harle and what PC Music has done. Doing production work for Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rina Sawayama, Clairo, executive production for Caroline Polachek's debut album Pang, plus plenty of his own innovative originals, the producer has become a vital figure for the pushing of pop music further into a synthesized and cutting edge field. His productions can be abrasive and high energy, while also managing to channel a melodic euphoria that doesn’t turn you away. After years of producing for others, singles and EPs, this has culminated in his debut album Harlecore that embraces his love for gabber, hardcore, ambient, rave and trance.
This album is unique in that none of the artists involved use their own names. This is more like a back-to-back-to-back-to back DJ set with four different artists taking on different aliases producing tracks with Harle as the common thread between all of them as a collaborator. Danny L Harle is DJ Danny, Caroline Polachek works with Harle as is DJ Ocean, Hudson Mohawke delivers the hardcore alongside Harle as DJ Mayhem and Lil Data collabs with Harle as MC Boing.
This works as an album if you understand the larger concept of the project. Harle wants this to be a part of his Club Harlecore concept where each DJ has their own room to DJ. The virtual club is open now for everyone to enter, where each room will have their own unique sound and feel, like the different artists on this album. Since we can’t actually get together, this is the best club we will get right now.
The collaboration concept might make this seem a bit strange, but it all works really well. He has either worked with extensively them in the past, like in the case of Caroline Polachek, or just has developed a seemingly brilliant musical understanding with HudMo and Lil Data that pieces Harlecore together.
With the four different personalities and DJs, there are distinct and different sounds involved. DJ Mayhem brings the mayhem – generally. “Interlocked” is ready to crush your soul with some thunderous, yet graceful hardcore, but Mayhem tones things back at the end of the album with “Shining Stars” to take you up amongst them. MC Boing is the bounciest of the bunch with tracks like the aptly titled “Boing Beat” and the frenetic “Piano Song” that sounds like someone playing piano at 4am on way too much cocaine, but they are actually good at it.
DJ Ocean’s tracks are as beautiful as some of the most colorful distant galaxies with shimmering synths, fx that twinkle and vocals that float along effortlessly.
Danny L Harle crushes his own records as DJ Danny throughout the album. “On A Mountain” is one where we elevate up into those stars with Mayhem and Ocean to live inside an amen break with glimmering synths and 90’s rave. The video sums up exactly what I mean by that.
“Ti Amo” and “Do You Remember” are cuts straight out of the early 2000's dripping with Basshunter-esque Eurodance nostalgia.
Harlecore is purposely excessive, but never goes overboard. The runtime of 38 minutes feels just right, though it could actually be a little longer, which is a credit to Harle & co for making an album like this that doesn’t wear you out. The album has the right callbacks to 90’s tracks and rave without being cheesy and derivative. The artists all work incredibly well together in a way that create moments of pure, unbridled euphoria designed for a club. It will be at first in Club Harlecore, but hopefully soon in a real, in-person setting. Just as many of these songs have builds with great payoffs, the reward for for finally being together again will be feel just as sweet.
Listen the album below and pick a copy of the album in digital and physical formats, including merch, here.