Dusk & Dawn by Private Agenda
Since making their debut on Mark Barrott’s acclaimed International Feel label back in 2015, Private Agenda has delivered a handful of releases suitable for sunset and sunrise. Now, the Berlin-based duo has gone one further with a conceptual single for NuNorthern Soul that brilliantly pays tribute to nightfall and daybreak.
Work on Dusk & Dawn began when the sun began to slip below the horizon, with the duo sat at a Grand Piano. By the time the first rays of morning sunshine began to filter through their studio windows, Private Agenda had written and recorded two nocturnes inspired by the very particular magic and mystique of the night. In the process, the pair had produced arguably their most atmospheric songs to date.
“Dusk” begins with the kind of fluid, melancholic and poignant piano motifs that seem to sashay from the speakers and wind their way into your consciousness. What follows is a gentle and absorbing exploration of early evening turning to night, where hazy, heartfelt vocals, dreamy chords, soft-focus guitars and lilting synthesizer lines wrap themselves around a deliciously tactile Balearic pop groove. It’s utterly mesmerising and thoroughly brilliant.
Now in their element, Private Agenda fling the studio windows wide open and watch the sun slowly rise above the horizon on “Dawn”. With dreamy, Tangerine Dream style synthesizer arpeggios and yawning piano flourishes matching the gentle dancing of light on their studio windows, the pair unfurls a stunningly beautiful song that sits somewhere between loved-up ambient and the more Balearic works of ‘80s pop outfits Simple Minds and Talk Talk. We think it’s almost breathtakingly beautiful, but judge for yourselves.
Such an inspired track deserves similarly stunning remixes. Thankfully, all three chosen remixers deliver in spades. British veterans Faze Action, no strangers to creating picturesque masterpieces of their own, doff a cap to celebrated Italian chanteuse Linda Di Franco (now working as a sound editor in Hollywood, fact fans) on an undeniably Balearic interpretation rich in tumbling Spanish guitars, bubbling synthesizer marimba lines and shuffling drum machine percussion.
Ron Basejam – the long-standing solo alias of Crazy P member Jim Baron – injects a little disco-influenced warmth to “Dawn” whilst retaining the wide-eyed warmth of the peerless original version. Crunchy Clavinet lines, sleazy late night saxophone solos and dreamy electronics buzz around a gentle breakbeat, offering weary early morning dancers a chance to get well and truly lost in music.
To round off the EP, ESP Institute and Not An Animal regular Ian Blevins weighs in with a typically sumptuous and evocative take on the duo’s sunrise tribute. Making full use of Private Agenda’s soothing chords, pianos and vintage synth riffs, he conjures up a hazy and hypnotic rework rich in head-nodding, toe-tapping drum machine beats, mazy electronics and effects-laden vocal snippets. Like the rest of the EP, it’s truly a thing of intense beauty.