Dean Bagar has done just about everything in music. He’s managed bands, founded record labels, owned a record shop, DJ-ed and worked as a producer. Back in 2000, Dean collaborated with General Electrick and DJ Deckar as Fab Factory. They released several singles and an album. However, the one thing Dean hadn’t done was release a solo album. That’s until now. Under his Tricky D alias, Dean will release his debut album Equanimity, on BBE Music, on 30th June 2014.
Equanimity is best described as a genre-melting album. Everything from Balkan funk, cumbia, downbeats, dub, deep dubstep, future garage beats, soul and tango is combined by Tricky. There’s even a cinematic sound on some of the tracks on Equanimity, which sees Tricky D joined by vocalists from around Europe and South America.
This includes Jupiter, Lianna, Tango Crash, Hernan Lopez Newbery, Katya Tasheva Terrence Borwy, Mr. Baba, Big Mancilla and Nuewella Love. Each of these artists join Tricky D on his debut album, Equanimity. It has been a long time coming.
Dean’s roots are in Croatia. That’s where he was born and brought up. Originally, he was a visual artist. He was also part of the Croatia’s punk and new wave scene, during the early eighties. By the late-eighties Dean had left Croatia.
Towards the end of the eighties, Dean found himself in London. That was where he first came across reggae sound systems. For Dean, musically, this was an important musical discovery. Later, Dean would spend time in Jamaica. Before that, Dean found himself a refugee.
Back home in Croatia, the political situation was perilous. People were fleeing the Balkan region which was a war zone. As a result, Dean found himself a refugee in Berlin. In his newly adopted hometown, Berlin began to become part of Berlin’s thriving and eclectic music scene.
As a reaction to the problems affecting his home country, Dean threw himself into Berlin’s Daisy Age movement. Its raison d’être was to bring positivity back to the dance floor. Daisy Age stands for “DA Inner Sound Y’all.” It represents a vibe and sound that’s happy, upbeat, playful and experimental. The term Daisy Age was first coined by De La Soul in 1989 and was supported by The Native Tongue movement. It was the Daisy Age movement that saw Dean make his DJ-ing and production debut.
Having become a part of Berlin’ burgeoning music scene, Dean started to get involved in one of Berlin’s underground clubs, Eimer. It was there he made his debit an underground break-beat activist. Not long after this, Dean was part of one Germany’s first Drum´n´Bass live bands, Elektronauten. Dean’s venture was founding his first record shop, Tricky Tunes. This was a smart move. After all, Berlin’s music scene was thriving. However, before long, Dean has founded another business.
This came after Dean and his friend Mez spent some time in Jamaica. There reason for the journey to Jamaica was to record some sessions with Jamaican singers. After this, Dean decided to found his own label, which he named Tricky Tunes. His newly founded label went on to release a series of singles and Tricky D’s compilation of collaboration entitled Tricky Tunes Cuts, in February 2011. This wasn’t Tricky D’s first collaboration. No.
This came back in 2001. That’s when General Electrick, DJ Deckart and Tricky D collaborated as Fab Factory. They released a trio of singles and an album. The singles were Keep The Sunshine, City Lights and Magica, while Fab Factory’s only album was City Lights. It was an ambitious album that was well received. Despite that being the only album Fab Factory released, Tricky D’s production career has continued.
Following the release of City Lights in 2001, Tricky D has been working hard DJ-ing and producing. Tricky D has been refining his sound. He’s also been a member of Digital Tattoo, an visual-audio project. Then in 2006, Tricky D made his first trip to Columbia.
Since 2006, Tricky D has been commuting between Berlin and Columbia. During his trips to Columbia, Tricky D has become an integral part of the country’s music scene. He manages and produces many artists, including Los Transatlanticos, who released critically acclaimed album on BBE Music in 2012. Tricky D has also collaborated with a number of Columbian artists. A number of Columbian artists feature on Equanimity, the long-awaited debut album from Tricky D.
Equanimity features thirteen tracks. It’s a genre-melting musical journey which features a whole host of guest artists. Among them are Jupiter, Lianna, Tango Crash, Hernan Lopez Newbery, Katya Tasheva Terrence Borwy, Mr. Baba, Big Mancilla and Nuewella Love. Each of these artists play their part on Equanimity, which I’ll tell you about.
Opening Equanimity is Time; Los Secundos Nunca Parra. It features guest artists Jupiter and Lianna. Just congas and bursts of sci-fi synth join keyboards and a tender, hopeful and soulful vocal. Before long, the arrangement unfolds. Washes of keyboards, crisp drums and a jazz-tinged flute. By now, elements of drum ’n’ bass, electronica, jazz and Nu Soul combine. They create a track that’s variously sultry, soulful, dramatic, and occasionally, futuristic.
Alberto Dub sees Tricky D joined by Tango Crash and Hernán López Newbery. A gypsy violin tugs at your heartstrings. Before a melange of traditional and modern instruments unite. An accordion, synths and drums combine, They create the perfect backdrop for a soul-baring vocal, as the music of the past and present unite beautifully.
Fight You With The Love is a near eight minute epic. Synth shimmer and quiver, resonating into the difference, accompanying the ethereal beauty of Katya Tasheva’s vocal. She scats, her vocal soaring above the arrangement. It’s carried amidst swathes of synths. Before long an earnest soliloquy replaces it. After that, the scene is set for Katya. A myriad of synths, keyboards, drums and percussion accompany her. She delivers a vocal that’s ethereal, tender, impassioned and soulful. It’s the perfect foil for an arrangement that veers between slow, sultry and sometimes, dramatic.
Ambient and cinematic describes Equanimity. It slowly unfolds. It’s as if hesitating about revealing its secrets. When it does, swathes of glistening synths join crisp drums, a probing bass and keyboards. Musical genres melt into one. Elements of ambient, avant garde, drum ’n’ bass and experimental music combine to create a track that’s ambitious, innovative and has an ethereal beauty.
Terrence (Alfonso) Borwy joins Tricky D on The Square. A combination of percussion, a thunderous bass, synths and echoey vocal. There’s even a brief stab of clavinet during this slow, moody, sometimes sci-fi arrangement. Then all of a sudden, it’s all change. The vocal becomes soulful, needy and powerful. The arrangement meanders along. For much of the time, the arrangement takes on a feel-good sound. Stabs of braying horns, chiming guitars and buzzing synths combine to create a genre-melting arrangement, where soul, funk, jazz, dub and electronica are combined by Tricky D.
Just like so many of the tracks on Equanimity, Music Control is a fusion of genres. Here, everything from speed garage, drum ’n’ bass, electronica and hip hop combine. Mostly, Tricky D combines a buzzy, bubbling synths with galloping drums. His lyrics are full of social comment. His lyrics about the modern music industry are scathing. It’s obvious Tricky D isn’t a fan of mainstream music.
Lianna and Mr. Baba join Tricky D on Who’s Gonna Be Responsible? Straight away, Lianna’s tender, scatted vocal grabs your attention. She’s accompanied by drums and fluttering, shimmering and bubbling synths. When Mr. Baba enters, his vocal is much more powerful. It’s full of frustration and anger, as he asks “Who’s Gonna Be Responsible?” The arrangement becomes understated. Just rim-shots, percussion and a fluttering flute drift in and out. This allows Lianna’s powerhouse of a vocal to take centre-stage, before the melancholy arrangement drifts into the distance.
Latin Seed’s arrangement is best described as widescreen. The arrangement is big and bold. Instruments are panned left and right. As a result, the arrangement assails and surrounds you. Stabs of growling horns, bouncy synths and a myriad of percussion and sound effects assail you. So do musical genres and influences. Everything from ambient, drum ’n’ bass, electronica, funk, hip hop and trip hop are thrown into the mix. This results in Latin Seed’s cinematic sound.
Immediately, Imprudente has a dubby, sci-fi sound. Echo and reverb are deployed, distorting the drums. They dissipate into the distance. Then Big Mancilla’s emotive vocal enters. It’s accompanied by bubbling synths, dubby drums and stabs of keyboards. By now, genres melt into one, creating a track that’s dubby, emotive, moody and sometimes futuristic.
Synths sweep in, beeping and squeaking on Campaign Of War. They meander, as percussion punctuates the arrangement. Before long, drums pound and a bass drives the arrangement along. From understated, the arrangement becomes dramatic, with an Eastern twist. A spoken word samples is used effectively. It backfires on the speaker, reinforcing the futility of war. Tricky D’s decision to use this sample is a masterstroke, resulting in a powerful, poignant and dramatic track.
Fire Baby gallops along. A myriad of synths and percussion combine with a bass. Soon, burst of a horns and flute escape from the arrangement. Drum ’n’ bass drums drive the arrangement along, before a bursts of vocal cascade above the arrangement. Then there’s a change in tempo. Before long, the arrangement slows down, before returning to its previous breakneck speed. Horns are fired above the arrangement, before squelchy Acid House synths make an entrance. Eclectic doesn’t come close to describing this track. It’s a musical roller coaster where of subtleties, surprises and nuances are omnipresent.
So Many Tears sees Nuewella Love make a guest appearance. Space age synths and pedestrian drums combine with a flute and percussion. They set the scene for Nuewella. Her vocal veers between tender, sultry and powerful. Meanwhile, buzzing, futuristic synths and crisp drums create an arrangement that skanks along. However, it’s Nuewella’s vocal that steals the show. Sweet, soulful and tender, it’s perfect for the lyrics.
What’s Wrong With Schools closes Equanimity. Washes of thoughtful, ethereal synths sweep in. This proves a pleasing and wistful sound. Then drums and guitars meander in. A spoken word sample is added, before the arrangement veers between ethereal, atmospheric moody. Before long, another sample is thrown into the mix. They’re followed by sci-fi synths and sound effects. They give the track a 21st Century sound, before returning to the understated, ethereal sound.
Although Equanimity is Tricky D’s debut album, he’s no novice producer. Far from it. Tricky D has over twenty years experience as a producer behind him. It’s just Tricky D has been doing other things. This includes founding a record label, running a record shop, DJ-ing and forging a career as a audio-visual artist. However, the time was right for Tricky D to release his debut album Equanimity. So he called upon some of his musical friends.
Jupiter, Lianna, Tango Crash, Hernan Lopez Newbery, Katya Tasheva Terrence Borwy, Mr. Baba, Big Mancilla and Nuewella Love joined Tricky D on Equanimity. It’s a genre-melting album. Tricky D draws inspiration from everything from ambient, cumbia, deep dubstep, downbeats, dub, electronica, funk, future garage, hip hop, jazz, Nu-Soul, soul and tango. The result is a captivating and compelling musical tapestry full of subtleties and surprises.
Over thirteen tracks, Tricky D throws a series of curveballs. It’s a case of expect the unexpected. You never quite know what will happen next. Songs head in one direction, before taking detours via several musical genres. The result is an album that’ll keep listeners on their toes. Equanimity which will be released by BBE Music on 30th June 2014, is the debut album from the globe-trotting Tricky D.
Since 2006, Tricky D has divided his time between Berlin and Columbia. These two cities have influenced his music. Many of the guest artists are based in either Berlin or Columbia. Although some of the names are new to most people, hopefully we’ll be hearing more from the soulful delights of Lianna, Katya Tasheva and Nuewella Love? They played an important part in Equanimity’s sound. However, how would you describe Equanimity?
That’s not easy. No one word describes Equanimity. Instead, Equanimity can be described as beautiful, captivating, cinematic, dramatic, dubby, emotive, ethereal, futuristic, jazz-tinged, melancholy, moody, soulful and understated. A whole host of other words could be used to describe Equanimity. It’s one of these albums that the more you listen to it, the more you hear. Layers and layers of captivating music unfold on Tricky D’s long-awaited debut album Equanimity.