This 2002 release combines the surface sheen of European dance music with a darker undercurrent. While Loud isn’t a perfect album, it has some great tracks on it, and manages to avoid any clunkers.
“Help Me” is a fantastic track, featuring Kelis on vocals singing:
“There’s an awful world inside of me
You wouldn’t believe all the things I’ve seen
Who should I be? The sounds stifle me
To feed in fear, try penetration here
Help me, help me
Help me, help me”
What makes the track so much fun is the sci-fi ambience that backs the vocals. Theremin-like warbles hover in the background, making Kelis sound like the distressed damsel of a bad thriller.
“Shifter” features MC Chickaboo, and is an upbeat vocal rap song. “That’s How I’ve Been Dancin'” is a traditional booty-shaker. Martin Bettinghaus contributes soulful vocals over Maas’s solid dance track backing.
“We are Nothing” is a bit of an oddity. Yaz used to always put an avant garde track on their albums that seemed out of place among a bunch of dance tracks, and “We are Nothing” seems inspired by those tracks.
“Old School Vibes” is a great dance trance track that takes it back to the very old-school sounds of Giorgio Moroder. The track seems inspired by Moroder’s work with Donna Summer on “I Feel Love”, or his theme from Midnight Express. Great influences, but Maas doesn’t just imitate the past, he re-imagines it and makes it seem fresh. A great throbbing trance number.
Other tracks are not quite as memorable, but are well done nevertheless. “To Get Down” is dumb catchy pop dance music. Ubik: the Breakz is a vocal trance number with vocals from Martin Bettinghaus. “Like Love”, again is a little like “I Feel Love”. It’s a disco tromp with that same trance vibe that Moroder did so well. Maas’s take is to add ambient effects, making it a sort of ambient disco trance number.
Loud covers a lot of territory, but manages to do it with a lot of style and craftsmanship. Though it’s not always inspired, there’s a lot to like, and fans of dance and trance music should check it out.