Scottish DJ and producer Stephen Kirkwood is continuing his climb up the ranks of tech trance. Following up on his first EP on Subculture, Kirkwood checks another major trance label off the list with “Ragdoll,” which was released on Kearnage this past Monday, August 7th.
“Ragdoll” begins with the type of intro Kirkwood has become known for. A deep combination of kick and bass with a long release reminds the listener of warehouse-worthy hard techno. A vocal chop leads into the atmospheric, percussion-heavy break, which still maintains a trance-appropriate anticipation. A snare build with an ascending filter then tails off into a heavy drop driven by tech stabs, with just enough complex percussion to keep any techno fan happy.
Joining the ranks
Stephen Kirkwood has been combining techno and trance sounds for the better part of a decade. By the time his first big release came out in late 2010 on Spinnin’ Records sublabel Reset Records, he was already impressing the tech-trance world at events like Goodgrief XTRA HARD, as well as the techno scene under his darker techno alias Stephan Woods.
After releases on Lange Recordings, RAM’s Grotesque outlet, and several charting releases on Mark Sherry’s Outburst Records, Kirkwood seems to be joining the ranks of the tech trance greats. In 2015, he launched SKapade Studios with longtime friend Steven Galloni in order to instruct and guide budding producers worldwide. The music studio and school has gained a lot of traction in the years since, and has been joined by the likes of 2nd Phase as well as other talented Scottish producers and engineers.
John O’ Callaghan’s Subculture and Bryan Kearney’s justly named Kearnage, both under the Black Hole Recordings outlet, have established themselves as two of the elite labels for uplifting and tech trance. Signing to one – and especially both – has proven a good indicator of future success in the the trance underground.
Stephen Kirkwood will resume touring with a performance at Pulse in Glasgow, Scotland on September 9th.