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Album of the month | Light + Shadow by Sam Paganini

The Italian thoroughbred strikes the balance between day and night on JAM.

Artist: Sam Paganini
Title: Light + Shadow
Label: JAM
Released: 29 October

Sounds like: Half sunlit and smooth, half dark and peak time - the best of both worlds

Sam Paganini

Sam Paganini is a DJ known for his hard-hitting club sets. But as a producer, the no nonsense Italian is increasingly exploring softer terrain. On 2017's Zenith, Paganini showed a willingness to drop his underground guard. The 11-track album project spawned the single Gravity, which shed the producer predominantly known for making Techno in a previously unseen light.

Then last year, as the world was gripped in the clutches of a global health crisis, the artist released a full LP of delicately poised and largely beatless music.

Arriving first via his Bandcamp before appearing on traditional platforms, Reflections remains his most introspective and soul-baring work of his career to date.

Since then, Paganini has remained in a reflective mood, digging through his back-catalogue for a series of re-releases.

In total, seven tracks from his personal archive were not only digitally remastered, but modernised, and sometimes remixed by a fellow producer, for 2021. This included the 1996 love letter to his wife, originally recorded under the Paganini Traxx moniker, Zoe.

The full-throttle style under which Paganini had made a made a name for himself was seemingly back. Or was it? New album Light + Shadow would show just how far the Treviso native has come.

Light + Shadow

October 2021 proved an especially competitive month on the album front.

Latest entries from Maya Jane Coles, Stephan Bodzin and RÜFÜS DU SOL, as well as the debut offering from Eris Drew, made picking this month choice a difficult one. In the end, it was the dual concept of Sam Paganini's fourth LP that struck us as particularly worthy of coverage.

Sam Paganini's studio set-up where Light + Shadow was produced

Split into two halves, Light + Shadow covers a lot of ground. The first half-dozen tracks are devoted to a daytime setting, while 7 to 12 are designed for nocturnal pursuits on the dancefloor.

Opening track Bianca, which we charted back in August, follows along from a similar theme as Zoe, in being a tribute to the couple's newborn daughter. Innocent and vulnerable, it is a million miles away for the fast-paced environment of a packed dancefloor.

A little later, Nocturama feels like the kind of space funk odyssey we'd love to hear played at Sa Trinxa in the late afternoon. It's whimsical melodic leads and idiosyncratic broken beat sets it apart as a singular piece of music and clear album highlight.

The album is perfectly sequenced, building through the tempos. At the halfway marker, Starlight serves as the bridge between two worlds as we move from daylight to darkness. One, which follows, retains some melodic elements whilst getting that bit more thumping.

Fans of Paganini's earlier work have to wait until late in the day, for Mutron's percussive thrust and Galaxy's unrelenting kick-drum. Anybody holding out for same artist who produced Satellite in 2014 might feel short-changed, but not us.

Today's Sam Paganini is a producer who has matured and isn't afraid to step away from the dancefloor when the mood calls for.

Pure dance music albums have a tendency to feel a little two dimensional and that is not an accusation that can be levelled at Light + Shadow. Whether it's the result of growth as an artist or the humbling effect of becoming a family man, Sam Paganini's new output seems to have almost borderless potential.

If, for some reason, you're still unsure, we encourage you to watch and indulge in his live show above.

Sam Paganini is currently embarking on a Europe-wide album tour. We hope to see him back on Ibiza in summer 2022.

Highlights: Bianca, Nocturama, Starlight, Heaven

Light + Shadow is out now and can be streamed and downloaded at all the usual places.

To discover more music the Ibiza Spotlight team are enjoying right now, head over to our Spotify profile and click subscribe!

Other huge albums released this month:

Stephan Bodzin | Boavista | Herzblut Recordings | 8 October
RÜFÜS DU SOL | Surrender | Rose Avenue | 21 October
Sonny Fodera | Wide Awake | SOLOTOKO | 22 October
Posthuman | Requiem For A Rave | I Love Acid | 27 October
Lone | Always Inside Your Head | Greco-Roman | 29 October
Eris Drew | Quivering In Time | T4T LUV NRG | 29 October
Maya Jane Coles | Night Creature | I/AM/ME | 29 October

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