My relationship with Great Dane’s music started less than a year ago, well after the release of his most recent album, the self-titled Great Dane. Fortunately, although late to the party, I have had ample opportunity to do my research and become familiar with the LA-based artist’s catalogue of tunes. So, when Gamma Ray dropped last week, I was excited to take the journey into the sonically multifarious world of Great Dane.
While the 14-track Gamma Ray serves as Dane’s 4th official full-length project, the new project picks up where Alpha Dog and Beta Cat left off. For simplicity’s sake, let’s consider Great Dane a momentary detour on the Greek alphabet-inspired saga.
What appealed to me from my initial introduction to Dane’s sound was the manner in which he seamlessly weaves his production in, out, over and between genres. There are many artists out there who could easily be slapped with a label – bass, trance, trap, dub, etc. Great Dane, however, is out here creating music that is free of any genre and, as such, it would be nearly impossible to label Dane or his music in any sort of boxed in way. The beauty of this is it lifts the illusionary limitations from Dane’s creative space, leaving him free to create from whatever headspace and heart space he finds himself in.
This is evident throughout Gamma Ray, as the sonic landscape transitions from one song to the next, often vibing through different waves and sounds on the same track. The listener may be getting hit with heavy electronic and trap-influenced instrumentation in one instance only to be coddled with ambient, spaced out frequencies the next.
With no tracks worthy of skipping, the most difficult part about listening to Gamma Ray may be trying to determine what your favorite joints are. In it’s entirety, the album draws a wide spectrum of emotions from the listener. And, thanks to the ambiguous nature of Dane’s work, each record is open to limitless interpretations. What you feel in regards to a track today may be different the next time you listen, based on your mood upon hitting play.
Another Gamma Ray highspot is the lack of collabs for the sake of namedropping and the project’s ability to stand on its own without a dependency on clout. Across the music industry, spanning all genres, it’s far too common to see albums polluted with high-profile features that add nothing to the music itself, instead only offering the illusion of a major co-sign. From start to finish, Gamma Ray speaks for itself – the talent, dedication, creative experimentation and vision of Great Dane shines through. If you fuck with Gamma Ray it’s because you fuck with Great Dane, not because you noticed a higher profile name featured on a track.
And this is not to take away from those artists who did offer a helping hand in the creation of Gamma Ray. From Katya Grasso’s alluring vocals on “Fog & Fear” to the assistance of and collaboration with Baron Fields (“Last Vestige of the Monoculture”) or King Henry (“Courteous”), each individual added their skills and talents to the final product – which, in the long run, goes a lot further than a namedrop.
It’s too early to make hyperbolic claims but something about Dane’s genre-less style, the open nature of his music, and the overall dopeness of his sound has to fall somewhere in the mathematical equation that spits out timeless music.
Enjoy the vibes of Gamma Ray below.