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By Design

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Album Review

Joshua Ryan is a clever sort, a producer and DJ who creates — and then slots into his mixes — evocative tracks using elements that, in the hands of trance or progressive house DJs, are usually built up to silly levels and immediately discarded several times per track. Ryan would rather spend several minutes investigating the subtle power inherent in the repetition of a good bassline or synthesizer melody. By Design, his debut full-length, is a mix album built mostly from his own productions, and it's so well-constructed that it sounds immediately like the statement of a single mind. He doesn't play by the established rules that trance and house DJs have built up over time, and as a consequence, By Design has that precious commodity in dance music — the human element. Half-song and half-production, the two-part "Buildings Inbetween" is a solid example of extended songwriting that dance producers rarely succeed with, and it's one of the few female-fronted vocal tracks from a straight-ahead dance producer that doesn't sound immediately banal. By Design follows the energy arc of most mix albums — the real pounders are in the middle, with gradual build-ups and comedowns on either end — but that's about the only thing normal about the record; this is the sort of album that, by reputation, John Digweed or Paul Van Dyk should be making. Perhaps Joshua Ryan will have that sort of reputation soon.


Born: 1977 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Talented DJ, remixer, and producer Joshua Ryan was born in Sicily but later moved to the United States. He has released a few singles for the Slinkey Records label and completed a number of strong remixes for artists like the Coffee Boys, the X Cabs, and Paul Grogan. Ryan has also landed DJ gigs all over the United States. Motivated by electronic techno bands like Leftfield and P.I.L., Ryan began to practice passionately on a Yamaha RX-7 drum machine and a Casio CZ-5000 that had belonged to his...
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By Design, Joshua Ryan
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