The trials and tribulations of Jackson Stell aka Big Wild barely scratch the surface of the Los Angeles-based musician’s debut album, Superdream. With his history and a title like that, you’d hope not; the 29-year-old fought and won a battle with thyroid cancer, but instead of introspective wallowing, this album samples the joy he must have felt when he received the all clear.
Unsurprisingly Stell says he turned to music for comfort during his health crisis, and it certainly hasn’t impacted his career as a recording artist. Over the past few years, he’s collaborated with emerging and bona fide pop vocalists, most notably producing killer dance house tune “Afterglow” with the undeniably cool Tove Styrke. The song did much more than just introduce DrunkenWerewolf to his music; it propelled Big Wild into the limelight and stateside he enjoys minor celebrity as a recognised force in the DJing world.
Superdream could have senselessly cashed in on Big Wild’s newfound friends – he’s also worked with CHVRCHES and Sylvan Esso – but Stell is clearly keen to prove his own merits. He even takes to the mic to contribute vocals to his music for the first time, and it’s not a vanity move – “City of Sound” proves to be a highlight of the album. Tracks like “6’s to 9’s” and “Alley-Oop” mix things up with skills from Rationale and iDA HAWK respectively, and fan favourites “Heaven” and “Maker” provide consistency, but Stell always leads the pack with ferocious kinetic energy.
Regular readers may be surprised to find an EDM-esque album gracing the metaphorical page – we’re not even sure which genre definition suits Superdream best (suggestions in the comments please). To us, this kind of music attracts especially mundane artists whose blips and bleeps follow the same generic path. Big Wild is different. He combines pop earworms with synth and loop mayhem to create an extra special sound. It’s not wholly original, but it’s very high quality. Superdream is an early must listen for 2019.
Release: 1st February 2019, Counter Records