Gabriel & Dresden

My favorite trance duo of all time is Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden. I've been of a fan of theirs since near the beginning, and some of their DJ sets I could listen to hours and hours over and over. When they're on, they have the perfect mix of ambiance, harmony, and melody complete with an underlying beat that never tires me.

The Beginning

The duo formed around 2001 and 2002. I think they really made it big when the played at the Pawn Shop at WMC 2002. Later that year, Markus Schulz started featuring them on the Global DJ Broadcast every few months. Leading into WMC 2003, they had their own Essential Mix, and during WMC 2003 their popularity exploded.

They first I had heard of them wasn't too long after that. At the time, I was downloading DJ sets from the website djmixes2k.com. Each week, they'd record the guest mixes from the Global DJ Broadcast, and host them on their site. G&D had a guest mix on July 6th, 2003, and it was one of the best mixes I had ever heard. I was an instant fan.

I tried to find other stuff, and kept a look out for any new sets, but it wasn't as easy as it is today. All of the music sharing communities were behind closed doors, and I really didn't have anything to offer in order to open them. I just stuck to whatever showed up on djmixed2k.com.

They had two very solid tracks, As the Rush Comes and Beautiful Things. Josh Gabriel is a technical wizard. While other DJs were still running with Vinyl, and some using CDs, he was already embracing change beyond with Ableton. Ableton is DJ software that can mix tracks on the fly.  When Josh Gabriel took over the decks, all the track seamlessly melded together. Tracks were mixed, remixed, and sampled to form a unique performance that was completely new at the time. And backed by Dave Dresden amazing sense for track selection, their sets were always cohesive to the point it felt like a symphony.

Their Prime

2003 was an amazing year for Gabriel & Dresden, and they continued to climb in 2004. That's when I finally got the chance to see them. They stopped by Vision, Chicago on Feb 28th, 2004. In fact, I had the opportunity to actually meet with them before the show through one of tranceaddict.com's meetups. Their meetups had been very successful with Armin van Buuren, but when I arrived at the bar, there were only 5 of us. Gabriel & Dresden showed up, and we all had an awkward chat about random stuff.

Their performance was everything I had come to know them for. Harmonious and melodic trance that was way beyond what I was hearing from most other artists and DJs. Hearing As the Rush Comes, Beautiful Things, and No one on Earth all live for the first time was a treat for me too.

Here are some pictures from that event: http://theschlock.com/club/040228/index.html

Later on in September, they finally made it to Minneapolis. Pictures: http://theschlock.com/club/040903_dresden/index.html

They continued to dominate throughout the year. They released their first artist album and mix CD, and continued to pound out some amazing remixes, and performances.

Unfortunately, I started to loose track of them in 2005. 2005 was an awkward year as DJs made the inevitable transition from analog to digital. Vinyl could not cut it any longer and it was either going to be CDs or Laptops going forward. Also, during that time I was focusing on schoolwork and other hobbies which kept me at home in Platteville, rather than out in Chicago Saturday night. I was still listening to their music downloaded from the Internet, but I wasn't actively seeking it out.

The Split

It wasn't until 2008 and 2009 that I returned to the dance music community, and actively starting following DJs again. When I started looking up what Gabriel & Dresden had been doing over the past years, they were no more. In early 2008 they announced that they were breaking up, and at WMC 2008, they played their final performance at the Pawn Shop, the very spot that made them international acclaimed.

Their split makes sense though. Even though they were a duo, they never played back to back. It was always one than the other. Dave wanted to play more housey "raise the roof" kinda tunes, while Josh wanted to actually build and blend a performance.

I went back through all the sets that I had missed, and none of them really had the same harmony as those original sets back in 2003. There are some amazing gems in the bunch, though. Their Banana Beach Bar set from Aug 14th, 2006 brings their later years very very close to their early years. And their set from Guvernment, Toronto on Nov 16th, 2007 is an amazing mix of their later style. I would say that it's the definitive Gabriel & Dresden set of their later years.

Their final set from the Pawn Shop, WMC on Mar 28th, 2008 has been recorded, but it's not as tight or as expressive as the Guvernment set. Maybe that's because all eyes were on them that day, and they went for technical greatness, rather than taking chances.

I don't really feel like I missed much having left them in 2005.

Solo

Unfortunately, I don't think they got the same acclaim running solo as they had hoped. Dave Dresden and Josh Gabriel came through Chicago several times in 2009 and 2010. And every time I saw they were coming, it didn't really register with me. Even though when they were together on stage, their performances were separate. I don't really know. Together, they just had some kind of magic that blew everyone away.

Reunion

I think they figured this out as well, because in late 2010 they announced they would be taking the stage at the Hollywood Paladium together for New Years Eve. Tickets sold out immediately, and the message boards went nuts. It would have been amazing to be there in person.

They recorded part of their set and put it online, right here. I found it a little disappointing though. The tracks didn't really compliment each other. Most were just a bunch of other tracks that trance DJs were already playing. It didn't have a unique sound at all, let alone did it sound like Gabriel & Dresden.

"Well that sucks," I thought as I went back to listening to someone else.

But they were persistent. A couple months later, they did another reunion show in DC, and again at Ultra Music Festival with Above & Beyond. I listened to their sets, and, again, it sounded no different than what other DJs were doing. But the community was incredibly supportive. G&D signed on for a reunion tour, and now have basically announced that they have reunited for good.

I hadn't really been blown away by their reunion thus far, but when The Mid, Chicago announced G&D were coming in July, I bought those tickets immediately. I'm still a fan after all. :)

Reunited

This past weekend, they had 4 shows and 2 of them have showed up online. Beta Nightclub on June 16th (info) and Electric Daisy Carnival on June 18th (info). Both of these sets are very similar, and both sound pretty damn great. After 6 months of being reunited, I think they've finally found their unique sound that sets them apart from everyone else.

Their melody, harmony, and catchy beats have returned, which makes me very very happy. I can't wait to see them in July.




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