Last year when COVID performed artists in home studios, many musicians used their isolation to immerse themselves in their music. Ezra Arenson, known professionally as Contra Scandal, a Denver-based EDM producer and DJ, is a prime example. For six months he devoted himself entirely to creating a work that would ultimately become his debut album.

Today, after nearly a decade of making music, Arenson releases Full Circle. Determined to discover new sounds with each project, Arenson created an album that pushed the boundaries of the EDM genre in wonderfully grand and experimental ways. From front to back, Arenson delivers a healthy variety of unique sounds and ideas, creating a world of its own. The title “Mile High Livin”, a highlight, is no exception and is sure to become a staple for Denver EDM.

Full circle cover art

The track starts off simple enough and effectively uses the violin to create a somewhat eerie Egyptian vibe that follows the sound of the rest of the album. When Arenson leads his audience through the desert, it is clear that we are breaking new ground.

Arenson is the only title in the project that contains a correct verse. He uses this space to praise Denver nightlife and the Mile High City lifestyle, as well as mentioning some of the most popular Denver venues including Cervantes, Red Rocks, and The Black Box. Whether you’re watching stage lights paint the surrounding rocks while awaiting an earth-shaking bass drop at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, or noticing the disco ball adorning a crowd as beams of light dance across the stage in Cervantes, it’s clear that the Denver music scene is special. Arenson perfectly captures that feeling and proves that Denver’s EDM scene is big next to any other city in America.

Although the verses mostly serve as a bridge between the filthy, otherworldly bass drops, Arenson offers enough charisma to keep the groove going and create a relatively smooth environment. Encouraging the listener to let go of their guard just in time to be roused by the intense bass drop that plunges the listener into a black hole of distortion and distorted techno sounds. Since the drops introduce completely new sounds, the track takes on a life of its own. Arenson effectively cultivates a unique language and mixes a myriad of traditional EDM sounds to give the bass drop its own voice. You can almost hear it say, “Come on, see me live, I’ll blow you away.”

Against scandal

Against scandal at the Untz Festival

Arenson’s demeanor represents the Denver lifestyle well, full of energy and good vibrations. His experimental style and ability to integrate the violin into every track make Full Circle a compelling listening experience. “Mile High Livin” perfectly captures the spirit of Denver and stands out along with “Rebel” and “A Calling” on the tracklist. The Eastern influence and the pleasantly dizzying bass harmonize with each other to create what Arenson calls “world bass music”. As COVID loses its impact on society and festivals finally return, Arenson is hoping to perform this new album for his fans this summer. On the one hand, I am looking forward to experiencing this new world that he has created live and in person.

Listen to Full Circle here.