New York City’s Danny Blu has been performing as an LGBTQ+ singer/songrwiter since 2010, primarily as the front man of the alt. rock group Echo Black, but it wasn’t until 2019 that he developed the “intense dark pop” sound that would define him. After several singles, a collection of these tracks finally dropped in September of 2020 in the form of the EP titled The Pale Horse, with this deluxe edition compiling that EP with the remixes from the Pandemonium companion. The resulting collection very clearly defines Danny Blu as a performer, ally, and artist… and a very ‘remixable’ one at that.
After the “Amdusias” intro, the original versions of the tracks from The Pale Horse appear, and are all memorable and catch your ear in their own way. Blu has a very strong presence on this record, using the high-pitched range and passion in his voice to clearly pull you into his message for the song, whether that vision is the anxiety of “White (K)night,” LGBTQ+ pride and acceptance on “Bubble,” the rough sex of “Love Me Bad,” or the pure love in “Sanctuary.” While none of these themes are particularly subtle, and the lyrics are clichéd at times, this is by design – Danny Blu is creating a loud record with a proud voice; no mixed messages to be found. In addition to the vocals, each track has its own unique aural hook, including the chopped-up vocals on “White (K)night,” the smooth saxophone in “Paradise City,” the literal “pop” sound in “Bubble,” and the unique synth stab in “Burn.” These tracks are well produced, well written, and an ideal example of what can be referred to as industrial pop.
Moving on to the second half of the record, each of the original six tracks are twice given the remix treatment, with each remix sounding very much like a track produced by the remixing artist. There’s the dreamy synthpop version of “Bubble” appropriately remixed by known LGBTQ+ artist Mr. Kitty, Ashbury Heights’ bright and shiny take on “Paradise City,” the epic reimagining of “Burn” by Grendel, and the incomparable MOЯIS BLAK giving “Sanctuary” the industrial bass overhaul. One standout among these remixes is KANGA’s version of “White (K)night,” where the L.A. producer provided her own additional vocals, resulting in more of a creative revision of the original track than a straightforward remix.
When pop music becomes a part of the conversation regarding an artist’s influence, one can usually expect catchiness to be a factor, and that typically can come hand-in-hand with simplicity. In the case of this record, both are true; however, the simplicity is by design. Danny Blu wants the listener to know exactly what he’s about after listening to The Pale Horse. His voice and message are so clear, in fact, that despite each remix sounding very different from the original release, Blu’s voice still stands apart loud and clear. This deluxe edition of The Pale Horse is a record that, while straightforward, is very much a reflective self-expression of Danny Blu and carries bold messaging designed to make waves.