Even in a field as crowded as electronic music, there are always some releases every year that stand out from the pack. All the various sub-genres have their standouts, and here's an album that will surely be talked about in a variety of different circles once the dust has settled. With his third album under this moniker, Applescal moved into the space between techno and IDM, and he's quite intent on making it his home. The sound of isn't too easy to pin down. If you're reading this, you may well know that a 3-track sampler of the album was released in November of last year, but that trio of tasters was only the tip of the iceberg, as there's a lot more ground covered on the album than one might initially have expected.

The arpeggiating synth line of 'Onetasker' presented it as the most forthcoming of those pre-release tracks, giving the new material an insistently melodic edge, but this record's best moments often come from the most unexpected of places. The way 'Brightly Coloured Wings' gently flits from one mood to another, gradually opening out before seemingly folding back in on itself and preferring to tease the listener rather than deliver the goods all in one go - it's indicative of the album as a whole, because, whilst immediacy doesn't take precedence over everything else, it's not long before the record's grower potential begins to show itself. When 'With the Sea's' hook arrives about a minute into the track, the Dutch producer's way with melody becomes apparent, having only been hinted at before. In many ways, Dreaming in Key is much more about the set-up than the payoff, and that's what makes it such a fascinating listen.

When Applescal wants to ignite dancefloors, however, he can do that just as easily, with the moody synth bass hook of and commanding beat of 'Spring and Life' (augmented by some choice percussion) taking the album into markedly different territory. The Dutchman's dexterity gets quite a few more opportunities to manifest itself, as on the energetic 'Vintage Clown/Shadow Hunters' and a searing rework/live version of older track 'El Diablo'. Each of the 11 tracks on the album is rewarded with plenty of room to grow, so the album tops out at a shade over 65 minutes long, which isn't anywhere near as daunting as that sounds.

Furthermore, it's a credit to its creator's talents that not a single second of it feels wasted; indeed, 'Wise Noise on Time' is the album centrepiece and stretches 8 minutes in length, but flies by, feeling like it's closer to half its actual length. You'll want to play it again as soon as its done; and likewise, once closer 'Keep on Dreaming' floats to its conclusion, you'll want to repeat the entire experience of Dreaming in Key. I should know - I've been listening to it every day for two weeks. You get back what you put in, and this is a special album that deserves a lot of your time.