Mat Zo feat. GQ
The Next Chapter
Quality aside, you never quite know what you’re going to get from Mr. Zo, and that’s evermore something to queue for. ‘The Next Chapter’ has — of all things — dub at its core. Overly loud percussion, cranked reverb, ominously circling melodies, subby, dubby bass, distortive growl and a killer mic turn from GQ all make a potent combination. If Adrian Sherwood made trance, it might sound a little something like this.
Above & Beyond
So many questions here. Why a cover version, aren’t A&B — ahem — above covers? And if not, why now (it was made in 2013), and why on something already as well travelled as ‘Blue Monday’? The cover itself is strong (especially its ‘Fancy Fair’-esque pay-off), but of course it is. Above & Beyond, however, are all about the original. This feels a bit needless.
Ronski Speed & DJ T.H. present Sun Decade featuring Ben Lost
Ronski’s regained some of his speed recently, and ‘Downfall’s a fine example of what’s been MIA. That goes twice for its vocalist Ben (oh the irony) Lost, who’s not been seen around these parts for some time. So this is something of a comeback, and a dynamite one to boot. Ronski and T.H. make outstanding use of Lost’s wrought, attitude-heavy delivery, reminding you in turn how well indie-rock vocals worked in trance, before they became a device.
After some strong releases on Outburst Twilight, Edge and others, Bulgarian singer Zoya Zipova arrives at Clandestine’s door. The outset of ‘Maya’s Cry’ is spurred prog, served at an equally spirited tempo and further fleshed by quick reverse hits and chunky (but gone-too-soon) percussion. Spacey bleeps and beautifully warped FX shadow the titular vocal, which is entirely harmonised, but supply ‘Cry’ no end of ether.
Pure Trance Recordings
By no measure ‘obvious’, ‘Midnight’s subtleties are going to require a time investment at the outset. The dividends waiting, though, are considerable. While ebbing and flowing to some degree, its most recurrent melody is used near enough throughout. It’s an A+ beguiler though, and, underpinned by a production that has far more sonic punch than you’ll first give it credit for, this develops into something plenty addictive.
The Thrillseekers Pres. Hydra
'Take Me With You'
Thrillseekers’ musical ‘lane’ is one he’s aligned to, one suspects, on an almost genetic level. As such, the rare deviations from his melody-is-all mindset are going to be pinged quicker than most. ‘Take Me With You’ is one such. Its drop is considerably expanded, which allows for a progressively themed, breakbeat-driven midsection, replete with much evocative coastal atmosphere. Set against all the harmonic majesty, it simply kills.
Kayosa & Tolland Feat. Matt Noland
There are many prescriptions for a great trancer. How close to the bulls-eye you can get your mainline and the sound playing it ranks higher than most, though. I mention this, as notably, Kayosa & Tolland usually score equally for both (and high). With ‘Volute’, however, their synth sound (typically the more elusive bit!) is way ahead of its too anticipatable note arrangement. A fine track, but a more adventurous riff could’ve made this one of their best.
'When I Rock'
Label-wise, Afterdark is becoming evermore dependable/go-to. If only the release frequency was higher. Knockabout without being OTT, ‘When I Rock’s composite sounds are engagingly strong. The play-off between its female “when will I see you again?” refrain and the titular male shout is also particularly effective. Oh, and it also features absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt the best-programmed snare roll of the month.
Wake Your Mind Records
Central to Cosmic Gate’s latest is a highly recognizable sample. So spectacularly looped, chopped & FX corrupted is it however that it’ll be some time before the ‘which-one’ penny drops. As soon as it does, the track diverts into techno-trance, rallies some moody harmonies to its cause before pirouetting again into something tougher and more snare driven. One of those tracks that - eight minutes in, you’ll stop wondering how you got here and just be glad you did.