Anjunabeats Worldwide 02 – Album Review
Written by Maximus Aurelius
May 21, 2010 10:15 am
Can Mat Zo, Super 8 & Tab and Anjuna Beats conjure up the Trance compilation of the year so far?
Anjunabeats, Above & Beyonds Brit-Trance label is now celebrating its 10th year. Only really second in success to Armada, Anjunabeats has one of the most impressive artist line ups in the world. And two of those artists mix each CD in this compilation, the second Worldwide edition. Super8 & Tab, who gained legend status with tracks such as Elektra, Suru and Irufushi (the Adam Nickey remix of Irufushi featuring on CD1), take the reins on the first CD, whilst Trance’s most exciting prospect of the last decade, Mat Zo, continues to break boundaries with the second.
That’s enough to make most Trance fans just a little bit excited, and even more generic mainstream music lovers may start to take more notice, in particularly of Mat Zo. The album looks even more promising when you take a look at the track listing. Most of the tracks are nothing new and won’t be much of a surprise to devout Trance heads, but there’s still enough high quality production here to be worthy of a look. “Velvetine- Safe [Wherever You Are] (Rank 1 Remix)” is a brilliant track. A collaboration between Maxumi’s favourite Hungarian duo Myon & Shane 54 and Aruna Abrams, the soaring synths and gasping vocals definitely provide that feeling of elevation so rightfully associated with Trance, and the drop isn’t bad either.
“There’s definitely been an attempt to chuck in some more interesting productions, punctuated by older established tracks”
We feel “Lange – Under Pressure” is a bit of a departure from the usual cracking tunes of the Brit producer, it’s too reserved, feeling like it wants to take you somewhere but can only really get you so far. It’s good then that Super8 & Tabs classic “Black Is the New Yellow” takes over, those teasing ‘ohhh’ vocals drawing in your attention, the synths and melody then pushing the boundaries to reach the ultimate crescendo. The bizarrely titled “Sunny Lax – Vanesse” soon follows, with one Youtube user (sagat2002) describing it perfectly “this is a incredible tune…is wonderful, the melody is enchanted and magic.” Finally, we can reach the destination we’ve been waiting for, and when we get there the likes of “Jer Martin – Ten Minutes To Midnight (Original Club Mix)” and “7 Skies – Caffeine” ensure all round satisfaction.
It’s not all good, Super8 & Tabs finishing track “Crafted” by Dan Stone is not in our minds the idea of a well crafted Trance track. It’s far too similar to the preceding track which is a far more rounded off production. Super8 & Tabs mixing is technically spot on, though what with todays technology allowing DJs to go back and smooth over a recorded mix – so it should be. There’s definitely been an attempt to chuck in some more interesting productions, punctuated by older established tracks, and CD1 is an all round decent affair. But how will it compare to Mat Zo’s offering?
“‘Xelerate’ has a different more 90s feel…this is no bad thing, feeling your mind drift back to the Golden Age of Trance”
Arguably one of the most exciting producers to come about in recent years, Mat Zo is an insatiable talent. There’s not a lot we can say that either you won’t know already or someonehasn’t already said, but mostly it’s fully deserving, and his recent EP is a brilliant debut. But DJ’ing is a different craft, and requires careful track selections. Trance is notoriously difficult because Trance heads have extremely high standards, if a mix doesn’t take you on that journey, it’s not worth listening to. Arnej’s “They Need Us” is a cool little track, drifting sideways and about, taking you on its meandering course, hitting some heavier highs towards the conclusion, before The Zomeister skillfully slips in his own production “Near The End”.
It takes just the right amount of time to get going, though I feel it lets on to its melody too soon. I can see the point, but I wanted to wait til I was ready to hear it, so it’s truly special when it hits you. The synths definitely progress the track though to that higher level so it’s not a complete disappointment, and the melody is brilliant. Soon after, “Andy Duguid – Dejavoodoo” is seemingly unashamedly British in its approach, thumping bass and that degree of atmosphere you associate with Brit-Trance producers, the feeling you’re in a huge space surrounded by the music.
“Cold Blue – Orient Sun” is a more progressive track, this is music in no rush and it shouldn’t be. Just like “They Need Us” the climax is nearer the end, this is a track that is a perfect accompaniment for summer sun, appropriate as I’m currently sat in my garden in 25 degree heat. Beautiful. Richard Durands “Xelerate” is an interesting choice, with a different more 90s feel than the other tracks. This is no bad thing, feeling your mind drift back to the Golden Age of Trance.
“Bart Claessen – Elf” is simply a stunning tune. It climaxes earlier than other preceding numbers, but this is no anti-climax, after all by now you’re in the last third of Zomeisters CD2. The’re almost definitely, and hopefully unashamedly, some Kraftwerk going on here, the techy vibe is unmistakable. Mat Zo favourite “The Lost” comes in as the third to last track, but alas “The Found” is absent. I wonder if this is deliberate and says anything about the general mood, or journey that Zomeister wished to take us on. “The Lost” is a lovely, atmospheric tune and the use of piano is very Robert Miles, and very good. The beat still has that constant slight techy vibe though.
The Duderstadt dub of “Everywhere You Are” by Mike Shiver & Aruna is similar in it’s wide dreamy feel. I can’t help but think these tracks could have been better placed more towards the middle of the mix, it’s then that you want to be as far away as possible, not when the mix is hitting it’s final notes. And what’s with the final offering? Mat Zo’s remix of “Call Of Lonliness” by Reeves is not only nowhere near as good as other tracks with the Zo name attached, but a bizarrely heavier ending to the mix that doesn’t really fit in well with the two preceding tracks that had us dragged into the depths of an aurora.
“This is overall a decent album and both sets of DJs provide a smooth and technically accomplished mix”
The Mat Zo CD for us, certainly makes some better track selections but we feel both mixes end in bizarre and below-par fashion. We’d have rather seen Mat Zo’s “The Found” finish things off nicely. Sure, it would have been a third track but it would have worked a lot better – for us anyway. This is overall a decent album and both sets of DJs provide a smooth technically accomplished mix. I can’t help but feel though that this could have been an opportunity for each DJ to discover some new tracks, uncover some talent, produce something different.
Review by Graham Smart
Ed: I have to agree with that sentiment. It’s going to be more difficult in the coming times for labels like Anjunabeats and Armada to justify albums such as this, when it’s just as easy and free to tune in every week to a radio show or live mix session that plays new tracks – week in, week out. Not only that, but these tracks are nothing new, there’s nothing new to discover and the mixing isn’t inventive enough to really push the envelope of what a Trance DJ can do.