Trance Nation – Mixed by Andy Moor – Album Review

Written by Michael

July 15, 2010 2:44 pm

trance nation andy moorIn the last decade, Ministry of Sound has gone from an iconic clubbing venue to the biggest independent record label in the world. This transition to what can only, fairly, be described as absolute world dominance, has been aided by acquisitions such as Hed Kandi, sub-labels such as Data and partnerships with other labels including Ultra Records and EMI. The club now approaches its 20th year of operation and despite the recent threat of a housing development, Ministry can certainly expect a bright future.

 

This is a future that can only be enhanced by paying close attention to their releases. Ministry garnered some sort of a reputation for releasing too many “samey” albums, how many more Ibiza Chillout albums could you possibly want? 2010 has already seen probably the 100th Dave Pearce Trance Anthems mix CD – but has also seen a further refinement of the releases coming out of the Ministry depot. Chilled Acoustic was a refreshing new idea that is for us, a great accompaniment to the morning after. Trance Nation, like DP’s Trance Anthems, is an established brand that has been around a while. It’s been a dependable stalwart for Ministry, in fact the second Trance Nation album, Trance Nation 2 Mixed by Ferry Corsten/System F, is one of our favourite Trance compilations of all time. So when we got our hands the latest release, mixed by Andy Moor, it was quickly ripped from its promo packaging and slapped into the CD drive. Dim the lights, fire up the Acme Penguin, and we were already in Ibiza. Almost..

“Trance Nation 2 Mixed by Ferry Corsten/System F is one of our favourite Trance compilations of all time”


Matan Zohar

Mat Zo means business.


Kicking things off on CD 1 is the Clarks & Setrise remix of The Way by Melodia. This is a tune that gets you straight into some potentially hands-in-the-air moments, the climax providing plenty of spewing liquid energy. It almost has a sense of 80s prog-rock, the synths dominating proceedings, oozing with compulsive vibes and ascending chords. The album doesn’t drop off prematurely either, Yuri Kane’s Whirlpool and The Thrillseekers Savanna keeping things on the edge. Whirlpool features a repetitive but enjoyable guitar sample as the main chorus, accompanied by spaced out synths, while Savanna is a stark reminder that this is 2010, with the more distinctive electro-edge that has featured do predominantly in recent months with artists such as Myon & Shane 54 and Mat Zo. For the second track running, we’ve got guitar chords, this time slower, more ponderous. This isn’t about originality, even though every journey is different, they all feature the same elements. It’s inevitably not long before Trance’s new golden boy Matan Zohar has got his hands dripping over the production, with his remix of Reeves Call of Lonliness. This is an altogether more techy, frantic affair, the beat pushing the envelope with a gasping, cutting vocal sample leading proceedings hand-in-hand with a funky electric snap. And to Zomeister, as usual, likes to take his time, the track building up and then dropping into a teasing electric-guitar, throbbing with anticipation. Clicks, splurts and audio splatters soon surround you, backed up by Orchestral strings. The first beat drops. You can now feel the vibes flowing through your body. There’s one last, gaping drop before the track takes over. The unfortunate thing is, despite the perfectly weighted build up, the track doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s like watching one of those really long movie intros, with the credits, and the short snippets of action, teasing you…yet there is no movie at the end of it.

The Way by Melodia has almost has a sense of 80s prog-rock, the synths dominating proceedings, oozing with compulsive vibes and ascending chords”

Things take a turn for the better when the buck is passed to Markus Schulz and Jochen Miller, with Millers excellent remix of Schulz’s Dark Heart Waiting. This is a track that achieves everything it set out to, a superb build up with vocal samples and a crescendo of musical violence assaulting your ears with its vibetacular therapy. It’s definitely the Markus Schulz sound and also reminds us of Kyau and Alberts trippy productions of 2009. Dark Heart Waiting is then pushed aside by our track of the year (so far, and it would take something stonking to beat it) Super8 & Tabs Black Is The New Yellow. This is a track that should alienate any attempt at remix, as it has already achieve audio perfection, flowing through your ears like liquid gold. At the midway point of the CD, it seems suitable to achieve such heights with a track that sends down the spine of anyone, including your Nan, a chill of epic proportions. This is to music what nanotechnology is to Science.

“Dark Heart Waiting [features] a superb build up with vocal samples and a crescendo of musical violence assaulting your ears with its vibetacular therapy”

We’re not sure about the inclusion of Matt Dareys vocal spectacular See The Sun so soon after Black Is The New Yellow, we need time to grab a drink from the bar first! It’s not a ground-breaking track but it does exactly what it says on the tin, or in this case the record cover. Many fans will appreciate the soothing summery vocals and the soft synths that don’t kill your ears without a moments notice. It’s ever so slightly dreamy too, a dream then interrupted rudely by Trilucid’s Departure. We’d rather this track wasn’t here, not because we dislike it, but because it feels dated and unoriginal compared to the more accomplished tracks surrounding it. There’s nothing wrong with liking Eastenders, but you wouldn’t watch it in between of two episodes of The Sopranos. Mat Zo sends us back to wonderland, thank god, soon after with Near The End. It’s the atypical Mat Zo sound, almost classical in its approach, at times soothing and at times energized. It’s almost like a whole days worth of life in one little bite-sized chunk, which is exactly what Trance should be, a journey from the beginning to the end. Perhaps Departure signifies an argument, a fiery exchange with a parking attendant…

“It’s almost like a whole days worth of life in one little bite-sized chunk, which is exactly what Trance should be”

Andy Moors own remix of Deliriums Send Me An Angel is then upon us, a lovely little vocal number with funky electro elements and operatic energy, the room-filling vocals providing you with a brief relapse. The first CD soon leaves us with Kyau and Alberts remix of Bent’s As You Fall, Kyau and Alberts beats giving us one last rise and fall. Pulsate & Juventa then provide the sunrise with Yuri Kanes remix of Somnia. Soothing, Somnia is exactly how you want a Trance album to end.

But that’s not the end, as we pop in CD2.


rafael frost

Rafael Frost has a heavy influence on CD2, in particular his explosive production Flashback


Susana is a great Trance vocalist, and again here, her voice lavishes the sound waves in Closer produced by Omnia & The Blizzard. CD 2 is definitely a more vocal affair, the second track featuring Carrie Skipper of Vampire fame, and Emma Hewiit making a very welcome appearance in another collaboration with Lange, this time with Live Forever. All three tracks are solid affairs, with Carrie Skipper and Andy Moors She Moves proving a particular highlight. The way her vocals clutch at you, the breakbeat synths, the aurora of ambient back sound, it’s a very well crafted track which fits in perfectly. Emma Hewitt then takes things a notch up with help from Lange. Energetic, and pulsing with anticipation, Live Forever drops at the two minute mark, a beat with purpose then comes in and the whole track pushes up and up and up. The beat then drops away again and the synths play their party trick, ever  so slightly changing every time they repeat to build the tension, before lovely Emma declares to us that she could live forever. Good for you, but I’m not sure you could, no matter how this track makes us feel. Just after she finishes, there’s a glorious moment where everything is on hold except the melody repeating it’s three main notes, until you’re almost crying to the track to continue. And then Emma is back again, determined she will never die.

“Synths then drag us off the beach, 20 feet in the air, the sunrise all around us”

The second CD also sees an appearance from DJ Eco, presenting Pacheco. The Massoud Remix of Staring At The Sea is aptly titled, it made us immediately picture ourselves standing on a beach, or a jetty, staring out a magnificent sunrise, the day just ahead of us. It’s piano elements are well balanced, not too sad, not too euphoric, as if to say hold on, we’re nearly there. Then the electro twangs which give us our melody tap in and we realise, we are there. Synths then drag us off the beach, 20 feet in the air, the sunrise all around us.

Later on in the mix we come across Guiseppe Ottaviani featuring Faith and Angel. Unfortunately, we feel after the likes of Carrie Skipper, Emma Hewitt and Susana, the vocals for Angel are severely lacking. It’s not to discredit Faith, as her vocal talent is obvious. But we dislike the subdued feel to her vocals, and the sense that they were an afterthought to a track that was perceived to be lacking. The dub version would have been better, we have Neev Kennedy and Tiff Lacey before and after and the lack of vocals would have served the album well, especially as otherwise the track is a well balanced, solidly produced affair. Neev Kennedy is alongside Max Graham for Sun In Winter. A track determined not to rush itself into anything, Neev Kennedy’s strong, powerful vocals reek of anger and frustration, appropriate for a track that seems to be wrought with emotion, talking of “promises of love”, “cold surprises” and being fooled. Her vocals wander lovingly across a broad, but vacant, spectrum of emotion. Once again piano provides the build up to the crescendo of Neev’s heartbreak, and once again we feel they’re entirely appropriate and well implemented. Neev never leaves us, her vocals used as sample, dreamily calling out to us. And when the beat drops out, and all you’re left with is her anguish, you feel completely connected to the track. Perfect.


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Neev Kennedy

Neev Kennedy's vocals prove to be the vocal highlight of Trance Nation


“The way it pounds your ears with glorious explosive synergy is spectacular and immersive”

Then, we’re adorned with Tiff Lacey’s musings, equally seemingly riddled with anguish in the track Arctic Kiss, remixed by Andy Blueman and produced by Motionchild & Will Holland. Tiff spends less time talking to us before the track slams us up the mountain to the peaks of what can only be described as the essence of Trance, a purposeful deep beat and energetic synths punctuated with vocal samples calling out to us like a bird in the summer morning. DJ Eco is back once again with People, given a remix by Rafaël Frost. People is a more upbeat affair than the preceding vocal tracks, and the electro-sounding pulse that takes us on to the chorus is a different sound, but the overall feeling is similar. The track is punctuated every now and then by a hard double-beat every time things get a little too dreamy, and the beat then takes on a more frenetic pace and purpose, the event being preceded by frosty sounding vocals. CD2 finishes in similar fashion to CD1, a little disappointingly, but still decent. Rafaël Frost giving us the ending crescendo with Flashback. The techy vibes of the track are great and build up well, this is definitely a track that means serious business. When it does finally drop, it’s evident this is going to be a huge summer smash in Ibiza. The way it pounds your ears with glorious explosive synergy is spectacular and immersive. The track ends a little prematurely, peaking at the three minute mark and then ending the album just after the fourth.

“It [Trance Nation] takes you high, then sends you back down, over and over again until you are no longer alive, you’re somewhere else far too good to be considered reality”

Trance Nation is a fine return to form, which deserves to be taken seriously. The track selection is generally strong, despite a couple of odd choices that don’t really seem to fit in with an other wise deeply sophisticated album. It sets out and achieves the objective of any Trance mix CD, to take you on a journey. It takes you high, then sends you back down, over and over again until you are no longer alive, you’re somewhere else far too good to be considered reality. The superb range of Trance vocalists currently hitting form is perfectly demonstrated, with the likes of Emma Hewitt, Tiff Lacey and Neev Kennedy demonstrating more talent then you could possibly expect on Britain’s Got Talent. Andy Moors mixing is seamless and proves and then cements his acute ability as not only a producer but a DJ. If you buy a Ministry of Sound album this Summer – make it Trance Nation.

Trance Nation is released on the 26th July. Grab your pre-order here.

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