19 December 2012
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Solarstone Presents
Pure Trance (Black Hole Recording)

2012 was the year that trance regained some much needed identity. Drawing back from the ‘mash-it-up-and-hang-the-consequences’ production mentality and fail-to-launch sub-sub-genres, it reclaimed some clarity. A reaction to those types of excesses, Solarstone’s ‘Pure Trance’ ethos is defined to perfection on this release. Guiseppe Ottaviani’s ‘Earthbeat’. Kyau & Albert and Ronski Speed’s ‘Euphonic’, Walsh & McAuley‘s ‘Sail On The Waves’ and Delerium’s ‘Days Turn Into Nights’ all help to sculpt its staunchly purist profile. It’s well arranged and sequenced, hypnotic, flyaway music, untainted by whim or caprice. The second disc sees much-loved underground trance trooper Orkidea fashioning more of the same. His, though, comes with an appropriately Nordic inflection, with new tracks and remixes from Matti Laamanen, Michael Cassette, Slusnik Luna and the man himself. ‘Pure Trance’ is, of course, just part of the genre’s labyrinthine make-up. As a counterbalance to trouse and trancestep, though, it’s a valuable one. 8/10
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Alex O’Rion
Blueprint (Black Hole Recording)

Working out what makes ‘Blueprint’ such an incredible track is no small task. It doesn’t do anything front and centre, yet somehow delivers one of the biggest and most immediate effects of the year. Balanced somewhere between its highly refined melodic riffs, on-springs bass, elegant, fluid chord changes and trance-prog-on-Gatorade mentality lies one of the tracks of the year. Seek this out. You’ll not be sorry. 9/10
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Team Bastian
Innerface (Audentity)

Team Bastian is a new identity for Ernesto, Bastian and MarLo. If that moniker seems a bit lopsided, well just wait ’til you hear the track. Using multiple outside-the-box effects (radio tuning fades, super-squelched sub-riffs and other filtered oddities), it has an unusual, attention-grabbing set-up. At ‘Innerface’s core lie two Dutch sound classics. Owing considerable debts to both Southside Spinners ‘Luv Struck’ and much of Zki & Dobre’s organ/flute-based Fresh Fruit sound, this courts numerous floors. 7/10
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Matthew Peterson
Stingray (Saturate Audio)

Matthew Peterson provides all the right building blocks for this track. Assembling crisp, loud percussion, sustained synth notes and proggy hunting horns, it creates an inky black, night-sky feel. An older hand at this material (relatively speaking), Styller manages to squeeze even more juice from its components. By nudging the tempo and sequencing the arrangement in a more dynamic, less linear fashion, his mix bears the greater fruit. 6/10
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Christopher Lawrence
OK To Go (Pharmacy)

While Christopher’s original displays no lack of will, it remains curiously unfulfilling. Every nook is laced with tough, jagged synths and barrelling drums, but you never feel the compulsion. All is not lost, though. On his mix, Des McMahon jettisons the passé spoken-word sample and engineers a root-and-branch rebuild. It embraces enigmatic, sonically tubular sounds, wickedly effective sub-melodies and masses of echoing atmosphere. A convincing, but dark-minded trancer. 7/10
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Stoneface & Terminal
Gallery of Sound/Green Velvet (ASOT)

200th outing on ASOT, which thanks latterly, to the heavier hitting presences of Eco, M.O.R.P.H., van Deynhoven, Rayel and others, is back in good health. Stoneface & Terminal can now count themselves in that number. Tipping a nod to Ministry’s Friday night essential, ‘Gallery of Sound’ mines a rich, organic, euphoric seam. Whether ‘Green Velvet’ is doing the same to Chicago’s finest is debatable! The track, though all sweeping melodies, superbly produced breakbeat lay-ups, neat bridges and big payoffs – delivers by the spade load. 8/10
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Enhanced Progressive: 100 EPs 1 & 2 (Enhanced Progressive)

Enhanced Progressive is a bit like Serena to Enhanced’s Venus. Even up close it’s hard to tell which one’s sporting more talent. The sub-label’s (though the term barely does it justice) century has snuck up perhaps, but on these EPs it’s duly celebrated. In ascending order of merit, Karanda’s ‘Agony’, Eximinds ‘Ticket To Ibiza’, Juventa’s ‘The Kite’ and Arty’s ‘Gentle Touch’ all supply the more refined, lower-tempo trance that has become the imprint’s excellent signature. 8/10
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Norin & Rad
Five Finger Death Punch (Anjunabeats)

Following hot on the heels of Sunny Lax’s ‘Hattori Hanzo’, the trend for (belated?) Kill Bill references continues apace. ‘Five Finger Death Punch’ is a curious one. As it plays through its clearly defined sequences, one excellent sound or part is followed by one that’s simply so-so – almost by rote. Ironically perhaps, despite there being enormous promise in among its techy zeal, ‘F.F.D.P.’ fails to land the genuine TKO. 6/10
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Gareth Emery
Concrete Angel (the remixes) (Garuda)

Hands-down the catchiest vocal of the year ‘Concrete Angel’ was always ripe for a remix, and (slightly belatedly perhaps) here they come. Those looking for something rhapsodic and uplifting should head straight for either John O’Callaghan’s or Craig Connelly’s mixes. In that department its only the Aly & Fila version that curiously understates the obvious euphoric angle. Outside of trance the Arnej, K Theory and Starkillers mixes all have a sharp eye on the US market. 7/10
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Paul van Dyk feat Adam Young
Eternity (3Beat)

Arguably the most mainstream and accessible of PvD’s ‘Evolution’ crop, ‘Eternity’ has received a full-spectrum rebuild here. Top of the mix pile? It’s more like the first among equals, really. PvD and Alex M.O.R.P.H.’s Club mix amps Owl City singer Adam’s radio-genial vocals to even loftier heights. Johan Malmgren’s rework bounces cheerfully down the mainline trance track, while Gary Proud diverts it intuitively up into euphoric, laser-lit territory. Quilinez unleashes the ravey, air-cutting synths, whilst Austin Leeds bestows it with a US-sound prog-house take. Faultless package. 8/10
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