zondag 1 januari 2017

In Retrospect: Rank 1 - L.E.D. There Be Light [Maxi Single]

 
Can you believe it's been 8 years since L.E.D. There Be Light was released? I am having trouble grasping that such a behemoth of a track that feels so close, so vivid in my memory has been around for nearly a decade already! But yes, back in 2008 the Rank 1 project was in its tenth year when Piet & Benno decided to unleash a track that would prove to be the "Airwave of their modern discography". ID&T seemed to be so impressed with it they crowned it the anthem to the 10-year anniversary of their Legendary Trance Energy event. As the track leaked online, High Contrast Recordings wasted no time and made the track available instantly as a "Special Download Mix". The likes of Tiesto and Armin had been playing it in their sets towards the end of the year with many people wondering who was behind this wicked ID. If anything this was a track destined for Greatness...

For me 2008 was a great year: I graduated from high school, went to university, got my first job... Meanwhile ASOT was kicking ass in a year categorized by Tech- and Electro Trance peaking. All-in-all I was having plenty of great (first new) experiences! Now, as 2008 came to a close, my brother texted me one December night that the new Trance Energy Anthem had been revealed and it was by none other than Rank 1! He also said "L.E.D. There Be Light" in the same text. I didn't understand at first that it was the track's name. You see, my brother has always loved playing around with silly puns like that so I thought he was being his silly self again. When I texted him in typical fanboy fashion how eager I was to hear it and I asked him "so what's it called??" I got a memorable "did you even read the first text" kind of response haha!

Anyhow! Rank 1 had finally released a new solo single (their first since the unforgetable Opus 17/Top Gear EP) and I fell so fast for L.E.D.! There is no other track of theirs I've played more in my life than this one and as such, it is with much delight that I present you with this Retrospective Review for one of Rank 1's finest pieces to date. Sit back my friends! Sit back and L.E.D. There Be A Trip Down Memory Lane!


01. Rank 1 - L.E.D. There Be Light (Special Download Mix / Extended Mix) [07:41]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/l-e-d-there-be-light-special-download-mix/738297]
A crystal clear synth gradually backed by a low end string tone as gradually more strings come into play as a beautiful melody plays out that says "all will be fine". 01:07 hits and we are greeted by a reverbed, fading clap on top of a bouncy beat with a deep bassline. At 01:45 note how one of the hihats is cut off by the clap at certain intervals whilst playing on during others. No, I did not gather this from my 1st listen at the time. Perhaps it was during my 100th, or 200th or perhaps even my 400th play of this track that I noticed that Rank 1's ear for detail is just one of many reasons to adore their music as a fan and admire them as an amateur producer. Back to the music: we have a catchy beat going on with some clever percussion. So far so good. Now pay attention to the the background as a synth stab starts getting louder before claiming all attention from 02:04 onward. It takes centre stage as the beat and bass fade at first only to slowly swell back into the fray and unleash themselves with full power at 02:34. At this point you know Rank 1 mean business. 3 minutes gone and the intro's crystal clear synth melody returns with the synth stab guiding it gently in the breakdown. At 03:30 the crystal synth is left alone with that beautiful string melody's rising crescendo. 03:59 evokes memories of Superstring and Awakening with a "telephone beep" playing the main riff before 04:15 declares a new Rank 1 era. We are now steadily taken to a climax with a magnificent drop due to the simple-yet-effective nature of L.E.D.'s riff. The synth sound for this riff sounds like a cross between the ones used in their remixes for Alex Bartlett - Touch The Sun from 2007 and ATB - Humanity from 2005 (two of my fave remixes by them!). At 05:20 the crystal synth plays on alone before a short reprise follows in which the mighty riff is unleashed once more. The massive floorlifting capabilities of this tune have never ceased to amaze me and I have a hunch it's one of the guys' favorites to play live. It's an ideal live track to exactly because it's main riff is so simple yet charming and "activating"... The track's finally phase gradually gets emptier and it allows for solid mixing into a next track. I love how it ends with a sort of synth "roar", it's present through the whole track but fits as the track's final element. After such a journey, it only makes sense that the track signs off with a final confirmation of its bad-assness. Dang.

I truly believe L.E.D. is a special track, even if the guys never intended for it to be so but... Listen closely to every aspect of the production. It's almost as if the three and a half years preceding L.E.D. were a testing ground to find the right elements to piece together the ultimate comeback to Trance with a revitalized, new form of the genre. The percussion and distorted effects used in Top Gear/After Me/ Life Less Ordinary & the Lyteo/This Way/Love Kills/Analog Feel/The Future/Touch The Sun Remixes morphed into this interesting dynamic between claps and hihats where one cuts of the other... The main lead synth sounds of the Humanity/Touch The Sun remixes find their ultimate form in L.E.D. iconic and immortal main riff. The gentle string play used in Life Less Ordinary/This World Is Watching Me add that organic touch to an otherwise electronic masterpiece. The synth/riff play in the Electro-driven And Then... lay the foundation for the power of L.E.D.'s climax... It's as if nearly four years of eclectic experimentation and thinking-outside-the-box were merely to create this one track that says "Rank 1 has been around for 10 years and we are more relevant than ever". But you know what? If you were to ask Piet & Benno whether any of this is true, whether all these preceding tracks and remixes were indeed just the route to an ultimate statement, they would tell you "they just wanted to try something different and didn't even give it all that much thought"... Isn't that the sign of Pure Genius though? When you don't even GIVE all that much thought to something brilliant? L.E.D. There Be Light declared the era of a so-called Bigroom Trance where short, powerful melodies and riffs were central. I feel they inspired many next-generation producers to make cool tracks. For a long time I could take my enjoyment from that style. Rank 1 however proved to be the most adapt at this genre as it just fit their general sound more. They proved it with the L.E.D. follow-ups Symfo and The Great Escape, a trio of consecutive singles that still delight me to this day and which I deem among their previous impressive Quartet of Beats At/After Me/Opus 17/Top Gear. We are now 8 years ahead of that winter evening I first heard the original L.E.D. and in those 8 years it has refused to lose any of its charm, its energy, its euphoria or even its freshness! It could have been released today and it would still sound delicious... Rank 1 really outdid themselves here imo.
02. Rank 1 - L.E.D. There Be Light (Single Mix) [02:33]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/l-e-d-there-be-light-single-mix/4409695]
Kicking off with the mighty L.E.D. riff in its opening seconds, the Single Mix is evidence for me why Radio Edits can be really cool: the track gets to the point much faster and the ability to "summarize" a long track in an effective manner is an art form in its own right: since I create tracks myself, it's something I am eager to master as well. Chopping a 10-minute progressive track to 2 or 3 minutes is pointless, true, but doing the same for a 7 to 9 minute Trance Anthem is actually fun! Anyhow, digressing again hehe... Some 40 seconds in, the build-up merges with the strings from the breakdown in a smooth manner: I love this bit! When we hit the 1-minute mark, the riff is unleashed just like in the original albeit it climaxes much faster and its main part is collapsed within itself resulting in a rush.  


I can imagine that if the original never existed and it was just this Single Mix to be out there, people would feel it was too short, but it's a nice alternative version that manages to capture the power of the original in a compact manner. I feel Rank 1 have generally tended to do more with their radio mixes than just cut an original short: note how the Radio Edit to Awakening has a synthline not present in the original and note how the Radio Edit for The Anthem 2003 uses live mixing effects not present in its original either. It goes to show they tend to put thought to something I've seen a few established Trance producers complain about and that is just another thing in which I consider Rank 1 as an example to aspire to.

03. Rank 1 - L.E.D. There Be Light (Laserlight Rework) [08:23]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/l-e-d-there-be-light-laserlight-rework/777745]
It starts off with a feint kick, which deceives the direction it is about to take. Shortly after the beginning, a sort of distorted white noise effect alongside a "lasershot" sound lead into  the opening phase of the track as percussion slowly swells in velocity in the background. The bassline also swells, first sounding heavily filtered but as it gains "beef" you can tell it's an electrifying one! At 01:40's it's unleashed at full strength on top of the now-fully charged kick. This Laserlight Rework is all about setting the dancefloor ablaze alright. At 02:09 Rank 1 present us with a Techno synth lead, and it's exactly that kind of Detroit Tech synth I'm a complete sucker for! After three minutes we reach the first of two "breakdowns" in this rework. L.E.D.'s iconic lead is presented nearly the same way as in the original, albeit shorter the first time around. A sudden drop follows in which that crazy bassline and the Techno synth lead the track. At 04:25 the second supposed breakdown follows but they play around a bit with the loud-soft dynamic from the original. The track heads into its biggest climax yet and another drop follows... As I write this I realize I've never heard this track live at an event... Deffo something I need to try experience sometime! As we head towards the 6th minute mark, the beat fades and the Techno synth starts building into a climax of its own for the track's final drop. Afterwards it slowly breaks off into less elements. In its final minute, the mighty bassline reverses the process it stars with in the beginning of the track and ends with a filtered stuttering effect that slowly vanishes into the background... 


By no means does this version beat the original but this rework fits with this particular eclectic era of the Rank 1 sound and personally I've always enjoyed this solid alternative. In fact, I quite miss the "alternative Rank 1 Mix" nowadays... :( Benno explained to me in 2013 why they stopped doing it but part of the reason I loved Life Less Ordinary, And Then..., L.E.D. and Symfo so much was because all of them offered a different take on their tasty originals. I recall The Great Escape was to have a non-Trance Rank 1 version too at first but sadly this never materialized in the end. Regardless, cherish what you DO get and I most certainly cherish this rework. :)

04. Rank 1 - L.E.D. There Be Light (Wippenberg Remix) [08:37]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/l-e-d-there-be-light-wippenberg-remix/777746]
Wippenberg took this remix down a dancefloor oriented route, much like the Laserlight Rework, though he did it from a Housey rather than a Techy angle. He loops and stutters the main lead throughout the build-up, with a short "teaser" two minutes in, in which he allows the riff to have its way. In the next two minutes you can clearly hear Housey percussion and sound effects alongside the looped background riff. It isn't until we reach 5 minutes in that Wip slowly incorporates a breakdown similar to the original's. At 06:08 he unleashes the drop which is deeper than any of the drops of the other version present on the single.

It's a typical deep "other genre" approach to a melodic original in that it does not present extra or new melody approaches to what it already takes from the mix it's based on. You can hear it's a Wippenberg tune (especially when comparing it to e.g. Chakalaka) but I get the idea he didn't go all-out with this remix... He kept the original's most important parts intact and didn't really twist them all that much. I think it's a nice effort at a L.E.D. remix. Next to the original, I obviously prefer the Laserlight Rework but when I hear this version come by somewhere, I like it. Kudos to Wip!


05. Rank 1 - L.E.D. There Be Light (Marcel Woods Remix) [08:14]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/l-e-d-there-be-light-marcel-woods-remix/777747]
Earlier in 2008, Rank 1 remixed Woods so now Woods had the chance to repay Rank 1 with a remix of their single. Woods kicks off with the original "phone beep" variant of the L.E.D. lead and a variation on its string play. One minute in we are greeted by a typical Woods bass & kick from those days. He uses some of the original's sounds altered throughout the build-up as teasers and adds an own synthline on top of the beat. Two minutes in the track starts sounding very Woodsy, with a fierce synth leading us towards the breakdown. The mighty riff reveals itself at 3:38, it sounds slightly different from the original though. Woods starts chopping said lead and uses it to climax halfway through the 4th minute mark before the drop hits with a monotone chopped variant of the main lead and it isn't until 05:14ish that he drops the lead in full again. At 05:42 the lead changes its last few chords which sounds pretty cool. Eventually a short reprise follows and it isn't until there's less than a minute to go that the track slowly breaks down into less elements, the phone beep subtly guiding us through in the breakdown, doing the same chord trick near the end.

It's hard of course, to topple a tune like L.E.D. but of all the version on this single, I find Woods' mix the weakest. It feels like he wanted to stay true to the original too much structure-wise. It follows the same intro-build-break-drop-reprise logic but he tries to distract from that by adding some trademark Woods stabs and sounds throughout the build-up. I expected more from the guy behind such timeless gems like Cherry Blossom, Advanced & Muscial Madness (Take One) to be honest, but at the same time I feel it would be unfair to expect anyone to topple the original L.E.D. right? I can at least commend him for trying. And well, he "owed" them a favor so yeah...


Thus...
I've had the joy to hear L.E.D. There Be Light during many of Piet's gigs I attended AND I've had the privilege to hear it performed LIVE during their High Contrast Stage performance at Trance Energy 2009, their Dance Valley 2010 live act, Benno's live cameo during the final end of Armin Only 2010 and of course their memorable performance at Back In The House in 2013. It does not matter where or when I hear this track, it ALWAYS gets the crowd going and it ALWAYS puts a smile on my face and brings relief to my soul. Without exaggerating, this is really one of the greatest Trance tracks I've ever heard and I hope to still enjoy it as much when I am over my 50s...
The motivation for Rank 1's continued quest to do the unusual and take the harder road music-wise has been their perfectionism. If they considered L.E.D. to be a perfect track, it would have been their last release. The fact that they have kept going on since then says they are far from done. I am not sure if L.E.D. IS perfect... But of all their Rank 1 tracks, this one has come to hold the greatest significance for me. It has claimed a special spot it is not willing to give away. The likes of 7 Instead Of 8 and especially 13.11.11 have come to challenge its place on top of that Mighty Throne. Only Time will tell if they ever overtake it. But until they do, this beautiful piece of music will always be ingraved in my heart as one of Rank 1's finest ever moments.


| In Retrospect Feature | December 21st 2016 - January 1st 2017 |

zaterdag 31 december 2016

Year Review: Razor Top 30 2016

Top 30 Feature | December 1st - December 31st 2016 |

2016 is nearly over and 2017 is ready to greet us. As has been the case in the last four years, I will end the year with a blogpost dedicated to those tracks that made me smile, headbop, fistpump, foot-tap and shout in joy. As usual, we will commence with a quick glimpse at those tracks that didn't make the final cut but are still memorable tracks that also played their part in defining my 2016 in terms of music. Here we go!

This year's Honorable Mentions go to:
- The Thrillseekers - They'll Never Know (Original Mix)
- Robert Vadney - Spaceman's Theme (Original Mix)
- Fata Morgana (Original Mix)
- Love (Narel's New Age Of Love & Acid Mix)
- Hady Tarek - Burning Bridges (Original Mix)
- J. - Breaking The Silence (Original Mix) [Classic]
- Pig & Dan - Growler (Original Mix)
- Skychaser (Facade Remix)
- The Journey (Original Mix)
- Summer Tonic (Jakhira Remix)
- Beats For Broken Minds (Original Mix)
- Festivo (Johan Gielen Remix)
- Fearless (Jody Wisternoff Remix)
- Yotto - Aviate (Original Mix)
- Aril Brikha - Akire (Original Mix)
- Slam Duck - Leaving Place (Extended Mix)
- UMEK - Delerium Is Family 2
- Joint Operations Centre - Dexathol (Original Mix)
- Armin van Buuren - Another You (Gundamea Remix)
- Rex Mundi - Sleepless (Original Mix)
- DJ Sakin & Friends - Conclusion (Club Mix)
- Airwave - The Quest For Beauty (Original Mix)
- P.O.B. & Patrick Reid - Zeebooth (Remastered) [Classic]
- Airbase - For The Fallen (Original Mix) [Classic]
- Can't Change The Wind (Original Mix)
- Marco V - Mighty Machine (Timelapse Mix)


Razormane Top 30 2016 [Order by how I'd mix them if I were a DJ]

Nicolaas Jaar - Fight (Original Mix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/release/fight-nymphs-iv/1626506]

Glitchy, different, weird but so cool all the same, especially the synths!

Zwicker feat. Olivera Stan - Strangeways (Original Mix) [2009]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/strangeways-feat-olivera-stanimirov-original-mix/831919]
- Found it thanks to: work

Say hello to a tune I encountered at my new job, a catchy House tune with a swell vocal (and even a bit of a duet in the chorus). Imagine going through the closing phase of your workday and suddenly this groovy, synthy tune starts playing with lyrics that are... "Different" to the usual type of lyrics they play in restaurants. As long as I can remember I've been a sucker for those oldskool sounding Tech-Housey chords & melodies for as long as I can remember so no surprise: I was instantly hooked! And luckily for me, it would re-appear ever now and then, allowing me to record a bit of it one night. With some of the lyrics caught on my phone, I could start my Google hunt and within no time I uncovered the name and creators. When I bought and played the track in full for the first time, it struck me how crisp, clean and insanely groovy it sounded on my headphones! It ended up being a huge summer tune for me and even as we approach the very end of 2016, it still stands firm. Kudos!

Justin Martin feat. Femme - Hello Clouds (Original Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/hello-clouds-original-mix/7794660]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff - Intensified

It should be forbidden for basslines to be so damn infectious.

Lane 8 - Sunlight (Jody Wisternoff Remix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/sunlight-jody-wisternoff-remix/7729132]
- Found it thanks to: Rothma - Sacred Ruins #052

Back in June I was all pumped up for Euro 2016. The group stage was on in full effect and during on particular matchday I decided to play Roth's Sacred Ruins #052. It opened with this gorgeous laidback Housey tune with a nice vocal. Upon inspecting the tracklist it turned out master Wisternoff was behind this 6:57 minute long piece of summer bliss. The overall atmosphere in this track is so relaxing, it really brings my mind to peace. The vocal meanwhile, complements that feeling. The singer gets a bit more emotional in the chorus but she retains a tenderness to her voice that i enjoy. As it would turn out later, this track was just one of four Top 30 worthy tracks I would encounter in this episode of SR, and it would be one of three key episodes of any show to add to contribute to my final 30. This entry is yet another credit to Jody's uniform, but that same thing applies to Rothma whose track selections have been on point consistently this year.

Chicane feat. Moya Brennan - Saltwater (Jody Wisternoff Remix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/saltwater-feat-moya-brennan-jody-wisternoff-remix/8222209]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff - Intensified

Remixes of Classics are always a slippery slope for me. If I never knew the original, they often just feel like brand new standalone productions and I don't really care whether they honor the original or not (see my love for Rank 1's Remix of Cosmic Gate's Fire Wire). If, however, I do know the original and if that original stands among my favorite Classics ever, it's very easy to f*ck up and leave me pissed, often leading to less-than-flattering reviews of said reworks... Saltwater is one such Classic. Timeless, soul-enriching, simply gorgeous and even though it might be overplayed to some, to me it's one of those flawless examples of Trance at its finest of which the enjoyement can never be stolen from me (even when the creator did his utmost best to butcher the original with that disgusting Natasha Bedingfield rework 7 years ago). In short, Saltwater is simply a masterpiece for the ages. Jody decided to remix it... How did he do??

He did well. He did really well! Now I won't say he re-invented the original. But neither will I claim that he merely recycled the original by dropping it a few BPM. Rather, he made the original fit his spectrum of sounds and grooves, retaining its fresh summer feeling and air-raising,heavenly choir and happiness. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe Jody made this remix to repay the favor of Chicane remixing Jody's The Bridge last year. What is funny is that said Chicane Remix made it in my Top 30 last year, exactly because it reminded me of Saltwater so much and now Jody actually ends up remixing Saltwater himself! It completes an interesting interaction between two artists that all end up linking to the glorious original Saltwater. Moya's voice feels more prominent here since the production underneath works in a more subtle way, offering a gentle groovy way to experience its beauty. The build-up has a very minimalistic approach, but exactly this less-is-more playing around with the elements makes it work so well. If 02:44 doesn't slowly suck you into this "bopping my head without noticing how I am sporting a smile that gradually gets bigger" sequence, than I don't know what will. The next part is so playful, so... innocently summer, so grateful for enjoying the moment for what it is. As Moya sings "open my eyes", Jody subtly releases some strings with the choir as we slowly approach the breakdown. This is unmistakably Saltwater, yet it feels different. Jody managed to strike the perfect balance between bending the track to his signature sounds yet allowing its spirit to remain fully intact whilst blowing somewhat of a different experience into it, all at the same time. In a sense, it's almost as if the original Saltwater fits more with myself at age 18, somewhat naive but ready to take on the world whilst this remix fits more in line with how I am now, well aware of the pitfalls of juvenile idealism, and naivity of believing the sky is the limit or that the world is fair as long as you are fair. The Jody Remix is more levelheaded in that sense, slightly more nostalgic too. It appreciates the simple things more... Still, whether the original or this respectable remix, Saltwater is a treasure I will forever carry with me. Nothing left for me to say than that Jody did a great job on this one. I have to admit its inclusion also has to do with my love for the original but even on its own it's one of the most blissful efforts of 2016.

Heliotype - Catching Fire (Original Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/catching-fire-original-mix/7515100]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff - Intensified

One of the most emotional tracks I heard all year.

Heliotype - Cloud City (Original Mix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/cloud-city-original-mix/6584685]

I am yet to find out if Heliotype named this track after the iconic Cloud City from Star Wars Episode V but regardless, after he blew my mind with the beautiful bittersweet nostalgia of Catching Fire, I was curious to see if he had made more tunes that deserved my attention and praise. Much to my surprise he had one stand-out candidate in his listed Beatport productions that somehow completely slipped my attention! It was Cloud City, released about a year prior to CF and it's a typical Razor-tune. It has those Tech House chords I simply adore, those simple two tone chords so defining of the oldest House and Techno out there, backed by some lovely strings and xylophone sounds. The excellent use of reverbs on this give me a very floaty feeling and images of a city in the clouds become very easy to imagine. The bassline's deep tones mix well with the floaty melodies on top of it. The vocal/choir sample throughout gives it an extra oldskool-ish glow. This track kind of reminds me of Lone - Airglow Fires because of the sounds
both use. Airglow Fires was such a kick-in-the-nuts track when I first heard it in a summer Intensified back in 2013, and this one had a similar effect. I simply had to include among my 30 favorites this year. And based on the replay-button-lovin' I've been giving this baby, it's a well-deserved entry. Congratulations on the brace, Helio!

Lakker - Milch (Original Mix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/milch-original-mix/6732300]
- Found it thanks to: DJ Eco

Ethnic. Tribal. Primordial. Delicious.

AudioStorm - Sweet Temptation (Exoplanet Remix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/sweet-temptation-exoplanet-remix/6763204]
- Found it thanks to: Darkboy Larry - Darkboy Sessions #015

To be reviewed.

Armin van Buuren - Club Embrace (Extended Intro) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/club-embrace-extended-intro/8429263]
- Found it thanks to: Raigen Smash

When he wants to... He can really nail it.

Fatal Error - Angel's Arms (Airwave Remix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/angels-arms-airwave-breaks-remix/6406096]

It's funny how you can purchase a track and then not "feel it" until two or three months later!

Rick Pier O'Neil - Onix Beat (Exoplanet Remix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/onix-beat-exoplanet-remix/6977635]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl - Visions Of Sound

EXPECTING RESISTANCE.

Solarstone feat. Elizabeth Fields - Speaking In Sympathy (Plastic Angel Instrumental Mix) [2002 -Classic #1 of 2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/speaking-in-sympathy-plastic-angel-instrumental-mix/150325]

They don't come more addicting than this.

Aril Brikha - Winter (Original Mix) [2007 -Classic #2 of 2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/winter-original-mix/254715]

I envy those synths.

Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene (Part 14) [2016] [From the album 'Oxygene 3']
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Byuk6iafRds]

JMJ is King.

Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene (Part 16) [2016] [From the album 'Oxygene 3']
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Byuk6iafRds]

Long Live The King!

Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene (Part 19) [2016] [From the album 'Oxygene 3']
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Byuk6iafRds]

Oh no he didn't...

Temple One - Santiago (Slam Duck Autumn Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/santiago-slam-duck-autumn-mix/7260544]
Found it thanks to: Rothma - Sacred Ruins

The track that challenged my eventual TOTY 2016 for #1 credentials!

Katrin Souza - Incepto (Allende Remix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/incepto-allende-remix/6958454]
Found it thanks to: Darkboy Larry - Darkboy Sessions #015

Allende sure made me crave the summer with this one.

York & Marco Torrance - Lilyleaf Ladybell (Original Mix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/lilyleaf-ladybell-original-mix/7225680]
Found it thanks to: Rothma - Sacred Ruins

To be reviewed.

York & Rank 1 feat. Lola - This World Is So Amazing (Original Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/this-world-is-so-amazing-feat-lola-original-mix/8113884]

Another York, another gem! An unexpected, previously un-announced collab can hit you the hardest sometimes. Much like Zenith last year, TWISA more or less popped up out of nowhere and if it wasn't for my occasional checking of Rank 1's Beatport releases in the hopes of finding some re-released old remix I have yet to add to my collection, I wouldn't have found out about this collab until October! The comparison to Zenith goes further, as TWISA too, followed after a previous Rank 1 single left me wanting more (though fairplay to Juno, it did grow on me whereas Superstring hasn't). It's short. It's simple. And it's beautiful. In the short space of time they have, York and Rank 1 present some combined trademark sounds in a feelgood breaks/chill-out track that feels like a belated follow-up to Reachers Of Civilization (Rank 1 Remix). Meanwhile, the addition of Lola adds just that little bit of marvel as her lush sexy voice confirms the title of the tune in a Spoken Word manner. It came out of nowhere, but it's here to stay as this was yet another summer-defining track for me that came at just the right time as I was still high on the euphoria of Portugal's Euro 2016 winning exploits. Obrigado York, obrigado Rank 1, obrigado Lola! This World CAN be so amazing indeed...

The Thrillseekers presents Hydra - Amber (Extended Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/release/amber-extended-mix/1798290]

Though it was released in the summer, I didn't get it until Autumn. And perhaps that was a good turn-of-events as its tender nostalgia fit the Autumn setting flawlessly.

Relaunch - Fusion (Original Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/fusion-original-mix/7602702]

Would you expect someone renowned for their delicious blend of Techno & Progressive to blend those signature sound with early Millenial Anthem Trance?

BRKFST - Fate [2016]
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVOz-_V5TNM]
- Found it thanks to: Rothma - Sacred Ruins


I don't always call a brand new track by an artist on par with an absolute gem from 9 years prior but when I do, it's legit (imo).

Tioan - My Prayer (Original Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/my-prayer-original-mix/7894971]
- Found it thanks to: Rothma - Sacred Ruins

TECH F*CKING TRANCE LIVES.

Sander van Doorn - Cuba Libre ("Extended" Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/cuba-libre-extended-mix/7589717]

For the third year running Sander releases at least one "Bigroom Tech" bomba that thunders like his old masterpieces did for me back in the day. And I will say that between this one, Oh Amazing Bass and Get Enough, Cuba Libre takes the cake. It might be the shortest of the three, and probably the shortest ever tune to make it into any of my Top 30s (I should inspect that first though hehe), but as far as this year goes, it's the rawest, hardest and most adrenaline-rush-causing dancefloor destroyer of everything I've heard in '16. It's stabbing Tech chords strike with a vengeance I have not heard since... Vengeance Vengeance by Leon Bolier. This track has only one weakness. It. Is. Way. Too. Flippin. Short! How can you call this an "extended mix"?? It's basically a luxury radio edit length-wise, but extended my ass! I just wish it was longer so I could enjoy those stabbing Tech synths some more. Sadly the new Sander doesn't bother with tracks beyond 6 minutes anymore. Still, one of my earliest favorites this year and the fact it hasn't lost one bit of its impact goes to show that when Sander wants to, he can be as good as he used to be. Muchas gracias, hombre!

M.I.K.E. Push - Circa (Original Mix) [Razormane Tune Of The Year 2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/release/circa/1749354]

This tune...

Pure NRG - Pump Up The NRG (Original Mix) [2015]
[https://www.beatport.com/release/pump-up-the-nrg/1499082]

To be reviewed.

The Digital Blonde - Argo (Original Mix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/argo-original-mix/7728992]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl - Visions Of Sound

He just had to do it again, did he?

Michael L. & Alyona B - I Will Never Burn Again (Stoneface & Terminal Remix) [2016]
[https://www.beatport.com/track/i-will-never-burn-again-stoneface-and-terminal-remix/8073197]
- Found it thanks to: Rothma - Sacred Ruins

Can you spell "Trance Anthem"?

Shameless Self-mention: Razormane - Mane Festival Theme V [Dedicated To E9] (Original Mix) [2016]
[https://soundcloud.com/razormane/mane-festival-theme-v]

Much like last year, I will dedicate the final review of this Top 30 (should be 31, lol) to my own track. Not because I am looking to start a tradition here but because much like IV last year, MFT V has been one of the tracks best defining my 2016 as a whole. Add how it coincided with one of the best things I witnessed this year (Portugual winning Euro 2016) and it ended up being a track I simply could not leave out. Dedicating it to Eder was the right thing to do and gave it an extra dimension, especially seeing how his personal life struggles relate to someone close to me. Artwork wise this is the best MFT cover yet (though let's face it, it doesn't really have that much competition since I-III used the same picture, only different parts of it). I have to admit that on the technical side I am not as satisified with this one as I was with IV. With IV I got much closer to getting my best out of the track than I did with V in the end. There were certain things I couldn't execute as well as I wanted to but ignoring the technical deficincies, this track as a whole has so many things I love about (Tech) Trance and the most important thing is that its mood is just spot-on 2016 for me. I've seen many people on Twitter complain that 2016 sucked, mostly because of its rather sizeable "celebrity massacre" but I haven't had a year this good since 2013 so I couldn't care any less. That might be selfish AF perhaps but so be it. MFT V has ended up being another worthy addition to the MFT series and I am looking very forward to creating the next installment which will mark the series' five-year anniversary. I'd like to thank everyone that has given me feedback on the track, thanks to you I've got some useful things to pay attention to when I commence work on MFT VI. :)


To Conclude...
A very Happy New Year to all of you and may 2017 be as good to you as 2016 was to me! Ciao,

- Papa Razor