dinsdag 31 december 2013

Year Review: Razor Top 30 2013

Top 30 | November 18th - December 31st |

The year 2013 has come to an end, and like last year, I will treat you on the musical highlights I’ve experienced in the past 12 moon cycles. All in all, 2013 turned out the way I hoped for the most part: a worthy continuation of the great year that was 2012 and perhaps even better in a few departments! Now I will first present you with the few tracks didn’t make it to the final Top 30. After that, I will give said 30 tracks the attention they deserve.

This year’s Honorable Mentions go to:
- Martin Virgin & South eXpress - Happy Days (Roberto Rodriguez Remix)
- Joris Voorn - Ringo
- Eelke Kleijn - Ein Tag Am Strand (Instrumental)
- Eelke Kleijn - Eenvoud
- Sebastian - Bondi (Eelke Kleijn Remix)
- Till Krüger - 0001A (Vince Watson Remix)
- Danilo Ercole - Another Morning (Original Mix)
- Sector 7 - DNA (Original Mix)
- M.I.K.E. & Matteo Murphy - Melodrama (Album Mix)
- M.I.K.E. - Natural Source
- Shawn Mitiska feat. Hannah Ray - Salt (Mike Danis Remix)
- Aerofoil - Wow!
- Rank 1 - Floorlifter (Original Mix)
- Conjure One feat. Leigh Nash - Under The Gun (Rank 1 Remix)
- Max Graham - The Evil ID
- Eco - The Calm (Original Mix)
- Eco - A Cry To The Moon (Original Mix)
- Airwave - Game Of Life (Original Mix)
- The Digital Blonde & John 00 Flemming - Marjarka
- Simon Patterson - Brush Strokes (Original Mix)
- John 00 Flemming - WKO (Original Mix)
- Vernon - Wonderer
- Earth Nation - Red Engine (Previously Unreleased)

And a special sub-category, the last minute Top 30 Drop-outs:
- Armin van Buuren - Last Stop Before Heaven
- Rodg & Ruben de Ronde - Remain Different
- Aiden Arie - L’Espoir (Morvan Remix)
- Lowland - Cheap Shrink (Original Mix)



Razormane Top 30 2013 [Order by how I’d mix them if I were a DJ]

01. Pete Oak - An Ode To My Love (Original Mix) [2013 -Razormane Tune Of The Year]
[https://soundcloud.com/pete-oak/pete-oak-an-ode-to-my-love]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: got2be, Soundcloud / see earlier review in the second url

Usually I know my Tune Of The Year once I hear it in full, unmixed or otherwise. Though AOTML seized my Soul in one instant, it wasn’t until I went through the painstaking process of deciding on my final 30 that I could clearly point it out as the one true track of 2013 for myself. Over the course of October / November it was still a tie between this one and Direction (Matias Chilano Remix). But when you are skimming through your final selection over and over, eventually you should be able to tell which one has a slight preference. Whereas Direction is a fantastic goosebumping ride of a Progressive beauty, AOTML activates something deep down in my heart which I can't really put in words. The very first few second ALREADY have me in an amazing euphoric feel-good mood, where other tracks take a minute or two to reach the same effect. Though this year's Razor TOTY might seem like a stark contrast with last year's 7 Instead Of 8 by Rank 1, it's actually a very worthy follow-up to my 2011 TOTY (Kraak & Smaak's Built For Love). A BIG up to my good House-minded buddy got2be, if it wasn't for you recommending this track to me, I might just have overlooked one of the finest House tracks I've ever heard!

02. Sid Le Rock - Foreign Love [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/foreign-love-original-mix/4192242]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff, February 2013 Intensified / see earlier review in the second url

The phenomenal opener, the very first, the magnificent gatekeeper to the blissful February 2013 Intensified… Such a laidback groove that sneaks into your bones and makes you tap your foot, bop your head and hum the constantly swelling main lead. The throaty male vox add a cool, mature touch to the whole. This again serves as an example why House music vocals ROCK. Or at least… When Jody picks them for his Intensifieds that is. Once I bought the bought the full version, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that after 4:19 a third verse follows alongside an extra synthline. It’s the sort of unexpected surprise that makes you love a track even more! Without doubt one of the most defining tracks of my 2013 music-wise!

03. Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness (Asadinho Dub Mix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/summertime-sadness-asadinho-dub/4216624]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff, February 2013 Intensified / see earlier review in the second url

Made a tiny mistake back when I reviewed this in April: it was the Asadinho Dub that enchanted me, not the Asadinho Main Vocal Mix. Yes, there is a difference kids! Balanced vocals can put a Mane at ease, overdominant vocals piss it off, so yeah... What remains to be said about the second insta-killah of February 2013 Intensified? Deep. Funkin'. SEXY. All you need now is a Beach, Sunshine, Clear Sky, a Beach Chair, a cocktail, shades and a sweet lady to share the summery delight with!

04. Persian feat. Nicole Duncun - We Should Shout (A1) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/we-should-shout-a2/4032755]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
 - Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff, February 2013 Intensified / see earlier review in the second url

This track appeals to me so strongly because of its lyrical content: a radio transmission narrating a scenario of social unrest following the failure of the economic system caused by the greed of banks. I am known for my often cynical/skeptical/pessimistic view on things so let me contribute to my own image by saying this “staged transmission” might very well be reality in the near future. Regardless, this track massively appealed to me because of its societal critique, emphasized by a pretty emo chorus (though for many nations its content is a daily reality). Techno and House music have often been utilized to dish out some critique about things wrong in everyday life and they seem perfectly suited to do so. It’s a shame Trance lyrics, especially nowadays, can only be about stupid love relationships, or heaven or other unicorn-laced topics and whatnot… Anyway. Political/societal critique wrapped in a funky House track = win. Just another reason why February 2013 Intensified stood out so much!

05. Fairmont - Last Dance (Ewan Pearson Remix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/last-dance-ewan-pearson-remix/4160151]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff, February 2013 Intensified / see earlier review in the second url

You know? A good track is a good track. A brilliant track is a brilliant track. When a DJ picks a brilliant track for a mix, sure, they deserve some credit for their keen ear or effort in finding it. But when you hear the full version of said brilliant track and figure there are all sorts of things in it or absent from it as opposed to when it was being mixed, you REALLY learn to appreciate a DJ’s skills. My respect for Wisternoff was already massive due to his fantastic monthly Intensified podcasts but every time I buy some favorite tracks from a new installment I am always shocked to learn how much he manipulated them in the mix, how far he cut them back or how he seamlessly looped them into the next track. I once bought an Intensified track which didn’t have a beat of itself at all! Jody is truly a mastermind and when he edited this track in the podcast I had no idea it lasted a lot longer. Buying and listening to the full version was a real treat and once and for all confirmed the greatness of this track. 7:12, when the high tone lead temporarily swells out of control and you get treated on that relentless feel-good rhythm once more… Delicious!

06. Nico Schwind & Dunwich feat. Serge Erege - Higher Love (Original Version) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/higher-love-original-mix/4106089]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff, February 2013 Intensified / see earlier review in the second url

Such a carefree, happy, bouncy, infectious tune that keeps on going and going! If you can manage to sit still during this track... You cannot be human, I suspect! The track doesn't have many exciting twists or turns though it does get an extra melody layer by 5:07. The track in itself is not a mindblower but it's so damn catchy and it took Intensified only higher (no pun intended) for me. I luv it :)

07. Zaki - All I Have Is Love (Steve Mill & Elias Tzikas Remix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/all-i-have-is-love-steve-mill-and-elias-tzikas-remix/4251011]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff, February 2013 Intensified / see earlier review in the second url

Of all the tracks that composed those flawless 45 first minutes of Jody’s Legendary February 2013 Intensified, this one blew me away the most and was close to claiming an early Tune Of The Year announcement. Considering my fetish for oldskool Techno / House sounding records and my appeal for classy male vocals in House music, this track combines several winning formula’s into one, leading to one of the greatest House based tracks of the year. I’m no dancer, I can’t dance at all, but of all the tracks listed here, there is not one that makes me want to jump into a dancefloor and lose myself to its rhythm and groove more than this Maestropiece Supreme. This is in a League of its own! Mindblowers like these are what made me a big fan of Jody’s podcast back in 2010. Ever since then, each year I’ve come to adore the many forms of House music more and more after my brother initial taught me to love its genres back in summer 2008… Though I started my venture into EDM as a Trance fan originally, I can only say this to all of you dismissing House as “Trance’s garbage bin”: you are complete and utter idiotic morons that should have your ears removed for your sins against one of the Music Gods’ most Divine Genres ever.

There. That’s my last "elitist" comment for this year... Perhaps.

08. Lone - Airglow Fires [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/airglow-fires-original-mix/4422587]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff, June 2013 Intensified

The fact that this track opens with that oldskool-sounding choir ala U.P.I. - That String Track should already tell you what time it is… Mindblown-Papa-Razor time bitzes!! Seriously though, this track manages to combine the oldskool Detroit Techno / House sounds with a fresh modern edge to it. What more can you ask for?! The moment this tune kicked in during June Intensified 2013 I was instantly hooked. It’s one of those tracks that makes me jump out of me seat, nearly screaming “WHAT IS THIS?!” in utter disbelief of its sheer brilliance. True, it might take my strange fetish for melody/synth combinations to be so blown away by what others might consider a fairly basic track. For me, this is pure brilliance though. An instant favorite and another defining shining moment for 2013 music wise. PS. Just got love that part at 05:24 in which it sounds like a new record has been squeezed in! Reminds me of last year’s Simian Mobile Disco - Your Love Ain’t Fair with its own alternative ending. What a track!

09. Paul Martinez & Fiddler - Direction (Matias Chilano Remix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/direction-matias-chilano-remix/4083479]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: Greek Triplenine, Youtube / see earlier review in the second url

As the end of the year drew closer I had to decide on my Tune Of The Year. It turned out to be a battle between Pete Oak’s gem and this one. Ultimately I settled for the former but the fact that this one lost out by hair is a testimony to its sheer quality. If you want my opinion on how real Progressive should sound, I will mention this one. The padwork, the sheer melancholic, nostalgic sadness… It doesn’t get much better than this! A big up to my buddy Greek Triplenine, I really owe you a beer for recommending this one!

10. The Japanese Popstars - Vision (Original Mix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/vision-original-mix/4537780]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl, Trancified #016

This track, I swear… Had the pleasure of encountering this one at my good friend Rok Hecl’s mindblowing #Trancified 016 podcast []. It was the second track and it completely took me by surprise. One synth line throughout the whole track that swells stronger and weaker as the track progresses backed by some heavy-duty Techno-sounding percussion. As the kick fades, the melody line grows clearer / fiercer and the background white noise “swoosh” reaches its climax, before-mentioned heavy-duty beat returns in full effect: pure ecstasy. “I can see the light”. I do too and my God, what a Revelation it is! This is just one of many ways to achieve a climax within a track. And guess what? Vision offers this injection of pure sinister delight TWICE. In its second climax there is a more clearly defined pitching sound effect that just bolts down at the last second before that GODLY beat returns… I can only imagine what kind of madness a track like this would unleash on the dance-floor… I have no clue who these Japanese Popstars are or where they come from (NO -don’t you dare give me the smart-ass “from Japan, DUH” answer!) but I grateful bow my head to them and take my hat off. And that applies to Rok too. This man has track selections you’d expect from a well-established name, not a bedroom DJ. He puts a lot of his (in)famous counterparts to shame though, Trancified #016 has to be the best one hour Trance set I’ve heard all year, hands down. *deep satisfactory sigh* How can one NOT be an addict of the gorgeous genres that together form the whole of Electronic Music when there are gems like these to be found among them? ;)

11. John 00 Fleming - 5000 Light Years From Earth (Original Mix) [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/5000-light-years-from-earth-original-mix/4139928]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl, Trancified #013

One of those melodies that just sticks in your head and which you just want to repeat over and over when the track comes by… Luckily, with 9:43 minutes of length and a pad-backed trippy intro, the melody sticks around long and often enough. I must say J00F really hit it out of the park with this one and eh, my bro Rok sure was on fire with his 13th Trancified episode! After the atmospheric intro has teased you with its epic Larger-Than-Life melody, the beat kicks in. Atmospheric effects fade in and out as this powerful beat pounds towards the breakdown. That epic melody returns in full strength only to head into a climax that fools you! At first you might feel slightly disappointed that the melody didn’t carry on long enough but after the 5-minute mark it returns in full glory to honor its title: a magnificent journey through Space…

12. Manu Riga - The Darkness Within (Airwave Remix) [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/the-darkness-within-airwave-remix/4183900]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl, Trancified #013

Another Trancified #013 highlight. The Astrophysical Nebula Part 2 anyone? ;) Though less sad and more hopeful mood-wise, this remix by Laurent clearly betrays his involvement in J00F’s great track from last year. Laurent goes all out with the sweet Eastern vocal chants. The redline in this mix is a bending acid line that does not follow the eventual main melody but does back it excellently later on. The breakdown is rich with melodic textures, bringing emotion in class and style, as you’d expect from Laurent. Those strings swell up at the right time. You just yearn for that moment when the breakbeat returns! When the main melody dies down it’s the acid lead that takes you through the track’s final moments. Beautiful…

13. Soul & Senses - Natural Symbiosis (Original Mix) [2012]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/natural-symbiosis-original-mix/3346779]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: Sunspot Sessions, Mixcloud / see earlier review in the second url

I never thought I’d like a track from friggin Future Sound Of Degga- eh Egypt so much. :P Honestly! Then again, considering the proglicious build of this track followed by its extremely melodic Trancey nature, you can’t blame me for not considering this a FSOE release. Pure melodic brilliance from the breakdown onward with a nice long and minimal deep build. Track already reigned supreme in the beginning of this year and kept doing so throughout 2013. Gem!

14. Airscape - Endless Forever (Three Drives Remix) [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/endless-forever-three-drives-remix/4054313]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: ASOT Forum members / see earlier review in the second url

Yet another track that was already featured in my in my First Third Of 2013 overview and managed to retain its freshness throughout the year. There is little I can say that I haven’t already said about this track. THIS is how I like my Trance!

15. Arpiction - Don’t Walk Away (Matthew Dekay Remix) [2006 -Classic #2 of 2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/dont-walk-away-matthew-dekay-mix/511618]

A rather late addition to the list but one I cannot get around ever since I discovered it. It goes against my policies to put such a late discovery on my Top 30 stage but this exception will be worth it. Don’t Walk Away dates back from an era that easily gets me nostalgic, any place, any time. The other day I was taking a walk through an area I used to talk a walk through frequently back in my high school days. Strongly tied to my first and biggest crush ever, whenever I walk through that part of Amsterdam, I easily get swept up in memories. This track from that time might have reached my ears only a month ago or so but it caused vivid flashbacks. Now for the production itself: it’s 2006 Progressive at its finest with a low tuned down pumping Techy synth that keeps rolling. It reminded me of Rapture (John Creamer & Stephane K Remix) which is another nostalgic masterpiece in its own right. A sweet, gorgeous vocal starts singing and once the chorus hits, the production is laced with beautiful strings. Goosebumps all over as she sings “Don’t Walk Away” with an almost desperate tone to it. Deep down I felt a sort of equal desperation in regards to the passing time and noticing time fly by so fast. It was as if listening to this track during that nostalgic walk made me aware of how fast life flows and changes. It also reconfirmed that my youth will be distancing itself from me at only greater speeds with each passing day. It was a strange, sad realization which at the same time was… Soothing. Perhaps because regardless how old I would get, through the music I would always have access to these memories and still be able to return to those walks, to those turbulent yet semi-carefree times of my high school days… Music, humanity’s one and only Time Machine ;)

16. DJ Tarkan - Sad Story (Original Mix) [2012]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/sad-story-original-mix/3963001]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: DJ Axt, Rank 1’s Radio Rush #035 / see earlier review in the second url

When a track manages to gooseHUMP you all year long, you know it’s one that claimed its rightful spot in your music-loving heart. In that zone where Progressive meets Techy influences, Razormanes flourish. This track is a sad story perhaps, but a gorgeous sad story at least. Sublime…

17. FACEPALM - Brainwash (Arcalis Remix) [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/brainwash-arcalis-remix/4125896]
- Found it thanks to: Markus Schulz, GDJB

Though the artist name is LOL-worthy, the track itself is nothing short of brilliant. Enter the 2nd minute mark when the beat fades and the base tones of the main melody are revealed. We move into a very atmospheric breakdown that gets the endorphin running. In the 3rd minute mark the Trancey goodness is delivered through this high tone pluck melody: at this point all elements together remind me of the Progressive Trance sound of 2006. The melody is gorgeous, dreamy and lasts long enough. You’d expect a Proggy track like this to be longer but with 7:11 it tells the story it has to tell. Bliss :)

18. Avicii - Heart Upon My Sleeve (Original Mix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/heart-upon-my-sleeve-original-mix/4725751]
- Found it thanks to: Markus Schulz, GDJB

Ssssssssssssssst, calm down! I haven’t lost my mind. …Yet. And no, Avicii being mentioned here is not a typo. There is actually an Avicii track in my Top 30. Yes it’s true. Breath in and out and relax. I can’t help it. Markus decided to open one of his GDJBs with it about two months back or so. As I tuned in to Di.fm, I was greeted with this stabbing violin-string hook which instantly reminded me of Brainbug - Nightmare (Sinister Strings Mix). Steady beat, clean and ultra-clear percussion and... Was that an MJ Billie Jean whisper mouth-effect?! Before I had a chance to fully grasp the simple yet epic vibe, the track headed into a sad-guitar backed breakdown with a touch of Latin summer over it before the stabbing strings returned backed by a pulsing sound effect to give it even more edge. As my Twitter timeline mentioned “1 new tweet” I was shocked to read that this was by Avicii. Where I had come to associate Tim Berg with the cheesiest, noisiest, uninspiring Trouse garbage over the past few years (though I admit Bromance HAD its charm when it first got supported), that same Tim Berg now blew my mind. Now you can say a lot about me, that I am a hothead, an elitist, a douchebag purist, a sour uplifting/vocal hater (and therefor a marauding Bigroom elephant) or maybe just a guy that doesn’t get to the damn point. But hey. I at least try to be a man that gives credit when people deserve it. I am not an Avicii fan and what his sound over the years has represented is something I loathe from the bottom of my heart. But as far as Heart Upon My Sleeve goes: it blew me away and it will forever be remembered in the Razor Books as one of 2013’s finest moments. Period.

19. M.I.K.E. - Under The Bridge (Album Mix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/under-the-bridge-album-mix/4163713]

Sometimes a track doesn’t blow you away instantly or doesn’t blow you away at all but still manages to bring a big smile to your face everytime it comes by. Under The Bridge is one such track. Even though I think Natural Source for instance is a stronger production, or at least leaves a stronger first impression, ultimately UTB managed to have the perfect timing, usually coming by during sunny days on my way to or from work. I actually think this track has a bit of an old Ferry Corsten euphoria to it in its Trancey parts, the harder parts are unmistakably M.I.K.E. though. This might not be a Canvas or EON, but as far as feel-good tracks go, this was one of my faves of this year and not including it among these other 29 gems would be a crime! Well done Mike!

20. Rank 1 - 13.11.11 (Original Mix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/13-11-11-original-mix/4830139]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/11/single-review-rank-1-131111-november.html]
- See full single review in the second url

This tune here pretty much defined this year’s Autumn. Though it was a rather late addition to the final 30, much like with L.E.D. There Be Light in 2008 and 7 Instead Of 8 last year, I feel this track won’t lose its shine so fast, deserving this spot here. I do need to keep in my mind that the replay button would like to have a day off every now and then. ;)

21. Orkidea & JS16 - Hale Bopp (Orkidea Remix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/hale-bopp-orkidea-remix/3921634]

Shuffle seems to have favorites of its own sometimes! No matter how large the playlist with Hale Bopp in it, it would always come by within 30 minutes or an hour after activating my mp3 player. Though I liked the original rework on Tapio’s 20 album, this remix entertained me throughout the year through its slightly beefed up energy. I really wonder what the secret is to Tapio’s Trance sound: it’s so clean, melodic, infectious, feel-good yet modern… I really consider him our best argument against the age-old mantra “Trance Is Dead”.

22. Orkidea - Lifetime Warranty [2011]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/lifetime-warranty-original-mix/4837281]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl, Trancified #016

I know what you are about to say. I know! I’ve committed the same sin I did back with Tapio’s unreal remix for Touchstone last year. Back when I bought his album 20, I kept postponing to use the download code on his site to acquire the full unmixed versions AND the extra freebie goodies he had stored there for us*. Thank God for mr. Hecl who blew my mind to pieces that summernight after a horrid work day. I was broken, physically exhausted and mentally on the edge of blowing up in a stressful period. Enter Trancified #016. And more specifically, enter Lifetime Warranty: as the simple dual-chorded based hook kept swelling louder out of the previous track, all my senses were fully alert all of a sudden. A tender and gentle synthline melody variation kicks in and before I know it I’m completely entranced. Damn it. What is it with my favorite producers having been born in March under the sign of Pisces?? An apt title for a track guaranteed to enchant me for a lifetime. Thank you Tapio, a well-deserved double-strike in my Top 30 :)

*TAKE NOTES ARMADA. THIS is how you treat loyal buyers of your product. 20 was a mixed album which contained a download code to get the unmixed full versions FOR FREE with some extras even! Please stop this nonsense of offering people shitty album edits of 5 minutes, followed by an extended versions album (in which the extended mixes are just 30 seconds longer, doh) followed by the (same old same names for the) remix album. It’s ridiculous. No amount of “openmindedness” can justify this record label nonsense.

23. Signum - Second Wave (Mike Foyle’s Dark Wave Remix) [2012]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/second-wave-mike-foyles-dark-wave-remix/3983271]
- Found it thanks to: Greek Triplenine(?)

Another rather late addition to my Top 30, I just couldn’t get around the breakdown in this beauty. That breakdown is laced with melancholic sadness, that tuned down Electro-guitar just thugs the heart strings for nostalgia-whores like yours truly. What pure delight there is in sadness! Have to add I like the build a lot too since it gives nothing away of what is to follow and it, in fact, harbors a bit of Tech Trance based edge! You could have mistaken this for a 2007/2008 track… All the more reason to love this :) Foyle makes a welcome return to my Top 30s. Well done my friend, what a stunner of a production!

24. Jadin Recks - Iroha [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/iroha-original-mix/4690333]
- Found it thanks to: Rank 1, Rank 1’s Radio Rush #041

Though it was his track “Planet Fall” that tickled my curiosity back in Radio Rush #035, it wasn’t until Radio Rush #041 that Recks truly caught my attention. This has to stand as one of the most “different” tracks I’ve heard all year in a style that is 100% Razor-approved. This track has a captivating energy and while it keeps going and going you’d wish it would never stop layering and indeed, never stop at all. There is no real breakdown or real climax moment: this is one of those tracks that keeps propelling itself by an absorbing drive. The defining element is the piano line on top of the rawer techy elements which sound polished. This track is not beautiful in the sense of “ZOMG EMOSHUNAL PJANOO TREEEEEEEEENZ 138 YADAYADAYADA” but its uniqueness does have a sense of beauty to it. 05:07 is where it’s at for me though: what a twist and unexpected part! A track like Iroha is a memorable one in the Razor Books. Way to go Jadin, I have my eyes –uh, ears!- on your music now. Looking forward to what this guy will bring us in 2014!

25. Fast Distance - Quantique (Original Mix) [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/quantique-original-mix/4109534]
- Found it thanks to: Rank 1, Rank 1’s Radio Rush #035

How I will summon the rage of former-Fast Distance fans for this one! Granted, this track might seem like an odd-ball among some of these House or Progressive (Trance) based tunes. It’s got a typical modern day ‘noisy’ Bigroom lead to define itself and it has somewhat of a “Rotunda” sound to it. Still, Radio Rush #035 was on repeat throughout this year. And this track was one of the tracks that just caught me: replace that main lead with a violin or soothing piano. And suddenly it will become evident to even those with the most painful ears that this track has a deeply rooted melancholic core. And I am a sucker for melancholy. As I got deeper into the One Piece manga earlier this year, each time this track would come by during whatever segment of the story, I would have goosebumps all over the place... So yeah this was an undeniable essential tune of 2013 for me. And with, Fast Distance makes a welcome return to my Top 30s after being absent since 2009.

26. VLA-D - Beyond Borders (B-Vibes Remix) [2012]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/beyond-borders-bvibes-remix/3545554]
- Found it thanks to: Rank 1, Rank 1’s Radio Rush #027

This track should have been in a previous Top 30 of mine, but in my final rounding up and cutting back faves to merely 30 last year, it missed out because I hadn’t bought it or ripped it from the Radio Rush episode I heard it in and ending up… *hangs head in shame* …forgetting it. However, a sudden reminder earlier this year re-acquainted me with this beast. And what can I say?! This track no doubt stands as my favorite Tech Trancer post-2010, when the Trouse hype dumbed the genre down almost completely. What this track does is give an overall loaded, dark, aggressive and powerful 8 minute trip with sounds that remind me of 2007/2008-ish, when Tech Trance peaked imo. It’s like the old D-Factor vs. Richard Durand vs. Mark Sherry vs. Marcel Woods meet up in this track, only different. The breakdown has powerful typical Trance synths and the main lead has a bit of an Anthem-ish Rank 1 vibe to it (Yo B-Vibes, change your name to R-Vibes, hahaha)! Finally bought it this year and eh… I can’t conclude otherwise than that this track STILL rocks, hence it deserves to be here. Better late than never huh?

27. Rank 1 vs. M.I.K.E. - Elements Of Nature (Original Mix) [2013]

[http://www.beatport.com/track/elements-of-nature-original-mix/4069794]

[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/01/single-review-rank-1-vs-mike-elements.html]
- See full single review in the second url

The massive collaboration that kicked off 2013 in style still stands proud and strong as one of this year’s finest moments… Or so the Razor Books would have you believe! It survived my abuse of the replay button to claim it’s well deserved spot amongst my 30 favorite journeys this year. With the addition of EON to this list, both Rank 1 and M.I.K.E. complete their deadly dual strikes. Well done gentlemen, this was no doubt YOUR year! A big up for your great performances at Back In The House in May this year. And Benno? It was an honor to finally meet you in person!

28. M.I.K.E. - Canvas (Club Mix) [2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/canvas-club-mix/4284227]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- See earlier review in the second url

M.I.K.E. completes his Top 30 hat-trick with this stellar rework of one of his best album tracks. Canvas is like a sibling to EON, but perhaps a wee bit more epic due to its harder nature and extra synth layers. I really love both of them and I’m glad that both managed to retain their power throughout the year… Trust me! I’ve listened to both A LOT. For me, this is how Pure/Real Trance should sound. Keep your generic 138 unicorn uplifting, THIS is epic Trance.

29. The Digital Blonde - Six Strings Singing (Original Mix) [2012]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/six-strings-singing-original-mix/3649296]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl, Youtube / see earlier review in the second url

In April it was already a Top Tier record for me but 8 months later it hasn’t lost a single bit of its epic touch. The long build has grown on me tremendously over the course of the year. If anything, it’s the perfect deep, trippy appetizer for that magnificent String-backed breakdown. One of my favorite melodies of the year, this is truly a GOLDEN record…

30. Odyssee Of Noises - Firedance (The Sunrise) [1994 -Classic #1 of 2013]
[http://www.beatport.com/track/firedance-the-sunrise-mix/284334]
[http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/04/in-retrospect-2013s-first-third.html]
- See earlier review in the second url

Last but definitely not least, the track to close off my Top 30 of 2013 is none other than this Legendary  Classic from 1994! Like I wrote in April, it would most likely turn into my Classic discovery of the year and I was right. There is no other Classic I heard this year that had such a profound impact and captivating nature as this one. Forever will it be ingrained in my mind as the background track to the epic Marineford HQ arc in the One Piece manga… Had it on repeat especially back then and it made the reading experience all the better. If only Odyssee Of Noises was still here… Imagine high BPM tracks with layering and melody alteration like this one with TODAY’s capabilities…


Yes, I'm Almost Done Yappin'! To conclude: 2013 has been yet another phenomenal year for me music-wise and it was the best possible sequel to the mighty chapter of 2012 I could have hoped for. It’s hard to imagine how depressed I felt about music back in 2011 when the Trouse hype rose to prominence. 2012 and 2013 have restored my faith completely even though I maintain my dislike for everything in this industry that puts money and numbers ahead of quality and memorable experiences. Hehe I’ll ALWAYS hate on “The System” and “The Man”, it’s who I am after all. ;) 

My Own Music
Of course, 2013 wasn’t just amazing because of what my musical heroes were putting out: 2013 was amazing for me as an amateur producer as well since my tracks improved yet again and my dream of becoming a professional producer one day is closer in my grasp (though still miles away). Ironically, this year’s saddest personal moment (losing my grandmother) did result in what I consider my best track yet [http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2013/09/in-memory-of.html]. It was the first time I was able to translate heavy emotion into a piece that reflected EXACTLY how I felt and which led to me feeling somewhat relieved when I finished it. Music has always been my number #1 therapy, but never before did I provide my very own medicine so to speak. An even greater layer of irony to this personal low vs. musical high contrast was the fact that this tribute to grandmother was supposed to have been a different track but I just couldn’t seem to get it right. When she passed away and I took the elements of that unfinished track I was able to come up with this tribute which made complete sense. It’s almost as if I had the right ingredients for this piece but not the right mood. :/ There are things in this life no amount of human knowledge will ever be able to explain or understand, no matter what some people claim. For me, I wish to believe she is in a greater place now, next to the God she believed in. And I hope she enjoyed this piece. Leaving behind sadder matters, I am very pumped for 2014 as I’ve got loads of projects to finish! I will be leaving my comfort zone as well, plunging down to the 110-116 BPM range so look forward to some different-sounding tracks from my side. And of course, the one thing I look forward to the MOST is to start working on a worthy follow-up to this one [http://soundcloud.com/razormane/mane-festival-theme-ii]. ;) Let me take the opportunity to thank all of you that added my tracks to their mixes this year: I am VERY flattered you guys deemed them worthy enough, hopefully I will be able to deliver more tracks for you in the future! :) 

And From Tomorrow Onward...
In regards to the future, allow me to cherish the memory of a decade in Electronic music… Ten years ago, on that hot summer night in 2003, The Anthem 2003 sucked me into this maelstrom called Trance. Through the likes of my brother, Armin’s ASOT and eventually Jody Wisternoff I came to embrace even more styles and subgenres with the final result leading me to become an EDM Addict. I believe this Top 30 is evident of that, it’s rich with different genres, moods, styles, journeys… Some might enjoy it, others will consider it a schizophrenic list with no connection at all. I don’t care, I LOVE these tracks and genres! Now if this music has been able to captivate me for ten long years, I can only hope that there’s another decade of timeless gems waiting for me. I truly hope so as this has been the music of my youth. As each day shapes me more and more as a definite complete person, this music is there to give life just that extra bit of polish it needs. I should just open a bottle of champagne right now and raise a glass: let’s honor the past ten years and hope for the next ten to be amazing as well. And allow me to dedicate this blog’s closing 2013 words to wishing all of you out there a Phenomenal 2014. Let’s all work hard to make it a worthy follow-up to this fantastic year. Thank you to all that contributed in making it this memorable, you know who you are! Cheers people and be safe!

- Papa Razor

dinsdag 26 november 2013

Razormane - Mane Festival Theme II

Promotion Feature | November 18th - November 26th 2013 |

Razormane Recordings | Cat# RZMREC002
Released: Tuesday November 26th 2013 / Tuesday January 7th 2014 (Edits)
Listen here: https://hearthis.at/razormane/mane-festival-theme-ii/
Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/razormane/mane-festival-theme-ii

Listen here: https://mixcloud.com/Razormane/mane-festival-theme-ii/
01. | 134 BPM | 10:00 | Extended Mix
02. | 134 BPM | 04:54 | Edit
03. | 136 BPM | 03:38 | Mane Festival Theme I (Radio Mix)

Additional info:
Written, composed, produced and arranged by C. I. do Rosario.
(p) 2013 Razormane Recordings
(c) 2013 Razormane Recordings
All rights reserved.
Started MFT II Extended Mix on: February 5th 2013
Finished it on: November 26th 2013
Started MFT II Edit on: November 26th 2013
Finished it on: January 7th 2014
Started MFT I Radio Mix on: September 21st 2012
Finished it on: January 7th 2014
Cover designed & created by C. I. do Rosario.
Background-image taken from:
http://www.hdpaperwall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/1317162-1024x640.jpg



















----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I would love to receive your feedback! Leave me a message here:

https://twitter.com/Razormane
https://hearthis.at/razormane
https://soundcloud.com/razormane

https://mixcloud.com/Razormane/
https://www.pure-and-passion.com/index.php?page=User&userID=8
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Support Record

2014-11-26 | Blachshma - Electronic Haven #027 Mega Mix | Track --
https://mixcloud.com/blachshma/electronic-haven-megamix/

2014-01-05 | Enlusion - The Late Night Highway vol. 02 | Track 01
https://i.mixcloud.com/CFeReR

2013-12-15 | Pawel Komarnicki's - ASOT Only PL Forum November Top 10 Warm-up | Track 08
https://hearthis.at/pawel.komarnicki1/asot-onlypl-top-10-of-november-warm-up-mixed-by-pawel-komarnicki/

2013-12-03 | Blachshma - Electronic Haven #019 | Track 07
https://mixcloud.com/blachshma/electronic-haven-episode-19/

maandag 11 november 2013

Single Review: Rank 1 - 13.11.11 [November 2013]


Tis A Good Day

Rank 1’s new Opus has finally been released on Beatport! Until Ferry Corsten gave an 8 and a half minute preview of the track in Corsten’s Countdown Episode #331, there was no telling what the track progressed like despite support for it on various other shows like ASOT and GDJB. But even with the longer preview on Ferry’s show there were still five unrevealed minutes of possible bliss! Hence, more than ever, I am delighted to have just bought this new Rank 1 dish! Excitement is an understatement as the last time a Rank 1 track exceeded the 10-minute mark was back in 2005: that Opus 17 ended up being one of my favorite tracks ever! As I rub my hands in utter anticipation, I will give you the option to read through a summary of my thoughts on this track or to head down this 13 minute long rabbit hole with me! If you aren’t in the mood for a long story, here are…

11 Instead Of 13 Reasons Why You Should Buy 13.11.11
01. That Outro!!! OH MY GOD!!!
02. The track is 13 minutes and 11 seconds long. In a scene infested with 5-minutes-max club tracks this a breath of fresh air (and probably one of the longest Trance tracks ever or at least in a while)!
03. Despite it having a strong “Less Is More” minimal touch to it, the track’s effect is maximal. You love that as much as I do. Don’t try to deny it. Give into your inner-Rank 1 fan.
04. The main lead has that Classical euphoric Rank 1 feel to it. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, Classiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiic…
05. At the same time, that main lead has a positive infectiousness ala L.E.D. There Be Light. L.E.D. There Be Light is Divine. And Modern (see what I did there?). And Epic. Hush.
06. The main synth reminds you of Elements Of Nature. You know just how much you love Elements Of Nature.
07. Self-explanatory titles are cool. And epic. Just listen to Opus 17 and 7 Instead Of 8.
08. The title refers to three qualities of the track (release date, duration, BPM) and all of it somehow fits together and makes perfect sense. I dare you to try the same!
09. Furthermore, you simply want this track to reach #1 on the BeatPort Trance chart. For the LOLz at the very least. I mean, imagine the hilarious notation:

1. 13.11.11   Rank 1   High Contrast Recordings   Trance   2013-11-11   €2,17 (That’s 13 1s!!)

10. This is the 3rd Rank 1 single in the past 12 months that focusses on the arrangements and hypnotic flow: they’ve stayed true to their words in that DMC Network Interview last year read it here: http://www.dmcworld.net/reviews/entry/features/rank-1.html.
11. Name any other 131,111 BPM Trancer out there that is THIS awesome. Can’t? Thought so!

Now, if you prefer the Mane Pill, here’s the actual review:

Rank 1 - 13.11.11 (Original Mix) [13:11]
http://www.beatport.com/track/13-11-11-original-mix/4830139
The track kicks off with the beat right away, no intro whatsoever (which I did expect to be honest, that will make it all the more difficult to keep things interesting for +13 minutes!). Just listen to that! There is that stuttering chopped synth effect they first used in Floorlifter, but the build-up also slightly reminds me of Jochen Miller - One Day / Back 2 Earth (Jochen Miller) due to the echoing distorted sound effects in the background… Seems Benno went all-out on this one with his magnificent sound library! As the stuttering synth keeps swelling and the build-up tension raises we are guided into a typical Rank 1 melody with a synth a la Elements Of Nature, though probably an octave lower or so. The melody reminds me of the Classic Euphoric Rank 1 sound, long before they started utilizing huge riffs... As the gentle feel-good synth gains more prominence, it is backed by an extra… I don’t what to call it exactly, Flute / Guitar-ish crossbreed sound you would sooner expect in certain types of 138 BPM uplifters. This backing effect is pretty similar to what made the breakdown in 7 Instead Of 8 so epic! The mood set by 7IO8s pluck melody in the breakdown became ever more tragic and epic due to that haunting sad synth joining in: but that’s about where the similarity with last year’s gem ends. This track is 110% euphoric Rank 1! The “EON-synths” head into their climax and this euphoric rush is unleased. These positive vibes strongly remind me of L.E.D. There Be Light’s infectiousness and overall “victory feeling”. Sweet!

The track then seems to lose some background elements as the main lead stutters about a quarter throughout itself as it did during the climax moment in the breakdown. We are taken back to the “Floorlifter” build-up synths and effects. A very minimalistic but groovy and infectuous sort of -dare I say- Funk (as far as you'd expect that in a Trancey track!) is what follows with all sorts of downpitching effects fading in and out. I can only imagine how awesome this must sound live! From 04:53 onward, a faint synth sound plays the main lead whilst a very cinematic like singular pad joins it in the background. Suddenly the Funk turns into Mystique when at 05:37 the beat suddenly fades and the pads gain more space "to shine", in a musical way...

Damn… :))

That moment right there, that moment of peace before the bassline-backing layer joins in does two things: As the shivers run down my spine I am reminded of the Symsonic album and the beautiful harmonies it harbored. I don’t know exactly how, this track doesn’t really have a retro-feel to it like EON or 7IO8 did but still… Something about the melody and that pad just oozes Symsonic-era to me…

The second thing this Moment Of Serene Bliss in 13.11.11 does is unleash a recognizable Grateful Euphoria. How many times have I gone through this exact feeling already?? I’ve lost count but its meaning has always been the same: Rank 1. Does It. YET. Again!

The main lead returns and we humbly smile at this reprise part! It is soon backed by the background pads whilst the kick temporarily leaves us to complete that euphoric mania. The track then starts losing elements gradually as you'd expect but whereas this would normally signal the end of a Rank 1 track, the Outro Part Commences. At 09:16!! I could now spend another paragraph to give an in-depth description of what happens and what it does to me but... At this point, words don't cut it anymore. I'm simply overloaded with joy at this point and grinning like an idiot. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what music should do to you.

What a Rabbithole Ride... 13 minutes and 11 seconds of pure modern Trance bliss... No Trouse clichés. No Dubstep Wobbles. No Electro piercing sounds (though Rank 1 were one of few that knew how to mix Trance with Electro properly as evidenced by their 2006-2008 discography if you ask me). No climax-hopping. None of that. A proper and deep, dreamy, Trancey Journey that epitomizes what Rank 1 has always stood for in my very-humble-though-completely-biased-opinion-as-a-Rank1-fanatic: Quality In A Different Way. And just good fun through the self-explanatory title too! Together with 7 Instead Of 8 and Elements Of Nature this track forms a Triad Of Rank 1 Epicness the same way L.E.D. There Be Light, Symfo and The Great Escape did over the course of 2009-2010. These Triads are absolute highlights in the Rank 1 discography much like the Epic Quartet of Beats At Rank-1 Dotcom, After Me, Opus 17 and Top Gear which in turn was preceded by the excellent Symsonic album and of course, their First Four Blissfull Singles. With 13.11.11 Rank 1 somehow manage to re-invent themselves YET again and I can only wonder what kind of exciting singles await us in The Near Future… Perhaps an exciting experiment with Breaks? Or perhaps a modern follow-up to Top Gear? Something cinematic even? There is no telling what to expect and for me that’s part of what makes being a Rank 1 fan so exciting! All I know is that "The Usual" is there to be challenged: The Rank 1 guys understand this and live up to it on a healthy basis.

What A Journey It Has Been!
There could have been no better track to Crown a superb 2013 for Piet & Benno I think. Three new singles, two new remixes (after 25 months or so!), a sweet mix compilation with many P&B Classics / Favourites, the release of the Massive soundpack, the extension of Radio Rush in which a bedroom DJ gets the chance to shine in the show’s second hour (just how many Trance Legends offer that huh?), an awesome live performance in Amsterdam, live gigs that included two sets in a new frontier for larger scale Trance-associated music (India > ASOT #600 and Sunburn Festival) as well as a second “Next Generation” De Goeij… But most importantly, as a Rank 1 fan this year has simply been pure delight. Where 2011 had me jumping in front of Piet’s DJ booth at (a for me record-breaking) four gigs -with the absolute highlight of that year being the moment I got to meet him in person- 2013 had me glued to my headphones with all these fresh new Rank 1 productions. The live performance at Back In The House where I got to meet Benno in real life (at long last!), was undoubtedly this year’s highlight. If they were to make a public statement next year, in which they would say they are quitting this whole Rank 1 thing, I would be sad of course but on the other hand… After these ten long AWESOME years in which they’ve ALWAYS come through as my favourite artists, I would have nothing to complain. The journey so far has been fantastic and I am realistic enough to know that nothing lasts forever. Whether This Rank 1 Journey is to last a couple of years more or whether it will come to a close in the near future, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it! It was instrumental in teaching me to appreciate different styles than what I was used to listening at first, it has been a great source of inspiration for my own amateur music and most importantly, it has always enriched the most important happenings in my life (be that positive or negative events). I've literally grown up with their music, effectively making them for me what The Beatles, Elvis or other Great Pop Acts were or are for my parents' generation: Legends. And I got to meet both of them in real life and tell them my appreciation for their achievements as an artist duo. What else is there to say? Rank = #1!

Now, head over to Beatport. Don't hesitate. Grab your copy of this gem. Nothing short of a 2013 Essential. No "but"s! I'll even make it easy for you. Here: http://www.beatport.com/track/13-11-11-original-mix/4830139

| Single Review | October 18th - November 11th |

vrijdag 18 oktober 2013

Who Is Afraid Of A D-E-Bate?!


Scene Analysis | September 9th - October 18th 2013 |

It's time for a little debate! ...Provided you're up for it of course! If memory recalls, it’s been almost a year since Armin launched his “Who Is Afraid Of 138?!” concept. For this month’s blogpost I’d like to take a look at the “implications” of this concept. Why? Because when one tries to maintain a monthly blog and one is passionate about music, one wants to discuss certain developments surrounding ideas that more or less have an impact on the scene or the potential for it… Bear in mind that what you are about to read is purely from my perspective and the actual intentions of the concept are most likely radically different, though there should be at least a little truth in what I write.


Strategies To Please All The Fans or To Shut Up The Haters?
In times of change, people will complain and lament the old days depending on the pace of how fast changes take place as well as the degree of alienation of the present situation. Back in early 2009, Armin brought back his alias Gaia with the track “Tuvan”. Back at that time, many longer time fans that were starting to feel alienated from his productions and radioshow embraced Tuvan. It followed after tracks like Going Wrong, Broken Tonight and In And Out Of Love, tracks with very strong poppy influences. Overall, his album Imagine wasn’t received that well by these people, who had come to associate the name Armin van Buuren with non-mainstream styles of Trance and Progressive. When Tuvan was unleashed, only the most sour of beforementioned alienated fans didn’t acknowledge it: all the others embraced it. If I recall, Armin responded to the overwhelming enthusiastic and positive feedback with a tweet along the lines of “It’s all about the Trance, baby!”. Tuvan coincided with the massive celebrations for A State Of Trance #400: a 72-hour long celebration that was split between radio-broadcasted guestmixes from a ton of DJs as well as three eight hour parties in three days in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. These two concepts, the massive celebration and the revival of Gaia brought back some faith and positivity among those that had felt abandoned by the man.

Personally I felt the Gaia project lost its shine after Status Excessu D, but many Armin fans love the revival and look forward to any glimpse of a new Gaia each year. There can be no doubt however, that the Gaia project became a bit of a strategic gimmick, a so-called safe haven for those that long for instrumental AVB Trancers that he once released under his own name. Tuvan was a moment of (temporarily) winning back the disillusioned as well as shutting up those that thought he would solely be about pop from here on out. For the sake of the argument, I will completely disregard the fact that Tuvan suffered quite a bit of overplaying and overhyping throughout the years (consider it’s my Tune Of The Year 2009 yet I oppose considering it the #1 Trancer of all times, as the Trance Top 1000 2013 poll decided): back when it was revealed, it wowed, it enchanted, it restored faith (for a while).

Score: Armin (fans): 1 - “Haters”: 0.

Fast-forward 2011. The Trouse style is slowly but surely finding its way into everyone’s sets, podcasts, radioshows and of course, productions. Where most of the disillusioned fans from 2008 have left completely (people that knew Armin before the ‘00s), a portion of 2005-and-later fans remains. A portion which is wondering what happened to the Progressive part in ASOT’s the “the latest in Trance and Progressive” slogan and is slowly being led down the same path of disillusion like the former generation three years earlier. Then, out of nowhere, Armin starts dropping “warm-up sets”. I’m not sure whether it followed before or after someone asked him why he stopped dropping deeper Progressive on ASOT and in his sets. I remember Armin’s response being along the lines of “I love that stuff but if I drop it live, the crowd goes flat”, a similar sentiment voiced by Markus Schulz, roughly in the same period. Now I am referring to “Progressive” as in the soundscape (think Rex Mundi - Sandstone or Envotion - Recoder), not the prefix progressive to refer to the modern variant of a genre e.g. “progressive House”, that with which most people mean “Trouse” (SHM / Avicii sound post-2009). In any case: Armin introduces the concept of the celebratory ASOT warm-up set in which the emphasis lies on the sound of Progressive, or one could say, lower BPM bliss with deep atmospheres, sophisticated gradual layering of echoing and melodic layers… Amongst the disillusioned, these warm-ups are snapped up like a “2nd Tuvan” so to speak. “He’s still got it!” is the most common response among them. Again Armin manages to (temporarily) please the widest spectrum of his fans with another clever gimmick that became more frequent when the initial try-out proved successful.

Score: Armin (fans) 2: - “Haters”: 0.

Fast-forward late 2012. Even the newest of Armin fans are now complaining about ASOT being too filled with Trousey influenced tracks. The long standing division of a slower 1st hour and faster 2nd hour is sliding in favor of the former. Then one day Armin dedicates a whole ASOT episode to 138 BPM uplifting (and probably higher, forgive me if I can’t tell the difference between 138 and 142 :P). That’s like, the ULTIMATE move to win back complaining people. By now there have been two such episodes with a third one shortly on its way: a whole stage was dedicated to this concept at A State Of Trance #600 in Den Bosch; moreover, there is now even a label called WAO138, a track called WAO138 by Armin himself on his album Intense and the Andrew Rayel teamed up with Alexandre Bergheau to create “We Are Not Afraid Of 138”. Of all the previous mentioned gimmicks, this one seems to catch on the most. Those that were once Armin fans and have come to love him again for his rekindling of uplifting in ASOT will claim that it is only logical: Armin is a huge uplifting fan himself (something that’s been noticeable on the few occasions he’s revealed his Top 10 tracks of a year). It cannot be denied, the WAO138 is a homerun out of the park: it is adored, glorified and embraced on a pretty massive scale among ASOT fans. It seems “uplifting is cool again”.

Score: Armin (fans): 3 - “Haters”: 0.


However…
This wouldn’t be the Razormane Blog if I didn’t follow a short recap of events with some side notes, would it? I would say this WAO138 concept is above all else, a very clever strategy. On the one hand you would expect it to open up a wide spectrum of musical possibilities: a lot of Trance Classics from the very late ‘90s till mid ‘00s run at 138 or higher. A lot of Techno runs at 138 or higher. A lot of Psy and Hard Trance runs at 138 or higher. And of course, nearly all euphoric uplifting (generic) Trance runs at 138 or higher as well. Technically, it’s not a bad concept. If anything, it could mean a wide arrange of things that would sit well with Trance fans of many shaped, sized and tastes.

Alas. One year since the concept began to evolve and gain prominence I can’t conclude otherwise than that it has come to embody a rather disappointing array of 138 sounds. Mostly the mass-produced generic lalala uplifting that has characterized ASOT’s 2nd hours since 2007. True, now there is also space for some +140 Bryan Kearney, Indecent Noise, Angry Man or John Askew Trance but overall it feels like little has changed the status quo regarding the past six years of Hour 2. What’s curious is that even though “Who Is Afraid Of 138?!” doesn’t mention the word “Trance” at all, it was assumed and has turned out to imply mostly generic uplifting. This omission of the word Trance is perhaps the most clever thing about this concept.

You see, it is now possible to fill the show with uplifting again but at the same time, there is no reason to cease dropping those popular mainstream noisy club tracks. You see, the reason ASOT can continue to showcase those Trousey / Dubstep / Hardstyle kick-driven tracks is EXACTLY because in its title WAO138 does not have an obligation to Trance at all. You can challenge people, asking them if “They Are Afraid Of 138?!” whilst first serving them a dose of modern hyped club music and get away with it. As always, it’s amusing to watch this from the outside: all those uplifting fanbois will praise Armin with renewed vigor, re-instating him as “THE GOD OF TRENZ” whilst those very same fanbois hate everything below 138, regardless whether it's actually melodic or even more entrancing than their stale mass-produced degga. In the meantime their “God” can fill his show with music harboring elements they so strongly deteste. I’d say, Armin is just doing his thing, or trying to please everything. But these fanbois are making themselves look stupid. Moreover, their hypocritical and narrow-minded behavior is fueled to new heights because of this concept, or its execution. What I have against the WAO138 hype? It’s not so much its actual content e.g. the stale uplifting it mass-promotes. What I don’t like about it is how it furthers… Let’s call it BPM Determinism followed by Genre Antagonism.


BPM Determinism & Genre Antagonism
Let’s say WAO138 is uplifting fans’ answer to or equivalent of Markus Schulz’ “Unicorn Slaying” gimmick or perhaps it’s their answer to “Team128”. So WAO138 manages to make uplifting (which it is assumed to represent) cool again. It needs a contrast, in this case all music below 138, to position itself as something heroic. After all, if you are afraid of 138 you are probably a Trouse coward or something similarly “uncool”. If you are not afraid, you are strong, superior, more intelligent most likely, etc. Now it's not like the "hip" 128only-DUBSTEPFTW-ZOMGPLURRAVEFUTUREISNAU kids will care or give a flying cr*p about WAO138. However, everything that falls in-between these two "extremes of modern day Trance (ahum)" are still left out on an influential platform like ASOT. Furthermore, in my eyes the idiotic Genre Antagonism that flows forth from these extremes only hurts the scene at large. Trance fanbases have increasingly become like the childish zealots known as “Beliebers”, “Directionners” and other teenage fanbases of mainstream Pop’s glorified idols. There is no more middle ground for them, you are either “138 BPM Pure Trenz ZOMG” or you are “128 Pitchbend Fart noise stabsynths FISTPUMP BRAH”. The scene is becoming more and more stupid. Here’s a quote I ran into on Youtube the other day in response to the 8455820680th video asking what Trance is:

“Thing is if you think about it, SLOW BPM = Slow brain activity, it's more likely that someone with a SWAG cap and "WHER'S MOLLY" T-shirt to listen to House than Trance, in fact if somebody ask me what music i like and i say trance they make this weird face, then i smile and think to myself, "this guy has is stupid". As you notice, i hate house and dubstep. Not only the music but the community.”

Really? Is this the level Trance fans have sunk to in the past 7 years or so? Look, I know there will always be genre elitists and as far as Trance is concerned, these have existed since the ‘90s. I also know that Youtube lures society’s biggest fools to share their unrivalled opinions (anonymity is a b*tch eh?). But honestly, this comment just reeks of a narrow-minded oblivion that makes my insides turn upside-down. And it’s not just here. It’s all over Facebook, Twitter and (as far as that still applies) the few active Trance-related forums you can find on the web. So many people that claim to be Trance fans nowadays and that claim to reach the most beautiful higher states of bliss and existence through this genre prove to be the most foul-mouthed, negative, angry-driven individuals it almost makes you feel like you wished you had never set foot in this scene. The way I see it, WAO138 fuels the fire of not only the real Trance fan that’s in it for the music in and of its self, it also fuels the fire for these people that have poisoned the scene with their timebomb-attitudes. Just a little deviation from the formula they expect and BOOM! Verbal abuse, ahoy!

Score: Trance Scene: 0 - Idiocy: 138


But What About Prog?
Now let’s head back to an earlier gimmick. Ask yourself this: what about the celebratory ASOT warm-up gimmick? What about that sound? How come there is no Who Is Afraid Of Progressive concept? Why haven't there been episodes that support this blissful lower BPM Trance and Progressive counterpart? I mean, if you place WAO138 against. Warm-up Prog, both are equally enjoyed live at underground parties, and both are equally overshadowed by Trouse at mainstream parties. So how come this gimmick isn't given the wide attention that WAO138 does get? Is it that hard to launch a digital warm-up compilation series instead of the nth “Best Of Armada Trance” with the same old same rehashed releases and artists? How come Markus Schulz, declared as a “Bigroom Destroyer Of Trance” by some uplifting fans manages to deliver a BEAUTIFUL Afterhours FM Progressive Day set, devoid of modern club noise as well as a GORGEOUS (annual) Sunrise set whilst Armin doesn’t dedicate more than (half) an hour to Prog?

In my opinion, Who Is Afraid Of Diversity would have been a better concept to include all these different genres that have been overshadowed by the combined popular might of Trouse, Dubstep and Electro House hybrid tracks. For them to be given an influential platform like the ASOT brand could ultimately lead to those “forgotten” styles being remembered again and to educate today's newest fans. Heck, if anything, the format of the show has changed so drastically due to the support of those noisy short 5-minute-max genres that nowadays there will be no fewer than 28 or 30 tracks(!) spread across two hours of ASOT. Since Armin himself seems to be tired of “extended mixes nearly shorter than radio edits” [https://twitter.com/arminvanbuuren/status/389807620460400640], it’s curious to see whether this development will ever turn around for the better. Consider that both uplifting and prog are loooooooong genres in the sense that at the very least, they are 6:30 minutes or longer. All in all, you could say I’m overthinking things. But I firmly believe there is a ring of truth to these developments… In the end, everyone is free to decide on their own what this concept means to them but I think it’s a loss WAO138 doesn’t cover more than uplifting fun with increased genre tensions as a result. Aw well.

No matter how you look at it, the impact of the WAO138 concept is a fact. Now if only it could be harnessed alongside a wider spectrum of 138 BPM driven music + an addition of the warm-up sound to create more quality diversity in a rather monotone scene and teach today’s Trance fans that it is OKAY to love any BPM and style without losing your touch with Trance… I ask you: Who Is Afraid Of A Future Trance Scene Like That?!