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

woensdag 12 oktober 2016

Razormane - Mane Festival Theme V [Dedicated To E9]


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
This track is dedicated to Portugal's Euro 2016-winning goalscorer Eder!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Promotion Feature | October 2nd - October 13th 2016 |

Razormane Recordings | Cat# RZMREC005
Released: Tuesday October 13th 2016
Listen here: https://hearthis.at/razormane/mane-festival-theme-v/
Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/razormane/mane-festival-theme-v
Listen here: https://mixcloud.com/Razormane/mane-festival-theme-v/
01. | 135 BPM | 08:51 | Original Mix
02. | 135 BPM | 00:00 | Radio Mix

Additional info:
Written, composed, produced and arranged by C. I. do Rosario.
(p) 2016 Razormane Recordings
(c) 2016 Razormane Recordings
All rights reserved.
Started MFT V Original Mix on: January 1st 2016
Finished it on: October 13th 2016
Started MFT V Radio Mix on: October 13th 2016
Finished it on: October 13th 2016
Cover designed & created by C. I. do Rosario.
 
Color gold taken from:
[https://pixabay.com/p-1040181/?no_redirect]
Eder silhouette taken from (
& edited by C. I. do Rosario):
[http://i4.walesonline.co.uk/incoming/article11595339.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/Ede.jpg]
Background photo taken by C. I. do Rosario.


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dinsdag 19 juli 2016

Review: York & Rank 1 feat. Lola - This World Is So Amazing [July 2016]


The best things happen when you don't expect them at all! I was working on a retrospective review for an old Rank 1 Remix when I had to visit Beatport to find the original for comparisons since I didn't have it in my library: I don't always like originals (enough) to buy them alongside their Rank 1 remixes. So I decided to check out Rank 1's releases section to see if I'd stumble upon the Radio Mix of the Superstring rework or perhaps a re-released old remix of theirs: back in 2013 I got my hands on their remix for Jam X & De Leon - Mind Made Up as I stumbled upon it by accident! Ever since I keep my eyes open. So I found the Superstring Radio Mix (sadly not acquirable without purchasing the whole compilation it's on) but I also ran into a Chill Out collab they made with York for the latter's  new album... WHICH HAS BEEN AROUND FOR 11 DAYS FFS! How on earth could I have miss that?? Damn you, Euro 2016! Anyway. The collab in question has been purchased and eh, decided I might as well do a little review for it! So here we go:

01. York & Rank 1 feat. Lola - This World Is So Amazing [04.29]
https://www.beatport.com/track/this-world-is-amazing-feat-lola-original-mix/8113884
A gentle pad swells into the track with a morphed ball of guitar noise alongside it. The pads soon reach Trancey fullness when Lola softly tell us "The World Is So Amazing". Right after she speaks those words, a typical Mediterrenean York guitar plays, backed by yet another more defined guitar whilst the Trancey pads in the background cause a combination fo serenity with joy. A rhythmic typical-Rank 1 lead grows stronger until it peaks at 01:58. Then, some very subtle percussion starts playing alongside the whole. Wouldn't go as far as to call it a breakbeat since, well, it's way too subtle. The melodies are the centre-focus here. The main lead tunes down a bit and gives more space to the York guitar. The pads quiet down a bit as Lola softly speaks to us. Listening closely you can hear some subtle piano guidance in the background. The Trance pads reappear in full effect as the main lead sneaks away. The percussion fades, said lead decided to swell in power once more before gently fading away with the rest of the melodic elements. The piano gets to have its final say in the dying seconds of this chill-out piece.

Is it a coincidence that I discover this track on the day that #HottestDayOfTheYear is trending? Is it a coincidence I discover this on a warm, cloudless, sunny 30 degrees day in the usually rainy Amsterdam? I think not! As with Zenith, the surprise factor of a new Rank 1 tune alone can lift a track to be instantly loved. It really helps that this track can be seen as a sort of "follow-up" to Reachers Of Civilization (Rank 1 Remix). But the track itself just oozes happiness. Those pads <3 Those guitars <3 It's not the first track to be made in this style but I've been missing the Balearic Trance sound from a decade ago and it's great to hear something that has that kind of sentiment to it. Lilyleaf Ladybell has been one of my favorite tracks since I discovered it in December 2015 (thanks again Roth!) and skimming through the previews of the other tracks, York truly worked hard to deliver that sound in a classy way. I fully recommend this to anyone that loves tracks befitting of summer. And if you are a York or a Rank 1 fan, this tune can't miss out in your collection!

Also
As stated above: this is a great surprise! A short album track but I would love to see Rank 1 do more collabs like this in the future. It doesn't always have to be a mindblowing club banger, it doesn't always have to be 13 minute majestic masterpiece. Enjoyable tunes like TWISA are always welcome. And it has been such a long time since the likes of Still In My Mind, T.T.C. etc. I sincerely hope we'll hear more Chill-out from them again in the near future, they rock at it. Can't wait to put this track on my phone & mp3 player and chill out to it on one of the coming summer days... It's during those moments you best realize... This World Is So Amazing indeed!

vrijdag 3 juni 2016

Single Review: Rank 1 - Superstring [June 2016]


Back in October I was completely caught by surprise when Zenith was premièred. It's the kind of pleasant unexpected thing that can happen to you as a Rank 1 fan. So last week I had this similar vibe when Rank 1 changed their social media headers and posted this beautiful cover: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CjcxBJCUgAAh-e2.jpg. No title though and no soundcloud or Youtube teaser either. Just this cover with a release date. Cryptic as always, but that's just how we like Rank 1, don't we? :D Seeing how by Wednesday this week I had yet to  discover any hint about the title or the track itself for that matter, I decided to skip any potential A State Of Trance / Global DJ Broadcast / Ferry Corsten's Countdown premier and just wait till the 3rd of June to have my first hearing experience as "untainted" as possible. Sadly, the curiosity got the best of me and during my break at work I peeked on Rank 1's twitter to at least find out what the title was. "Tune in tonight @asot #ASOT766 for the world premier of our rework & new single ‘Superstring’!"

...That was not what I was hoping for. Another rework of a Rank 1 Classic? Why isn't it a brand new track instead? Doh! :< Disappointed Mane is disappointed. I was so disappointed in fact I just neglected my previous vow to listen to this "new" track untainted. I searched Youtube to listen to it. Let's just say that first listen came too soon after the initial disappointment so I didn't listen to it with a clean mind. So instead of typing down those first thoughts, I'll treat the full track listen as the first time. Here's my 2cts on this rework of one of Rank 1's greatest ever moments:

01. Rank 1 - Superstring (Radio Edit) [03:00]
https://www.beatport.com/track/superstring-radio-mix/8157379
The radio edit kicks off with all those iconic melody lines playing in harmony through various different types of pads and synths. After 00:47 seconds the track morphs into the breakdown. At exactly 01:00 that Riff Of Riffs kicks in and a short climax later we are head bopping along that good old melody, this time at 132 instead of 138 though ;)  A short piano-like intermezzo follows with a synthline I believe comes from the original Superstring from the early '90s, I don't recall hearing this melody line in the 2000 version... They might have utilized it in their live performed version of Superstring throughout the years though... Anyway! The riff returns in a reprise and with a final stab of that mighty riff, the track stops as the Supersaw and fx echo away in the last 4-5 seconds.

02. Rank 1 - Superstring (Extended Mix) [06:14]
https://www.beatport.com/track/superstring-extended-mix/7989978
The rework kicks off with characteristic echoing percussion elements and a heavy synthline that sounds like it could go in an either Electro-driven or Techy direction. An extra synthline ala Zenith joins the fray as the track's tension starts to build up. At 1:27, that all-too-familiar Superstring melody reveals itself with a synth sound I can't really place, it almost sounds like an organic instrument but has an electronic ring to it at the same time... Nearing two minutes a different melody pattern takes over whilst the Supersaw teases in the background. At 2:14 one of the most well-known riffs in Trance history reveals itself. Oh yeah, they kept the original saw intact and didn't replace it with a distorted one!! Snare-hits start raining down before the track steadily reaches it climax as synth and beat join forces for what will definitely be a nice moment live. In the background they have this echoing melody line from the original playing, albeit with different pads.

The middle section reveals a nice piano-solo: prior to writing this review I saw someone on Twitter comment that this part sounded like the producer was having a blast playing it. I have to admit, I really like this piano part, it's a very nice addition to that gorgeous Superstring melody. It does have a bit of a weird ring to it at times, perhaps because there is more than just one element playing there. The riff returns, and I have to say I am GRATEFUL they kept the original saws in it and didn't replace it with an aggressive variant like they did with Airwave two years ago. I don't think Airwave works with an aggressive lead, let alone Superstring. Anyway! The track then enters the final phase of the main part, what happens here is pretty interesting, an Acid synth starts twisting and bending but as it grows fiercer and then pulses on after the track's final climax, it almost sounds like a heavily enhanced robotic voice (similar to the one in Inyathi that says "Inyathi"). The track starts winding down with the Acid synth "shouting" at intervals whilst that "Zenith lead" slowly sees the track out to its end. At 6:07 it's the only element playing, giving this Superstring 2016 an ending similar to 13.11.11.

So?
Unlike their 21st Century Mix for Airwave, this Superstring Rework takes on a different structure arrangement-wise but curiously enough the moments that matter the most have the original saws as intact as possible. The Airwave rework was the opposite: arrangement wise it followed the 1999 original inch by inch whereas its most important element was enhanced to fit modern day demands... In that regard I find this a better rework to Superstring than the 21st Century Mix was to Airwave. Then again, whereas I have a bit of a hate-love relationship with the 1999 Classic, I have nothing but love for its Sensation-defining 2000 sibling.

And yet, I am left with mixed feelings. First of all there is the (I won't lie) MASSIVE disappointment at this release being just a rework and not a completely new single. In retrospect I should have been aware of that as the 21st Century Mix for Airwave was also released on a Friday. Rank 1 releases on Fridays in this modern mp3 era don't bode well for my high expectations it seems :P So there is the disappointment. Then there is the fact that we are talking about a rework of Superstring (Rank 1 Remix). Said remix is one of my favourite Rank 1 tunes ever so my judgement on any kind of rework will always be harsher than it would be in the case of new production. I understand the motivation behind the rework: they want to be able to fit one of their most beloved Classic in a contemporary set without it feeling out of place tempo and production-wise. Furthermore, looking at High Contrast's recent trend of releasing modern reworks of some of their catalog's gems (Advanced, Lost Connection, Lemon Tree, Dark Side Of The Moon etc), this rework could very well have been suggested by the label. And honestly? I'll take a Rank 1 rework over anyone else's rework of their past/future gems, ANY DAY.

All that said, listening to this rework, I don't feel the excitement, rush or not even those 1/100 moments of disappointment when a new R1 production doesn't manage to enchant me. In fact, I feel kinda void listening to this. The bits I like best (basically the parts with the main riff) are also in their 2000 version... And bar the piano part, all the other additions to this rework aren't thrilling enough for me to choose this version over the 2000 one. And no, I am not being a sour, nagging purist here. If anything, my love for Rank 1's modern discography will have plenty of purists scratching their heads in confusion. I am digressing here though, my point is that this rework has some nice bits but overall it's an upgrade I deem a bit unnecessary. Especially if you consider that over the course of last year, the Trance scene has seen lots of producers slowly drop the Bigroom Festival sound in favour of a Classic-Trance inspired one. This means that sounds and tempos are headed in a direction that makes the modern tracks much more compatible with the Classics. In that sense, this lower-tempo rework would have made a lot more sense 5 years ago when everyone was dropping 128 sets left and right. But right now I feel it misses the boat, which is unusual for Rank 1 considering they've always been ahead. Airwave, Top Gear, Life Less Ordinary, L.E.D. There Be Light, 7 Instead Of 8: each of these were highly innovate back when released and some of them inspired whole subgenres. Speaking of 7 Instead Of 8, with that gem Piet & Benno were way ahead of most of their peers: before Anahera took the scene by storm last year, the Rank 1 gents had already crossed that old-in-a-new-coat venue. And heck, if you look even further back, they already released two remixes on Anjunabeats which had strong nostalgic vibes hinting at the old Dutch Anthem Trance era of the late '90s.

Rank 1. Doing "new oldskool Trance" before it was cool. B|

But!
So yes, ultimately this rework leaves me wanting but as I am listening to it on repeat whilst typing all this I am wondering what potential those non-Superstring bits could have had in a different context. I have to say that "voice acid" element kind of intrigues me. And the addition of that piano in the middle section gives the track a surprisingly organic feeling in that section. I can't help but wonder what the guys could do if they were to take these elements into a new direction for a next track... Albeit rawer, darker. A track that combines hypnotic synthlines with crazy bending Acid voices and Techno synths. But that's just my fanatical mind speculating like a bull gone wild (as usual). This rework, for me, ranks as decent but as always I will prefer a brand new production. If Twitter is anything to go by, I am of a small minority though as so far I've only read highly supportive and appreciative comments towards this rework. To those people I say: enjoy it! Those that are new to Rank 1 I deffo recommend to check this out as groove-wise this rework is typical of their current sound whereas that timeless riff gives them a glimpse of Rank 1's glorious Classic discography. In the end, this release was not what I hoped it to be but other than that they didn't mess up the original so I'd say, go and support it! Let me give you a helping hand: https://www.beatport.com/track/superstring-extended-mix/7989978

| Single Review | June 1st - June 3rd 2016 |

maandag 25 april 2016

Raigen Smash - Flavors Of Sin E.P. [inc. Razormane Remix]


Promotion Feature | April 25th 2016 |

Old SQL Recordings | Cat# OLDSQL386
Released: Monday April 25th 2016
Buy here: https://pro.beatport.com/release/flavors-of-sin-ep/1749491 
01. | 130 BPM | 07:33 | Original Mix
02. | 128 BPM | 07:28 | Razormane Deep Tech Rework


Additional info:
Written, composed, produced and arranged by Z. Hai.
Additional remix produced and arranged by C. I. do Rosario.

(p) 2016 Old SQL Recordings
(c) 2016 Old SQL Recordings
All rights reserved.
Started Razormane Deep Tech Rework on: January 28th 2016
Finished it on: February 24th 2016

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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/
http://pure-and-passion.com/index.php?user/8-razormane/

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Support Record
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vrijdag 4 maart 2016

Razormane - Visions Of Sound (Mane Mix)


Promotion Feature | March 4th 2016 |

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This track is inspired by Rok Hecl´s Visions Of Sound show
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Razormane Recordings | Cat# -
Released: Friday March 4th 2016
Listen here: https://hearthis.at/razormane/visions-of-sound-mane-mix/
Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/razormane/visions-of-sound-mane-mix

Listen here: https://www.mixcloud.com/Razormane/visions-of-sound-mane-mix/
01. | 145 BPM | 06:43 | Mane Mix

Additional info:
Written, composed, produced and arranged by C. I. do Rosario.
(p) 2016 Razormane Recordings
(c) 2016 Razormane Recordings
All rights reserved.
Started Visions Of Sound Mane Mix on: February 15th 2015.
Finished it on: March 4th 2016.
Cover designed & created by C. I. do Rosario.
Background-image taken from:
http://www.hddesktopbackgrounds.xyz/astronomy-widescreen-high-definition-wallpaper-download-astronomy-images-free/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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
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Support Record
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donderdag 14 januari 2016

In Retrospect: Producers of 2015

 In Retrospect Feature | December 22nd 2015 - January 14th 2016 |

2015 might be half a month behind us already but I´d still like to take a quick look back at a few of the names that made it such a memorable year in music for me.

Orkidea & Lowland
Orkidea released Harmonia (co-produced by Lowland), the follow-up to his 2011 album 20. The latter celebrated his (at the time) 20-year career in music and offered Trance of a high quality though I felt it was vastly underrated. Harmonia is a more diverse album sound-wise: it runs from 125 to 140 BPM and takes a few subgenre detours here and there, sometimes with a slight bigroom touch. Half a year since its release however, it has proven to be more than a worthy follow-up to 20. I found myself struggling with the abundance of potential Top 30 candidates from this album. If anything, Orkidea & Lowland proved that Trance is very much alive and that you don't always have to turn to the underground/J00F flavoured styles to find it. Safe to say, they were THE producer collective of 2015 as much as I am concerned.

Check out that beautiful album here:
[https://pro.beatport.com/release/harmonia/1527682]

Airwave
A busy year for the man that has seen somewhat of a resurgence since 2011-ish? I recall reading from a big Airwave fan that Laurent faced some difficult times over half a decade ago but ever since Hello World he seems to be back in the business in full effect. Over the past years he's brought us delicious cocktails of Progressive meeting Trance meeting Breaks and he continued to deliver in 2015 with some massive singles. Sadness In Black & White delivered one of the most emotional breakdowns of the year with some beautiful piano play to go with that hair-raising flute. Dancing Desperado went all melancholic Mediterranean-meets-Arabic like sentiments + breaks on us whilst A Touch Of Grace and Gaijin embrace Eastern influences through the use of regional chanting and/or prominent tribal drums. Vega Shining on the other hand had an almost Cape Town - Proglifter ish sentiment to it with some gorgeous synthwork. And that brilliant glockenspiel in the two break moments of the track added a special touch. Then there was Lightyears Away From Here: another beautiful Trancer ala Sadness In Black & White. I also digged that Breaks-driven remix he did for Fatal Error - Angel's Arms. So yes, it's more than safe to say that Airwave had a tremendous 2015 and he demanded no less than two spots in my personal 30 favourites of the year! Without doubt one of the Champions of the underground side of Trance music. You can count on him to deliver where the mainstream side of Trance fails.

Check out his gems here:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/gaijin-original-mix/6177936]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/a-touch-of-grace-original-mix/6692537]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/sadness-in-black-and-white-pt-1/7066048]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/vega-shining-original-mix/7210790]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/lightyears-away-from-here-original-mix/7332554]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/dancing-desperado-original-mix/7332555]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/angels-arms-airwave-breaks-remix/6876121]

John O'Callghan presents Henrik Zuberstein
Granted, the first Zuberstein release I heard this year was Caves, which was originally from 2014. But a few more tracks have followed in the guise of Ellicit Response and two remixes for Peter Steele - Mantra and the timeless Classic Max Graham - Airtight. Under this alias, John manages to deliver an enticing Progressive sound leaning comfortably between Progressive House and Progressive Trance. At the same time he has already been able to create a recognizable Zuberstein groove. Especially Caves and the remix for Airtight have led me into several trancey states... His Joint Operation Centre cameo was cool but Henrik Zuberstein might turn out to be my favorite alias by mr. Callaghan yet. Big respect John!

Check out his gems here:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/caves-original-mix/5979278]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/mantra-henrik-zuberstein-remix/6674832]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/elicit-response-original-mix/7052284]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/airtight-henrik-zuberstein-remix/6912792]

Shadow Of Two
Doing this based on a few releases might be a bit silly but after their tremendously addicting remix for the classic Fiji, I soon found and embraced their tracks Memories, Lucir and Rezeda. The Shadow Of Two sound is Trancey, sometimes anthemic with a bigroom edge, sometimes almost Anjuna-summerish & soothing. Overall the melodies are always easy on the ears and after having had a pretty heavy House/Prog oriented year in 2014, it was fantastic to be welcomed back to the more melodic and Trancey productions through sublime tracks like these. I am looking forward to what 2016 will bring from SoT!

Check out their gems here:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/fiji-shadow-of-two-remix/6229449]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/memories-original-mix/6575861]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/lucir-original-mix/5754934]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/rezeda-radio-edit/5875255]

Robert Vadney
Vadney had a busy year too, releasing an album (which I have yet to hear: yes I know, got some homework for 2016!) alongside various tasty productions. For me two productions in particular have stood out this year: his original Spaceman's Theme which reminds me of PPK - Resurrection and his remix for Miltos Maris - Mora Ghost. The latter is one of the freshest, and most unique tracks I heard over the course of last year! A track that is as haunting, chaotic and dramatic, as it is tranquil, beautiful and captivating. The voice sample gives it that haunted feel and especially the trumpet(?) moments make it extra unique. I have one little point of critique however and that's when those main sawpads kick in: I dunno if it's over-compression but I feel they are tuned down in a way that prevents me from really "feeling them": usually a melody/arrangement like that would instantly give me goosebumps but that effect is not achieved sadly. :/ Still, it remains an incredible production and one of the highlights of 2015 musicwise. Meanwhile Spaceman's Theme kicks things up a notch by going 139 BPM. Deploying infectious acid lines and a hypnotic arrangements throughout, this track is well worthy of the label "Trance epic". To me it doesn't feel like a 10 minute journey at all, that's how fresh it says and how deeply it absorbes you into its web! My favorite bit has to be the "phone beep" melody ala PPK - Resurrection. In case this was a tribute to that timeless Classic, I have to say Robert did a great job. But it's just as great on its own. I also love the fx that burst into the track at varying intervals... Yet another tasty piece of Trance music from Vadney's hands that is at once fresh yet feels familiar (I mean that in the most positive sense possible). Just two tracks of his found their way to my ears this year yet both have had an instant impact making Vadney deserving of a spot among my best producers of 2015!

Check out his gems here:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/mora-ghost-robert-vadney-remix/6951474]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/spacemans-theme-original-mix/6998434]

Rank 1 vs. M.I.K.E. Push
2013. Elements Of Nature. BANG. Instant fan-favourite and future Classic.
2015. Juno. Zenith. BANG. Massive tracks for the ASOT and GDJB related sets, events, radioshows, etc. Zenith took my preference over Juno but in its own right I enjoyed Juno a lot too. Juno has an electrifying build-up that so gradually increases in intensity, that by the time it reaches its breakdown you'd actually wish for it to climax already (at least I do). Call me weird but for me the highlight of this track is actually said build-up, combining a powerful raw bassline with a captivating "second-in-command" lead. The actual main lead is catchy but it's not the mindblowing lead I had expected to find after such an intense build-up. That said, the main lead manages to be interesting enough to carry the track's main part though imo said part could have been a wee bit shorter. There is a reprise in it, which is nice, but had that main lead been more powerful, that reprise could have been even better. In the end Juno turned out to be a solid Trancer, MASSIVELY hyped by Armin. I was annoyed to find out it only managed to reach #39 in the ASOT Top 20 voting. Aw well. Juno was nice but Zenith was awesome. 1001tracklists revealed Markus Schulz' addiction to this track, he played it over 10 times in GDJB related events in the past two months! And I thought I was a Rank 1 addict... :') Anyhow, Zenith leans a wee bit more towards the Bigroom vibes than its big brother Juno but its overall arrangements and main melodies are executed in a more captivating manner. Whereas I really like Juno for the energy it holds, I praise Zenith for the emotion it invokes in me. Like I said in my review for it, Zenith gives me the feeling that "everything will be alright". Some will argue the melodies are rather "cheesy/corny" compared to Juno but for once "cheesy euphoria" actually got me moving so, well, shut up. In the end this epic pairing of Legends managed to deliver two solid additions to an unforgetable 2013 debut. Needless to say I am looking forward to a fourth collaboration!

Check out their gems here:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/juno-original-mix/6835281]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/zenith-original-mix/7260376]

Gradual Resurgence?
Now the above producers were either new artists that impressed me throughout 2015 or artists I've been supporting throughout the years who have managed to keep me glued to my headphones, as I kept replaying their productions over and over. However, 2015 revealed another category of producers: producers I used to admire some time ago but that kind of lost me over the years as their later soundshifts just didn't bring forth the kind of tracks I wanted to hear from them. Now I can safely state that they have slipped unto my radar again, I will DEFINITELY be keeping my eyes on these guys over the course of 2016:

Leon Bolier presents WSTLNDR
Leon was one of the most badass producers for me back in the 2006-2011 period. I never felt he was a typical Trance producer since he made so many tracks that bordered between its subgenres... If anything he was truly the child of an epic generation at the time with other ecclectic masterminds like Sander van Doorn, Marcus Schossow and Orjan Nilsen. Of course, when it came to productions, Rank 1 was #1 for me, Leon however, took a well deserved seat at #2. Sadly for me those days came to an end at some point. Me / You / Us just didn't do it for me. And gradually Leon drifted further and further of my radar until he was gone. Thank God for friends though as one of my music buddies shared a WSTLNDR EOYC set with me at the end of 2014: turns out Leon was launching an alias with a deeper twist to it and he was piecing together an album for 2015. Over the course of last year I got my hands on this album was well as some remixes to go with it. And guess what? As swiftly as it drifted away, Leon's sound found its way back into my musical preferences. That is to say, his WSTLNDR alias. I still don't feel much for his main project but WL seems to bring  a more sophisticated, minimalistic Bolier sound that I can very much appreciate. Especially since those typical Bolierain melodies from his Trancier days seem to live through in this side project. I could go into detail on all these tracks but I want to offer you the joy of discovering for yourself what amazing soundscapes lie hidden behind Leon's new sounds. Dig in!

Bon appetit:
[https://pro.beatport.com/release/atmostopia/1590652]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/vengeance-bolier-pres-wstlndr-remix/6724155]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/invincible-wstlndr-remix/7100195]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/if-grey-was-the-colour-of-the-sun-wstlndr-remix/7114933]

Ferry Corsten
Ferry's brigthest moment was without doubt his Anahera though many will also point out to his Hello World EPs: he released three of them with sixteen tracks between them, meaning he put an album-amount of tracks out in one year, which is pretty impressive. Of those EPs the third one in particular stood out through its synth-driven fatal bomba's Follow You & Voema. The former has a vocal sample that I personally find more suitable for (Progressive) House tunes (think Yotto for instance) but bar that, the track's lead is full-on-Trance-Ferry... The lead arrangement is really fit for a stadium setting and would no doubt blow the roof off! This is Anthem Trance at its modern-finest. The track has a captivating vibe and the melody is just too good. Its sibling Voema might even be slightly better though: one minute shorter perhaps but its rougher and heavier. It slightly reminds me of Radio Crash and throughout this feels like a Ferry-at-his-best kind of track for it harbours that rougher side to his productions that made his L.E.F. sound so tasty. Rather than funky electro sounds Ferry deploys a range of heavy and lighter synths with some white noise sweeps and snares here and there. If Follow You is captivating because of that epic melody, Voema is captivating because of its energy. A much simpler melody but one that really gets me going. I can't remember the last time I was so hooked on three Corsten tracks in one year. Anahera takes the crown of course but these two show Ferry in a simple-but-effective way. I like that Ferry!

Get a load of these choons:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/anahera-extended-mix/6664725]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/follow-you-original-mix/7364784]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/voema-original-mix/7364787]

Sander van Doorn
Back when 2014 was coming to a close my twitter feed presented me with Get Enough by SvD. I was amazed that, modern bigroom influences aside, it has very much the drive, punch and rawness of the old Sander in it! It made me curious if he had more tasty stuff lying around as I had given up on Sander after 2011. I ran into THIS: equally tasty. So as 2015 came and went I kept my ears and eyes open for Sander's productions once again. And in the end, he didn't disappoint: Rage, Ori Tali Ma and the best SvD I've heard since Reach Out: Oh, Amazing Bass. Rage has an annoying breakdown imo, the synth chosen to play that melody rubs me the wrong way. But Rage is not about the breakdown: Rage is about that post-climax angry bass synth. It's the sort of short melody typical for the old Tech Trance of 2006-2008 that I miss SO MUCH these days... It is more evidence of the old Sander that seems ready to burst away from that cheesy-Chart-song-selling-Sander, indeed, the old Sander that was King. Ori Tali Ma seems much closer to Get Enough, it has a pretty Tribal / Techno driven vibe to it that's instantly captivating. Funny coincidence that it uses the same vocal chants that Orkidea - Nana has too, though it uses more. Great track though, and very "SvD" imo. Now, I didn't save best for last for no reason. Oh, Amazing Bass, despite its silly title, is Sander at his best using Techno piano synths, rolling, swelling basslines and building tension constantly before unleashing a phat drop (not in the bad way). If there is one artist that is "back" for me, it's Sander. And no, it's not that I like every release inbetween those listed here. He still puts out stuff I really dislike. But unlike most he has brought a consistency in regards to stuff I DO like so from now on, I will make sure to keep track of his new releases as they are worth it.

Check out them out:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/rage-original-mix/6285616]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/ori-tali-ma-original-mix/6568348]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/oh-amazing-bass-original-mix/6760754]

Marco V
Well, since I got Vadney in through two tracks I'd like to spend a few words on mr. V here too. Once a champion of an unrivalled Tech Trance sound, V too went through an Electro and later Progressive phase to ultimately end at Bigroom > a familiar development for most of that golden ID&T generation. The last track V put out that I really enjoyed were his 2009 album tracks and his 2010 singles featuring Benjamin Bates on vocals. Ever since he lost me though. Until I heard My Trip and shortly after that, Africa: the only downside about both is their length imo but other than that I have been enjoying them a lot. My Trip is that sort of raw Techno-meets-Bigroom kind of style that Sander seems to be keen on a lot too atm, and well, I've been enjoying it too so this was an instant win for mr. V in my books. Africa on the other hand reminds me of his 2009-2010 sound albeit a bit rougher. Can't go wrong with African chant/song samples imo. A bit of a straightforward tune perhaps, but it does what it should: make me bop my head and tap my foot. It's good to have you with us again, mr. V ;)

Check out those tracks:
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/my-trip-original-mix/7181534]
[https://pro.beatport.com/track/africa-original-mix/7264906]

I would like to thank all the above-mentioned producers for their contribution to a great musical 2015! I look forward to hearing more good stuff from you all in 2016! Groove on *raises glass*