2009 Reviews - Part 2


30 juin 2009, 14h44m

So first I would like to give little background for these reviews. I haven't made all these reviews at the same time. Instead I have made one review at the time and I'm just copy-pasteing these from the forums I have released these earlier in couple of forums.

Usually I choose to review pretty recent album and give it some promotion. There are still three different kind of albums I select. 1) I have expected the album for some time and would like to check it and also review it, 2) The album is made by some big name so it would seem unacceptable not to check it or 3) I pick the album randomly. I have made these reviews in english after september 2006 if I remember correctly and in finnish long before that.

So this is Part 2 of the year 2009. Some new stuff since march and except the next entry at the end of september / the beginning of october


Solarstone - Electronic Architecture

1. Tarrantella - Jigsaw (Reconstruction)
2. Forerunners - Dragonfly (Ilya Malyuev Remix Reconstruction)
3. Cormac Murphy - Oversound
4. Filigro - Questinia
5. Katcha - Touched By God (Alucard Remix)
6. Under This - Black & White (Reconstruction)
7. Solarstone & Orkidea - Slowmotion (French Renaissance Mix)
8. Jahawi - Kenya
9. LTN - Outer Limits
10. Harley Soan - Long Drive Home
11. Edu - Before They Came (Escape Mix)
12. Dave Horne - What Lies Between (Retroid & Original Reconstruction)
13. Winterlight - Mirror (Solarstone Subterranean Mix)

1. Reconstructed Intro
2. Leo G - Muttering Retreat
3. Majera - Believe
4. Stan Void - Transience
5. Bot Cipryan - Astral Breeze
6. Saints & Sinners - Peace (Breakfast Remix)
7. Solar Energy - Wanna Feel What You Feel (Instrumental)
8. Haylon - Starfighter (Observer & Heatcliff Remix)
9. Jox - Microbial
10. Solarstone & Alucard - Late Summer Fields (Forerunners Dub)
11. Gary Orvis - Try To Find
12. Souls In Motion - Sensual Illusion (Reconstruction)
13. Reii - Shocks

Compilation that earns the name Solarstone

If some artist gives me a really mixed thoughts nowadays, it must be Solarstone? Why? Well partly because Solarstone was Rich Mowatt AND Andy Bury when I first hear them. Later Andy left and it somehow feels odd to call Rich Mowatt's solomaterial as Solarstone. But the biggest reason is the latest productions. Rain Stars Eternal did have some pretty good tracks but as a album it was average as best. The difference is huge compared to AnthologyOne which summed up earlier Solarstone pretty well. Solarstone have made good trance in the past and a lot of it. Solarcoaster, U Write The Rules, Seven Cities, The Calling, tons of remixes... Amount of great tracks is incredible but it's all irrelevant if the latest stuff is "only" decent.

And to be honest, last Solarstone set I heard wasn't that great. It was his gig in Tampere last december but I felt that Rich's set was clearly worse than DJ Orion's and Orkidea's who were before him. That set was generic uplifting trance from the beginning to the end added with Solarstone's own productions which were the best tracks in his set by far. And then there was In And Out Of Love... good god. When I heard that Solarstone-compilation was on the way I wasn't that interested. Bit more than with some average trance DJ but not that much. But when the tracklist was revealed I was shocked. I didn't know that much names from it and I was immediately much much more interested. If nothing else, this is something you must appreciate because Rich didn't choose the easiest way even though with name Solarstone, anything would have sold pretty many copies. But that's enough background story, let's check what Electronic Architecture (after this, just EA) offers.

First disc begins nicely. Reconstruction of 1996 track Jigsaw is nice, peaceful and builds things nicely. The same goes to couple next tracks. Questinia is the first track which brings some power to the compilation (and it actually has nice piano-melody). And this begins to show pattern. There are lot of peaceful and emotional moments in the first disc and those moments builds up to the more powerful tracks. Overall this is really good disc. Good example of well done, modern progressive trance. Even though it is not fast, it feels like danceable yet emotional enough to be good at home too. And especially after Slowmotion, this disc is fabulous.

Second disc begins with Leo G's Muttering Retreat which seems to continue from the point first disc stayed. So my guess is that it only gets faster and more energetic here with couple of breathing places. And that seems right. First three tracks were fairly energetic and then comes Peace to calm things down a bit and after that record begins to build tension and energy to the point where ultrapowerful Jox - Microbial kicks in. And it's done yet once before the last track which makes things calmer indicating that this is the end. So how this disc sounds? I don't know if this is progressive trance or uplifting trance. Some tracks are clearly another one but mostly this is some kind of hybrid of those two but hey, it works pretty well. The quality isn't maybe as good as the first disc but this was enjoyable too, except for Sensual Illusion which sounded like awful Ferry Corsten-leftover.

So the final conclusion. If take that bit bad taste I got from Sensual Illusion, I think this is very solid compilation well worthy of name Solarstone. This compilation might not be groundbreaking or innovative but at least it flows well and builds nicely from slow start to more and more energetic stuff with enough space to breathe. Huge improvement from that live set I heard just 4 months ago. CD 1 is clearly the better than CD 2 and it would maybe even get 9. This is not compilation of the year-material but it is at least best trance compilation I have heard in a long, long time and in that category, it might even have a chance.


Ace tracks:
Edu - Before They Came (Escape Mix)
Winterlight - Mirror (Solarstone Subterrenean Mix)
Gary Orvis - Try To Find


Tiga - Ciao!

1. Beep, Beep, Beep
2. Mind Dimension
3. Shoes
4. What You Need
5. Luxury
6. Sex O'Clock
7. Overtime
8. Turn The Night On
9. Speak, Memory
10. Gentle Giant
11. Love Don't Dance Here Anymore


Sometimes it's really fun to check some album, you didn't even meant to check. So this album falls into random album category. I know Tiga by name and I have heard couple of his most succesful tracks. Hot In Herre was, well just boring version of Nelly's same titled track but Sunglasses At Night, another cover made with Jori Hulkkonen was in my opinion very tasty and I have listened it pretty many times. I also know that Tiga has released another artist album earlier called Sexor but this album released few years ago is still unlistened. I don't know what to expect here but my bet goes to electro-synthpop crossover which should actually even have some commercial potential. It seems that most of the tracks are produced by Soulwax or Jesper Dahlback so this shouldn't be too bad. So let's put sunglasses on and let's check what this album has eaten.

I think the most important track of every album is the first track. Even though the importance isn't as big as it was in the time of the vinyls where the first track had to be the track which sold the album, the first track still gives you the first impression of the album and sets you to expect (or not to expect) good album. Beep, Beep, Beep is wonderful start which is pretty chilling and shows what kind of sound modern synthpop has. It's easily accessible yet pleasant for ear. Things gets strange only after it with Mind Dimension which is more standard techno-track which highly relies on it's effects. What? Where did that vocal sample came from? Is that TB-303? What on earth is that one second long sound? The track isn't bad one but fails to impress me. What the f*ck factor keeps on rising with Shoes where Tiga(?) asks all kinds of... interesting stuff from some woman which just rejects those quation ("disgust, don't touch my skin"). Sounds of the track aren't too bad but the idea of the track is odd.

What You Need sounds like Tiga trying to imitate Justice. Track has that overbuzzing bassline which goes at times even annoyingly high and it almost hurts my ears and I bet that's not what producers meant while doing this track. Luckily Luxury takes a huge step towards the more pleasant sound and actually this might well be the best track from this album. This track shows exactly how good modern synthpop with elements from house and old electro can sound. it has some vocals but those works. It's bit like with Jori Hulkkonen-album last year but it can be just little coincidence. Well the next track Sex O'Clock is co-produced with James Murphy and Jori Hulk... Right... Other than this fairly uninteresting fact this track offers very little. Some uninspiring vocals which aren't even really singing, fairly buzzing bassline and sound world directly from modern electrohouse. This is not necessary bad track but it screams "filler!". And then comes line "I never stop" and then complete silence...

...Which ends in couple of seconds and then the next track Overtime begins. Overtime is some kind of... I don't know what this is to be honest. Electro-house-synthpop hybrid? It has nice catchy bassline but otherwise it lacks catchyness but it still is fairly good track. Turn The Night On is more (synth)poppish track and highly vocalbased but when you consider it as pop, it's not too bad and it's fairly catchy too which is just a good sign. Speak, Memory is co-produced with Jori Hulkkonen and this easily could be from Jori Hulkkonen-album when style resembles Errare Machinale Est. This is yet another track which relies on vocals and influences from 80's electro and modern house but this isn't too memorable track even though it has some potential.

Gentle Giant goes even more chilling direction and this is almost vocalbased ambient. Track isn't too bad but it just well, doesn't impress in any way and even though producer James Murphy is trying his best, the track doesn't have too great climax. "As the last record plays, as the last record fades". It's time for the last track which begins as really chilling vocalnumber with piano without real electronic elements. But it changes after couple of minutes and after that the track turnes into nice electro with housey elements but still it's chilling enough for the last track. And man this has some interesting sounds, it offers catchyness and it is pleasant. In brief a great way to end this album.

This record surprised me. I read couple of reviews from older Sexor-album and those were mostly positive but still I am kinda surprised that this album turned out to be this good. I thought that this album sounds pretty much like 2008-album Jori Hulkkonen - Errare Machinale Est which isn't actually too surprising. I know that Tiga is a good friend of Jori and after all Hulkkonen even produced couple of tracks for this album. This is interesting combination of modern synthpop, electro, house and even techno and those of us who don't stay within boundaries, this album can offer interesting moments


Ace tracks:
Beep, Beep, Beep
Love Don't Dance Here Anymore


Richard Durand - Always The Sun

01. Divine
02. Always The Sun
03. Papillon
04. Into Something
05. Ancient Garden
06. No Way Home
07. The Cube
08. Slow Geisha
09. City Never Sleeps
10. Mouseville
11. Silver Key
12. The Trigger
13. Chaos
14. Dr Gorgo
15. No Way Home (Unplugged)

In search of good Durand-track

Oh god, this is next in line to be reviewed? Please spare me from this evil! There you go, I have to admit that I don't have any exceptations for this one and it's almost completely opposite. I have never ever like Richard Durand (well, Into Something is pretty decent) and I can admit it already here. So why I am I checking this one then? Well I have still that naive person inside me who wants to believe that this record holds trance I like so much and because Richard Durand is already pretty big name, one of the biggest of the new generation. And that is actually one of the setbacks for me.

Most of the music I love is made by old guns, veterans who actually had to make tracks from the start to the end with various synths without the help of modern programs. That is why old producers knows how to build tracks and that might well be the reason why Ferry Corsten still nowadays makes pretty enjoyable tracks despite producing getting more and more digital. But the new generation which constantly claims this and that being the savior of trance (that's funny actually, they like admit that something in trance is wrong) has produced with the served table. They use the same ideas, same VST presets and the same sounds over and over and over again because it seems to be easy. The same goes to Richard Durand when I listened his first tracks. Those were the remakes of old classics like Way Out West's The Fall which basically was the sample of old track added with "generic techtrance drum" and "generic techtrance synth" which in my opinion spoiled the tracks. And that is why I have pretty negative image of Durand. But now I try to turn my angry mode off and make myself believe that I have missed some awesome Durand-tracks because I haven't listened too much music from the guy and convience myself that some of those goldies are in this album.

Divine (some kind of pun for Define?) starts nicely and works pretty well as intro track but the track itself isn't too memorable and it feels like it misses half of it's length like it probably does. It introduces some usual sounds from uplifting trance and it has breakbeat part in the middle but everything goes way too rapidly. Always The Sun (the track) is one track again with bit of everything. Something from progtrance, bit of beeping sounds which are nice and completely useless vocals forced into 5 minutes. This could work bit better if given enough space to breathe but it's like trying to put 2 cups of coffee into one cup. It just doesn't work. Papillon reminds me about Arnej's Dust In The Wind. It's generic "minimal" trance people are making nowadays but this isn't too bad but it lacks power and memorable parts even though it flows nicely forward. I have stated my opinion of Into Something earlier but I say it again. It's nice uplifting trance but it's just nice. It doesn't offer anything special and everything is just nice. Nothing wrong but it defines the term decent. The part in the middle after breakdown could be better and if it would have been done properly, this could be even pretty good track. Ancient Garden doesn't offer anything special either. It's basically same melody looped over and over again with bit minimalistic background but I find that melody pretty good and I found myself enjoying some Durand-track.

No Way Home brings more energy into this record but after pretty good start, it turns into track with guitar and really... unnecessary, stupid and cheesy vocals without any catchyness. Which is bit unfortunate since background isn't too bad but the vocals are. The Cube goes to annoying generic techtrance I have begun to hate with passion. There aren't anything catchy and instead it seems that the most important factor is to repeat two irritating sounds over and over again without any sense. Slow Geisha is more hybrid of uplifting and tech trance with one pretty nice melody but that's the only thing this track has to offer and good god that's just not enough. City Never Sleeps is finally really good track. it's much more chilled and warmer than most of the tracks from this album showing how poppish uplifting trance can sound. But the saving grace is the vocals which actually fits into the track and they fit well. Mouseville has banging basskick but that's pretty much the only good thing here when the track sounds like track germans made in 2003 or 2004 and the catchiness is also completely missing. This track might work fairly well in the dancefloor but as a part of the album it's not that good, especially when it's shortened.

Silver Key good god... What is that melody during the breakdown? It's irritating, pitched way too high and if it would be possible, my ears would bleed especially when drums aren't even synchronized with that melody. Other than that, track is decent but that melody goes on for so long that I just want to ignore this track. The Trigger has pretty good main melody but in parts it just decides to be boring and generic techtrance with overbuzzing bassline and those parts just aren't interesting enough. Chaos also suffers the same destiny and it's almost like a brother of The Trigger. At parts it offers pretty interesting sounds and might work pretty well in the dancefloor (if the similar stuff isn't repeated over and over again) but the track fails to impress completely. Dr. Gongo begins with extremely irritating sound but the end of the track isn't that bad. Sure it's bit dull and it would definately need more melodies but still it's nice banging techtrance-track. Almost like old Mark Norman and that reference can't be that bad. The album ends with acoustic version of No Way Home and this way this isn't too bad track. Surely it's just well, usual acoustic guitar track but it calms things nicely and sets nice mood during the course of ending. Also vocals works much better in this version than in more electronic version.

I have always said this and I will say it again. When you are making trance-album, put full length tracks there. When tracks are edited I will always get the feeling that something is missing here. And in this case some tracks have potential but things just goes way too quickly. I guess editing is meant for those who aren't that much into trance but come on, make this two CD's and the rating would be one or two better. Also this album isn't too innovative or interesting. It's just basically same stuff everyone else is making and even though this is executed fairly well, the really interesting. And one more note. What exactly Always The Sun means here? Is Durand referring to himself? Like does he mean that he lightens the dark or bring happiness to life? Or does he just think he's Jesus or something? But anyway in brief this album isn't that awful, not at least as awful as I expected. It has couple of pretty good tracks but also lots of minimal/techtrance bollocks without too much soul. Couple of mostly irritating tracks and the rough editing lowers the rating a bit. 5,5 would be good rating for this one but since I don't use half points...


Ace tracks:
City Never Sleeps
Ancient Garden
No Way Home (Unplugged)


The Crystal Method - Divided By Night

1. Divided By Night
2. Dirty Thirty (featuring Peter Hook)
3. Drown In The Now (featuring Matisyahu)
4. Kling To The Wreckage (featuring Justin Warfield)
5. Smile?
6. Sine Language (featuring LMFAO)
7. Double Down Under
8. Come Back Clean (featuring Emily Haines)
9. Slipstream (featuring Jason Lytle)
10. Black Rainbows (featuring Stefanie King Warfield)
11. Blunts & Robots (featuring Peter Hook)
12. Falling Hard (featuring Meiko)

Falling maybe bit too hard

Okay, I'm officially mad. I have just listened Divided By Night and good god how huge disappointment this is. These guys once made Vegas after all. And that was just awesome piece of breakbeat full of energy. And also it was noticed elsewhere since The Crystal Method started to show up in movies, trailers, videogames, tv shows and so on. And the road to decentness had begun. And then comes this which goes even under the last album which I thought was already too commerial, slow and just uninnovative. But after all I knew Crystal Method could release something awesome.

But only could. This album doesn't offer too many good moments. And exactly what is wrong with this one? Well let's see with more details. Or then you can just look as long list of featured names as river Nile and guess it before even listening this CD. Your choice.

Divided By Night sounds like poor track from The Chemical Brothers's We Are The Night-album (possible pun found!). It tries to be as creative and weird and it has this vocoder-voice saying Divided By Night but there isn't anything catchy in the whole track. Dirty Thirty actually has one catchy part there but bassline isn't too good and for some reason it has sounds which are pitched way too high. But still this track isn't too bad. Drown In The Now opens with some annoying chanting and soon we have track with some MC rapping at the top of decent background. Actually I think without those vocals this would sound pretty good but in this form this just annoys everyone in the building. Kling To The Wreckage also has really useless vocals which aren't appealing at all. Too bad when this track actually sounds bit more like old Crystal Method. I guess it's not a coincidence that the first really good track of the album is instrumental track. Smile? actually offers catchy bassline and good breakbeat background with decent melodies. And that's all what it needed to make good breakbeat-track. But then Sine Language goes into the cr*p department with vocals which sounds like Robbie Williams in flu. Well the track isn't too solid anywhere else either.

Luckily Double Down Under is different. It is fast and energetic instrumental track with some interesting parts. This is the kind of quality these guys can make at best. Come Back Clean might be the best vocal-track yet since vocals aren't completely useless or unnecessary. But the background in this track isn't just catchy enough to make huge impact. Slipstream shows just how pop these guys have went. The track itself is pretty good but you can't deny the structure from pop. Chorus is the main point of the track, it has vocals and guitar. Vocals are pretty good actually but this track is just a good pop track in my book. Black Rainbows is then more awful track for a change. Everything in this track is bad in my opinion. Beats sounds lazy, vocals are unappealing and the musical value is close to zero when the main point seems to be making as buzzy bassline as possible with as little effort as possible. Blunts & Robots is then once again step into better direction. It has some interesting sound and good vocal sample but does the main melody have to be made with guitar? It's the weakest link of this track but it doesn't completely ruin it. It's Falling Hard that ruins it. It has pretty nice chorus but otherwise... good god. It is slow ballad with really really decent vocalist. With this kind of tracks vocalist should shine and not to annoy. Now this just gives even more bitter taste of this album than before.

The whole reason I am disappointed in this CD isn't just the change in style. Breakbeat seems to be dying genre and that's why it is just natural to take steps out from bigbeat-sound. But it's more about the quality that pisses me off. Too much vocals that doesn't offer anything catchy, too many lazy backgrounds and too few memorable moments. That is Divided By Night. But I'm sure this brings some chicks with cute little handbags into The Crystal Method-gigs.


Ace tracks:
Double Down Under


Art of Trance - Retrospective

CD1 (Wildlife On One):
1. Kaleidoscope
2. Mosquito
3. Gloria (Transparent Mix)
4. Haagen Daaz
5. Octopus
6. Golden Showers
7. Deeper Than Deep
8. Blue Owl
9. Emerald Eyes
10. Cambodia (Tunnel Vision Mix)

CD2 (Voice Of Earth):
1. Breathe
2. Monsoon
3. The Hummer
4. Madagascar
5. Requiem
6. Dud UK
7. Easter Island
8. Stealth
9. Panorama
10. Voice Of Earth

1. Art Of Trance - Swarm (Original Mix)
2. Art Of Trance - Colours (Clanger Remix)
3. Art Of Trance - Cambodia (Clanger Remix)
4. Art Of Trance - Kaleidoscope (Sunday Club Lens Of Atlantic Remix)
5. Art Of Trance - Love Washes Over (Original Mix)
6. Art Of Trance - Madagascar (Richard Durand Remix)
7. Tekara feat. Xian - Wanna Be An Angel (Art Of Trance vs.DBA Remix)
8. Art Of Trance - Persia (Original Mix)
9. Art Of Trance - Mongoose (Tek^tonik Remix)
10. Art Of Trance vs Pob - Turkish Bizarre (DBA Remix)
11. Jan Johnston - Calling Your Name (Art Of Trance Chillout Remix)

Tales from the past

To me, one of the best news of the year 2008 was the return of Art Of Trance and Union Jack. I was delighted to hear Papillon and Swarm after years of hiatus. Nothing was heard from this guy since Persia which was also kinda ignored. Either way who is Art Of Trance? Well if you don't know then you have missed something. Art Of Trance is Simon Berry, one of those guys who helped creating and evolve trance. So is this new stuff from mr. Berry? Nope, more like title suggest, trip to the world which isn't no more. There really isn't new stuff except for Swarm and the new stuff comes out with Union Jack-alias later this year.

So why should you get excited about this one? After all it doesn't offer anything new and is far from current sound. Well mainly because this music is awesome. Simon Berry always knew how to make good sounding tracks. And most of all, because Art Of Trance is part of the history of trancemusic. And not just a small mention in the middle but the whole chapter. That's why I found this release pretty good. It hopefully introduces some great music for those who haven't heard so much trance from the past and at the same time introduces them to the age where everything wasn't about breakdowns and supersaws.

Wildlife on One is in my opinion the highlight of this album. The main problem of the album is that at parts it sounds terribly outdated, some sounds have been heard so many times after it and some solutions are odd from the perspective of modern listener. But then again this album really has something that is missing from lot of modern trance. It has soul. This music was made with love and passion and even though at some parts it sounds terribly simple, it sounds awesome even today. Less is more in trance and this once again is one proof. Also Simon Berry really puts everything out from that little box called TB-303 pushing it to the very limits of it's capabilities. Wildlife On One has many ace tracks and it's more about thinking which track is completely superb and which is just good.

Voice of Earth is more modern album released in 1999 and you can also hear it. It doesn't sound that outdated anymore but it also isn't that good either. Don't get me wrong, this album beats almost all trancealbums released in 2009 but it just isn't as astonishing as Wildlife On One. Acidsounds made with TB-303 are still there but it's also step into more progressive sound at the turn of the millennia. It has good moments and it goes well from the start to the end but as a whole it just isn't that strong. But with re-release this album, I can only hope that some people finally realizes that what they refer as Art Of Trance-Madagascar is actually Ferry Corsten Remix. Original track didn't have that strong synth which is so well-known. Instead it's one very nice acid trancer.

The third disc introduces all kind of stuff. Some less known AOT-tracks and remixes are there. Of course there isn't any big idea, it's just track after another. But there is some good stuff. Swarm is good new track from mr. Berry and Persia is just overlooked. Other Art Of Trance-tracks are nice but doesn't really impress. Remixes also ranges from awesome to horrible. Clanger's version of Colours (made in 1993!), Sunday Club's version of Kaleidoscope and dBA's version of Turkish Bizarre are the best from the crop while I still hugely dislike Richard Durand's "techtrance by numbers" remix of Madagascar... and surprisingly it's more like remix of Ferry Corsten Remix. So is it Re-Remix? The album ends nicely with Chilling version of Calling Your Name, which actually has for once good singing from Jan "I sing in trancerecords" Johnston.

So the conclusion is that these three discs are just fabulous. For those who haven't listened Art Of Trance before, first you can be ashamed and then you can check this. It is totally worth it. For those who have heard about Art Of Trance, you have to think if Retrospective has enough stuff you don't already have. For the owners of Wildlife On One and Voice Of Earth this album probably doesn't offer enough new stuff. But if not, then you can also go and check this one. It's nice breeze from the past after all and I had at least forgotten, how great Wildlife On One actually sounds. Now all we can do, is to wait for Union Jack-album!


Ace tracks:
Wildlife On One: Kaleidoscope, Mosquito, Blue Owl
Voice Of Earth: Breathe, Madagascar, Easter Island
CD 3: Colours (Clanger Remix), Kaleidoscope (Sunday Club Lens of Atlantic Remix), Turkish Bizarre (DBA remix)


  • Destinova

    Nice reviews, I enjoyed reading them! I completely agree with you about the Ace Tracks on the AoT's Retrospective album. Just one thing I'd like to point out regarding the Durand Re-Remix of Madagascar: Ferry Corsten's remix is actually more of a remix the Cygnus X remix, which was released a year before Ferry's remix. So that would make Durand's version a Re-Re-Remix ;)

    15 oct. 2009, 11h26m
  • Quethas

    I know that and I actually like Cygnus X Remix more. But Ferry's version is better known and that's the reason why I mentioned that version instead of Cygnus X Remix.

    15 oct. 2009, 16h35m
  • Destinova

    Aha, okay, that makes sense. I also prefer the Cygnus X remix, it a very special atmosphere, I think. Glad that Tiësto chose to include that version of the track on his Magik 3 compilation...

    19 oct. 2009, 17h51m
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