Gabriel & Dresden
The mark left by Gabriel & Dresden during the noughties was significant, felt deeply on classics such as 'When The Rush Comes', that paired stunning vocals with a deeper, more musical take on progressive trance. While they’ve been quiet the past decade, their recent 'The Only Road' album is their finest to date, and 'White Walls' is its most emotional dancefloor moment. Revealed as an epic anthem when Above & Beyond dropped it in their “deep” set at the ABGT250 event last year, it balances deeper grooves and delicate arrangements with a sparkly melodic euphoria. A gorgeous verse from Sub Teal leads towards a chorus where harmonies take the spotlight, Teal’s “coming home” refrain looped for hypnotic effect. It climaxes in an emotional breakdown, and even a psychedelic spinout right at the end. Vocal anthems don’t get any better.
'Bells Of The Revolution'
Drumcode signals its intent to remain a leader in mass appeal techno in the new year with a record engineered for big rooms. Bart Skils has little trouble channeling a dark, driving techno stomp, which he garnishes with a bubbling acid line that blossoms further into an extravagant melody, tethered to the record’s warehouse groove. For more big room madness, check out ‘Retrodade’ on the B-side, that lifts the classic vocal from ‘Everybody’s Free’.
'Let You Go'
Finnish producers Joonas Hahmo and K-System launched their Lumïsade project last year, the result of some serious time spent in the studio concocting a fresh, energized new take on the Balearic trance sound that defines classics such as Nalin & Kane ‘Beachball’. New single ‘Let You Go’ is the next chapter after their debut EP, a summery progressive offering grounded with solid house grooves, flush with Spanish guitars and sun-kissed Ibizan vibes.
Bodzin shows he’s still got what it takes to produce anthems for the house and techno A league. Sounding right at home on Tale of Us’s Afterlife label here, ‘Strand’ deals in dreamy, angelic trance with an extra side of harsh techno noise thrown into the mix. Its tech-house pulse ticks all the boxes for dancefloor function, while an early breakdown ushers in a feather-light melody that’s plucked straight out of late '90s trance. It’s a few minutes in when he delivers a gritty riff that ebbs and flows like it’s a spontaneous, organic creation from one of his famous live sets.
Another heroic Enhanced Progressive gem, this time with even more attitude and electro grit than usual. It’s the noisy basslines that typically dish out big room damage, and the brute strength on the bottom end of ‘Transcend’ delivers a feisty groove indeed. Among the fist-pumping, Chile’s Paul Arcane delivers a breakdown that’s genuinely ethereal, plus some '80s power chords after the drop. Powerful main room fodder that’s executed properly.
'Unified Vol 7'
The Zerothree crew launch into the new year with a fresh instalment of their ‘Unified’ series, a double A-side EP featuring a tougher selection than what’s typically heard on the label. Max Ruby shows his gift for imbuing melodic progressive with driving grooves on ‘Awaiting’, while Anden’s ‘Retrograde’ is a big room number that puts the focus on tension and build.
'You And I'
Flashover Recordings (NL)
Another slice of disarmingly lush progressive trance from Arty under his ALPHA 9 alias. ‘You And I’ kicks in at a swifter tempo than usual and shapes its momentum around a throbbing groove that’s wrapped with all the heavenly touches you’d expect from an ALPHA 9 record. The heavily distorted Russian vocal grab offers a nice haunting touch at the breakdown.