A remarkably larger number of riders crowding this month’s Money Shot field, and ‘Particles’ — for a time — wasn’t even a runner. Darren's considerable confidence in the track’s sweepingly elaborate nine-note riff is not misplaced. Featured near enough start to finish, every single spin or reprise of its enrapturing piano chime stages another revelatory moment. Melodic, filmic, those myriad flashes just keep coming… until you’re left with no other conclusion.
'Anastasia (Jam El Mar Remake)'
No one in their right mind would attempt to translate ‘Anastasia’s terrordome riff into trance for the hell of it. So we’re clearly in labour of love territory here. Jam’s approach is canny: he takes a page out of ‘Hardtrance Acperience’s book, working up through several levels of 303 intensity, which beds the riff in gradually. Beautifully handled, it succeeds in blunting the original’s in-yer-face-ness, turning it into something far more hypnotic.
Each track notably deeper trance in nature, this is a significant tonal change from last year’s highly progressive ‘Bliss' EP. ‘Attraction’ takes you on a sleek, thermally rising glide up a faultless production gradient. Presumably made inflight, ‘Perth To San Diego’ is the EP’s dark horse. Notably mellow until the drop, it then adeptly (and somehow subtly) layers on masses of bassy drama, taking the EP’s gold. ‘Manifest’ is a close runner-up, channelling FSOL’s classic ‘Cascade’ riff into a thundering prog-trance express.
'Imagination (Will Atkinson Remix)'
Can a remix ever really have too many ideas? Or be too ambitious? Not on this evidence. Will has grand plans for his ‘Imagination’ rework and, at nine minutes, has given himself plenty of time and space to execute them. Along the way, you get atmospheric breakbeats, floor-thirsty bass, big stabs, meaty-yet-meaningful progressive tranches, Balearic guitars, sunspot pianos and, finally — finally — big synth altitude. All of this is somehow wrangled to cohesion by Atkinson — short-changed you will not be.
Cosmic Gate Feat. Foret
'Need To Be Loved'
Wake Your Mind Records
A reluctant genre classic, Cosmic Gate’s approach feels profound, while brilliantly splitting the difference between the devoutly progressive original and its king-making trance remix. The attention to detail in its production telegraphs much. Seemingly intent on constantly upping its content ante, each sequence arriving bests the previous. Asset-wise, singer Foret proves to be the release’s first among equals, echoing the complex emotional balance of the original’s song faultlessly.
Stoneface & Terminal
'Need You There'
Clicking back over to FSOE’s mainline to, no doubt, service primetime feels, SF&T momentarily drop their Clandestine counterculture. It’s a measure of Matthi & Henry’s abilities, though, that the thrill-line remains constant. Its uplifting efficiency is top-notch, naturalistic too, and further — through its bleepy sub-riff — sports a cooler contrast. Comparably, the vocal is authentically moving and, while ‘Need You There’s chorus refrain isn’t my favourite moment this month, it's a minor point when weighed against its virtues.
'Shadows Of Depth'
Oh Mr Matter, is there no end to your wizardry? Tellingly, ‘Shadows Of Depth’s flair lies in how it equalises (wholly instinctively, one senses) the darker tones and lighter contrasts. It then unrolls that across nine gripping minutes. Lively, woody percussion gets paired with dark FX; funkier bass notes with moody intro riffs, and so on. It’s all clever distinctions, and as the balance tilts near-imperceptibly throughout, it pulls off a classily uplifting closing third.
'Sol's Theme/Miracle '
‘Sunburn’, Rolo’s Anjuna debut, caught the attention last year and, after some outings on Enhanced and Zerothree, this EP marks the New Zealander’s return there. Stylistically (so you know where we’re at), these two would have been sitting pretty on Anjunadeep five years ago. ‘Sol's Theme’ appropriately is ‘the warm one’, packed with pads and creatively developed melodies. With a deeper bass burr, male intoned vocal and sci-fi-ish FX, ‘Miracle’ ships something moodier. Both as fine as each other though.
'The Sandwriter EP'
Mike Saint-Jules has definitely been expanding his remit over the last 12+ months. ‘Sunrise Over Saturn’ is so close to deep house as to make no difference. With ‘The Sandwriter’, though, the release makes prog-trance landfall, stirring up chunky percussion with coolly sumptuous melodies and lavish string work. ‘Dear Earth’ commences in the same lane, before swirling in an enthralling bleepy melodic techno tint.