Scratch the surface of a half dozen aliases this month, and you’ll find the feverish hands of Mr Barone at work. Under the nom-de-guerre Revolutionary Blocks, ‘SH101’ is simply the best of his camouflaged best. As with much of Gai’s output, a looser fit for the trance bracket, its deep, pulsating, ridiculously emotional voyage is carefully outfitted with melodic techno elements. String quiver (highly reminiscent of early Derrick May) meets trance chime and trilling FX to extraordinary ends.
Activa & Simon Bostock
Rare in the instantaneous digital era, but this number arrived with some advance buzz about it. Nonetheless, its charms were initially somewhat indistinct. As ever, down in the engine room, Simon & Activa raise all kinds of hell, but up top the picture’s less clear. Sometimes (as was ‘Contour’s case) you need to hear a track in a set context to really appreciate its potential; there's a devilishly effective, blink-n-miss lifty key change in the drop. After that — yes, indisputably, the track owns a pearl in the shell moment.
Above & Beyond
No shortage of Jono, Paavo and Tony around at the moment, it’s really only a question of what flavour you’re after. Headline-gobbling collabs? Then the Armin collabo ‘Show Me Love’ is for you. Or if voyaging experimentalism’s your deal, hit ‘Sahara Love’. But if you’re after a melodically-tipped A&B ICBM, with ‘Distorted Truth’, your rocket has arrived. Flutes and strings are the drop’s keynotes, which, when hitched to the full beam of its effortlessly dazzling mainline, deliver (but yet another) classic.
Vadim Zhukov feat. Megan Sampson
'Heart Connected '
Pure Trance Recordings
‘Heart Connected’ isn’t perfect. On a number of counts, however, it’s outclassing all others this month. Foremost among those is Megan’s enigmatic song. The rarest of attributes, it’s one that’ll have you edging forward to catch its next lyrical line. Even before that, Solarstone’s mix brings you skipping breakbeats, long held chord-soar and compellingly moving melodies. Certain latter sequences and tangents aren’t for me, but somewhere inside ‘Heart Connected’ lies the exceptional.
Paul van Dyk & Alex M.O.R.P.H.
'SHINE Anthem 2019'
Landing a full two months earlier than 2018’s inaugural anthem did, summer’s already well off the blocks in PvD world. Vibe-wise, this year’s hymn to the hot stuff was never going to skimp on temperate Balearic feelgoodery. The pads and chords have palpably cyanic accents, the rich mainline gives it its thermal lift, while its firmer bass conveys all the necessary floor-drive. Add a detailed, FX-flush production surround, and cumulatively you’re looking at an anthem in both name and nature.
Black Hole Recordings
‘Sky’ is the first single from ‘Three’ — the final action in Solarstone’s pop-art ‘One’/’Two’/’Three’ LP triptych. If you’re looking for wild deviations in Solar tone, best hit skip. If, however, you’re after another zoomed-in study in Solarstonery, you’re better served (and advised). ‘Sky’s recognisably throbbing bass pulse, detailed percussion and saucer-eyed vocal are readily equalised by unhurried grand piano, bleepily evocative sub melodies and a tangible sense of wonder.
'Space Lover (Remixes)'
Once a fairly unabashed (and unsuccessful) attempt at putting away a European chart hit, The Spacelovers’ ‘Space Lover’ has unexpectedly turned into something of a genre cult item. Reworked for his ‘Tales From Another World’ album, Myon exposes its not-as-kitsch-as-they-sound virtues to a new generation. Genix, Mitiska, Maywave and others have some interesting new approaches. Solely worth the endeavour for the original’s gleaming (and much-needed) remaster, though.
On first listen, the most subversive or indeed "Clandestine" element of ‘The Wretched’ appeared to be its title. In terms of feel, tech doominess prevails, with heavy use of reverb, warpy synths, slappy beats and bass, and stuttery, vaguely satanic vocoders. It teases the occasional light-side release, but ultimately never vents, capturing you in its darkly persuasive and thoroughly enjoyable kismet.
Greg Downey & Bo Bruce
'These Hands I Hold (Richard Durand Remix)'
‘These Hands’s MVP was always Bo Bruce’s almost uncanny channelling of that classic Perfecto vocal style (ala Grace, Zee or Jan Johnston). Four years after its original release, Richard Durand brings a synth, bass and tempo set-up that completes the picture.
Maor Levi & OTIOT Feat. Ashley Tomberlin
'Turn Out The Lights'
‘Haunting’ is a descriptive that’s regularly (and readily) applied to Ashley’s vocal style. Somewhere in the nexus of ‘lingering’, ‘captivating’ and faintly ‘otherworldly', she sounds like she may even be playing on her own etherealism here. The tone of the song and sonic on ‘Turn Out The Lights’ are breeds apart, as Maor & OTIOT musically assail with a tech-toned bombardment. And over progressive spins, well whaddayaknow? That oddest of alchemies occurs.