Armin van Buuren Vs. Shapov
La Résistance De L'Amour
Against some odds, Armin’s team-ups with the EDM-oriented Shapov are serving pure-form trance. ‘The Last Dancer’ was fine work and ‘Our Origin’, high grade. ‘Résistance’, however, aces them both. A sleek, moody and confidently unhurried production platforms a cooler number, with BBE-ish bleeps swathed in celestial sweep. Add to that bass with groove, an en Français vocal, spot-on key changes and a smartly truncating electro sub-melody, and ‘Résistance’ lands top la month’s pile.
Markus Schulz & HALIENE
‘Ave Maria’s delivered in Latin, regularly ranged in the mezzo-soprano and contains libretti like "mulieribus" and "peccatorbus". When singing it, basically, there’s nowhere to hide. No studio magic’s getting you through this one. With extraordinary top-note reach and perfect pitch, HALIENE sounds like she was born singing it. Produced as a final tribute to his mother, Markus’s interpretation equalises ‘Ave’s vocal lament with a positive, vivid post-break updraft. Moving without a doubt.
Been a while since we’ve heard anything from Steve. 12 years in fact. Biggest enigma beyond that is how the so-so ‘Flotation’ got elected title track. The likewise psy-oriented ‘Vibrations’ is far more notable, especially in its acid-catalysed second half. ‘Sun Flickering’ is Birch on more common ground: its harmonics afforded no end of studio lustre. ‘Merry-go-round’ gets bleepily deep, conjuring superb atmospheres, while the melodically excellent ‘Dream Machine’ marks the EP’s highpoint.
Two newies from the freshly reactivated Mr Gibson. ‘Krystalised’ offers the more ‘seasonal’ of the two, hooking a warm mainline around moderated acidity, and leaving the floor urgency to its compelling sub-riff. Fast forward a couple of club floor hours, and AJ equips ‘The Whip’ with more robust bass, less restrained acid and plenty of character. Not least of which is its jacking leadline, which sets the break off brilliantly.
Stoneface & Terminal
Would sir/madam care for some 303 with that? Don’t mind if we do! After some strong centre ground offerings on FSOE recently, Stoneface & Terminal return to the deregulated margins of Clandestine. LFO’s the other prime mover in ‘Orbiter’, twisting the bass as a riff and for maximum drive. Elsewhere, hi-hats hiss, percussion rides and, at a cruising speed, acid evolves, darkening our floors in the finest of manners.
'SH101 (The Remixes)'
Into the second half of 2019, and with Gai Barone’s ‘SH101’ personally still in line for trancer of the year, here come some remixes. Gai’s ‘Music For Some Masses’ rework dials down those techno aspects, but ups the bubbling acid and the mainline’s evocative steel drum sound. The ‘Morgen’ remix is initially chilled, spacey and beatless, before working itself up with metallic FX, warping synths, skiffling percussion, sci-fi-like atmospheres and unwavering drive.
For me, Vrilik’s music always falls between ‘good’ and ‘very good’, without ever managing to hit the highs of ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding’. However, in those former groupings, he’s consistent as hell (a feat in itself these days). ‘Symbols’ and ‘Pandora' are but the latest examples, again highlighting his most notable trait. Their just-fine supporting productions have no standout elements, existing solely to stage more innately heartfelt, elaborate and gem-like mainlines.
'We’ll See (Sean Tyas & Waio Remix)'
Tyas & Waio meet head-on over Patterson’s 10-year-old ‘We’ll See’, and a more kinetic and unpredictable stylistic collision it’s hard to remember. Through psy bass patterns, zooming FX and intoxicating sub-melody contrast, the intro does keep you guessing some. Tyas evidently takes the reins in the drop, building lump-in-the-throat chords around a super-honed lead. Waio lets them have their moment, but then literally “hacks” the remix, hijacking it to his own psy ends. Heard-to-be-believed material.
Mark Sherry & David Forbes
'Yerba Del Diablo'
With masses of shared universe, this, surprisingly, is the first in-name studio meet for the two Scotsmen. Individually, with form across near enough the entire trance gamut, pre-listen it was still a bit TBC in terms of its style. ‘Yerba Del Diablo’ (‘Tea Of The Devil’, as best as we can tell) does ultimately skew to the harder side. ‘Dominator’-esque stabs, vocal chops, riff flambé and rabble-rousing mod-wheel work all combine to make this one of July’s toughest.