The Sound Of Happiness
Sundancer’s ‘Happiness’ happens in three distinct acts, each successively better than the last. The Romanian’s intro establishes the melodic case, before dropping dramatically into elaborately filmic, half-speed, almost Chariots Of Fire-like harmonies. Stirringly compelling as they are, even they pale when weighed against its rapturously elevating finale. No chest will be left un-swelled, and this month’s biggest without a shadow.
'Bird Feeder/The Walk '
Tinlicker’s third since jumping Anjunadeep’s rails and landing on the ‘Beats’ side of the tracks. Wasting not a runtime second, ‘Bird Feeder’ putters, chugs, grooves and beguiles its way through six minutes of highly effective prog-trance engagement. Underpinned by bassy roll, well-written sub-melodies, mellow 303 and nifty beat dropouts/bring-backs, it retains its edge throughout. If that sounds good, check ‘The Walk’ while you’re at it. Leaner and more linear, but no lesser a track for it.
Post the album’s release, no surprise to see this as the next single taken from Cold Blue’s ‘Winter’. Minor choke over the title’s spelling aside, it’s not hard to see why ‘Colors’ won the album’s popular vote. With well-crafted melodies and an altitude achieving mainline (shades of Jose Amnesia’s ‘The Eternal’ perhaps), the track’s also cock-on in its arrangement, structure and tension-laden build.
Stoneface & Terminal
'Floorlicker/New Jack City'
In their two-man crusade to give trance a subversive kick up the keister, SF&T will inevitably overclock it at some point. It won’t be on Kearnage’s ‘Floorlicker’ though, whose remorselessly driving techno-trance backing is further amped by a chanty, hooky, chopped-to-ribbons vocal. With its sensory-pummelling bass, acerbic mainline and out-there vocal, ‘New Jack City’ on Clandestine might be a precipice step closer though.
Joint Operations Centre
Whether by design or circumstance, Joint Operations Centre offerings have been drip-fed, clockwork-regular every year for the last seven. O’Callaghan’s latest canon addition isn’t as moodily marinated as some. Instead it opts for a robust bottom end, with hard-groove bass (tres 'Key4050'), fluttering, looping harmonics and a dubbily chopped up, 'Lionrock'-esque chant. Most pleasing to the ear it is too.
A single capitalised letter is an unlikely recipe for branding success. It’s served Mr. Project well though. Twenty+ years since his first, and the ingredients haven’t changed significantly. Dumbbell-heavy drums, sonorous one-note bass, acid warble and snaffled vocals (in this case, the old "music’s hypnotising" refrain) set it up. What has been revised (up) however is the number of different notable sequences that follow. I stopped counting when ‘H’ hit double digits.
'In Search Of Sunrise EP'
Of the three tracks premiering on Schulz’s latest ‘ISOS’ mix, ‘Sunrise Over The Bay’ is the most floor-forceful. It isn’t necessarily the EP’s best, though — a prize claimed by ‘Bells Of Planaxis’. All measured roll-out, metallically mechanised percussion, reverb depth and chime-charm, it’s also the most inherently ‘ISOS’ in nature. Between the two is Talla 2XLC-teaming ‘Mainhattan’, which has its no-nonsense stridence further compelled by underlying electro elements.
Seattle’s Emerge delivers something a little different to Scorchin’s door. ‘Petrichor’ or “the pleasant smell that accompanies rain after a dry spell” (save you looking it up!) is reasonably title-illustrative. It’s also relatively nippy and mucho punchy, but with a refreshingly cooler core. ‘Progressive’ would be too much to say, but balancing distortion and drive with ether and genuine presence, it walks a fine line well.
Solarstone & Robert Nickson
Pure Trance Recordings
As ‘Voyager II’ is to Solarstone’s ‘3’ LP, the sole purpose of an album’s intro track is to settle you in. No whitecaps or waves, ‘Voyager II’s piano-pondering proggy cruise is exactly as you’d anticipate it. Right up until the break, anyway. There, out go the conventions and it's swept up into the most momentously carrying leadline Richard and Robert could get away with. A Money Shot in any other month.