*To see a playlist from this episode, head to http://www.aboveandbeyond.nu/radio/abgt016*
This week’s episode started on a good note with last week’s “Record of the Week”: “Animus” by Soundprank. Several highlights from last week’s show also made appearances in a mix that I’d characterize as very toe-tapping. (At least, at my desk my toes were quite tapping). A very good selection of melodies and lyrics to go along with those beats resulted in another very good mix on the whole. After listening to “Animus” in the opening slot I like this track a bit more than I did when I wrote the review for Group Therapy # 15. I think that the more basic nature of the track suits the lead-off role more than in the midst of the mix because you can go so many different directions after it. I was also glad to see that “Lights” was in this mix as well. That track has become one of my favorites currently and it is getting a lot of play-time from me right now in my listening.
Once again, several really great tracks stood out in this set. I’m hoping we’ll see more playtime of these tracks in the future:
- ”The Sun After Heartbreak” [Pedro Del Mar & Double V Remix] – Paul van Dyk feat. Sue McLaren & Arty – Good grief, what a long title for both track and artist! However, length aside, this is a track that I think will become a staple in mixes. It has everything you’d look for in a good trance track: uplifting lyrics sung by a slightly whispery and mysterious voice, a nice bridge with heavier chord-work that builds itself up, and a melody that’s not too complex and not too basic with some great iterations.
- “Skylarking” – BT – Considered another of trance/progressive’s “godfathers”, BT is someone who I listened to when I was old enough to buy my own CDs. Anything new by him always gets my attention and it is very rarely that he disappoints my musical tastes. This is hardly a disappointment to my ears, though it almost felt out of place at first. Though it has a catchy beat behind it, this very melodic track gives the impression of a cool-down piece at first. Ultimately the beat is firmly established and we have something beautiful to feast our ears on.
- “Dancing Sea” (The Madison Dub) – Ana Criado & ‘Adrian & Raz’ – There are a few ‘voices’ that have helped shape the trance and progressive sound over the years. Aruna is one, and another is Ana Criado, whose voice is on display in this track. I’m not as familiar with Adrian&Raz as I should be, but my research tells me that they’ve worked under a lot of names before. Definitely a solid track with good vocals and a good melody to back those vocals up.
Record of the Week: “Aldo” – Norin and Rad
From past listening experience this duo tends to focus more on the harder side of trance music. No vocals here; this is purely instrumental. It is also another Anjunabeats Volume 10 track, which likely added to the list of reasons for it to see time as Record of the Week. From an instrumental standpoint it’s not too bad with a main beat that then goes to an almost dubstep sound with a back-beat during it’s bridge. Again, it’s not anything I’d consider to be too special.
Push the Button: “Dream Into Reality” (Mike Shiver Dub Mix) – JPS feat. Mirva
This almost made my watch list last episode but ultimately I left it off because I felt that three were sufficient. This is a very nice vocal track that is just a bit light and airy for my taste. Unlike “Lights” the vocals here are are limited to four stanzas which, to my mind, is a bit limiting. Tracks like this one leave me feeling like the track was built solely around four lines of verse. Don’t get me wrong – it has a good melody and good beat.
Flashback: “Give Me Luv” – Alcatraz
1990s dance music is a bit old for my tastes but, at the same time, my personal favorite track “Children” by Robert Miles came out in 1995. Unfortunately, “Give Me Luv” is hardly the trance powerhouse that “Children” was. The reason for the track was more a flashback of one of A&B’s members to when he lived in Helsinki – which is where Above & Beyond are heading for their upcoming tour. I respect self-promotion, but this track is just a bit too old-school for me.
Guest Mix: Jeremy Olander
I’m not out to put Above & Beyond down, but it seems to me that Olander was chosen as much for the fact that he’s on the Helsinki tour as anything else. I guess I’m not yet used to this sort of promotional work just yet though I suppose that, after some thought, it is to be expected. Now, as seems to be the case in a lot of guest mixes, Olander largely used his own work in the set. He is definitely of the “old school” when it comes to trance as his set seemed to blend together but was not particularly melodic in tonality. After listening to the first two or three tracks, the word that came to my mind was “monochrome”. Once you got past the first track or two there was some color to the set but not a lot. Guest Mix Score: 6.5/10
Overall set score: 8/10