Reviews 11-24-2005 


Music Reviews TDE




Set 6

by Various Artists

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The latest in the Set… series is compiled by Aran Gallagher, aka Freq; the same guy whose Strange Attractors last year brought Iboga bang up to date to pretty much the hottest progressive label around. And it’s Freq’s own stuff, reworked, that opens the album. Carbon Based Lifeform gets a great rework from Sun Control Species, and boy is   it a delight. Drew SCS is at the top of his game at the moment, and his sounds here seem to play off
Freq’s incredibly well.  

As you expect with both artists, the overall effect is a hypnotic, driving one and the escalation is perfect. Liquid Soul then step up to remix Strange Attractor, which for my money doesn’t quite have the gleaming quality of
SCS’s remix, and sounds a little limp somehow. It’s still quite competent, don’t get me wrong – the warmth of the original is retained, the flow is still there, but it seems like a little too much emphasis is placed on the original’s melody, which is the focal point of a good 60% of the track. Know what I mean?  

On the original, the melody seemed to be like an accidental afterthought, whereas here it’s slapped in the middle, even having a chord change underneath it. Beckers’ Switch is one of the largest tunes of the year, and it’s remixed here by Ace Ventura, who’s turned in a pretty decent rework. The question is, however, whether we really needed another one. There’s nice clattering booty going on, but it makes the fragmented riff sound a little incongruous… and, sorry, but by now when I hear that vocal come in I’ve already had enough and I’m going back to my van. Zen Mechanics’ Environmental Porn has a good sound to it, and I’m happy to report that their progressive stuff is every bit as individual as the rest of their output. The vibe is resolutely widescreen here, the sounds are hugely expansive and at times you forget you’re listening to something electronic, it sounds so natural. It picks up splatters of twist and funk that remind me a little of Cosmosis, before a rather massive breakdown that drops into a hell of a final run. Morax’s Lost In The Woods opens with a fairly awkward groove, gradually gathering warmth and personality as it goes along.  

By the midsection there’s a multi-layer hook going on that’s got you right in the middle grooving away nicely, and the way the clean top end contrasts with the mulchy lows makes for a vacuum, cleared-mind dancing experience. Manuel Duego’s Deception is a bloody great track, very in-keeping with the kind of grooves that have been shaking the walls here at Castle Psyreviews lately. It’s perfectly-layered, ideally-pitched, not-too-floaty progressive trance with one hell of a breakdown and a drop that picks up a sprinkle of psychedelic. We like. Nasser’s Vovoli is a dirty little bitch of a tune (shall I say that again…. dirty little bitch. You like that? Pervert.) It’s sketchy, it’s deep, it’s playful and it combines the psychedelic expansion with straight proggy goodness to pretty decent effect. Casa Flava’s Further South (Deep Mix) is the strongest on the album for my money. Incredibly fluid, with hints of something that reminds me a lot of one of the old Global Underground albums. The breakdown is just delightful, it’s what this end of the spectrum is all about – expansive, tight, smooth and simply f**king sublime.  

Finally, Freq turns in a remix of Nyquist’s Singularity, and on the strength of this, Freq’s current productions are well-evolved (pardon the pun) from his older stuff. The percussion is tighter than a nun’s chuff, the bassline sucks you in like an experienced Thai ladyboy, and the melodies open up and embrace you like… like…. Reckon I haven’t got a similie? F**k you. Let’s go with: the melodies open up and embrace you like a younger Tina
Turner’s thighs. Hah. All in all Set 6 is an interesting release, although a bit too scattered to be really, genuinely essential. The future’s still looking bright for the Iboga boys, but Set 6 is no supernova.

 Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.


Another Theory

by S>Range

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S>Range’s third album is a bit of a departure from his earlier releases. 2001 was a sublime progressive album; 2003’s Space saw him fuse this with fullon sounds. Another Theory sees him firmly in fullon territory, with barely a whisper of his former prog sounds. While there’s nothing too challenging here, it’s extremely effective stuff and has the same impact as the first time you heard the likes of Silicon Sound or Pop Stream. Super Signal (Liquid Mix) starts as we mean to go on. It’s tight, light fullon with the emphasis firmly on the melody and the funk. The dancefloor isn’t really put through its paces in terms of intelligence, but it’s a right old floor-rocker that would sound perfect with the sun coming up and warming the back of your neck.  

Stand By takes a while to get going, and maybe relies on one melodic pad too many, before an annoyingly dreadful synth-guitar comes in that sounds like it was lifted off 1200 mics’ old hard drive. The tune would be soooo much better without that line in it. Technical Support has a mature and balanced quality to its production, and it doesn’t go quite so far over the top as some of the other tracks here. The result: a confident, fluid tune that’s bread and butter for yer morning sunshine dancefloor. The title track Another Theory is one of the weaker ones here, there’s not much going on in it and, although I can see it working in terms of holding a set together tightly, and it does have some impressive shivery melodic rushes going on.  

Dream Program is one of the highlights, it’s got “that energy” running right through it. The melodies conspire nicely to lift you up, the breakdown is an epic one and the drop back in is full of sparkly energy. Even the keychanges here seem to work. Bigger Picture is a little awkward, sounding forced in places, but it gets away with it; and Electric Forces is a tight little all-rounder, with melodies and breaks in all the right places and a good overall vibe flowing through it.  

Blue Sky, however, is where it all comes together perfectly. It has the sound, feel and general quality of a timeless psy track, with that sort of the-party-doesn’t-ever-have-to-end vibe going on. The sounds are tasty, they move in a slinky and sharp way, and of all the tracks on here for my money this one works the best. Sirius Vacation is the clear contender for final track out of this little lot, airy and floaty and with nice positive energy all round. At the end of the day, Another Theory makes sense in S>Range’s development as an artist. It’s not as thrilling as we may have expected, but as dancefloor-rockin’ tight n’ bright fullon goes then it doesn’t come much more effective than this. 

Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.


Idea FX

by Various Artists

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The techno-ey end of psytrance has always carried connotations of cyborgs going mental to the sound of a drill smashing through Midi Miliz 12's, but Idea FX does well to distance itself from that -- what we've got here is intelligent, emotive, evocative techno that's of interest to anyone with even a passing interest in electronic music.  

Epi Centrum’s Noise Exodus is a tasty opener, with slide-saw skitchit noises layered over a set of frightmare backing noises to delirious effect. What starts out initially caustic and sparse picks up bags of groove and a pinch of psychedelia, creating a hypnotic and positive vibe that sucks you in, eager to hear more. Hali Frogz’s Wotau has been on heavy rotation here lately, and I’ll tell you why. It’s beefy, ASBO-techno with a snarling, growling bass sound that’s right out of Ed Rush & Optical. Know the sound I mean? Evil drum n’ bass bottom end that filters and snarls and generally scares the shit out of you. Oh, but it sounds amazing – and on a big rig it would shake the hairs off the underside of your scrotum. Literally.  

Fuzzion is one of psyreviews’ favourite producers at the moment and E=MC2 is pretty darn tasty: a farty, smarty bassline rumbles underneath clattering noises, a lot of which again would sound more at home in drum n bass and, by their inclusion in techno, are farken wicked. Weird Walker’s Layer-1 is an industrial cacophony of textures and thunks, all piled together to create an awful lot of power, particularly when some more soothing pads come into the background to give it balance. Fuzzion’s Launcher is the best one of his I’ve heard. It’s got a sort of negative-riff in it, where the sounds all sort of conspire of themselves to create a riff that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Very intricate, very groovy, and the little melodies and beatskips set it off that little bit more.  

3 Lay Airs’ BMW is hectic and mental, but when it breaks into four simple chords it’s among the most beautiful moments in electronic music of the year. It’s one of those tunes that sounds epic enough to have been recorded years ago, but still sounding great now – and I’d casually predict that it will still sound as good years in the future. Tasty. Metalogic’s Forcefield is less organic than the sound on his recent album, but the way that the sketchy, crunchy beats mould around the frontside of some seriously nice, vangelisy chords is impressive. Fuzzion turns in an unlikely, but wonderful, remix of Bigwigs’ Vibrafon… and those Twin-Peaks’y vibe stabs have never sounded so neat as when tilted against this sweetly farting electro.  

Worm Food’s The Shakes is a great display in how techno can take so many incongruous, opposing sounds then melt them together to create a solid groove – you’re never quite sure exactly what’s making you move, all you know is you’re moving. Epi Centrum’s Drapacz Chmur is crazking, it’s uber-cool electrodiscotechno with knobs on. A sleazy 136bpm, it’s all about the bassline and the colourfully subtle changes it goes through. The breakdown sounds like the dying moments of Rufus and Chaka Khan circa Ain’t Nobody, before it’s off again into booty-shaking goodness. Mass Turbo’s Archival is uncomfortable funk, a little too scratchy and with pads that are conspiring to make a sound as caustic as possible; in which sense, mission accomplished.  

Finally, Triple Distilled’s Expertiza is a marvel of moody technoid soundtrackery, taking ages to slink and slurp its slow-motion way into fruition… a disturbing and unnerving end to the album. Crunchy, punchy and with plenty of meat on the bones, Idea FX is a nice proposition if you like your genres melted and your beats served raw. There’s more soul and depth here than I was expecting, and when that comes together with the often jaw-dropping tunes on offer, added together with their flat-out psychedelic individuality, it makes for a pretty tasty little package. 

Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.



by Meller

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Bit of a departure for Tribal Visions here. Just as Inner Circle seemed a bit of a dazzling change from the likes of Lime Light, Rockable is another step in a different direction. The deal is, five new tracks from Meller (Marco Scherer and DJ Mel) which also get remixed, by a varied smattering of psy and prog artists from around the globe. The result is… well, it’s a little awkward. Rockable is a clattering, not-quite-fullon stompfest that just begs to be played outdoors on a big rig. The vibe is baggy, lean-back-and-shuffle stuff, very bass chakra. About half way through it picks up a cracking low/mid riff that pans around your head nicely, a really nice touch that gives the track grounding. All that bugs me about this is the “welcome to the future” sample that’s just too overused – I say it a lot lately, but I’d pay double to hear a version without the vox.  

Fatboy is nondescript deep fullon, with another daft male vox. Its saving grace is a low, swelling bass and a couple of vaguely threatening noises in the middle, but it’s largely unfulfilled. The vox issue comes back with My Favourite Man, which is a great track ruined by an over-used sample. Trying to get past that, we’ve got a terrific sound going on, half prog and half fullon, with a solid “slowly waking up” sort of vibe going through it. Phase Nacht sees it all come together, mainly because these vocals are nowhere to be heard. The vibe is wonderfully strong, the progressive elements work well up against a squelchy, dubby backdrop and you’re hard pressed to stay still while this one works its magic.  

Aurora is your number one money shot. It’s incredibly smooth and dreamy progressive, feet floating several inches off the floor, with an effortlessly smooth feeling of love gliding along through it. F**kin top class lads: everything about this track is simply perfect. Thinking of these five tracks as a sort of mini-album, it kinda works – it sounds like it’s the “best five from nine” on a normal album, which can only be a good thing. For the second half, they get remixed: NASA’s remix of Rockable is intensely better than the original, less reliance on the vocal and with more motion in the sounds.  

Rinkadink sends Fatboy boiling over the edges of taste: it becomes a bastard crossover between a demonic Daft Punk having a eurotrance moment. Skip. Tegma’s take on My Favourite Man is an improvement on the original, again with less vocal hook, and two ginormous breakdowns that fit better in a thundering killa fullon set than anywhere else (although the breaks in the second one work wonders.) Etnoscope turn Phase Nacht into a more brooding, moody little bastard of a track, with more emphasis on cyclic percussion and movement that’s clever but sort of does my head in.  

Finally, Vibrasphere take on Aurora and what a nice little number they’ve come up with. Perhaps not quite as emotive as the original, but a lot more subtle – just as you’d expect from the masters of their genre. All in all this is an interesting release, but not one I can see many people going back to time and time again. The progressive bar is currently a tad higher than this.  

 Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.


Sonic Solutions

by Various Artists

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Yay. Broken Toy’s remix of Damage’s Bringdanoise knocks spots off the original, it’s a heavy-set, clattering beast of a track that just gets the energy stacked up like plates at a carvery, before flinging them out at you frisbee style, smashing into the backs of your family’s heads. Digital Talk’s Far Side is a lot less dynamic than some of his older material, this seems to lose its way here and there; it lacks energy and most any point in the track sounds identical to the rest of it.  

Much less disappointing is XTra Unit’s Mutant Rebellion, a f**king great record. The energy here is just great, it’s tingling with excitement as it builds up classy line after classy line until the breakdown where it drops in about four seconds of Backstreet Boys (or is it N Sync) before getting seriously, seriously meaty. A. F**king. Belter. We’re also in for quite a ride with Chromatone & Random’s Alien Hunterz, currently top of my list of tracks to play when the vicar comes round for tea. Except not. It’s busy, monu-metal stuff with more acidised scythe-slashes than you can lose your lunch to, together with a pulsating, twitching bassline.  

Phatmatix’s Human Poison has a neat sound, almost like it’s several years ahead of its time, beamed back through insane broadband connection. The riffs are all solid, there are plenty of changes going on, and it straddles that line between kickin’ and too-hectic perfectly. Shift’s music has always been, for me, about as friendly as testicular cancer and once again the lad doesn’t fail to disappoint. Terror Former is just rude, its vibe seems to slightly ‘lag’ making it sound lazy, but then the layered rudeness and energy on the top keeps the flow going strong.  

Phyx’s Contraband is pure bread and butter for this end of the trance spectrum. It escalates like a dream, keeping you guessing as it goes along, with clash splash percussion leading the way. By the time it finds its feet, it drops you headfirst down a waterslide-like riff that’s just a dream… utterly tight, effective, delicious music. Azax Syndrom’s Asnamus is better than some of his other more recent output. His sound seems to have gotten a little more sanitised lately, more in keeping with yer normal fullon stuff but this still has the fat energy that he made his name with. Still a far cry from his earlier material, and this sounds a little like early GMS to me. Anyway, it kicks and it rinses (in equal measures), with a midrange that’s to die for and carries you kicking and screaming along with it.  

The only one here that doesn’t really deliver is Artifakt’s Dendron. Notable for taking discord to a new limit with some atonal chimes, for some reason it’s limp and despite a corkin’ post-break drop, the production is a little too fluffy and negligible to do the tunes patterns justice. But anyway – cast that aside, and you’ve got one f**kin nice compilation here. Where Timecode used to be scary, scathing scratchy music, this stuff has combined that neatly with a fluid and addictive sound to create a wonderful, warm feel. Great stuff all round – we like. 

 Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.


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