I’ve come to the conclusion that as I get older, I’m becoming less forgiving of certain things especially in terms of reviewing compilations. What I could once overlook, now annoys me more and more especially when listening to releases from well established DJs who have been on the dance music circuit for years. I refuse to accept a compilation that is slapped together with a few big name tunes and stamped with a superstar DJ’s name just for the sake of releasing something. I want more and I expect more!
One DJ who I’ve gladly followed over the years has been Holland’s Armin van Buuren but his inaugural debut last year for his “A State of Trance” series left a lot to be desired in my books and I found the calls for ‘trance compilation of 2004’ utterly laughable. This year’s addition to the series, “A State of Trance 2005”, is thankfully, a very different story. Quite frankly, it’s a better class of compilation then what I had expected and that pleases me, as a fan, greatly.
The first part of Armin’s “A State of Trance 2005” is aptly titled ‘Light’ and kicks off with Interstate’s brilliant vocal giant, “I Found You”. A luxurious progressive trance track that typically sets the tone for this part of the compilation. This feel continues with tunes such as Hidden Logic presents Luminary’s “Wasting”, trance giant Markus Schulz’s “First Time” and Max Graham featuring Jessica Jacobs’ beautifully atmospheric “I Know You’re Gone”.
An upward melodic shift comes into the mix with Mike Foyle presents Static’s “Space Guitar” with its obviously soothing guitar riff throughout which in turn is a favourite of mine. The melodic tension continues to mount with the likes of Ave Mea’s “In The End”, Elevation’s “Ocean Rain” and the galloping beats of Probspot’s remix of Locust’s “Aerospace”. Probspot has to be one of my favourite producers/remixes and with this remix he continues to solidify his standing in the trance sector. A truly addictive tune that stands out effortlessly on this compilation.
With Armin van Buuren’s new tune “Shivers” coming into play, the mix is now in typical AvB territory of uplifting, melodic trance which is exemplified even more with Enmass’s euphoric “Beyond Horizon” which follows on perfectly as does Kyau vs. Albert’s “Falling Anywhere (Rework)”. From here on until almost the very end, things don’t really change that much but along the way you get the pleasure of hearing such beautifully crafted tunes as the Armin van Buuren remix of Fragile featuring Alex Lemon’s “Inertia”, the John O’Callaghan remix of Sophia Sugar’s “Call of Tomorrow” and Marcos’ “Cosmicstring”. With the final track, John Askew’s “Mood Swing”, a slightly darker tone is introduced which is the perfect set up for things to come on the second part of this compilation.
The second part of “A State of Trance 2005”, entitled ’Dark’, starts on a surprising note. I was expecting it to pick up where the first CD ended but with “Simply Blue” by Peter Martin presents Euthanasia, things begin on a peaktime progressive tip. This particular tune could lay waste to any dance floor at any time. That feel continues with Nu Frequency’s monster tune “808 (Why Oh Why)” followed on by one of my favourite producers, Andy Moor with his mammoth “Halcyon”. Then it’s on the deeper melodic bass of Derek Howell’s remix of Ahmet Ertenu’s “Why”. Things take a darker shade of melody with the Preach remix of Oliver Lieb vs. Preach’s “Papel” and continues along that path with Remy’s beat rumbling “Crackdown”.
The tempo swings back to an upward feel with Gabriel & Dresden’s melodic “Arcadia” which has turned into a massive track this year. Things continue along this melodic but still very progressive trance feel with the Max Graham remix of Tilt’s “Twelve” and then explodes into one of my favourite tracks on this compilation, Matthew Dekay vs. Prolocutors’ “The Deep Show”. This particular track just builds and builds and when it hits its peak, you know it’s dance floor brilliance! Following on perfectly is Recluse’s “Emotional Void” which keeps things on an even keel with its chugging bass and Adam White featuring Martin Grech’s “Ballerina” which has a more typified trance sound but with a vocal quirkiness.
A slightly harder tone is introduced with the E-Craig 212 Vocal Mix of Blank & Jones’s “Perfect Silence” but still keeping things on a melodic tip. This continues gradually with Kyau vs. Albert’s “Made of Sun (KVA Hard Dub - AVB Edit)” followed by the more banging elements of M.I.K.E.’s “Massive Motion” and Eye Wall’s “Bad Deal”. As we near the close, a deeper, galloping bass kicks in with the Santiago Nino Dub Tech mix of Hammer & Bennett’s “Language” and then a decline in tempo is seen with the Fred Baker remix of Liquid Overdose’s “Ancient Space” finishing things off nicely.
I guess it’s a sign of the times when DJs normally associated with trance start to include more ‘progressive’ sounding tracks in their live sets and compilations while those that are synonymous with the genre have virtually given up on it. While Armin van Buuren has always incorporated progressive elements into his sets and compilations, it’s becoming apparent that this is a sound he is becoming more and more acquainted with. ‘A State of Trance 2005’ is the perfect example of this move and it’s one that I’ve been waiting to happen from this talented DJ and producer for a while.
My opinion of last year’s “A State of Trance 2004” is a simple one. I thought it was utter shite. While there were some very cool tracks on that particular compilation, overall I wouldn’t even have used is as a coaster! This year’s addition to the series is a different story. It’s more enjoyable then expected and has an overall cohesiveness that was lacking in its predecessor. For me, this just boils down to the fact that the track selection, and their positioning, is a far superior effort which results in the compilation’s flow being much better. Add to that Armin’s technical prowess and you have yourself one very, very good trance compilation that has a perfect crossover appeal.
CD 1: Light
1. Interstate - I Found You
2. Hidden Logic presents Luminary - Wasting
3. Markus Schulz - First Time
4. Max Graham featuring Jessica Jacobs - I Know You’re Gone
5. Mike Foyle presents Statica - Space Guitar
6. Ave Mea - In The End
7. Elevation - Ocean Rain
8. Locust - Aerospace (Probspot Remix)
9. Armin van Buuren - Shivers
10. Enmass - Beyond Horizon
11. Kyau vs. Albert - Falling Anywhere (Rework)
12. Fragile featuring Alex Lemon - Inertia (Armin van Buuren Remix)
13. Sophia Sugar - Call of Tomorrow (John O’Callaghan Remix)
14. Marcos - Cosmicstring
15. John Askew - Mood Swing
CD 2: Dark
1. Peter Martin presents Euthanasia - Simply Blue
2. Nu Frequency - 808 (Why Oh Why)
3. Andy Moor - Halcyon
4. Ahmet Ertenu - Why (Derek Howell Mix)
5. Oliver Lieb vs. Preach - Papel (Preach Remix)
6. Remy - Crackdown
7. Gabriel & Dresden - Arcadia
8. Tilt - Twelve (Max Graham Remix)
9. Matthew Dekay vs. Prolocutors - The Deep Show
10. Recluse - Emotional Void
11. Adam White featuring Martin Grech - Ballerina
12. Blank & Jones - Perfect Silence (E-Craig 212 Vocal Mix)
13. Kyau vs. Albert - Made of Sun (KVA Hard Dub - AVB Edit)
14. M.I.K.E. - Massive Motion
15. Eye Wall - Bad Deal
16. Hammer & Bennett - Language (Santiago Nino Dub Tech Mix)
17. Liquid Overdose - Ancient Space (Fred Baker Remix)
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