Various - Distance To Trance as reviewed by Wotzenknecht

December 8, 2009
edited over 12 years ago
Okay, back to serious business : this compilation is bloody great ! Although I got it quite recently, I know I would have loved it and cherished to death back in the days. Everything sounds familiar yet well preserved : fortunately, very few of those tracks sound dated, if any.

The opening track is stunningly beautiful. Progressive to the extreme (the build-up lasts six minutes !) but what a stomper. Classic trance, there you have it : Paul Van Dyk's "For an angel", Dance 2 Trance, cute melodic oldies such as Blue Alphabet's. More than once you'll get hints of goa trance, thanks to X-Dream for instance.

Then comes CD2 with some serious shit. Paraglider's melancolic tidal waves are a blast, notwithstanding the following track by LSG (the same guy, actually) who lifts you up with some epic distorted synth. Then comes AGAIN Olivier Loeb, this time in a collaborative effort under the moniker 'Psylocybin' (how original) for a very technoid assault. We will skip the terrible Cosmic Baby to conclude with the most dreamy part of this compilation...

...Which starts with a nice yet childish tune from Protect System - nothing very engaging nor problematic. At last, here comes the hard trance classic "Lost In Love" which you could hear in every european radio for a year after its release... erratic, highly emotional, perhaps a bit repetitive but excellent nonetheless ; same can be told about Aurora Borealis' Milky Way : overhead but heck - I grew up amidst those soothing melodies yet it did not gave me any Peter Pan syndrome or other mental diseases after all. Two tracks remain : DJ Hooligan's flowing, almost liquid rhythms and of course the proto-euro-anthem trance goodness "Schöneberg". It aged a bit (especially regarding the acidic synth and the pseudo-tribal voice samples) but wonderfully ends this great time travel.

A real must-have; and if you're still doubtful, have a look at the discogs ratings, as they speak for themselves.

Zhi Vago* - Dreamer as reviewed by Wotzenknecht

December 6, 2009
edited over 12 years ago
Yes, this was part of the dream trance movement. Yes, nowadays this sounds terribly cheesy to the untrained ears. But you now what ? I don't care !

This single is a classic I've been listening so much when I was 10 or 11, it simply defined my ears for years before the inevitable teenage crisis. I'll defend it heart and soul - because besides its obvious commercial purpose, it had it : heart and soul. Like La Vache's "Free your Mind" or some Robert Miles' hits I don't even have to name ; it was so simple yet so powerful you just couldn't let your mind resist to its call. Butterflies & rainbow, piano & reverberation, touching melodies & warm feelings... you've got to be a dreamer.

Transwave - Helium as reviewed by Wotzenknecht

December 2, 2009
One of the finest albums ever ! Transwave have always been one of my favourite acts, mainly because of their "Ulysses part II" which I have been listening way before being able to put a genre on it, but with 'Helium' they just went one step further.

Helium is quite a strange album to experience. It has more to do with a long mystical journey rather than a collection of goa hits. In fact, the whole album sounds like a musical act separated in several chapters ; it is way more enjoyable at home in the good conditions (I won't tell you more about those as I don't want any policemen to break into my flat) rather than in any outdoor party.

As for me, the first chapter embraces tracks 2 to 6 after the chilling prologue. It tells a lot about shamanic rituals but also about spiritual aesthetics - don't forget that trance will ever remain something sensuous and evocative while the real mystical experience using functional music (such as Voice of Eye or Halo Manash) can be way more frightening. Anyway, it's a kind of safe and pulsating path that is offered here, from excellent acid assault like 'Trashish' to Etnica-like melodic stompers ('Zero Density') . Climax often bursts two minutes before the end of each tracks, which is very erotic to my opinion as it works just like those steps in male ascension to orgasm.

Second chapter : slower, heavier, more dense. 'Hypnorhythm' begins with a nightmarish sub-bass intro, then drives you into a spiraling state you won't forget that easily. 'Biolab (Epilogue)' is my favourite here : a very long and meditative trip with incredible chorus lines and a finale to die for. It sounds just as if Biosphere would have tiptoed into psychedelic trance.

Hard to find, hard to forget...

Mark Allen - Deck Wizards - Psychedelic Trance Mix Wotzenknecht

December 1, 2009
I hate and love this one.

I love it because it may be the best goa trance mix I ever heard. It's just ridiculously outstanding, powerful, immersive. The mixing is perfect and smooth, the balance between goa and more psy tracks (Rhythmystec) is very well adjusted and there isn't any moment where the trip loses its direction, from the epic start to the superb down-tempo final movement.

I hate it because it used the most perfect track to start the most perfect mix, thus forcing every other DJ to use weaker tracks for their own mixes. The opening of Greenflow is like a huge sunrise, just before you realize that the fireball is directed towards yourself. It burns your skin at 1'47" and rip it again and again until your body is ready to receive what the outer plane has to give him.

"Free your soul - Let the body burn."

Various - 21st Century Trance Wotzenknecht

December 1, 2009
I bought this one on sale, and I think I understand why. Although it's worth your attention, it contains way too much filler tracks. It also has this distinctive 99-00's sound production which sounds nowadays sperficial and artificial. But if you happen to be just like me - always trying your best to hunt down any good things to enjoy - here's my little pick.

You will have two kind of good tracks here. The first ones are merely instrumental, often long, with antagonistic feelings and epic breaks or purposefully repetitive patterns. Dj Tatana's "More Than Words" is the perfect example of this. Third Bass' "System" and the quite deep and minimal Ballroom - "4AM (Marc O' Tool Mix)" while both being shorter also convey this. The John '00' Fleming track is also a powerful example of epic sense without having to fall into ridiculously long or uplifting breaks.

As for the other kinds, they use female voices in a good sense - to enhance the main melody such as El Dorado's "Be free" which reminds me of a blend between Niels van Gogh's "Pulvertum" and Future Prophecy's "My Way". One of the very best tracks is the incredibly long "Bullet In The Gun" by Planet Perfecto, using two very different breaks to make it grow higher and higher while remaining at full speed.

As for the rest, it is unfortunately stuck between good and bad without being totally bad - just "ok" tracks that fits with each other that you can forget as soon as they end. At least it succeeds in having no cheese in more than three hours, which is already a good quality point.

California Sunshine - Imperia Wotzenknecht

December 1, 2009

Sometimes the artwork says it all...

Dimension 5 - Transdimensional as reviewed by Wotzenknecht

December 1, 2009
An old classic, fortunately repressed thanks to Suntrip Records.

What defines a classic goa record ?

1) Simplicity over complexity

Take that, new-schoolers. Hear how simple the dreamy and uplifting "Deep Space 5D" is. Learn how to use space and time instead of adding huge layers of ultra-complex melodies one atop each other, then drowning everything into an ocean of reverb. Learn to know how the mind reacts to certain sound and patterns - learn buddhism.

2) A universe in each track

Ten tracks, ten unique moods. From cosmic mysticism to numbing bliss, notwithstanding the mind-fucking psychotropic experiences of both "Omega Centaurus" and the incredible "Harmonic Convergence". The melodies stay in memory for a long time, and for nothing in the world would I let them flow away.

3) An ending (Ascent)

No, this has nothing to do with Brian Eno. Or does it ? Learn that a downtempo track is not a pitched-down full-on stomper: again, it has to tell a story of its own. Remember how the best Transwave tracks always were their slowest one ? Speed is a measure, not a goal. "Flow" is beautiful, oneiric and chilling to the point of being terribly addictive.

This may sound paradoxical, but classic records often define their own rules. A tip to remember. "Transdimensional" is unique although no other album could define more flawlessly what goa trance is about. Yes, they are other classics out there - but guess what ? They use their own rules as well. It's no use trying to catch their spirit these days - they are already way beyond stars, between past and timeless hyperspace.

Electric Universe - One Love Wotzenknecht

December 1, 2009
The title track is one hell of a ride : two leading melodies that never cease to spiral up and down just as the male and female principle's everlasting fight for equilibrium. Just when it starts to get very repetitive comes another blast of acid synths, finally leading to a one octave-up melody to enpower the uplifing aspect of this masterwork. 'One love' should really last one hour, perhaps more.

Then you have 'Orange Night', very deep and, well, nocturnal. Then you have the very simple yet beautiful 'Equilibrio'. Most of these tracks are built like a flow in which you are invited to drift with a grin on your face. Pure bliss without even falling into new age considerations, just as goa trance sounded in the mid-nineties, although this release is far more deep and melodic than psychedelic. Unfortunately the album loses a bit of its focus after Electronic Pulsation and falls into something more chilling and "acid-ambient" (?) which is hard to really consider after such a powerful succession of timeless classics.

Anyway, this cult album is worth chasing for 'One Love' itself and you'll find way enough energy and life in the other tracks to brighten your mood and spirit for a long time. While the former user wrote "Dance or die" ; Considering the pure ride offered here, I'd rather go for "Live and dance" !

Man With No Name - Moment Of Truth as reviewed by Wotzenknecht

December 1, 2009
edited over 12 years ago
In my humble opinion, Man With No Name suffers from the same disease as Astral Projection : it sounds just like bubblegum. Although I prefer MWNN to the latter, it still makes me wonder how can people not realize how chubby and childish the melodies and the rhythms are; I mean, can you really listen to the second track without wondering how on earth can we compose such a lame intro ? It reminds me of times when I used to compose with "Rave eJay" softwares, trying my best in creating the next trance masterpiece. They all sounded the same at the end : terrible intros with ultra-predictable development and inevitable 16/4 patterns with snare breaks at the 16th measure.

Although 'Moment of Truth' fortunately places itself way above these long forgotten disasters, it is still very predictable and ear-candy. No psychotropic violence nor hyperspace travel, just sweet rhythm and synth with its good moments (the full-on 'Low Commotion' outstanding the whole album). As for the remaining tracks, they're a bit stuck with highly melodic and all-audience friendly eurotrance textures that just didn't match my tastes.

Randy Greif - Alice In Wonderland as reviewed by Wotzenknecht

July 17, 2009
edited over 12 years ago
Randy Greif's twist on Alice in Wonderland is ridiculously misknown and underrated.

It's like the Residents, Nod, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Pierre Henry, Illusion of Safety and Deutsch Nepal having fun collapsing Lewis Carroll's tale with new dimensions. A kaeidoscophic and psychedelic unquiet dream that can become either mind-numbing or nightmarish ("You Are Old Father Williams" reminds me of Scott Walker's "The Drift"). Most of the time the listener is put into a kind of trance or numbness until the recitation comes again like a bubble exploding at the surface of this mudd. Sometimes the mudd turns into quicksand and absorb oneself until asphyxiation.

If you see it, grab it and try either a five-days sleep therapy or a one evening marathon : madness in its most erotic state.

El Sueño De Hyparco - IF as reviewed by Wotzenknecht

July 9, 2009
A truly underrated album.

It's just as if Atomine Elektrine had ideas to put on its sound, add Lilith's extremely sharp production and there you have it : an experimental album made of crystal and ice, huge reverb and Schulze-like electronic sequences. 'Prelude', 'Giga' and all that follows are exceptionnal, all dreamy and fascinating. Too bad there's some improvised filler tracks that lack focus, because "IF" could have been a real gem if a little more attention had been paid to coherence and structure.