Saturday, December 26, 2009

CJ Stone - Satisfy My Love (Original TC Review)

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Bump!: Cat: # BUM03 (12" single)
Released June 9, 2004

Track List:
1. Satisfy My Love (Vocal Edit) (3:32)
2. Satisfy My Love (Radio Mix) (7:08)
3. Satisfy My Love (Original Mix) (3:18)
4. Satisfy My Love (Massimo Nocito Remix) (7:44)
5. Satisfy My Love (DJ Shog Remix) (7:47)
6. Satisfy My Love (Club Mix) (7:20)
7. Satisfy My Love (CJ Stone vs. Shy Bros. Club Mix) (6:26)


(2010 Update:
Definitely the first case of me grinding an ax over a producer, though somewhat tame compared to later reviews. I think it's because my distaste for euro trance hadn't quite reached its breaking point yet, though that definitely wasn't going to last.)



IN BRIEF: Stick to Euro house and leave trance alone, Stone. You just aren't good at it.

I've mentioned before how sometimes I'll hear a track from a producer for the first time and may become an instant fan of that person's work due to the strength of such a track. However, this is a two-way street and there have also been a number of producers I came to thoroughly despise after hearing an offering of their work for the first time.

One such man was CJ Stone. For the reason, let me take you back a couple years.

It was the turn of the millennium and anthem trance was beginning to fade from popular taste. Unfortunately, many producers hadn't seemed to catch on to the trend so the breakdowns, builds, and supersaws kept getting bigger and, of course, more redundant (unless you were new to the scene, of course). This wouldn't have been so bad in my eyes since I could easily ignore it while enjoying the 80s revival but a bit of trouble started when the major labels began to notice sagging sales.

Oh, what to do? I'm sure they cried. Why, the same thing all major labels do when struck dumb with new ideas: rehash old ones.

No matter what anyone says, aside from big beat and hip-hop, the most commercially successful form of EDM was euro house circa 1990-95. The combination of catchy pop melodies, sing-a-long choruses, and infectious energy still resonates to this day, and probably will for many more years to come. Obviously, this was the source to tap into to help rebound sagging sales in the dance arena.

While some acts saw commercial success (Lasgo, Alice Deejay, etc.), it wasn't enough to stop the bleeding. Instead, to commemorate the ten year anniversary of some of their biggest singles of the euro house era (and all time, really), the major labels re-released them with updated remixes.

I was intrigued, to say the least. Euro house was the first EDM genre I dove into completely and utterly. Ask me who some of the acts were and I could list off a dozen without a second's thought. While I moved onto other things eventually, the music still holds a special little place with me.

So, when I heard that the power group Snap! was going to have an update on their smash single Rhythm Is A Dancer (a wonderful little semi-trancer itself), I eagerly checked out who would get the duty for it. Many excellent trance producers had done Snap! remixes in the past (Oliver Lieb, Resistance D, Dance 2 Trance, Rollo & Sister Bliss) so surely they'd get someone just as excellent, right? Right!?

Alright, maybe I shouldn't have expected much from a then unknown to me CJ Stone but I did expect at least a little creativity. Instead, we got a paint-by-numbers supersaw trance anthem with the original's vocals just dumped on top. Maybe it would have been creative when that template was still fresh (like 125 years ago) but it was an utterly lackluster affair and a horrible update on a classic track. I swore off anything to do with CJ Stone from there on out.

Until today.

While as a reviewer I have a large selection to choose from what I'd like to cover, it would be highly unprofessional to only review what I like. It would turn TranceCritic.com into nothing more than a gusher's site, a very boring proposition. So, even if it may not be up my alley, I will give material from producers I'm not particularly fond of a shot. Just as unprofessional of me would be to let personal bias pre-judge what is on this single. While I'm not expecting much (I mean, c'mon; it's euro trance -if anything, it's gotten even more cliché ridden), I'll give anything a fair shake.

Most of the time the first mix on a single is a radio cut (called the Vocal Edit here), often cramming all of the major elements into a serviceable three-to-four minute sound bite. No exception here as we dive right into the meat of Satisfy My Love. There are quite a number of elements to work with here: driving rhythms; melodramatic synth washes; vocodered vocals lodged quite firmly between the realms of Dirty Vegas and Eiffel 65 in their effectiveness; little guitar strums; a rather interesting high-pitched synth lead; and superfluous sputtering supersaws. Oh, and yes there is a breakdown and build but, in a mix this short, it's almost inconsequential. In fact, this whole mix is, really. There's just way too much going on for such short periods of time that nothing gets a chance to settle. Undoubtedly most of these elements will be given more attention in the longer mixes so this one is pretty much ignorable.

The Radio Mix is mainly an instrumental and makes good use of that rather eerie synth lead, introducing it after some standard lead-in and a mild breakdown. Following it up with synth washes and harmonizing, driving rhythms is an effective momentum builder but it is sadly squandered by going back into an even longer breakdown, re-introducing the synth lead again for some reason at an incredibly tedious pace. While the song bumbles along for a bit, that other overused trance cliché -the Corsten synth- bubbles up a bit as a new element and, while it tries to get more intense a little later on, there's just no energy left to this song, almost all of it having dissipated after a rather promising start. Ah, well, it could have been worse; those annoying supersaws could have made an appearance instead (note: this is foreshadow).

Now this Original Mix is much better. Relying on house rhythms, the vocals flow with the song much better. Bouncy synth chords punch through the chorus and the eerie lead is relegated to a supporting role where it actually sounds much more effective. The vocals, really insubstantial fluff in the trancier versions, actually carry a little more weight here. Sure, the content is still kind of silly, but in the more light-hearted rhythms of this mix, their sing-a-long vibe fits quite nicely. The Massimo Nocito Remix mainly retains the same vibe as the original and expands upon it with a few longer stretches focusing on the synth chords, pianos, and mild breakdowns (blissfully none of which completely halt the song dead in its tracks).

DJ Shog gives us a remix that bares hardly any resemblance to either version of Satisfy My Love. In fact, this sounds like a completely different song altogether. A stormer of a hard trancer, the only thing retained is the synth lead, and that just sparingly in a rather useless breakdown midway through the song. Why is it useless? Well, nothing in it really relates back to the rest of the track. As soon as the breakdown finishes a minute and a half later, we're right back into the thick of chunky, guttural acid lines like we'd never left. What's the point in introducing a new melody in a breakdown if you aren't going to make use of it later on? Might as well just skip the breakdown all together and keep the momentum going strong throughout. In all, I get the impression DJ Shog just had this track lying around unreleased and used it for the remix, tagging the synth lead in the breakdown just to tie it into the original somehow. Hey, it's not an uncommon thing to happen in the industry, friends.

The next two mixes -returning to the elements heard in the opening mix- are essentially the same as well, the first retaining the vocals and the second taking them out and adding a little more bump to it. However, they are both ruined by, you guessed it, superfluous supersaws at the peak of builds. Of course, you have to get through two breakdowns and builds to even reach them but, by that point, who'd even be interested in hearing these clichés? For one, the Club Mix's use of them completely overshadows the need for the vocals as you can tell the whole purpose of the track is for that big moment when the supersaws break out at the peak of a second climax. Second, even when you don't have to concern yourself with vocals in the CJ Stone vs. Shy Bros. Club Mix, they come on with such force, pompousness, and arrogance, everyone who's heard such techniques run into the ground in the past (essentially anyone who's been listening to this brand of trance for more than two CDs) will laugh their asses off at how ridiculous their delivery is. Mind, they could be going for over-the-top theatrics but, given how serious the rest of these two mixes present themselves, I highly doubt it. I do like the breakdown three and a half minutes into the second of these two mixes, though -some nice, old trance sounds used there.

In the end, Satisfy My Love works when it's not trying so hard to be a serious trance track and instead opts for pleasant euro pop fluff. Almost all vocal trance tracks should take that hint in the future.

As for CJ Stone, well, I'll give him some due with the housey Original Mix and a somewhat unique synth lead but those supersaws are just trash. I doubted my opinion of him would change much with this release and, considering the same clichés are still here, it's going to remain the same for now. Better luck next time, fella’.


Score: 4/10


Written by Sykonee. Originally published 2005 for TranceCritic.com.© All rights reserved.

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