Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tiësto - In Search Of Sunrise 6: Ibiza (Original TC Review)

Songbird: 2007

(2013 Update:
In hindsight, writing such an overlong intro detailing my opinions of Tiësto's DJing was pointless, at least where TranceCritic was concerned. The website had been up for over two-and-a-half years and, through the other writers, our piece had pretty much been said. Of course, I couldn't resist getting in my 'official' say of the matter, but if it'd been
that important, why hadn't I just done a review of a Tiësto mix CD long before this one? On second thought, maybe that wouldn't be so good an idea, considering the quality of those early-early reviews.

Most of the time I find myself enjoying these sorts of mixes more than before, but I can't say the same here. I gave CD1 pretty high praise in this review, but it didn't grab me the same way this time. Not sure why. Maybe the surprise of a strong mix from Tijs is no longer so novel? CD2's still dross though.)


IN BRIEF: The sun keeps rising.

When I mentioned a long while ago that I’d eventually have my stab Tiësto, I never thought it’d be all at once. It seems this is the year I finally have to deal with everything the Dutch icon offers the music industry. First it was his studio work, the result of which was Elements Of Life. Now it’s his DJing, courtesy of the kind-of annual In Search Of Sunrise series.

As a DJ, Mr. Verwest’s skill isn’t exactly stellar, though hardly the disgrace some would have you believe. For the most part, he is an above-average jock, with typically good track selection in his chosen field and just enough competence on the technical end to keep things grooving. However, it must be said he has an infuriating tendency to force some of his mixes, which makes him appear amateurish when compared to the technical geniuses of the profession. (I’ve heard him describe this as ‘on the edge mixing’, a term that is incredibly laughable - if this is stellar DJing, then I could have been a DMC champion when making mix tapes with CD players lacking pitch control) Mind, it isn’t a completely damning trait, but certainly enough to raise the eyebrows of those who aren’t swept up by his ultra-hype machine.

Anyhow, let’s not dwell on this. Rather, let us look at what his latest attempt to find that ever-elusive sunrise offers us.

In choosing the location to be featured for this edition, Tiësto has scoured the globe for potential sunny lands. After much deliberation and thought, he settled on the completely unpredictable island of Kerguelen. No, just kidding. It’s Ibiza, which while a cliché choice is nonetheless a suitable one for an end-of-summer mix. You can’t beat tapping into the blissful Mediterranean atmosphere to re-capture warmth as the long cold of winter sets in. Rumor has it he specifically chose the vacation island as a means to rekindle his inspiration for DJ mixes. Has it, then? Let’s stick them CDs into the player to find out.

As usual, we start with the first disc. Straight-up, I’ll say this is the best commercial set I’ve heard from Mr. Verwest in quite some time, easily since Nyana’s Indoor CD. Tijs nails the Ibizan atmosphere right out of the gate, with gentle waves lapping at the beach while calming tones and pleasant synths emerge. From there, a nifty sequence of Balearic grooves, melodies, and vocals create an upward climb of dance music delights. And the mixing? Well, he telegraphs a number of them, but they hardly hinder from the overall atmosphere created. As for the actual tracks themselves, they’re a classy bunch, mostly on a housey tip with sprinklings of prog for good measure.

And worry not about all the lyrics, as none of them come loaded with the sentimental pap his peers seem to inject their sets with. Yes, they’re mostly about love, and the last bunch are unapologetically girly, but they are delivered in such a manner that is nonetheless pleasing to the ear. In fact, some of them are quite exhilarating; Ohmna’s The Sun’ll Shine, for instance. With a rhythm that could carry the track on its own (that bassline!), the energy in this tune is cranked further with a vocal that completely steals the show. Throw in a properly utilized breakdown at the climax of the song, and you have a clear highlight of this disc.

A point of contention though: Tiësto seems at a loss on how to segue his mix into the final sequence of mellow vocal tunes. Granted, Moonbeam’s offering is relatively subdued coming off of The Sun’ll Shine, but it’s still a rather bumping track, and makes for a questionable choice to lead into Somewhere Inside Of Me. The two don’t match at all, and the transition is jarringly abrupt.

Nitpicks aside, Mr. Verwest’s first disc is a definite keeper. Wish I could say the same about the second disc though.

Somewhere in there is half a CD’s worth of a decent prog trance set. Marzenit, Cloud, and Levi bring solid offerings, while Rio, Deadmau5, and Schössow deliver intriguing quirkiness with their tracks. And Tiësto’s own Dancing Water (as Jedidja) is a fun bit of nostalgia despite a cornball melody towards the end. Unfortunately, it also seems Tiësto had a bunch of tracks he really wanted to use for the first disc but couldn’t fit, so he hodge-podges them into here as best he can. The result is a mix that is quite erratic compared to the first.

And frankly, some of them aren’t even any good. Chief among these culprits are the inclusions of trite vocal cuts Falling and Imagination (is it just me, or is the industry trying to groom JES to be the next Jan Johnston?) and plodding nu-electro numbers Don’t Speak and Falling (yes, again; it really is an awful track). And then there is Nic Chagall, once again bringing the worst habits of his hard trance past (ridiculously long breakdowns and builds; grating siren-like hooks), slowing it down, and trying to pass it off as prog. Yeesh.

There’s been some debate over whether the In Search Of Sunrise series would benefit more by returning to a single-disc format, as the previous double-disc efforts have had a feeling of unnecessary bloated excess. I find this to be the case once again, although for a different reason: the inclusion of the second set diminishes the presentation of the whole. As a stand-alone, the first is a winner, and would have made for a lovely release under the Tiësto banner. However, it has this unruly messy sibling tagging along that, while at times entertaining, is lacking the kind of charisma that makes you want to hear it again (save for the generous use of a ‘track skip’ feature on your player).

Despite this, I still give Mr. Verwest’s excursion to Ibiza a strong recommendation. Eh? You find this surprising? Is it because of the more venomous things I’ve said about him in the past? True, I may not have much regard for the traveling circus he calls a concert, but that’s beside the point. I’m here to judge this here product, and by gum it’s pretty good. In Search Of Sunrise 6 probably won’t convert his staunchest critics, but those yearning for a return to form after the disappointing Elements Of Life will certainly enjoy.


ACE TRACKS:
Ohmna - The Sun’ll Shine (Sunrise Mix)
Deadmau5 - Arguru

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2007. © All rights reserved.


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