Saturday, September 3, 2016
Ferry Corsten - Twice In A Blue Moon (Original TC Review)
Welp, so much for cautious optimism from the Ferry Fan Camps. Not only did he fully completely jump on the arena house bandwagon, but he did so in such a wacky way with Markus Schulz, you wonder if he was having a mid-life crisis regarding his DJ career. I get the reason for that whole New World Punx thing - what better way to capitalize on the ballooning festival market than as a 'supergroup' a la Swedish House Mafia - but man, did the PR for the 'project' ever look ridiculous for a couple of the scene's elder statesmen. Yeah, totally we can hang with the kids at these mega-events - they like cartoon ninjas, right?
That Corsten would abandon trance isn't a surprise though, as everyone with scene clout had to if they wanted to keep their profile high in a changing market. Nor am I surprised that ol' Ferry is inching his way back to trance now that the gravy train has started showing signs of deflating, most notably testing the waters last year with a new Gouryella single. Or maybe this was his plan all along, lure the kids in with modern cheese, then unleash his vintage cheese upon them, the cheese that you do so well. Who knows, though it leaves this album in a weird no-man's land between Corsten's different eras of music making. Does anyone even remember anything off Twice In A Blue Moon?)
IN BRIEF: Back on form, but…
When Ferry Corsten’s newest album - Twice In A Blue Moon - opened with a dull deadmau5 thunk-clap-thunk-clap beat, I instantly feared the worst. Although the famed Dutch producer had been accused of running dry on fresh ideas in recent years (even by our own resident Ferry apologist J’, no less!), you still believed he would never jump on a bandwagon. Yet, here he was, offering up a just-better-than-average mau5 tune with Shelter Me. The plodding rhythm, the bare-bones melodic execution, the bland effects: Zimmerman staples, all. Could it be that Corsten had succumbed to the pressure of following trends, that his days as innovator truly were long gone?
It’s funny. Despite opinions on Corsten’s music being contentiously split between fan and foe, folks seldom disagree on the merit of his ingenuity – after all, he made his name by being a leader in his chosen field. So when he appears to have become a follower, one can’t help but feel saddened by such a notion. You continuously root for the innovators to keep innovating, as they are the ones that push the arts into interesting new directions – even if you don’t personally enjoy it, such artistic evolution still creates a positive reaction in that it spurs discussion. In short, many may not have liked what Corsten did to trance, but damned if they didn’t like talking about it. If he’s become a mere trend-jumper though, then what’s the point in discussion?
All of these musings played out in my head for about the length of time Shelter Me played out in my player; which, despite a half-decent melody somewhere in there, should tell you how interesting the track is. The over-prominent thunk-claps continue into Black Velvet; fortunately, unlike typical deadmau5, Corsten writes a pleasant song featuring a rather inspired vocal outing from Australian singer Julia Messenger (given his years in the profession, you can count on Corsten being a stronger song-writer than the guy wearing a mouse mask). From there, I realized that my initial worries were for naught, as Corsten gets ‘contemporary’ only one other time, with the double-effort in Life - Doorn production (re: boring beats with non-climaxes; very anti-Corsten, really) coupled with whiney male singer.
The rest of this album finds Ferry going more to his popular roots. Aside from one last 80s gasp with the italo-inspired We Belong (which uses elements from the old hit Happy Town by Fun Fun), Twice In A Blue Moon features a good deal of simple euro-trance with energetic beats, the kind of sound many fell in love with when they were discovering the Dutchman at the turn of the century. Whether it’s because he’s grown nostalgic for his glory years or simply decided to provide what his fanbase prefers from him is open to debate. Bottom line is if you’ve been pining for the Corsten of old, you’re going to get a good amount of enjoyment out of this album.
For those who haven’t, however, you may end up approaching Twice In a Blue Moon more cautiously. In going back to the late 90s, there isn’t much here that is groundbreaking either. Corsten’s style has long been of simple punctuality, and the tracks on this CD don’t break rank from that; the melodies are mostly straight-forward and cheery, though hardly standout. Tracks like lead single Radio Crash and Brain Box feature prominent big hooks which will easily lodge in your head, although Brain Box will undoubtedly draw Zombie Nation comparisons (and what’s with that silly big horn blast? I swear I thought it was a semi-truck outside when I first heard it blare out). Meanwhile, he follows a more traditional melodically epic path with Gabriella’s Sky, Shanti, and the titular track, with each of these featuring a different twist on the formula: serviceable break-beats on the first, far-East vocal sampling for the second, and melancholy baroque with the last. These three tracks are easily the best on the album. Oh, and the final ‘outro’ track sounds like one of those piano interludes you might hear on an Enya album – again, whether that’s good or bad will depend on your preference for such musical doodling.
Unfortunately, much like his previous efforts, Corsten’s vocal offerings remain typically generic. Aside from the aforementioned Black Velvet, none of the singers provide anything memorable. Well, Maria Nayler kind of does, in that it has that cool vocoder effect on her voice, but her lyrics are rendered moot by it – she might as well be singing, “I’m blue, da ba dee!” Betsie Larkin, an obscure singer-songwriter from New York City, makes her major debut here with the other lead single, Made Of Love, yet another by-the-book vocal euro-trance cut. For those who can’t get enough of playing sing-a-long while jumping in one spot with their hand in the air, I’m sure this track is heaven – me, I take it as my cue to fuck off to the bar (especially so with the oh-so cliché supersaw breakdown, though thankfully kept brief here).
There isn’t much to fault with Twice In A Blue Moon, but neither is there much to highly recommend either. Aside from a few instances, it comes off like a rose-hued nostalgic trip to Corsten’s memorable years - which, of course, isn’t such a bad thing. However, Ferry’s music has always been generally limited in scope (big, epic, anthems! …umm…), and such limitations remain as apparent as ever.
Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2009. © All rights reserved.
Twice In A Blue Moon
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