Saturday, December 26, 2009

DuMonde vs Lange - Memory (Original TC Review)


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Superstar Recordings: Cat. # 015 602-2
Released 2002

Track List:
1. Memory (Radio Cut) (3:19)
2. Memory (Original Mix) (7:46)
3. Memory (Lange Mix) (7:56)
4. Memory (Megara vs DJ Lee Remix) (7:05)
5. Memory (JamX & De Leon Mix) (6:34)
6. Memory (Original Dub) (7:07)


(2010 Update:
Alright, so I just wanted to namedrop a little DS9. Can you blame a Niner? Came up with a fairly decent review in the process though.)



IN BRIEF: Vile. Insidious. Just like the Federation

Before I dive into this review, allow me to get my geek on here. Oh, don't look so surprised. Every guy in Western society has an inner geek. Some just use it pursuing things more normally accepted by the populace (like cars, weight lifting, politics… er, music).

Anyhow, back in the 90s there was a little show called Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a spin-off from the ultra-popular Star Trek: The Next Generation (yeah, I know. Hard to believe anything called Star Trek was considered hip). A bit unconventional for a Trek show, it often showed points of view from non-Federation (re: alien) perspectives, and not always in the most human-flattering ways either.

Take the following discussion from two alien characters, Quark and Garak, a pair that often had self-serving interests for good or ill:

Quark: I want you to try something for me.
Garak: What is it?
Quark: A human drink. It's called root beer.
Garak: I don't know.
Quark: Come on. Aren't you just a little bit curious?
Garak: *Hesitantly takes a sip, then recoils in disgust* It's vile!
Quark: I know. It's so bubbly and cloying and happy.
Garak: *Smiling* Just like the Federation.
Quark: But you know what's really frightening? If you drink enough of it, you begin to like it.
Garak: It's insidious.
Quark: Just like the Federation.

Really, I can't think of a better comparison to Memory by the collaborative efforts of DuMonde and Lange (with Alexis Strum singing). Everything that I've come to despise in Dutch trance is in full effect here: the gargantuan supersaw synths, useless vocals, momentum killing breakdowns, and production techniques that use tons of effects to cover a lack of good song-writing; all style over substance.

Yet I just can't hate this song.

How? How could such a seemingly vile song bring a silly smile to my face without a trace of irony or cynicism?

Well, I'll give a large amount of credit to the rhythm. Sure, it's fairly uncomplicated stuff but there's so much resonance in it that it fills in those little sonic gaps with energy. The bass rolls along instead of just bobbing offbeat, making this an incredibly invigorating track.

It's more than that, though. While I've often said I have a dislike of supersaw synths, it isn't so much the synth themselves but the way they are used. Since this type of synth fills out such a wide range of sound, you can often have a serious lack of musical talent and still get away with making a monstrous track. Far too many songs have been produced with nothing more than random notes struck that sound cool, the odd time with an auto-arpeggiator thrown in for variety.

Fortunately, DuMonde and Lange had been at the game long enough to had learned how to write a decent melody when they made Memory, and between the three of them, they managed to create something a little more special than your standard Dutch fare. It's epic without being pompous; it's cheerful without being saccharine; it reminds me of many a euro dance melody.
In fact, Memory further supports my theory that vocal trance is just the new euro dance. Instead of choruses, though, we get the main hook on its own. And where raps used to be, we get a breakdown/build. For that this nu-euro (Whoa! New genre alert!) isn't nearly as good as its decade old predecessor, as I'd rather sing along to a rap than just stand around waiting for something danceable to start up again. It's still fun in a pinch, though, when I'm feeling in the mood for something lighthearted.

But perhaps you don't want that and desire a more straightforward trancer. Lange's mix of Memory should help you out with that, as the bass is more standard, off-beat fare with synth pads slowly building in intensity as Ms. Strum sings. It's a shame he decides to absolutely kill that momentum with a halting breakdown some three minutes in. The ensuing payoff nearly a minute later is okay given the strength of the melody itself (this time a little more subdued), and some of the lost energy is regained once the vocals return in a distorted fashion, but I have to ask whether it was necessary to take us to absolute zero in the first place? The song was doing fine before that dead stop a third of the way through. I mean, could you imagine how intense this song would have been if the rhythm was steadily building throughout as the first bit seemed to indicate it could? It boggles the mind!

But perhaps you'd just rather have something with more bounce. Then Megara and DJ Lee's remix will be the answer for you. Rather than synthy pads, we are treated to punchy Corsten-chords thrusting forth brazenly, making this mix far more exuberant. Oddly enough, without as much emphasis on big melodies, the lyrics stand out better, even to the point they actually begin to make a bit of sense. It seems this song's about a gal who can tap into the hidden secrets of the cosmos via the memories stored in her very DNA! Then again, it could just as easily be about past love as well.

Perhaps the breakdowns in these mixes haven't been long enough for you, though. Then DuMonde's own mix (as their JamX and De Leon selves) should be right up your alley, as you get to wait a whole ninety seconds for the payoff. Alright, the payoff is bordering on garishly theatrical, but it is insidiously catchy, taking the bounciness of the Megara/DJ Lee remix and cranking the effects to overdrive. Good stupid fun to be had with this mix, if you can just ignore the useless intro rhythm leading to the breakdown. Really, this would have been a better track if they got rid of it and made the breakdown a, *gasp* intro. Hey, it's a radical idea, but it could work. It's not like you'd be caught stealing techniques from old school trance since hardly anyone who'd enjoy this probably wouldn't give the stuff ten plus years old a glance.

Oh, and there's a radio cut at the beginning and an instrumental at the end of this release, but since they're basically the same song as the original, you can figure out how they go for yourself (hint: one's short, the other's got no vocals).

In the end, Memory is a fine enough bit of non-consequential fluff. I'd have liked to have seen a little more variation on the remixes, as they all basically follow the exact same structure while injecting the featured remixer's trademark sounds, but they are all serviceable without detracting from what makes Memory better than standard euro fare: energetic rhythms, and a vile, bubbly, cloying, happy, insidious melody that you can't help liking no matter how much you detest everything it stands for.


Score: 7/10


Written by Sykonee. Originally published 2005 for TranceCritic.com.

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