Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ferry Corsten - Fire (Original TC Review)

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Flashover Recordings: Cat. # FLASHCD002
Released October 28, 2005

Track List:
1. Fire (Radio Edit) (3:44)
2. Fire (Extended) (7:21)
3. Fire (Flashover Remix) (7:21)


(2010 Update:
Man, confrontational or what? I guess I was itching to let out some of my gripes of Corsten's brand of trance for a while, and went for it here. Not a good review by any stretch -even the snarky attitude here isn't as clever as it hopes to be.)



IN BRIEF: Give me 80's or give me death (by fire).

Well, gee, what more can there be said about Ferry Corsten that hasn't been psychoanalyzed to death by scene scrutinizers and would-be historians? As a guy who almost single-handedly popularized an entire musical movement, supplanting nearly every other form of EDM as the premiere genre in the process, his place in history is pretty much guaranteed. I suppose the only debate that still rages regarding Corsten is whether that place will be remembered with reverence or infamy.

But screw all that. I'm going to tell where Mr. Corsten stands with me.

To be blunt, I grew to despise the Corsten style very quickly (so apologies in advance for any snide comments to come, as some habits are hard to break). Not so much the songs themselves (although they'd get a bit loony on occasion) but the way they were used by DJs. I'm sure you all know the drill: pumping rhythm gets you psyched for a minute or two, it recedes to introduce a happy-go-lucky melody for a minute or two, song builds back up for a minute or two, finally accumulating to an energetic climax played out for a minute or two. Vintage Corsten, right?

This formula was so successful, nearly every new trance producer (and even a few older ones) shamelessly copied it, right down to the exact same synth patches Corsten used. To this day, the formula continues to be milked despite it having overstayed its welcome by a good three years (or six, for some). Worse yet, a great number of DJs ended up hammering these types of tracks endlessly through a night. While such songs make for good peaks in a set, when they are played over and over it creates an annoying stop-go-stop-go-stop-go flatline of momentum. Anytime you feel you get somewhere, you end up taking a few steps back due to killed rhythm.

Is it fair of me to blame Corsten for this? Probably not, but it was his tracks and remixes that set the atmosphere for many a flatlined party for me, and those boring nights have become fixated with his sound in my psyche. As a result, nearly every time I hear a standard Corsten type of track, such memories come back, and I'm bored of what I hear. It cannot be helped, as that's just the way music and our brains work. Until some good memories are replaced with the bad ones, those Corsten tunes that were overplayed with such redundancy by bad DJs will continue to draw my ire unless something amazing is done with it (looking at the state of trance these days, I do not hold out hope).

Of course, this has nothing to do with Fire.

It's no secret Corsten's changed direction in recent years, moving on from the sounds that made him famous. While many seem to be calling his new style 'electro trance', I personally call it 'using a different preset because the sawwave button is busted'.

Okay, jokes aside, the newer sound used in Fire is kind of refreshing if you've followed his career. I'd hardly call it trance, as it almost sounds like the kind of stuff you might have heard in the early hi-nrg clubs. The songwriting is stupidly simple, with the main hook repeating throughout as additional twinkly melodies and harsh effects come and go.

Oh, what's that? You've already heard that hook? Well, sure. Fire is essentially a cover of Duran Duran's Serious, right down to Simon le Bon's opening lyrics being lifted and repeated throughout. I guess I could moan and bitch about how the pillage of the 80's continues unabated, but I like this track just enough to give it a pass. That hook is far too catchy to complain about the big picture right now.

The Flashover Remix sees Ferry having fixed the sawwave button on his synth, so we get a pretty standard trancey overhaul of Fire. The main hook is subdued in the form of sweeping synths as it gradually builds throughout while all the other elements play out as they did in the original. And, of course, there's a standard breakdown and build, which is inoffensive enough provided it gets used properly in sets (I wouldn't hold my breath) but nothing revolutionary either. Granted, there was a breakdown/build in the original too, but it was much shorter and far less obvious, as there were enough noisy effects going on throughout it that it never felt as though the pacing was thrown off.

And, to be honest, I think the fact we didn't have to sit through so many of the usual Corsten clichés is what helps this track out more than it really should. Yes, the hook can get a bit annoying if listened to for a while, but it is also perfectly catchy in that you'll find yourself humming it to yourself long after its been played. The rest of it sees Corsten sticking to his strengths and foregoing what I always perceived to be his one weakness: the danceable rhythms are still there but the peaks of the song aren't as anticlimactic as a number of his tunes have been in the past (yes, I know I'm in the minority on this one, but who's writing this review -you chowderheads, or me?).

Although I'm covering the initial CD release of Fire, I thought I'd be generous and also do a quick bonus review of the vinyl-only Ron van den Beuken Remix.

Ahem...

This remix is sweet! Consisting of hard, driving, German (styled) trance that scrubs away all the goofiness of the original in favor of a sinister atmosphere, there's far more energy to this than the other mixes. Beuken's version is guaranteed to pummel a dancefloor with its aggressive edge.

If you don't own a turntable (probably many of you) and you want to be honest and legally pay for this remix (probably not as many of you), I highly recommend you pester Mr. Corsten with e-mails to include it in future CD releases of Fire. Until then, I'd say hold off on picking this up, as you'll probably be hearing the original all over the place on radios (underground and popular), clubs, compilations, and passing trendster cars to get your fix in the meanwhile.


Score: 7/10


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

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