Friday, December 25, 2009

Various - Tunnel Trance Force Vol. 30 (Original TC Review)

Best Price: $59.02tunnel trance force 30

Sony Music Media: Cat. # SMT 517977 2
Released August 30, 2004

Disc 1
1. DJ Tiësto - Adagio For Strings
2. Paul van Dyk - Crush (PvD Remix)
3. Nature One Inc. - The Golden 10 (Festival Mix TTForce 30 Edit)
4. Cosmic Gate - Tomorrow
5. DuMonde - Kalt (Original Mix)
6. Kindervater - FTP://013.07.974
7. 4 Clubbers - Sonar (Club Mix)
8. Age Of Love - The Age Of Love (Marc Et Claude Remix)
9. Niels van Gogh - One Way Out (Oliver 'Reloop' Klitzing Remix)
10. Danny C vs. John Moon - No Way Out (Danny C Mix)
11. Abel Ramos - Aquarius (Randy Katana Remix)
12. Mike Dragon - Orange Song (Alex Megane Remix)
13. Sensorica - Few Days Away (Nostrum Remix)
14. Marty van Nilson - The Fear
15. CreamTeam - Samurai
16. Derler & Klitzing - Dedicated
17. Accuface - The Change (Reworked 04)
18. High Power - Hypnosis (DJ K-Van Remix)
19. Krid Kid - Another Dimension
20. Hunter And Lauks - Everything I Want

Disc 2
1. Special D - Dust To Dust
2. DJ Ornator - Next Life (DJ Ornator Remix)
3. Rocco - One, Two, Three
4. Crash 'N' Burn - Sunrise
5. Axel Coon - Lamenting City (Lacoon Remix)
6. Dynamic Ds - Rock Da Floor (Arena Mix)
7. Mission Control - Standby 2004 (89-er's Remix)
8. Mario Lopez - Sound Of The City (Nature 2.4) (Mario's Club Mix)
9. Calderone Inc. - Maximum Power (Mike Nero Remix)
10. Angel Beats meets DJ Merlin - Power To The People
11. Busted - Bitches (Paranoid Remix)
12. Modern Art - Let There Be Light (DJ CID Remix)
13. DJ Greenhead - In The Name Of Love (Dave Joy Remix)
14. Sa.Vee.Oh - Nohacker.exe (Original Mix)
15. Lagoon - Beam Of Love
16. M.U.M.M.S. - Up To Find My Mind (Late Night Mix)
17. DJ Enjoy vs. Punisher - No Rules (Club Mix)
18. DJ Shane vs. Waveliner - Connected
19. JFS - The Raider
20. Voodoo & Serano - This Is Entertainment (Club Mix)

(2010 Update:
As mediocre as this release was, it was actually quite significant as far as my early writing goes: it marked the first time I realized the ridiculousness and futility of detailing every single track. I just couldn't bring myself to do it, as it seemed pointless when all the tracks did the same damned thing. Of course, it'd be a while before I actually abandoned track-by-track writing altogether but at least I'd gotten the hint.

Can you believe this CD goes for nearly $60 on Amazon today?)

IN BRIEF: Energetic, but my neck gets sore after half an hour.

Believe it or not, despite having followed trance music since, well, damned near the beginning, this is my first foray into the Tunnel Trance Force series. Apparently Tunnel Records has been doing these compilations for as long as I've been listening to this branch of EDM so it feels kind of weird that I should take a gander at one of their many, many, many compilations so late in the game.

However, if this volume is any indication, it doesn't seem like I've been missing much. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is a bad release but it certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

The trouble here is the fact there are twenty tracks to get through on each disc and only eighty minutes to work with at the most. That leaves an average of four minutes per track, which wouldn't be so bad if but for one problem: the incessant need for so much trance these days to use breakdowns and builds that can last from a minute to nearly three minutes. It doesn't leave much room for any kind of momentum to get going when there is more 'stop and go' than a traffic jam in L.A.
The opening twenty minutes of the first disc is a prime example of what I'm talking about here.

Things start fine enough with Tiësto's own interpretation of Samuel Barber's Adagio For Strings. While I feel Adagio has been played out and covered enough by other acts, Tiësto does manage to do a few interesting things with those familiar opening string chords by playing them with several different sounds, including chunky distorted acid, symphonic strings, ethereal pads, voice pads, synth pads, space pads, rocket pads, parachute pads, pillow pads, yo' momma pads, and so on. Coupled with heavy rhythm that cranks and pummels the bass to ten on the dial, and we're off to a good start here. The breakdowns that occur along the way are fine, as opening tracks can often use them to set melodic tones for the rest of a mixed CD.

The mix into Paul van Dyk's Crush is brief and functional (as will be the rest of the mixes on these discs, really, so there's no need to bring up DJ Dean's mixing from here on out). However, it mixes right into a breakdown of the song and, while the synth stabs keep some semblance of momentum going from before, it does go on for a while. By the time the song builds back up into fast driving rhythms again, the song is already mixing into Nature One Inc.'s offering of The Golden 10. Not even a minute later, we're right back into another breakdown, this one even more halting than the previous as the rhythm disappears altogether to allow some synth pads to play while one of those Menacing Voice vocals goes on for some time. It's nearly two minutes before any kind of rhythm returns and, while the thundering kicks cranked to eleven are energetic, we only get a minute of it before we're quickly mixed into Cosmic Gate's Tomorrow.

I'd carry on but I'll just end up repeating myself. This cycle continues for half the disc's playing time: quick mix into the next song, maybe a minute at the most of opening rhythm (with the kicks still pummeling at twelve on the dial), followed by a breakdown that slows things right down for a time directly proportional to the amount of time there was rhythm previous to it. Stop, go, stop, go; it never feels like we're going anywhere.

The second half of the first disc isn't quite as bad with the overuse of breakdowns and builds but it wrecks havoc with another aspect here that makes it such a chore to listen through: the overuse of the same bloody screaming synths. Aside from a few exceptions (Mike Dragon's Orange Song, which opts for a plinking sound for half its duration, and Accuface's, The Change, which uses some synth washes at points instead), you'd swear you were going in circles; barely any song changes much. And, although Hunter & Lauks's Everything I Want makes some improvement with an entirely different crunchy synth coupled with the screaming synths, it's too little and too late since it's the last track of this disc.

Now, I'm not faulting the individual tracks themselves. There are some truly exceptional tracks to be had here like DuMonde's Kalt, Marc Et Claude's remix of The Age Of Love, and the aforementioned Everything I Want. Additionally, the rest would hold their own in a mix or compilation with more variety but that's the problem here. Since all of these hard trance tracks bare so much similarity to each other, and they don't have time to really do much beyond give you their main screaming synth melody before being shoved aside by the next track, nothing stands out from the rest.

The second disc fares somewhat better, though. Hardstyle's the name of the game here, which means whereas the first disc had its beats cranked to thirteen, they get turned all the way up to fourteen here. Also, for a good chunk of this disc, the momentum is kept going at a very steady pace.

Okay, so it opens up with Special D's Dust To Dust, a track that's almost malicious in its use of false builds (click here for more details on my thoughts of it) but it works, mainly because it's at the very beginning of the disc. With no momentum yet built, you aren't really killing it either.

When the quick mix into DJ Ornator's Next Life occurs, it is into another breakdown as well but this stands out and remains interesting for the simple reason that the plinky little melody and benign pads are different from the sounds used in the previous track; it isn't treading the same ground already covered, unlike the first disc which was guilty of doing so. With this unique element, the screeching synths that come back at the peak of a build don't become superfluous, instead harmonizing quite nicely (well, as best as hardstyle can harmonize, I guess).

The trend continues into One, Two, Three by Rocco and Sunrise by Crash 'N' Burn, always keeping things interesting with distinctive synth melodies accompanying the screaming synths and intense rhythms cranked to fifteen. Axel Coon's Lamenting City really stands out from the rest thanks to some female operatic samples providing a wonderful contrast.

Things take a slight dip with Dynamic D's Rock Da Floor, though, partially because the Menacing Voice makes a return here to try to pump the crowd up (he's never really had much appeal to me) but mainly because compared to the previous five tracks, this one's just kind of monotonous. It can't be that difficult to keep the diversity going, can it?

Standby 2004 by Mission Control (with a remix done by The 89-ers) helps rebound a bit thanks to a melody that's admittedly catchy but then Mario Lopez's Sound Of The City drags us down again due to a breakdown that just had to use that other annoying voice, the Mother Gaia. She goes on about how man and nature have to come together or some other damned thing but do we really want to hear this now? This is hardstyle, man. We want to get off our tits with beats cranked to sixteen pummeling us! Go away, y'tart!

Calderone Inc. returns us to form quite nicely with a screeching synth melody that is infectious in how it sticks to the mind, setting us up for the next track which is, put simply, incredibly energetic. I may have ragged on DJ Merlin's collaboration with NXP as being trite but working with DJ Dean (using the Angel Beats alias here) seems to have helped both of them in making a stomper of a track.

Using a very familiar vocal sample, Power To The People makes use of supersaw synths to great effect. Normally, I'm a bit of a detractor of the supersaw synth but that's normally due to their overabundance in many trance sets. Being the only use of such in this two disc'r, their big punchy notes stand out wonderfully from the usual barrage of screeching synths. A breakbeat breakdown with the title's vocal sample getting time stretched gives us a breather while still keeping things pumping. A brief build-up later, and the synths are blasting with gusto to the thick kicks. This is energetic EDM on overdrive -outstanding work here.

Where can you go from this peak? Only down, it seems.

Busted's track here brings things to quite the crawl, actually. Sure, the beats are still cranked to seventeen but there just isn't any intensity carried over from Power To The People. Rather, we seem to be starting over again, which makes some sense, as we're already halfway through the second disc.

Unfortunately, this disc suffers from the same thing the first one did with its second half: too much of the same thing over and over, namely overuse of overlong breakdowns and builds that lead to screaming synths. There's only so much of the same thing one can take before it gets redundant. Where did the diversity from the first half go?

The breakdowns here are really long, with the wait for those thundering kicks that are cranked to eighteen lasting up to three minutes sometimes, and the intensity hardstyle is known for is severely lacking because of it. Without the energy to keep us pumped, the tracks at the end here just come across as tired; the leftover scraps of a DJ's vinyl bag that is only played to those who are still jacked up on amphetamines. What a shame.

Wait a moment! What's this? Bitchy vocals? Low-fi analogue synths? Could it be?

Oh, YES! Disco punk! ...or at least the hard trance equivalent of it. Where did this come from? Ah, who cares. Voodoo & Serano's This Is Entertainment certainly is coming out of leftfield considering what's come before it but it's a breath of fresh air after the rather mundane run of tracks that filled up the latter half of this disc. It's a shame it has to come at the end of the disc. It would have been an interesting tangent for DJ Dean to follow had it been used after Power To The People.

All in all, if you are looking for a primer of sorts to the hard trance scene, Tunnel Trance Force 30 would probably do; you certainly get a lot of songs for your dollar here.

Unfortunately, dedicated fans of this style of music will probably be left wanting. Despite some fleeting moments, this release doesn't have much going for it to raise it above the majority of trance compilations out there. Most of the standout tracks are available on other discs, and either in their full incarnation or in mixes that complement them better. Best to seek those out instead if your funds are limited.

Note: To hardcore/gabber fans whom felt I was giving hard trance too much benefit with the intensity of their pummeling kicks, your beats are cranked to mother-fing five hundred!

Score: 5/10

Angel Beats Meets DJ Merlin - Power To The People
Voodoo & Serano - This Is Entertainment (Club Mix)

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

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