Saturday, April 10, 2010

Various - In Trance We Trust 11: Mixed by Phynn (Original TC Review)

Best Price: $17.98

In Trance We Trust: Cat. # ITWT 011 CD
Released March 2006

Track List:
1. Supresa - Back In The Days (Intro Mix) (6:45)
2. Vincent de Moor - Mystique Colors (3:42)
3. Airbase - For The Fallen (5:13)
4. A Boy Called Joni - Green Astronauts (4:25)
5. Kay Stone - Alone (5:41)
6. Estuera - Flow (6:02)
7. Phynn - Close Encounter (6:14)
8. Ozone - Q (2:37)
9. Wippenberg - Earth (4:10)
10. First State - First State (5:54)
11. Thomas Bronzwaer - Shadow World (5:16)
12. Galen Behr & Robert Burns - Till We Meet Again (Galen Behr Remix) (4:55)
13. Mode Hookers - Breathe (Sander van Doorn Remix) (3:56)
14. Mark Norman - Brasilia (5:33)
15. Astralis - Solar Flare (5:50)
16. Purple Haze - Rush (3:30)

(2010 Update:
I think I overrated this. Aside from
Shadow World and For The Fallen, I couldn't remember how any of these went. Yes, even the two other tracks I gave "ACE TRACK" status to. Part of it too was I never really felt compelled to listen to this mix again. It's such a dull set, with nothing given an opportunity to stand out. This was about the time in trance's history when every other damned track was trying to be an epic, OMG anthem, flooding the market with expertly produced, forgettable dross. Seriously, take a look at that track list and tell me how many you can instantly recall - yeah, no classics here, my friends (well, maybe Shadow World). I listened to this twice to refresh my memory, and I still don't recall most of it. Man, no wonder I derailed the review to play Street Fighter - it's the only thing that made this review memorable in the long run.

As for Phynn, he seems to still be stuck in third-tier trance jock purgatory. So much for that "promising potential.")

IN BRIEF: Promising potential.

In Trance We Trust has been around for quite a while but I can’t say I’ve payed the sub-label of Black Hole Recordings (founded by some guy named Tijs Verwest -perhaps you’ve heard of him?) much heed, much less their regular In Trance We Trust mix series. Starting out at a time when damned near every trance DJ mix was sounding identical to the next, I saw nothing about the compilations that would distinguish itself from the pack. Even the lovely scenery cover art seemed cliché by that point. Still, I have to give the label some respect for managing to stick around for this long. Even as trance continues its gradual demise from its glory years, In Trance We Trust keeps on chugging along. With their tapping of new-comer Phynn (real name Finne Jager, but typing his alias is easier) to take on the eleventh edition of this series, it would seem the label’s hoping an injection of fresh blood will give the ailing trance scene a much needed boost.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Phynn’s career for about a year now. Unlike nearly all of the current generation of trance producers, he seemed to actually grasp the concept of the need for energetic rhythms as well as catchy hooks to make your song a cut above the rest. Unfortunately, aside from a couple singles, Phynn’s been relatively quiet for this amount of time. When I heard he was tapped to mix this release, I was definitely intrigued. Let’s see if he’s got the chops to kick trance out of its funk.

Phynn doesn’t waste much time in getting this show on the road. Despite the blissy nature of Sepresa’s Back In The Days, the rhythm is fairly energetic for a track that makes ample use of seaside samples. However, the main melody introduced in your standard breakdown isn’t all that memorable so Back In The Days serves better as a mood setter for this mix, as any good intro track should.

With Vincent de Moor’s Mystique Colors, Phynn gets down to business. There are all your usual trance components but Moor’s track has a better-than-average hook, decent backing sounds, and, most importantly, a groovy bassline that’ll warm you up nicely for follow-up For The Fallen by Airbase.

Eh? What’s this? Breakbeats? In a trance mix? Done competently!? Hell yeah! The accompanying bassline in For the Fallen sounds great, and the rhythms don’t come off as just a novelty. It’s a shame Jesper has to get all self-indulgent in a minute-long breakdown to do some piano wankery, but all is forgiven once the rhythm comes back, so infectious it is.

However, Phynn doesn’t stick with the breakbeat vibe, heading right back into standard four-to-the-floor rhythms in Green Astronauts. More of a pure traditional trancer, a moody, pulsing synth morphs through various effects while the rhythm keeps things steadily grooving. An additional plinky arpeggio emerges from the background in the latter half of this track, but allows the main synth to keep the spotlight.

Having eased us into a trancey state with Green Astronauts, Phynn whips out some epic anthemage. Kay Stone’s Alone has everything an epic anthem should have: smart rhythms, lush soundscapes, catchy hooks, and a perfect blend of effects at all the right points. Shame tracks like these are a dime a dozen these days. Sure, had this been released seven or eight years ago, Alone would be deemed a classic, but this has been done numerous times since, and Kay Stone’s offering here has nothing unique enough about it to stand out from the pack.

Diving back into loopy territory is Flow by Esteura. The central hook repeats throughout the track, remaining a bit subtle for the most part as other stuff plays around it. Good God, but does that second breakdown ever drag though. And what’s with that brief bit of guitar? It plays for only a couple bars, and we never hear from it again. Utterly pointless. The build back to the action is ace though, with additional sounds harmonizing with the still-looping central hook. At the very peak of the build, there’s a half-second pause of dead silence, which has a nifty way of sounding like all the air has been sucked out of the track, only to rush forth again with everything at once. It’s quite effective in retaining that lost momentum from that overlong breakdown.

Phynn’s own Close Encounter is next, and it has all the hallmarks of yet another epic anthem: the riff’s punchy, the percussions’ energetic, the appropriate synths have been loaded, and the breakdowns and builds, um, breakdown and build. Yet, like Alone, Close Encounter is half a decade too late to make any kind of real impact. There’s just so many anthems like this out there; they’re twelve for ten cents. Also, having three tracks in a row featuring breakdowns and builds is wearing thin, especially since there’s not a whole heck of a lot to distinguish them from the ‘über-choon’ category. This next track had better be something different, otherwise this mix will start to look suspect.

Er, this isn’t what I had in mind. Q by Ozone (Airbase again) certainly has a different feel to it compared to previous tracks, in that it has an utterly happy-go-lucky hook that could make even Ferry Corsten wince. Well, okay, it is stupidly, silly fun but yet another breakdown kills the momentum with a few seconds of total silence. Admittedly, Phynn’s choice of tracks does manage to retain any lost momentum with good rhythms but if this next track has another breakdown, I’m going to get very irritated.

Oh, what’s this!? Another bloody breakdown! Argh! That’s it! Phynn, you have got to-

Wait a sec! Hey, that hook is actually pretty sweet. In fact, it totally kicks ass! Man, Wippenberg’s Earth has just grabbed all those mean and nasty things I was about to write and tossed them out a five-story window with an explosive fuel tanker waiting for their landing at the end. The synth is simple and aggressive, having no need to get overwrought with fancy effects and trickery to sound polished. It’s kind of how those old ravey rave tunes went, only brought into the 21st Century. Ace material, this is.

I’d kinda hoped Phynn might follow-up Earth’s vibes with similar tracks but it’s not to be, as we’re right back into epic anthem territory. First State is yet another wonderfully produced song but, as our resident Brit might say, tracks like this are ‘ten-a-penny’ in trancedom these days. And, on a mix where we’ve heard it twice already, First State isn’t standing out as well as it should.

In fact, judging by how this mix has gone thus far, I can pretty much guess how the rest of the songs will go: big epic anthems, good rhythms, and some sort of unique twist to them that’ll differentiate it from a previous track. As First State ends, there’s exactly another half hour left on this CD, of which I don’t feel like meticulously detailing since I’ll just be repeating myself. Instead, I’m going to play some Street Fighter Alpha 3 while this runs through, and if anything of note happens, I’ll let you know. My fighter of choice: Fei Long. Waa chaaaaaaaaaaa!

Two minutes, twenty-three seconds later - I know you’ve heard supersaws before, but the synths in Thomas Bronzwaer’s Shadow World are a notch above them. Decent hook, too.

Two minutes, seventeen seconds later - Yep, definitely bigger and bolder. These aren’t supersaws. They’re SUPREMESAWS.

Three minutes, forty-seven seconds later - Woah! That anthem in Till We Meet Again just blasted out of nowhere! Heh, it coincided nicely as I busted out a Super Combo Finish on mid-Boss Balrog.

Fifty-three seconds later - This is pretty epic, but in a good way! Even makes for a suitable soundtrack to Fei Long’s quest.

Three minutes, twenty-three seconds later - An unfunky farty bassline? It could only be a Caucasian producer, and probably Swedish no less.

One minute, four seconds later - DAMN YOU, DAN!!! I can’t BELIEVE he ended my unbeaten streak!

Two minutes, twenty-eight seconds later - Hmm. Mark Norman’s Brasilia is some seriously sinister sounding stuff. Makes for decent Final Boss music.

Two minutes, fifty-five seconds later - Ha! Eat it, Bison! Super Combo Finish up your mudder fuggin’ arse!

Three minutes later - I’m still here. Just enjoying the end credits.

Well, that was fun. And I still have some of the CD left playing too. However, because Astralis’ Solar Flare isn’t all that interesting, and Rush by Purple Haze was already detailed here (personally, I find it fine, if a bit unfocused), I’ll get to the wrap-up portion of this review.

For the most part, Phynn’s track selection and arrangement is decent enough, if perhaps dipping a little heavily into Black Hole’s catalogue; seven tracks between it and its sub-labels, but then I suppose Phynn’s got to please his overseers. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the main troubles with this mix. I get the impression Phynn’s restrained by not being allowed to flex his muse beyond his parent label more. It comes as little surprise to me the more intriguing tracks -songs where Phynn’s personality as a DJ crops up- are from other labels. If he were given more freedom, this might have shined brighter for a first official DJ mix.

As such though, he works with what he can within the Black Hole confines. The mix itself kind of peaks out halfway through before you realize there isn’t going to be much more diversity, and despite Phynn’s best efforts to keep the vibes climbing, the similarities between the songs wear thin. Get this is you’re after some energetic anthemic trance, but don’t expect anything more than what we’ve heard many times before.

Score: 6/10

Vincent de Moor - Mystique Colors
Airbase - For The Fallen
Wippenberg - Earth

Written by Sykonee. Originally published 2006 for © All rights reserved.

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