Saturday, November 29, 2014

Various - Phoenix Rising (Original TC Review)

Trishula Records: 2007

(2014 Update:
Whoof, is this ever a painful one to read. Grammar's incredibly clunky, the preamble lead-in has little to do with anything, and it has a return of the dreaded track-by-track analysis, a format we'd all but stopped doing half-way through TranceCritic's run. A big part of the problem is my attempts at 'journalistic impartiality' while still struggling at playing the PR political game with Trishula, hoping for continual promos from the label. I also had growing doubts if I was legitimately enjoying this music, or it was nothing more than an escape from my lingering frustration over euro-trance's regular nonsense. I wanted to praise this music, but didn't always believe what I was writing. Listening back on this compilation, I can at least verify it
does hold up for dark psy - Trishula were good at gathering talent with unique takes on the sound. Shame I wasn't more confident in conveying such sentiments back in the day.)


IN BRIEF: Trishula, twisted as ever.

Well this is different. Oh, not so much the actual music on here, although I’ll get to that in a bit. No, I’m talking about the cover. I’m so used to dealing with Hindu themes or psychedelic themes or alien themes that seeing one delving into Egyptian mythology is a nice change of pace. Okay, so there’s both psychedelic and Hinduism imagery lurking in the background, but it’s that flaming bird grabbing your attention on the cover, so it dominates the theme.

That’s Trishula’s game though. Mechanophobia touched on Judaism, so the label has no qualms with shying away from psy trance’s usual clichés. A unique sound has been bred in their roster, standing out from the crowded arena of wibbly glut. And by skewing towards the darker side of the genre, they seem intent on exploring twisted soundscapes rather than offer easy accessibility.

(I suppose this is about where I normally give my “psy trance isn’t for everyone” disclaimer, but is it really necessary anymore? Yes, this is fringe music. That doesn’t make it any less worthwhile for those seeking a little diversity in electronic music though. Deal with it.)

I think it’s safe to say Trishula’s roster is in top form on this release. These aren’t some bunch of Israeli ravers who’ve just been inspired by Infected Mushroom or Astral Projection, knocking out redundant full-on trance overnight, never to be heard from again. Rather, there’s a meticulous method to these producers’ madness; a steely control over their tracks can be heard once you get past the noisy surface (although Mind Distortion System does every-so closely flirt with excessive squibble on his offering).

And this is why, despite the brisk BPMs, Phoenix Rising works better as head-music than the dancefloor. These tracks would rather play wonderful twisted things with your mind, although should you give a little ass-shake in the process doesn’t hurt.

A nice bit of variety is on offer here for a collection of tunes that remain in the narrow field of dark psy. Attoya’s and Darkpsy’s tracks are more obvious than the rest, with immediate hooks and sounds you don’t have to concentrate to discover. Less so is Mubali vs Kindzadza’s Galactic Cannibalism and Mind Distortion System’s Underworld, both of which make ample use of squiggly synths that sound akin to binary droid speak (maybe). They’re odd, yet kind of fun too.

Meanwhile, Dark Elf and Detonatik try to show us psy has rhythmic worthiness despite claims to the contrary. Routeroot comes close but stumbles from a lack of direction with sounds that are over-aggressive in delivery; like listening to a cyborb meatgrinder, to my ears. Hot Bird Satelite soars though, with a kick-ass driving beat that intensifies as the song moves forward and trippy effects that add to the tribal-tech-trance feel.

A little further along, this compilation enters what I can best describe as The Cybernetic Swamp Section, as Detonator & Darkshire’s Mind Your Gap and Olien’s Drophole sound exactly like that. The former contains an assortment of eerie sound effects as a murky atmosphere envelopes your senses but it’s Olien’s offering that’s the highlight. Whereas Mind Your Gap dwelled on the critters, Drophole turns our attention to the lumbering beasts that move about. Strangely enough, there’s also a spaceport nearby too. Delightfully bizarre.

And finally, Phoenix Rising ends on a couple tracks borrowing elements of pop culture (I suppose Engine kind of did too with Riddick samples, but that saga’s still relatively obscure compared to Star Wars and Phantom Of The Opera). Normally, these sort of songs aren’t the best, often getting too caught up in playing “Hey, Recognize This Sample?” with the listener. In this case though, most of the samples used complement what the producers are doing, so Darkforces and Phantom Ki are fine closers.

And speaking of closers, that about wraps up this review. I guess it’s elementary from here, folks. Phoenix Rising is a solid compilation of psy. It executes with precision, doesn’t get bogged down in excess, and dabbles in enough variety to keep it fresh throughout. If none of this holds any appeal for you, chances are you haven’t even read this far anyway (and if you have, I haven’t the foggiest notion why).

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2007. © All rights reserved


ACE TRACKS:
Dark Elf - Hot Bird Satelite
Olien - Drophole

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