zondag 3 juni 2012

Album Review: Jody Wisternoff - Trails We Blaze [May 2012]

Album Review | June 2nd - June 3rd 2012 |

After a more "nagging" debut blogpost, it's time to turn to the positive things  EDM has to offer with an album review for an artist that has become one of the most trustworthy quality-music providers for me in the past two years.

Ever since late 2009 / early 2010, I have been hooked on Jody Wisternoff's Intensified podcast. If anything, it has brought me into touch with the slower but smooth side of EDM; these fantastic grooves, often backed by delicious melodies make me wonder why people call Trance music "the most emotional" EDM genre (consider this coming from a passionate Trance addict!). Jody has contributed  to broadening my taste to include proper Housey music. So when I read that this man was bringing out an album, I was  stoked! A couple of days ago, I made a pre-order of the album and yesterday Mom brought me the delivered package. I  opened it up to find a cardboard sleeve album with DAT disc inside. The album artwork wasn't the best I have seen  throughout the years but on the other hand, who gives a damn? What's the point of fancy artwork when the album sounds  like a rushed job done in two months to just score a quick buck from oblivious teens that will buy anything that's  "hot" at the moment? So let's disregard the album artwork, and dive straight into the action instead.

01. Jody Wisternoff feat. Pete Josef - How You Make Me Smile
[http://www.beatport.com/track/how-you-make-me-smile-feat-pete-josef-original-mix/3510998]
Sleak, cheeky easy-going groove, backed by a soulful  male vocal so common in the Housier grooves of EDM... The Vincenzo Remix which Jody dropped in his May 2012  Intensified podcast (check it out if you haven't already, alongside March 2012, the best Intensifieds since June 2011! I thoroughly recommend all three of them: three hours of pure groovetasticness) is cool too, but hearing the original now it gets my preference. The relaxing string work in the  middle section works perfectly with that vocal. Excellent opener.

02. Jody Wisternoff feat. Jonathan Mendelsohn - Back To Me

[http://www.beatport.com/track/back-to-me-feat-jonathan-mendelsohn-original-mix/3510999]
My dislike for Mendelsohn is probably as infamous as my  dislike for Dash Berlin. Seeing his name prominently on the album back cover three times raised the skeptical Razor-brows. Would Jody manage to succeed where DB fails horribly? The first Wistersohn collaboration quite simply wins:  Production-wise this track is as funky and lush as it gets, with a bassline that oozes summer! The percussive  department is topnotch and the track's atmosphere is absolutely delightful with that teasing pan flute that pops up  here and there... Vocal-wise it's worlds apart from what Jonathan does with "Trance"-related artists, he sounds like a  completely different vocalist! In fact, had I not seen his name on the cover, I would have thought it to be another of  those classy male vocals in Housey music. Shocking but true: this is a great track!

03. Jody Wisternoff - 95
[http://www.beatport.com/track/95-original-mix/3511000]
Damn, the opening elements of this track are ENOUGH to get me headboppin' with a big smile  on my face. Confident beat and bassline follow as the track slowly but surely progresses in a direction that radiates  with '90s Soul-Infinity: yes, the oldskool melody is enough for me to rate this track with 5 out of 5 stars! A chopped  female vocal sample gives the build that little bit of sexiness to make you smile even more. Such a warm track, yet so  easy-going... That deep pad section around the 4th minute mark whilst the vocal merely sings "far away" is pure  beauty. People that don't understand the lower BPM perfection of tracks like these... Can they even be called human?  Another Belter of a Groover.

04. Jody Wisternoff - Red Stripes
[http://www.beatport.com/track/red-stripes-original-mix/3511001]
Funky toms greet us at the opening of this track. A soft female vocal whispers  when a pretty gritty bass joins the atmospheric melodic build. This continues until about the 2:50 minute mark when a  sudden voice says: Let that beat go! From this point onward a nasty funk is released and the melodic elements are  tuned down make way for crazy sounds and the catchy bassline. The track goes abstract, and live that will no doubt blow  the place up... In a groovy way ;) After this deep groove section, the melodies return and you can space your mind out  again, to your heart's content. Fresh track, loving it!

05. Jody Wisternoff feat. Jonathan Mendelsohn - Out Of Reach
[http://www.beatport.com/track/out-of-reach-feat-jonathan-mendelsohn-original-mix/3511002]
Mendel just had to ruin it didn't he? Whereas Back To Me  had him tuned down in a way I could appreciate, here he is too present (as usual) and yells too much as well. A  nice production is again eclipsed by unnecessary lyrical-content... Sorry Jody, worst track so far, a shame you didn't  granulize "Jon" throughout the whole track, like in the 2nd minute mark...

06. Jody Wisternoff - Cold Drink, Hot Girl (Refix)

[http://www.beatport.com/track/cold-drink-hot-girl-refix/3511003]
The title that beats them all :D On a more serious note, serious ASOT  2006 nostalgia here, on a grittier, funkier level though. Jody beefed the original up a bit, giving it a slight bit  more attitude, without overdoing it. Classic summer track, with refreshed vibes, tasty-tasty! :)

07. Jody Wisternoff feat. Jonathan Mendelsohn - Slowmotion
[http://www.beatport.com/track/slowmotion-feat-jonathan-mendelsohn-original-mix/3511004]
The third and last Wistersohn collab on the album. Even  though Jon sings during most of the track and he has some screamy bits, I actually liked this one. Not as good as Back  To Me, but far better than Out Of Reach and overall very enjoyable. The production was solid though not as outstanding as  the three opening tracks. Good one!

08. Jody Wisternoff - Starstrings (Revamp)
[http://www.beatport.com/track/starstrings-revamp/3511005]
One of the most memorable ASOT openers ever as far as I'm concerned: back  in 2007 #314 introduced me to what was to become one of my fave tracks of 2007. Five years later, this revamp reaches  my ears. And I can only conclude that...

...this track has not lost ONE bit of its original magic. Jody tweaked certain bits, making them come out better but  the majority of the track was left untouched. To be honest I expected a complete overhaul. But like with Cold Drink,  Hot Girl, Jody merely streamlined the track. Thank God for that, it was great to be back in 2007 for 6:33 revised  minutes :)

09. Jody Wisternoff - Pete Josef - Just One More
[http://www.beatport.com/track/just-one-more-feat-pete-josef-original-mix/3511006]
This one builds with an infectiousness that will make even the most  stiff EDM head loosen up and tap his/her foot. And man, THAT melody... THOSE strings... 01:34, that funky guitar  guidance... And then Josef strikes again, but even greater than before. How You Make Me Smile is a great laid-back  track, beautifully executed, but this takes it just that wee bit higher. Together with 95 my absolute favorites of the  album so far, top notch records!

10. Jody Wisternoff - Babylon Calling
[http://www.beatport.com/track/babylon-calling-original-mix/3511007]
Heavy duty vibes from the word go, this one has a pretty intense build and a  gorgeous melody to boot. Very energetic for the lower BPM range it covers, and there is even something Trancey to  it... Try to imagine this with more melodic elements at a higher tempo and it could have been something Orkidea had  produced. Attention to the smallest details, even the outro, short as it is, is given much care. One of the album's finest!

11. Jody Wisternoff - Orinocco
[http://www.beatport.com/track/orinoco-original-mix/3511008]
Exotic string melody to grab your attention and an absorbing bassline kick the track  off when an uplifting piano line rolls in, backed by fading strings and other sweet sounds to tease you as the track  grows bolder... The moment the strings are finally allowed to appear in full is relieving. This track easily could  have been the soundtrack to a cinematic moment where the protagonists venture into some vast beautiful forest and lake  rich landscape... There is a strong entrancing element to this track, despite the various elements to make it groovy  at the same time. This is Housey music at its Tranciest, pure bliss!

12. Jody Wisternoff - Trails We Blaze
[http://www.beatport.com/track/trails-we-blaze-original-mix/3511009]
I had never in the life of me expected the title track to be the rawest and  least melodic of the entire album! It takes the dirtier part from Red Stripes, doubles this funky nastiness and keeps  it going throughout the entire track. This one might have to grow a bit at the moment, but with all those intense  twists and bends I see that happening VERY soon!

I won't grade the tracks individually as I believe an album or a set for that matter, is more than the sum of its  parts: individual tracks don't have to be brilliant to work together perfectly and create an ambience that transcends  their individual qualities. That said, I do intend to grade the whole album.

Razor Verdict
Trails We Blaze = 8,5/10 Why? Because Jody managed to create an album full of lush, dreamy, funky, catchy groovers  that epitomize the brilliance of "slower" BPM. Furthermore, Jody's album sounds like it could have been an episode of  Intensified, the tracks he created have the same quality as the tracks he promotes in his podcast. I always love it  when a DJ you really look up to manages to produce own material that is on par with that he chooses to make you dance  with. Then there is the fact that out of five vocal tracks, only one was below average, whilst the rest was executed  with style. It's relieving to see that there are EDM artists that put time and effort in their album, stay true to their sound without being predictable or generic and don't choose to create  the easy cheesy pop-dance hybrid collaborations that a certain scene I used admire so much has been showing for the past few  years.

Now this is a rating based on the first listen, inside my room, after two tough and tiring days. The moment I hear this entire album outside, during a sun-overflowing day, it might easily go up. Nevertheless, Kudos to mr. Wisternoff for creating what currently promises to be my summer soundtrack for 2012 :)

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