vrijdag 27 juli 2012

In Retrospect: Sensation - The Anthem 2003 [Maxi single]

In Retrospect Feature | July 27th 2012 |

As July 2012 reaches its ends, I'd like to take a moment to look back to the now nine-year old release that brought me here. Can you believe nine years have passed so swift and sudden since I heard this life-changing Anthem to Sensation's fourth edition? No? Neither can I... Going back to that night means going back to LOTS of experiences, both great and bad, that changed me, taught me, challenged me, hurt me, helped me and made me what I am today. It also means going back to LOTS of fantastic music. Kick back into your seat as I take you on a nostalgic retrospective journey (the first of which I hope will be many!) to the soundtrack that eventually gave birth to "Razormane" and defined my youth.

Hot Summernight? Check. Radio on? Check. Let the Madness begin...
Nearly a decade ago, on a hot summer night whilst listening to Radio 538 I was introduced to Trance music in the guise of this Sensation Anthem. At the time I did not know this track was Piet Bervoets & Benno de Goeij's modern interpretation of Mozart's "Requiem Lacrimosa". I had of course heard of Mozart but I was not (neither am I now) familiar with any of his work. Though Piet & Benno were responsible for my falling in love with Trance, it took me two years to discover that they were behind this one (which in turn only contributed to my respect for them). Now what struck me about The Anthem was this Classical Music meets Trance blend which was new to me. Looking back now I had heard a handful of Trance records before this particular night, these being System F - Dance Valley Theme 2001, Marco V - 5IMULAT3D, Armin van Buuren feat. Ray Wilson - Yet Another Day, Faithless - Insomnia / God Is A DJ (if you take these two to count as Trance specifically) and a bunch of Classics like PPK - Resurrection, Darude - Sandstorm, Carlos - The Silmarillia, etc. However, no one ever told me these tracks were "Trance". Furthermore, despite liking all of them or being intrigued by them to a certain degree (Dance Valley 2001 Theme's warm synths and Yet Another Day's mysterious videoclip starring Solid Snake- eh, Wilson most notably), none of these tracks had the same impact The Anthem 2003 had on me. Sweeping Classical melody, catchy gated saws and cool effects were blended together into a 3:42 minute lasting radio-fit Sensation (pun intended). After hearing it, it only took the few steps to my brother's room to tell him about this cool record before he commenced his mission of completely immersing me into the World of Trance and later the Reality of EDM.

A couple of weeks after my first acquaintance with the Anthem, he bought what I must say is one of the best, coolest and well-composed maxi singles for any Anthem and any Trance track in general I have heard up to this day. So let's look back on those five gems! Here we go:

01. Sensation - The Anthem 2003 (Radio Edit) [3:42]
The One and Only version that caught my ear on that faithful night. It wasn't until some time had passed that I discovered that this track was released with live mixing effects laced over it, unlike the full version. This attributed to the special place I will always have for this radio edit. What can be said about this track that hasn't been said in my lenghty introduction? Forever #1 in my Heart, Mind and Soul.

02. Sensation - The Anthem 2003 (Original Mix) [9:04]
Took me a while to get used to the full version as back in the day I wasn't used to long builds like I am now. What I found pretty cool back then already was the flanged(?) soft gated melody around the 1:50 minute mark, functioning as a sort of interlude to the Good Stuff that was soon to follow. For a build, it's pretty mild and does not yet showcase any of the energy it will unleash from the breakdown onward. I must add I have never heard this track live at a gig unfortunately so forgive me if the description up till now doesn't match your experience. 03:22 introduces that string I will never forget, backed by a gentle choir. As the melody rises to its own climax, the Tranceness is introduced at 04:03 before percussion starts rolling and the flanged gated saws take over the track with that mesmerizing melody. The original doesn't have any of the live mixing effects the Radio Edit does have. One could call this a shame but I don't mind: gives me an excellent excuse to cherish both ;) Around the 7th minute mark the track builds down slowly. Not much happens from here I suppose that makes it an easy track to mix. This is a True & Pure Classic in my books.

03. Sensation - The Anthem 2003 (Orange Remix) [5:32]
The Orange Remix is a version that took some time to grow on me and it wasn't until about 2004 that I really fell in love with it. By then I had discovered that this remix was provided by The Rush, the Sensation Anthem creators for 2002 and 2004. They managed to give the track a darker, heavier touch which, in retrospect, revealed the banging route they were to take with their Anthem 2004. The shortest remix of the package, but that does not make it any less brilliant in my books. The build has all sorts of atmospheric sound effects to give it a mysterious vibe. The breakdown starts slightly different (not sure if they added a part from the original Mozart piece) and far more mysterious until you recognize that amazing melody in its latter part. The Rush boys too, use a gated saw, but not as main lead, more as a guiding background layer. The main hook they use follows the Requiem's structure in the basics but they enhanced it quite a bit, making this remix worthy of the title of Remix. An excellent Harder Addition to the brilliant original.

04. Sensation - The Anthem 2003 (Igor S Remix) [7:01]
Igor S was asked to deliver a remix for the White Anthem whilst also co-producing Sensation Black's 2003 Anthem with Ricky Fobis titled "No Regular". One recognizes his powerful Techtrance synths in this remix right away. At the time I was very fond of this remix though over time it didn't quite have the same lasting appeal as the other remixes. Which is not to say I don't like hearing it now for this In Retrospect Review: it's just that wee bit less polished than the Orange Remix, the original or the Gitelman Remix. A somewhat simpler and techy approach to the original, it does manage to give the maxi single another dimension, next to The Rush's hard approach. A Solid Remix this one.

05. Sensation - The Anthem 2003 (Robert Gitelman Remix) [7:56]
The closing remix of the pack is one of those rare occasions that I've come to like a remix of Piet/Benno original as much as the original itself. I really liked it back in 2003, but it wasn't until until summer 2005 that this one earned its deserved shared place with the original and now, in summer 2012 I've found myself addicted to it once again. So what makes this version so fantastic then? Acid-based presets. Several of them, in varying forms. Of all the versions of this release, the Gitelman remix has the most hopeful and euphoric build, you're halfway in A State Of Trance just because of its build which is something it outclasses the others with! Robert chooses one of the most used though no-less-logic-to-use-instrument for his breakdown: the piano! A very gentle one, not over the top like in so many contemporary "emotional 140 BPM uplifting" so-called Trancers... Guided by a just as gentle string in the first half of the melody, it is backed by another string layer in the second half before the main lead kicks in... That Acid-based lead takes the melody to a new level and to greater heights, thanks to Robert playing around with the filter cut off and resonance. The result is a Trance-tastic revision of an already gorgeous original. I am not sure whether I dare to say that this version outclasses the original, or even the Radio Edit in my case. I might never admit it if it becomes a fact but rest assured that this remix is every bit as essential and worthy of your attention and luvings as the original is... So what are you waiting for?? Look it up on Youtube, right now! Give your Heart, Mind and Soul the Love they deserve!

One maxi single, five versions and each of them telling their story in their own way. This single is over nine years old now, but its Spirit and Passion are as Fresh as ever. In the face of a decaying Trance Scene in Denial, I suggest you check this out right now. Whether you are familiar with this release or not (especially in the latter case!), get into A State Of Trance right now!

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