maandag 29 oktober 2012

Single Review: Rank 1 - 7 Instead Of 8 [October 2012]

They Are Back
Well said, High Contrast Recordings! This month's post will be wholly dedicated to Rank 1's brand new single 7 Instead Of  8. Being a huge fan of the guys, expect a lengthy, full-of-praise biased review. In other words, now is the time to decide whether you stay on this page or not and cringe your toes at my praiseful ramblings. It's not too late, you can still click away!! I mean it, you don't have to read! What if the World was about to end and you wasted your last minutes reading this? If you don't want to, then don't! ... So. Still here? Well then, let's get it over with.

August 2012: Piet headed over to The Gallery at Ministry Of  Sound to spin a two hour set which Be@Tv broadcasted live. As the 9th track kicked in, I heard these "Traces Of  Benno" in the set's most melancholic and Trancey "less is more" track. And thus the speculation about a new Rank 1 track had begun! I eventually managed to get a rip of the set and listened to it over and over. At one point I felt something sounded... Different, out of sync perhaps. I then counted the claps in the breakdown and noticed there to be 14 and not the expected 16. Could it be THAT track at last?? You see, in March/April 2011 they revealed they were working on a new single that would be "different" and the only hint they gave us was that it would be built on a 7/8 time signature rather then the usual 4/4 or 8/8. Soon, the guys began cryptically tweeting and facebooking about sevens and eights. I grew more confident that this about-to-be-revealed-single had to be the ID I had on repeat the whole time. Two months later, on October 15th, I was finally relieved of my suspicions as this trailer proved my speculation right The word was finally out.

With 7 Instead Of 8, the Rank 1 gents have put out a record-breaking third (by their no-more-than-two-singles-a-year standard) 2012 single. It's the first non-collaboration single since L.E.D. There Be Light leaked out in 2008's dying days. And boy, what a return to form it is.

Rank 1 - 7 Instead Of 8 (Original Mix) [08:01]

This new track was built on seven rather than eight measures, giving the track a slightly different rhythm which is most noticeable whilst being mixed with other EDM tracks. It's slightly minimalistic in the build, deploying a "less-is-more" approach, not unlike their Fire Wire Remix. The build might remind the longer-time Trance fan of Push's Universal Nation as it has a similar vibe going there. The track starts with a sound similar to that And Then.../L.E.D.'s "telephone" beep which is then supplemented by a nice driving kick. The build is further accompanied by all sorts of subtle background "liquid" sounds and echoes, as a somewhat haunting synth joins in at one point. All these elements together, especially in the breakdown, cause me to envision some sort of deep ocean setting of a long forgotten civilization... There is something very mysterious to the melody as well as something sad. As the main lead gets backed by more elements, the haunting melancholic Blue Fear sort of synth plays along the now revealed main melody to send shivers down your spine. What a mesmerizing harmony of melodies! A snare backs the increasing climatic elements to unleash a beautiful Trance rush. As the melody lines alternate and tread back and forth, a reprise follows after a second climax, keeping you entranced an enchanted even longer. In this reprise the plucked melody pattern changes from its initial form, giving the second part a nice twist. Truly, Rank 1-style, truly genius! This second part was mixed out during Piet's The Gallery set (or perhaps it wasn't in there yet), but during ASOT #583 it unexpectedly lasted longer, blowing me away as the track was more polished and felt more "complete" than that August promo version: that extra layer after the climax gives the track a slightly more dramatic edge and the alternate reprise melody lengthens the track's epicness without sounding artificial or unnecessary. The main elements then tune down as the kick returns and the track reverse-builds to its end, with the haunting synth taking the dominant role in this final part of the track for the most part before slowly dying down. Damn... "Trance Is Dead" you say? If anything, Trance Is Back With A Vengeance, and She's sounding better than ever too.

Why can't it be like this More Often?
When my brother checked out the Be@Tv link I sent him, he positively remarked that it was as if Rank 1 stepped into a time machine to create this track. I completely agree with him. I mean, That Oldskool Vibe, what else can it be then truly delicious! The track's overall minimalistic approach gives it that "pioneer touch" that many of the older Classics possess. The only difference between this track and its "98/99 forefathers" is of course the advanced production/mastering quality with crisp, crystal clear sounds: merging Yesterday's Sentiment with Today's Sounds (all of it wrapped in an unusual-for-common-EDM 7/8 time signature), Rank 1 create their most beautiful as well as their freshest track since Opus 17 and L.E.D. There Be Light respectively. Now Piet and Benno aren't the first to have used this time signature (in this interview Orkidea explains how he and Solarstone used the 7/8 time signature for Slowmotion II, the  gorgeous follow-up to Slowmotion from 2008 > definitely another track I recommend!). They are however, the first to give this little fact much attention, as  evidenced by the track's self explanatory title. This is the sort of innovation I wish (ex-)producers in Trance would take more notice off. Like one of the commentator's in the "World Premier" Youtube rip rightfully remarked: "Finally innovation within the trance scene without the stupid dubstep, trouse, or other shittyness". By simply employing a slightly different rhythm with a bit of a Nostalgic Oldskool Touch, 7 Instead  Of 8 instantly blows every High Contrast release of the past years out of the water. It also eclipses all of its older siblings all the way back to at least L.E.D. as far as I'm concerned. Rank 1 proves you don't have to re-invent the wheel to make a new car that feels Fresh and rides like a Dream.

Which leads me to the next thing. This track seems to mark the end of a somewhat systematic production schematic the guys have deployed since going Techy all the way back in 2004. Every two to three years since then have usually been accompanied by complete sound shifts production wise (which, logically, also affected the Rank 1 live sets). With the release of Wild And Perfect Day earlier this year I expected them to turn Trousey until at least 2013/2014ish.  But with this new track they (surprisingly!) head straight back to their roots, be it in a new coat. It has set the door wide open really! Anything could happen now, including that long awaited second studio album... Never before did they release three brand new singles in a year (no, 1999 doesn't count, one release was a double-sided EP). Adding to this fact that a fresh Rank 1 vs. Dennis Shepard collaboration is already in existence as well as this optimistic tweet  about bursting with creativity and not to forget this amazing possible future collaboration with M.I.K.E. [], I am more confident than ever that the best is yet to come regarding Rank 1!

Consistency Earns Loyalty
You know, it's a relief that after nine years, I can still count on these guys to make my day and give me stuff to look forward to. And yes, they have released tracks in the past that disappointed me, mr. Fanboy Supreme, or that I never grew to like. Nobody is perfect after all! As far as the originals of their singles go however, they have yet to make something I find less than solid. Those that know me well, know that nowadays I am pretty pessimistic (or should that be realistic?) about giving artists second or third chances as so many keep screwing up their unique sounds and styles to jump bandwagons which will crash in a near future anyway... As a result, my avid loyalty to many former EDM heroes has decreased dramatically over the past two years. Hence I am relieved that the ones that brought me here in the first place, are still the go-to men when it really matters. So what are you waiting for?! Go support this gem and lift it to #1 on the Beatport Trance charts where it belongs! Also... Piet and Benno?

Cheers gentlemen, to another masterpiece, and another Future Classic.

 | Single Review | October 16th - October 29th 2012 |

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