The end of the year approaches us step by step. I know plenty of people always get sick of all the "Retrospective December Mayhem" in any music-related scene, but I've always loved it. Sure, "Greatest Hits Of All Time" Top 100s / 200s / 500s / 1000s nearly ALWAYS end with "Bohemian Rapsody" at #1 and their Dance Music equivalents nearly ALWAYS end with "Born Slippy" at #1 but still... I am a Nostalgia loving person. History was my favorite subject in High School. Does that mean I live with my head stuck in the past? Nope, but I simply refuse to forget where I came from and I cherish memories a lot. As such, A Retrospective Razor Blogpost is essential to finish the year in style! In this year's last piece of written Razor-opinionism, I will happily look back at 2012 with you and share my 30 favorite tracks of the past 12 moon cycles. In the future I will write similar posts for previous years as I'd love to share the best parts of the annual journeys through EDM I made with those that are interested. Probably not many but heck, as long as I get to write about something precious, I'm good!
Now let's get started: I'll introduce my favorite 30 2012-discovered Gems from a reversed alphabetic order going by track title. I shall only point out which track is my Tune Of The Year 2012, but other than that I shall not pit them against each other in a complete hierarchy. The tracks are simply to diverse in mood, sound and feeling for me to successfully do so.
First, let me introduce these Honorable Mentions, as they didn't make it to the final 30:
- Alex Dolby - City Shark (16 Bit Lolitas Remix)
- CJ Art - Dyssomnia
- Craig Connelly - Robot Wars (Original Mix)
- Cybordelics - Adventures Of Dama
- FaFaq - 21st Century (Original Mix)
- Jody Wisternoff - 95
- Jozef Mihalik - Listen (Original Mix)
- Matt van Wyk - Cura Me
- Maxi Valvona & Matt Lange - Losing Marbles (Original Mix)
- Orkidea - Pacifique (Beetseekers Remix)
- Pryda - Allein (Original Mix)
- Rank 1 & Jochen Miller feat. Sarah Bettens - Wild And Perfect Day (Extended Mix)
- QX 1 - State Of 727 West
- Space Rockerz - Crooked Hook
- Solee - Jule (Pig & Dan Remix)
- Wiegel Meirmans Snitker - Nova Zembla (Armin van Buuren Remix)
- Vinny Troia feat. Jaidene Veda - Do For Love (Matt Lange Remix)
One of those memorable "WTF?!" tracks... During a July summernight this year, I was getting my groove on with July Intensified 2012 when this track came in: Jody mixed it so smoothly with the previous one which was already a formidable groover! What I absolutely love about this track is the twisting/stuttering Detroit-Tech like main synth: it has such a warm feel to it! Back by the cool male vocal protesting that "Your Love Ain't Fair" this track's climax' moments are all the more delightful since on the whole the track is somewhat more minimalistic: the beat returns with so much force, pure Housey delight at its finest! Bonuspoints for the mysterious outro, I love it when a track finishes in style rather than just letting the percussive elements slowly die down one by one.
29. Franky Knuckles feat. Jamie Principle - Your Love [1984/1987 -Classic #2 Of 2012]
This year the former ASOT Forum member Ski introduced me to the following documentary [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcpWFiriv3w]. He might be a familiar face to any Trancehead that visited the biggest EDM events in Europe the past 10 years: he is that sympathetic front row fist-pumping raver with the signature waterbottle in the other hand. Now this documentary he introduced me to kick-started my education on the History of House music as it formed in Chicago back in the early '80s with various pioneers telling their stories. In my humble opinion every self-acclaimed EDM fanatic should check this out! According to the narrator, this track was more or less declared the Year Zero in House Music History and boy... What a track it is! I find it hard to grasp how this track can be nearly three decades old(!!) yet sound SO good! The addictive opening melody hook carries throughout the whole track as the powerful drumbeats soon roll in with that short bassline. Soon a stylish yet powerful voice joins the whole to create an impressive House Harmony with Groove, and Emotion. This track really left a strong impression when it 'came on stage' during the documentary and since I usually have an annual Classic, this one could not be left out of my Top 30 this year. The very roots of that gorgeous Mother Of All Genres (the Detroit Techno Purists will have my head for this statement, no doubt!) is a beautiful piece of Electronic Dance Music that puts many productions to shame, especially those so popularly mislabeled as 'House' nowadays. Guetta is not House. DJ Chuckie is not House. Afrojack is not House. Swedish House Maffia is not House either. THIS is House.
28. Touchstone (Orkidea Remix) by Solarstone 
Somehow I managed to keep procrastinating to get this track DESPITE having known it for two years now (yes, even with my passion for music I manage to procrastinate!)... By the very end of 2011 I finally got my hands on it though and throughout 2012 this track has proven its magnificent worth. This is honestly one of the most catchy, addictive, inspiring, uplifting pure Trancers I've heard in the last couple of years and I can only PRAY that I will one day be able to make a Trance track that is put together only half as damn well as this is... My favorite element without doubt has to be that damned-infectious twisting dark synth at the 1:39 minute mark that carries the track on its shoulders from that point onward. Everytime it kicks in, I have a hard time containing a big smile as I headbop with much energy while slipping further and further into this Feel-Good Journey that Tapio so elegantly created... His strings, pumping clean bassline and gifted builds are things that have made him a BIG favorite producer over the last year and I really got a give a big up to Ericc B for his enthusiastic sharing of news on this guy's great sets and self-crafted music.
Not-so-Trivial Cool Fact: Tapio and I share our birthdays (Blake Jarrell too btw!) which kinda makes me cool too. Though not as cool as he is of course (or Blake for that matter).
27. Time (Inception Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer 
"Why is this brilliant 2010 soundtrack in his yearlist for 2012?! Was he living under a rock all this Time (pun intended)?!"... Well eh, no but eh... Up to this day I've failed to check out Inception *looks away in shame* and up till this year I had failed to buy either this gorgeous original or some of the interesting EDM remixes that were made out of it *looks away in shame in opposite direction*. But hey! Better late than never right?! I think the key to the impact this soundtrack has on me has to do with the fact that for Classical music standards, it's pretty simple and actually builds like an EDM track, layer by layer... The ever-stronger growing Sweeping Strings literally sweep you of your feet in this 4:35 minutes lasting Epic Opus. It's no wonder that nearly all of the remixes that were brought forth from its infectious euphoric melodies are at the least solid (though I can imagine more than one reader frowning now while (s)he remembers the Audible Bootleg)... This track ending here was a no-brainer after purchase, really. And like I said, better late than never! Also, Zimmer's piece has been a great inspiration for the intro track of my forthcoming album. :)
26. The Spell (Solarstone Pure Mix) by Solarstone And Clare Stegg 
Solarstone, alongside JOOF & Airwave, has made a statement this year with his Pure Trance concept. Though I completely disagree that he chose Daniel Kandi and especially Guiseppe Ottaviani (among others I do agree with) to back his statement and even though I have discovered I am not the biggest fan of his sound (with exception of his pre-2005 work, his 2008 collab with Mr. Sam & Andy Duguid and obviously, The Spell), I take my hat off to Rich. When it comes to vocal tracks, I can be very tough to seduce and I can be VERY merciless when I don't like -or even worse- hate them. But God bless lfc4life, good friend and co-ASOT Forum resident to have brought this track to my ears in the summer! Clare has a distinct type of powerful voice that fits the track's driving and sad melody. There is something about the combination of Solar's melodies here and her voice that reminds me of something from the '90s or '80s even, but up till this day, I've failed to put my finger on it... :/ Suffice it to say that this is one of the rare occasions where the full vocal mix beats the Dub version hands down. This is Trance-backed-by-vocals at its very best and coming from me, a very harsh vocal-critic, that says enough!
25. The Astrophysical Nebula by John 00 Flemming 
J00F is a Legend, a Pioneer and considered by many Trance Diehards/Oldtimers to be the Main Man in terms of "Serious/Real Trance" together with his no-less-Legendary colleague and friend Laurent, better known as 'Airwave'. In my first blogpost this year I wrote that I don't believe in one-man scene-saving entities (nor two-man scene saving entities for that matter). That said, John and Laurent did deliver where it matters with this track. It has one of the strongest, most bittersweet melancholic and emotional melodies I've ever heard in anything EDM related. That exotic Eastern hymnish humming/singing hits the Soul, and it hits it hard! So soothing, yet so sad but yet hopeful at the same time too, especially with the warm calming main "organ" sort of pluck melody from the breakdown onward... This track represents the emotional side of Trance in the most sophistocated way, the fact that this track is built on Breaks makes it all the more impressive... Where did I run into this beauty you wonder? Here: [http://cyberunknown.wordpress.com/category/inspired-podcast/] > in the February '12 edition. A highly recommended podcast series! Bitter as both John and Laurent might come across at times, they both deserve the highest credit for this masterpiece.
24. Sulfur (Light Mix) by Nicholas Bennison 
Orkidea's Radio Unity #041. One of the masterpiece episodes of these 12 months contained several big tracks including Pryda - Allein and Orkidea - Pacifique (Beetseekers Remix). It also contained this Sulfur track. What I love about this one is how it sounds like a modern mixture of the 2006 Trance sound with that Netherworld (Jules Verne Remix) / Hidden Sun Of Venus feel to it... That build-up could have come from T4L for all I know, the melody definitely reminds me of the older style Trance. All in all this track was one of the highlights of this particular episode, and of 2012 in general. Just another example of how good, actual Trance can sound these days, check it out!
23. Song For You (Original Mix) by Roberto Rodriguez feat. Devon Dunaway 
For a long time, this beauty was going to claim my Tune Of The Year 2012 spot. May Intensified 2012, with some of the best 40 minutes stroke you'll ever hear presented this gem around the 25th minute mark if I'm not mistaken. So what have we got here? Quite possible the most respectable follow-up to the 2011 masterpiece that is Kraak & Smaak - Built For Love: like my TOTY 2011, this track is built around a stylish male vocal, in this particular case provided by Devon Dunaway, who sings on top of a very melancholic groovy beat backed by these sweet pads and minor melodic elements which tread back and forth smoothly. He's later backed by (I assume separately recorded parts of) himself singing on different tone heights. Btw, I absolutely love the gentle, tender female vox that backs up the final part of the track! She's in there almost unnoticeable which makes it all the more special. It's amazing how lyrical content like in this track (it's 100% pure romantic dedication: a full-out love song) works so well in House music but oh-so-poor in Trance music... I guess grooves and love are a superior match hehe ;) [Small side note: if you enjoyed this track, check out the album Dawn by Roberto Rodgriguez > it's full of insane groovy House tracks (mostly instrumentals with minor vocal samples) that will bring Summer to your ears, highly recommended!]
22. Solace by Max Cooper 
Brought to my attention by my good friend Venomena (an ex-ASOT forum regular) earlier this year, is a soundscape of melancholic deepness I have to share with you. The introduction to the track is so amazing... All these strange bending sounds when an incredible trippy melody announces the tone of the track. When that beat and bassline kick in, you will venture into another world, SO DEEP... Max had another track called "Harmonische Serie", personally I feel that would have suited this track MUCH better as this track is pure harmonic bliss. People that look down on EDM as "simple boom-boom-boom music that sounds the same for seven minutes straight" should be imprisoned and forced to listen to this track over and over until they finally open their eyes to the sophistication Our Music can harbor amongst its most Prized Jewels... Okay, so this track wasn't from 2012 originally but having heard it this year, I have to say few tracks can compete with it in terms of production-brilliance and mood...
21. Shape Of Berlin (Basil O'Glue Remix) by Wellenrausch 
Since late 2011, mr. O'Glue has slowly but steadily become one of my favorite producers. This guy makes Progressive tracks of the highest quality, with a really dark/moody edge, just the way I like 'em! His sound so strongly reminds me of ASOT in late 2005 / early 2006, the period when I was still a rookie to the show. That Progressive sound holds a special place in my memories and anything reminding me of that era, is likely to score high in the Razor Books. Most tracks on T4L's late 2010 album Biogenesis managed to do that. And so does Basil. After his remix for Territory last year I was looking forward to hear what he would pull off this year. His remix for Wellenrausch follows the same deep Progressive path as the previous, but with a more melodic hook and of course, the addition of a male vocal. Surprisingly this is one of the better male vocals around, at some parts he sounds more like he's speaking rather than singing. This is in a whole different league than Ben Lost or Jonathan Mendelsohn: this is actually a proper, complementing vocal with minor lyrics that contribute to the track's mood. Superb!
20. Sensation (Original Mix) by T4L 
Speak of the devil! During a trip to a lecture earlier this year I was spacing off in the distance when I suddenly woke up as this track progressed. Since I bought a new batch of tracks just a week prior but hadn't linked every track to a title yet I wondered where the hell I got this amazing Classic-Trance-sounding track from! The build has hints of Synaesthesia in it and the breakdown melody sounds so '98-'03! When I took my mp3 out of my pocket and checked the artist and title, I couldn't contain a smile as it was the same name that had brought me much joy in the final months of 2011: T4L. I had completely forgotten that I had found one more track on their album which I just HAD to buy. "Sensation" is the sort of uplifting Trance I had thought to be dead when the wave of boring generic cliches flooded the scene from 2007 onward. But T4L proved that proper uplifting still exists. Winking to the past, this track manages to put a smile on probably one of the biggest uplifting Trance critics the ASOT Forum has ever seen and that my friends, is an incredible feat. If you haven't already done so, go grab that Biogenesis album!
19. Saturn (Original Mix) by Roberto Rodriguez 
Rodriguez strikes straight from outer space with this one. Intro sounds will make you dream away before the powerful House vibes sneak into your body as the kickdrum joins in and you start headbopping, tapping your feet and perhaps, start smiling too... There is so much layered, sophisticated funk in this track, I can't stop grinning while writing it down! Can't stop moving either! This track, as well as Rodriguez' entire album sounds like a crossbreed between two of my favorite albums from last year: Eelke Kleijn's Untold Stories meets Kraak & Smaak's Electric Hustle in this tasty album. This track has the endless K&S groove whilst maintaining a layered sophistication quite similar to Eelke's album. Best of two great worlds, truly outstanding House gem here.
18. Orinoco by Jody Wisternoff 
I wrote about this track in my review for Jody's Trails We Blaze, earlier in July: [http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2012/06/album-review-jody-wisternoff-trails-we.html]. I stand by what I wrote back then, this is Housey goodness at its Tranciest, a pure delight and musical treat for your ears... That exotic opening string still intrigues me! You really made something special here, Jody. :)
17. Not Over Yet (Max Graham vs. Protoculture Remix) by Grace 
Yeah, yeah, yeah, this remix has been remixed a gazillion times. But for once, a remix like that actually manages to work for me throughout an entire year. Though I first heard it over the summer of 2011, I didn't get this one until December that year when I tried to catch up with a lot of tracks I hadn't gotten my hands on yet. It's surprising that this track ended up in here actually. It wasn't until a month ago when I started revisiting faves to make my final selection for this list that I realized how damn euphoric 4:53 still made me feel, no less than eleven months later! I dunno, that riff is just brilliant! It sounds so old yet so polished... And the vocals... Well, they are simply golden! Proto & Max managed to make a great Trancer here and I acknowledge them for it.
16. Never Lose The Magic by Menno de Jong 
Never lose the magic indeed! This track takes you back, straight to the days of Gouryella, Binary Finary and all the other Dutch Trance Anthem style tracks. The piano-based, string-backed breakdown is out of this world: I thought Turtle Paradise last year was a great effort at capturing that Oldstyle but Menno surpassed himself with this one. It's as if we're back in 2000-2002, how can such Saws not seduce you? Melodywise this sounds like Ferry or Armin back in those days and that's definitely not a bad thing. Menno's isn't re-inventing the wheel here, let's be honest about that. Drop this track in a All-Classics set and you can fool a first-time listener to this track about its age. This is not necessarily what I want more producers to do, to create music that sounds like its ten years old but heck, that would still be heaps better than a lot of the nonsense we get fed nowadays anyway! After appearing in my Top lists for the last time in 2010 with Last Night Tonight, Menno makes a welcome return among my Creme De La Creme this year. Welcome back, my friend!
15. Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem) (Original Mix) by Marshall Jefferson and On The House [1987 -Classic #1 Of 2012]
When that documentary Ski introduced me to was about to end, the creators introduced me to The House Music Anthem. The moment I heard that piano backed by Marshall Jefferson proudly telling how people were dumbstruck by a piano on a House record ("you can't have no piano on a House track!") I nearly jumped out of my seat as the puzzle pieces finally fell in their place: all these years there were certain sort of House as well as Techno tracks that used a simple sort of three tone-layer melodies which kept continuing throughout a track, sometimes with a lot of variation, sometimes without any variation... Whenever tracks like these reached me, I reacted to them with much enthusiasm... When I heard this track I finally understood where it all came from. This record and its euphoric lyrical content was an Ode to the blooming House culture of that time and it flabbergasts me that a track that's a quarter of a century(!) old can instantly turn my groove mode on. This track could have been my three-year-older brother had it been a person! You know what this says? Real Music Is Timeless. I'm not trying to appeal to the older analogue/vinyl generation by writing all this praise for a track I am positive many of said generation will have cherished up to this day. But it never ceases to amaze me how certain things were just so much better in the past... You all know my frustration about the caricature Trance music has turned into? Can you imagine how the people that grew up with this Anthem must have felt through the decades seeing their beloved House being mislabeled by legions of crappy artists and oblivious fans? Aw well. If we look at the bare fact that a Trance fanatic like yours truly can fall so madly in love with a House Classic as pure as this track, there is nothing to worry about. Real Music Is Timeless!
14. Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk - Love Can't Turn Around (Ben Liebrand House Remix) [1986 -Classic #3 Of 2012]
Three times a "Classic of the Year 20-X" entry is a bit excessive, isn't it? It can't be helped though, my much-needed venture into the past of House music and early EDM brought me into touch with some older stuff that I simply cannot neglect. You could say my love for this track couldn't turn around (sorry, open door!) the moment I heard it and it grooved my socks off! Where do I begin... The catchy vocal stutters? The disco-influenced string play? The rolling infectious piano line from 3:24 onward? The vocal style? All the little melody variations throughout the whole track? The feelgood vibe so strongly alive in a 26 year old production? This track defines the word "catchy" and ending up in this list is well deserved. Oldskool ftw!
13. Just One More by Jody Wisternoff feat. Pete Josef 
Like Orinoco, this track already received my praise in the June blogpost, and like Orinoco, the praise still stands. Outstanding vocal performance by Pete, pure class from his part and of course MaestroJody delivers a grooving, soothing, summer-laced soundtrack with style. I've played this track so often by now, but I think I'll play it... Just One More time (bad joke, I know).
12. Illusion (Dub Mix) by Rave Channel 
As opposed to The Spell, this track is the usual 'Dub Mix owns Original' ordeal. Back in April, during Rank 1's Radio Rush #025, I ran into great release by Rave Channel. Rave Channel had blown my mind three months earlier by excellently remixing a track I deemed uncapable of being saved: "Dash Berlin feat. Jonathan Mendelsohn - Better Half Of Me". Undoubtedly one of the worst Pop Trance garbage tracks I have ever heard was given a 180 degree experience shift by Rave Channel. The real magic came with their own single though. This track's thugging Techy beats, enchanting voice echoes and -most importantly- its gorgeous breakdown. Breakdowns in Trance can be too long, too cliché and even though this one isn't groundbreaking or innovative in the slightest, 3:43 causes powerful goosebumps everytime I hear it: that thundering bassline pattern in combination with the minor vocal and the Trance synths create a harmonic whole that sends me high... As if that wasn't enough, the track's main melody line is brought forth by that Jochen Miller sounding synth (from when he was on fire 2008-2011). This is the sort of modern Techy/Electroish Trance style track that many longer time fans might find soulless, I absolutely dig this track though. A well deserved placing after more than eight months of continued goosebumps per play.
11. Hurting (C2 Runaway Edit Instrumental) by Friendly Fires 
Boy oh boy oh boy... Do they come any slicker than this?? Enter March Intensified 2012, one of the grooviest installments I've heard yet... This mix was so much slower than usual, it was as if I was listening to Add2Basket & Luke Fair's amazing Rogue Show episodes! Hurting was the third track in this golden mix (though second actual full track if you disregard the intro) and man, whatta a track it was. The slow, jammin' groovy beats are back by all sorts of subtle elements and instruments as well as very subtly enhanced vocal chop. After the 2nd minute mark an '80s style vocal kicks in for a bit, giving this track some extra class. The track then slowly heads into a deeper direction which is no less catchy then everything preceding it while the vocal shortly returns to say "Hurting" a few times before vanishing again: the deepness continues until 6:30 when the vocal returns with the track's initial melodic elements to complete a funkalicious journey. This has got to be one of the best Housiest tracks I've ever heard, there is just no other track that can instantly summon Spring/Summer vibes as much as this one. A true must-hear!
10. HNT by I:Cube 
"My Brothers and Sisters... Black... The Original... They say that Black Is Back... But when did it ever leave?" followed by that damn Groove of Grooves... This track has got the attitude. Cool vocal on top, it's a track that could carry on forever as far as I'm concerned. Originally came across it in Add2Basket's edition of The Rogue Show #014 and luckily for me it also appeared on Jody March 2012 Intensified: unlike Add2Basket & Luke Fair, Jody does maintain tracklists of his sets which allowed me to find the name behind the killer ID! Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... It doesn't matter when I listened to this track, it rocked EVERYTIME and still does so now. Just a shame it's so difficult to acquire digitally through legal means... *sigh* "Feel the rhythm!" *feels the rhythm* Bliss...
09. Forme (Guy J PM Mix) by Gill Norris 
Damn... What we have here, is one scintillating, mesmerizing, DEEP production from the hands of Maestro Guy J... The Razor Verdict reads that this is Progressive at its very finest, there is such a surreal magical nocturnal feel to this track! It makes me want to get up at midnight and just walk the deserted streets of Amsterdam during a fresh, gloomy moon-lit night... Can you picture that? This track has an atmosphere that comes from outer space and the title befits its content so well! It's all thanks to Markus whom dropped this on his GDJB show several times. Say what you want of his Pitch-noise filled live sets, as far as his Radioshow goes, he still knows his Progressive.
08. Far East Garden (Original Mix) by Nhato 
Plunged into my mp3 player at the very beginning of this year, this Nhato Bomba has been a favorite throughout. After impressing me with his epic remix for Painting Pyramids" (just how I love my Techtrance) and his own beautiful Dreamer's Symphony (thanks again, Aleksandra a.k.a. raffy!) he yet again manages to craft a Razor Fave! What I absolutely love about this track is the awesome fusion of Techtrance with Japanese harmonies and instruments: especially the almost "Anime/Videogame" style Electric Guitar(!) breakdown is pure joy. This track has got it all: exoticism, euphoria, beauty, energy and balls, Nhato-style! Though perhaps not as melodically mind-blowing as Dreamer's Symphony, this track still pushes all the right buttons for me. And it has done so impressively across this entire year. Nhato-Sensei! We salute you with much respect!
07. Eternal Flame (Original Breaks Mix) by Alex M.O.R.P.H. 
M.O.R.P.H. is a strange one in my books. Every now and then, the guy shows his ability to make some very cool or very beautiful tracks (Life Less Ordinary, Walk The Edge -even though it took a LONG while to grow on me, Purple Audio, his remix for PvD - In Circles) as well as some of the most boring borderline generic 136-138 BPM you can imagine. This track however, belongs to the former category. Quite a memorable track, heard it by "accident" one a May or June night: GDJB had ended and since I had already said my goodbyes to ASOT a few months earlier there was no need to be on DI.fm. I was goofing off for a bit though and before I knew it the ASOT intro came on and wham! Instant breakbeat kicks in with this gorgeous piano-back melody. I couldn't believe that a 2012 episode of ASOT could start with something so brilliant, the last time had been in 2010 probably... All the more surprising was it to find out this track came from the hands of M.O.R.P.H.! Short but powerful and beautiful too, this track definitely deserves a spot among my favorites of 2012. Shame there is no longer version for it, I refuse to support that boring 'Reach For The Degga Mix'; kinda defeats the purpose of the cool breakbeat-meets-beautiful-melody concept, no?
06. Eskylator (Reaky Remix) by Pedro Delgardo vs. Reaky 
Back in 2007, I remember being blown away by three powerful, energetic Techtrance/Techno driven monsters throughout that year: these Bombas were Orjan Nilsen - Black Mamba, Mojado - Kaktus and of course the one and only Ernesto vs. Bastian - Thrill. What has made these tracks memorable over all these years is that my first acquaintance with each of them was greeted with a loud "WTF!" uttered in sheer disbelief followed by varying-in-length-moments of jaw dropping. These type of tracks define a large portion of my taste and ever since these three I can't quite remember the last time heard an equally driving, mad, techy, monster record... ...until I listened to Rok Hecl's Trancified #005 Mix [http://www.mixcloud.com/rokhecl/trancified-005/] and got bombarded with the seventh track, badassly titled: "Eskylator" (yes I just made "badassly" up and also: is it a coincidence that epic music is always related to my favorite number?). This track is the first of the energetic kind in years to have given me a nearly identical jolt of pure hysterical happiness as the three mentioned above... I raved my chair to bits while this track banged through my headphones, as it instantly cemented a spot in my Top list for this year. Rok, I can't thank you enough! And Reaky? *bows down*
05. El Dorado (Original Mix) by Claessen & Martens 
Another case of a procrastinated purchase leading to late-appreciation... After Hartseer, We.Are and Cryptonalysis, Claessen strikes with the Land Of Gold. Fitting title for a golden track. Even though there is a lot of Hartseer in this track, I can blink an eye since that Hartseer sound is SO good... Furthermore, unlike the melancholic Hartseer, El Dorado is euphoric, a true victory anthem for the Trance fanatic. 2:51 sees a sort of crystal clear high piano-sound join the energetic collective before we dive into a moment of peace in the breakdown. 3:47 will remind you of the Classic Trance glory days... Not long after this nostalgic wink, 4:16 will send a shockwave of shivers down your spine as an exotic, non-compromising magical flute melody entrances you. Before you know it, the energy returns in full force as you chairrave like a mad(wo)man! These "Retro" style Trancer by Claessen over the course of 2010-2011 have been an absolute delight and this one might just be one of his finest moments... May 2013 see the release of another such Claessen masterclass production!
04. Distant Bar (16 Bit Lolita's Remix) by Astrid Suryanto 
Disregarding my triple Classic entries, this track is the oldest non-2012 released record to have made it into this selection. Unlike many of the postponed 2011 purchases, I came across this track by "accident". Earlier this year I was planning to buy 16 Bit Lolita's new artist album: whilst discussing expectations for this album on the ASOT Forum, I saw many members post quite some track by the Lolita's which I was unfamiliar with. So following the last month of intense courses, I treated myself on a huge batch of a 100 WAV tracks which included a lot of oldskool EDM tracks as well as a lot of Matt Lange & 16 Bit Lolita's productions, just to educate myself on their sound. Of all those tracks in the batch, this one stood out the most... This track is all about longing. If I'd have a crush right now, I'd probably listen to this non-stop! The Lolita's honor the name of this track with their sweet nostalgic melodies in this. It's the strings that create that feeling of longing so well... The melody isn't too complex, but the layering is done patiently and proper. This track slowly pulls me to some misty yet sunny abandoned small island with a bar whilst the sun slowly goes down. As I sit and sip from my icecold cocktail drink, I stare across the water, into the distance feeling somewhat sad yet relieved and fulfilled... It's hard to properly translate the image and feeling this track gives me but suffice it to say that this is a real beauty in my books...
03. Aura (G-Tek Remix) by David Akermanis 
Credits for this one go to Jaytech's EYOC 2011 set, a set I thoroughly enjoyed throughout Spring and Summer this year, especially during those long sessions I had to work on my bloody essays. Even though that whole set is pure gold (bar that annoying Promises Remix -the more emo Richard Durand version is where it's at!- & Thing Called Love) it was this track that stood out: it INSTANTLY shot me back to May 2007, when doing these long public transport trips to the city centre whilst spacing my mind out on the road of life... It mostly reminds me of Teya - Only You (Dub). Aura is defined by its dreamy, nostalgic Trance synths (used like pads), backed by powerful deep bass and sweet vocal chops, giving the track such a nostalgic atmosphere... I am a sucker for tracks like this, ESPECIALLY if they remind me of one of my fave musical years ever, namely 2007.
02. Armagedon (Original Mix) by Ali Wilson & Lee Osborn 
Rank 1's Radio Rush #023 from February this year had this one as the pre-final track of the episode. It's a track that managed to leave its mark on me. Why? Because after a disappointing 2011, High Contrast Recordings FINALLY released something that sounded like High Contrast Recordings to me again: that warm main lead, so techy, so distorted, yet with something melodic to it in a weird abstract way only my messed-up brain understands! Backed by the euphoric Trance synths in its main part, Ali & Lee managed to unleash a bigroom track that doesn't sound generic like most of the Techy stuff Coldharbour releases nowadays and better yet: they avoided the Trouse cliches of contemporary High Contrast tracks altogether. This is a track that honors the once respectful legacy of the High Contrast Clan, a proud Offspring of the Legendary ID&T imprint that brought forth many Classics and artists that collectively formed my taste and vision on Trance throughout the years... I sincerly hope High Contrast Recordings will release less cheesy Trouse and more quality Techtrance like this over 2013-2014. Regardless, for 2012, Ali & Lee have my utmost gratitude for this great track.
#1. 7 Instead Of 8 (Original Mix) by Rank 1 [Razormane's Tune Of The Year 2012]
Save the very best, for the very last... Now I already dedicated a whole blogpost to this masterpiece [which you can find here: http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2012/10/single-review-rank-1-7-instead-of-8.html] so I think it would be a bit excessive to write another praise-piece here. Suffice it to say that this track has strongly rekindled my hopes for Trance music in 2013. With more to come in a similar vein, things look bright for The Future! Listening to this track, it's hard to believe the same guys were beyond the Anthem nearly a decade ago... The Anthem that brought forth "Razormane"... ;)
As you know by now, I look forward to EDM's 2013 with much delight! One of the things I'm looking forward to the most is revealing my finished album "The BPM Spectrum" on Soundcloud. Though I am still just an amateur, this album has been under construction for nearly two years now and features tracks in styles I absolutely love. It's the most diverse project I've ever worked on and the longest too! I sincerely hope people will like what I made and I hope the finished product won't take too long to be realized as originally the album should have been finished by August this year... Well, that's it! I hope you enjoyed the read, I most definitely enjoyed writing it! All that rests for me is to wish you all the best in health, friendship, love, family, fun and music for 2013! Be safe and enjoy the last moments of 2012! I look forward to boring/annoying/entertaining(?) you just as much as I did this year! Happy New Year kids!