woensdag 31 december 2014

Year Review: Razor Top 30 2014

Top 30 Feature | November 30th - December 31st 2014 |

Time to take a seat and reflect on the musical value of the past 12 months. I will first say that 2014 was a bad year for me privately and it affected me thus that I missed out on quite some music especially during the late Spring/Summer period. Considering that, don’t be too surprised when the amount of actual 2014 releases is extremely low compared to previous years (though quite a few of the 2013 tracks were from the end of last year, so you could consider them 2014 releases in the sense that they missed the 2013 cut-off point). Regardless, I’ve still managed to list the 30 tracks that have done most for me since my last Top 30 post. So rest assured, all 30 tracks listed here are tracks that rocked despite a shitty year for me. ;) Before we dive into this Rabbit Hole Of Words, let us first take a look at this year’s Honorable Mentions:

This year’s Honorable Mentions go to:
- 04LM - M Place (James Ruskin Remix)
- Agnelli & Nelson - New Light (Protoculture Remix)
- Ambassador - The Fade (Fade Mix)
- Aran - Golden Yellow (Nhato Remix) [guilty pleasure inc.]
- Brainchild - Symmetry (P-Mix)
- Cygnus X - Hypermetrical (Remastered)
- Cygnus X - Deliberation (Remastered)
- Joris Voorn - When It Became Real
- Joris Voorn - No Revolution
- Loud and Domestic - Vinyl Sh!t (Terra Ferma Remix)
- M.O.R.H.P. - Maximum Overdrive (Benicio Remix)
- Oliver Lieb - Subraumstimulation (Original Mix)
- Sander van Doorn & Oliver Heldens - THIS (Original Mix)
- SPX - Straight To The Point (Original Mix)
- The Digital Blond and Airwave - Fuji (Original Mix)
- Werkstadt - Radioactivity (Original Mix)

Razormane Top 30 2014 [Order by how I’d mix them if I were a DJ]

01. Fraction - The Rise (Original Mix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff's May 2014 Intensified

Maestro Jody always manages to open up a few Intensifieds in style. Sometimes funky, sometimes melancholic/nostalgic but often very atmosphere-setting. The swelling and stabbing Strings in this piece give of a menacing mood before the first lush beats of the next track kick you into a state of groove. It's an instant-recognizable tune, and one I've greeted time and time again with a smile. If I'd be out there spinning tracks for people, I would deffo use this as an  intro and instant-mood setter. A might piece!

02. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør - Running to the Sea (Pachanga Boys Remix) [2013]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff's December 2013 Intensified

By the end of the 2013, I had the privilege to run into this beauty. As if Rank 1’s 13.11.11. wasn’t tasty enough, the end of 2013 had yet another delicious journey in store for me, be it from a more House-friendly perspective. 02:05. That 02:05 synthline. It’s so perfect! Once it takes the stage, it holds the track on its shoulders as the beautiful, gentle female vox and calm bassline back it up for a relaxing atmosphere which is perfected with the sound of the ebbing and flowing sea. Around 04:12 a choir joines the fray. What a divine merging of ear-friendly, hypnotic elements! A piano ala Hans Zimmer - Time joins the fray and in the case the more = merrier applies. Before you know it, the track has caught you in its spell! *quickly checks time* Dang, we’re not even half way through! With slight teases, echoing claps serving as crashes and the before mentioned elements dancing a delightful tango together the track descends into its final phase. By 10:24 the beats make way for the piano and beach sounds as well as the choir singing “I remember running to the sea” gently in the background. Wow. Did that just really last a little over 12 minutes?!

03. Pablo Nouvelle feat. Tulliae - Poison (Original Mix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff's May 2014 Intensified

Much like his (to me) Legendary February 2013 edition, Jody’s May 2014 installment delivered tracks that instantly summon a sunny, cloudless gentle 20 degree Celscius Spring/Summer day in which you have no obligations and you can just wonder about… At the Amsterdamse Bos, the Vondelpark or the Museumplein if you wish. The production and vocals in this track prove for the gazillionth time how it should be done imo. They are in complete and complementing harmony, unlike those screamy EDM vocals ala Krewella or overly sentimental wailing ala Emma Hewitt (no personal offense to the ladies in question, their vocals styles however are a major reason I tend to be allergic to vocals in Trance as well as Pop music in general nowadays…). The entire production here is in harmony. And it makes me want to relax my ass off. And Tulliae’s “tudu dudu duuuuuuu” is so DAMN soothing to the ears… :)

04. The Other Tribe - Skirts (Jody Wisternoff Remix) [2012]

Earlier in the year I decided to stack up on some artist discographies since my Win-amp library showed a critical lack of certain masterminds’ presence in my music collection! Joris Voorn, Mauro Picotto, Orkidea and Wisternoff were among the people I decided to stack up on. This was one Jody’s remixes I stumbled upon. And you know, rather than reviewing its content I want you to look up this track, play it and picture the following scenario: you’ve just left work at night (21:00) and are on your way to grab public transport to go home. There is a full moon and it’s a clear night. You’ve been through an absolute cracker of a sh*t year but things MIGHT just be starting to look up and you have renewed hopes and goals for the near future. You select this track from your playlist and can’t contain the urge to start dancing in the middle of the street, despite that being dangerous and despite the fact you can’t dance at all! :D You headbop with visual delight as you make sure to gaze upon the moon every now and then. Even though we are about to head into the Winter, this choon brings out the Summer in your Heart and Soul… That’s about what I experienced with this track at one point. I believe I don’t need to explain how this one ended up among my 30 faves of the year with a particular vivid memory like this. I can only hope you feel the power in this one too! ;)

05. Rashid Ajami - Coming For You (Jody Wisternoff Remix) [2013]
- Found it thanks to: Blake Jarrell's Concentrate #070?

From one Jody Maestronoff Masterpiece we roll into the next. This time it’s his remix for Rashid Ajami. This one… Where do I start?? The classy, cool “your most fueled hatred/disdain won’t get me down” attitude vocal? That oldskool House/Techno chord stab? That summer night mood in the melody? The beat? The progression? That suddenly “let’s get freaky” 03:31 part? That “Starstrings” factor? I really don’t know. All I know is that this is an A-Class production proving just again how Jody is not only a genius in his selections and mixing but also in his producing of this magnificent House genre. Truly, I can only take my hat off once again Jody. Favorite part? 04:41 > Space is given to the vocal to set the jealous f*cks straight. These are lyrics of the Self Assured and the Dedicated, lyrics of POWER. If you are ever feeling like scapegoat or black sheep in the pack, let these lyrics drill some sense into… With style and grace.

06. South Soul Project feat. Sam Willis - Broken (Original Mix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff's January 2014 Intensified

Gah, this one! As if the previous one didn’t already show the quality of a great, stylish vocal on a slick production, the South Soul Project brings the same to the table with a nostalgic moody twist added! Without its vocal the track would lose much of its mood though. They are addicting, desperate, hopeful, powerful and sad all at the same time. From the first time I heard this track in the beginning of the year all the way till the end it has been the most logical Tune Of The Year contender. And you know, it was half an inch from getting it to... B|

07. Lancelot feat. Anthony & Cleopatra - Givin' It Up (Original Mix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff's January 2014 Intensified

Oh my, yet another track which stands by its amazing vocals, or should that be duet? The combination of a sexy female vocal with a typical House-befitting male vocal… The way they combine and what it does to me… Doesn’t make me lose my baby, makes me lose my mind though! Then there’s that typical ‘90s House piano line. This track isn’t the most complex, it’s pretty minimalistic but all the elements it utilizes it does to a maximum effect. And you know how Papa Razor is a SUCKER for his ‘90s Dance influences right? I have just one point of critique for this groovy piece of tasty: too short. :( Way. Too. Short. A track this good should last at least 6 or 7 minutes… Yeah, I know they can’t all be Pachanga Boys length :P Okay, I’ll stop nagging. Superb track this!

08. Submarine - Submarine (Submerged Mix) [Classic #5 of 2014 -1994]
- Found it thanks to: Jody Wisternoff's May 2014 Intensified

Once again my hat full of credit is pointed towards the Maestronoff. Once again the culprit was his tasty May 2014 Intensified. The brilliance of this tune that led to its inclusion among my 30 Greats this year lies in its content obviously but also in the fact that whereas I thought it was a track inspired by the ‘90s, it WAS actually from the ‘90s! Jody sneakily hid a Classic near the end of the mix and here I was thinking it was just some made retro-styled monster tune. What is there NOT to love about this track? That bending, twisting, insane Acid synth that serves as its main voice drives me crazy. Those female “Aaah!” shout samples somehow work a tension-rising manner. As if the Acid itself isn’t crazy enough, those shouts make me want to move even more and ever more wildly. I just wanna get out there and bust a move! What I loved even more when I purchased the fully unmixed version is that the extra string-like stabs at 06:40ish and the “U.P.I. - That String Track”-ish oldskool choir at 07:08. Can you spell Bliss? The final beatless parts leaves us with little more than the Acid line, the shouts and a backing synth. The maddest elements wave us goodbye at the doorstep. But that’s still not all: at 08:22 said Acid synth slowly winds down whilst it’s filter cut-off and resonance are thrown all over the place causing it to wind down whilst going slightly haywire at the same time. At 09:11 it does a surprise bend with a note up before it finally dies down for real. Dang. DANG. 1994 blows so much 2014 material out of the water. This track could have been my little brother age wise. And Jody just put it in his mix. Just like that. THIS is how you educate people on the Glory Days Of Old imo. My respect for Jody went up even more after discovering the origin of this gem.

09. Union Jack - Baboon (Original Mix) [2013]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl's Guestmix @ Rank 1’s Radio Rush #045

Rok is one of the (ASOT) forum friends I’ve been hanging out with online for the last couple of years. Imo he’s a very cool and laidback guy to hang out with. I have to admit that his sets have become quite a foundation for Papa Razor’s music appetite and therefor it’s about time this guy got the praise he deserves. His sets can offer anything from Deep/Progressive House to Breaks to Progressive and or Classic Trance as well as some upbeat Psy Trance. His sets often focus on a journey aspect and thanks to that he selects tracks that anyone with a (purist) heart for Trance can appreciate. This track in particular blew me away during his Radio Rush guestmix with its haunted, minimalistic Dark Progressive rhythm and dramatic melody. Flanged percussion adds that infectious dimension that seizes control of you, causing you to tap your feet and bop your head to the sick groove. Since when was Progressive this groovy?? Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

10. Art Of Trance - Ricochet (Terra Ferma Remix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl's Trancified #025 (Live Broadcast)

Once again it’s mr. Hecl that brings to my attention the delight from the Platipus imprint. What an insane groove this track produces, pretty much right from the off! The robotic voice and incoming/outgoing FX provides this tribal-ish beat with a techy edge that raises the tension. However, it isn’t until 03:56 that a true tension-raising phase kicks off with the track’s main acid leads revealing themselves. I can imagine this as the soundtrack to some sci-fi themed movie centering around a futuristic metropolis during a climactic battle between the stories various factions… This track is one of those Larger Than Life gems you are set to encounter every now and then. Throughout much of the year this track was a big contender for my TOTY. Granted, it’s not a track that evokes emotion or has a superior goosebumps level to the other tracks in this selection but pretty much from the first beat to the last it’s one of the freshest, coolest, innovative tracks I’ve heard in a long while. It seems the Platipus sound focusses on bringing you deep brilliance that’s so energetic and groovy at the same time, that you don’t really know what to call it. I mean, take this killer remix. Are we talking Acid? Tribal? Progressive? Tech? Trance? All of these things? When big shots preach their gospel of boundary-less music THIS is the kind of music I picture. Platipus is bringing me dark and deep moods in a whole new manner, a brand new experience. I can’t wait to see what their 2015 will bring for me to feast on!

11. Relaunch - Datenstrom (Original Mix) [2013]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl's Guestmix @ Rank 1’s Radio Rush #045

And yet another discovery I own to Rok! When this track kicked in during that second Radio Rush hour, I was struck with surprise at its crazy deep groove and padwork, giving me somewhat of an Ibiza-vibe. As if the Baboon track wasn’t crazy enough this one took it a step further with that unrelenting DEEP beat that stopped me from sitting still. Early 2014 was the domain of Datenstrom, I kept spamming it over and over in FB and forum chats. For that I would like to apologize but the sheer brilliance of this track is something I had to share. It’s funny to look back now and appreciate this discovery as the revelation that led me to my Producer Of The Year: Relaunch.

12. Alex Vidal - Nomads Of The Sky (Incolumis Remix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl's Trancified #026 / Enlusion's October 2014 Promo

From 00:31 onward it comes. Without mercy. Without consideration for you to remain connected to this realm. That insane, hypnotic, giga bassline. It instantly absorbs you into its duet with the pads as the percussion ensnares you further. The mere title of this track “Nomads Of The Sky”… Does it refer to the clouds? Have you gazed upon them whilst being caught in the deep web of this glorious entrancing piece? Or would a collaboration between the visual and the aural absorb your senses to the point that you would not pay attention to your surroundings at all? Approaching 3 minutes things get even more enchanting: a female vox sample adds that organic touch, even though she’s been granulized. We approach the breakdown as a main melody of sorts is given its say before the spell of entrancing is cast once more: at 05:08 you are given the chance to indulge in the delightful that only 4x4 can bring you. A rabbithole like this cannot miss out among the best of the best in a year. A late, albeit well deserved placing. Credits to Rok (who else?) as well as Enlusion who’s October 2014 Promo reminded me that this masterpiece was missing amongst my purchases. Kudos gentlemen!

13. Brainchild - Hypnotic Shuffle [1993 -Classic #4 of 2014]

My first introduction to some EYE-Q Trance tracks was Autumn 2011, followed by a small batch in Spring 2013 and continued by this year’s purchase in November. Among last year’s batch, I was absolutely wowed by Odyssee of Noises - Firedance (The Sunrise) which ended up as the big Classic in my Top 30 2013. For this year, it was the Brainchild project that stole my heart through two tracks in particular. Hypnotic Shuffle is a self-explanatory gem, and one heck of spacey 10-minute masterpiece with all these sweet, ear-massaging melodies and acid layers that alternate throughout its duration. For a track this old to still sound this good (and I’ve been saying that about dance Classics for over 4 years now!) is a testimony to the power of this genre and good music in particular. The pioneering spirit is in it and it excites this youngster as if it were a modern piece of art. Big respect to the German legends from the EYE-Q Empire.

14. Solarstone & Orkidea - Slowmotion III (Orkidea Remix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Orkidea's Radio Unity #066

Slowmotion III. I had been waiting for that one a LONG time as Slowmotion I was a killer collab and Slowmotion II was worthy follow-up. It took ages to get here but when it finally did it had to be said that the original and Orki mixes were just a wee bit below the expectations (which were insanely high, mind you). That said, the Orkidea remix quickly grew in my appreciation to the point it found its way here. The remix is over 13 minutes long, which by default grabs my attention. The cinematic feeling that lives up throughout the track through its subtle pads and powerful drums (gah, how I long to be able to create such epic drums!), combined with its journey-Trance style length make this an essential 2014 release. Tapio shows once again why he is one of Trance’ few reliable Vanguards. Even though the expectations for this third collaboration were sky-high, he still managed to deliver a track that’s true to itself. Even though it runs at 128 BPM, I don’t feel it’s any less Trancey than his Touchstone Remix or Lifetime Warranty for that matter. The melody is a great one and I love how Rich and Tapio have kept the synth sound of the very first Slowmotion alive throughout all three editions. I sincerely hope a fourth will reach us in the next two-three (preferably two though) years!

15. Subtara - Accessing Memories (Original Mix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Orkidea’s Radio Unity #066

The opener of #066 was a sublime moodsetter but the Trancey goodness continued with this nostalgic Prog beauty from Subtara. Together with the first and third track of this particular Radio Unity Tapio managed to mix probably the best sequence of three tracks I’ve heard this year. All three breath Trance, but all three do so in different manners that deserve all the praise in the world. What I loved about this track was that during one of my many trips to work, I noticed how the main lead is backed by a background variant with extra delay/reverb that follows the pattern of said lead in a montone rhythm: rather than having a pad that uses the exact same melody or a close variant, Subtara actually deployed a clever trick that is equally effective yet a whole different approach to creating this kind of atmospheric bliss. Besides being a gorgeous tune in its own right, this track also taught me lesson in production. This time, I take both my hats off. ;)

16. NoMosk & Roman Messer - Lost Soul (Hazem Beltagui Dub Mix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Rank 1’s Radio Rush #053

When I sat down to tune into this episode of Radio Rush, I was relieved that matters in my personal life shortly seemed stable. The crunchy Techy yet Proggy melancholic flow of Lost Soul I welcomed with open arms. Its soothing breakdown made me feel strongly nostalgic before its techy lead, almost like a bleeding instrument, amplified that emotion a tenfold or so. As the crunchy bassline returned to back up the fiercer grown lead, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief combined with the realization how much the year had brought upon my shoulder until that point. Before I knew it I was feeling slightly sad. I then realized this had been Radio Rush’ greatest opening in well over a year so the sadness was replaced with gratefulness. Lost Soul might have had a hand by my private life being such a mess but as we stand at the end of the year it can’t be denied: this was one of the tracks that really touched me and it deserves to be here. And it paved the way for an even greater track:

17. Maywave - Souvenir (Original Mix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Rank 1’s Radio Rush #053

It doesn’t often happen that I weep silently during a track. But Souvenir pulled it off. Lost Soul’s melancholia had already moved me somewhat and little did I know that something even greater was on its way. As we moved into the breakdown and it’s incredible melody revealed itself to me I struck with surprise and had goosebumps running all over me like an electrical current. I prayed and prayed and PRAYED that this beauty would not go Rayel Hardstyle on me… And thank God Almight, it didn’t. Instead, this typical plucked Trance lead started playing. I was at once grateful as I was shaken, perhaps the deep down realizing what hell I had been going through for the past months with that particular day proving to be a temporarily relief. As the snare roll started swelling in the background, I was taken over by the emotions and I cried silently. What a divine record. THIS, is the power of Trance music. Many replays took place and nearly ever time that break got me emotional again. However, sadly this track lacks that A-to-Z brilliance. It has by far the greatest breakdown I’ve heard this year, one of my favorite three, but the build-up and winding down part are hardly exciting. Had they been closer to the quality of the break+mid part, this would easily have been my Tune Of The Year 2014.

18. Bastian Salbart - Krush (Original Mix) [2014]
Found it thanks to: High Contrast Recordings social media channels

Initially this track grabbed my attention through HCR mysterious Soundcloud teasing. I was positive this was some Eller van Buuren related collaboration when that epic electric guitar-led breakdown was revealed in said teaser. But as it turns out, it was HCR new signing Bastian Salbart! Had gotten acquainted with this boy through Rank 1’s Radio Rush #009 by the end of 2010: his amazing moody progger “When Life Loses Flavour” was one of my favorite tracks that episode. Now he was back with one of the most epic breakdowns I was to hear in 2014. Though I have to admit this track had one hurdle to overcome: me getting used to that “Hoovinator”-ish lead that carries much of the track. Sadly, the epic Tech Trance climax I expected never came, instead it was a more Bigroom driven main part. But I kept playing the track over and over and at one point the Hoovinator stopped bothering me. I can only imagine though, if this track had been released in 2008ish (with High Contrast smashing one future Classic after the other) how much more deadly this track could have been. Or what killer remixes might have surfaced… I can only imagine how Ernesto vs. Bastian or Marcel Woods would have techified this to lethal levels of dancefloor destroying insanity… Alas, we are no longer in the past. And in the end, that breakdown alone made this a worthy Top 30 entry.

19. Rank 1 And Dennis Sheperd - Freudenrausch (Original Mix) [2014]
Found it thanks to: Rank 1 & High Contrast Recordings social media channels

I am actually surprised this track ended up here: initially I didn’t think it had the kind of Top 30 impact of previous Rank 1 tunes like their remix for My Enemy or 13.11.11. I’d say Freudenrausch’ inclusion was based on its statistics: few tracks I’ve replayed this often this year and few have managed to remain so enjoyable despite that. If I’d order these tunes by preference, it would probably have been #30 or #28 or so. I already discussed this funky feel-good tune in depth earlier this year, you can find that review over here: [http://razormaneofficial.blogspot.nl/2014/03/single-review-rank-1-dennis-sheperd.html]

20. The Blizzard & Omnia - Whiteout [2010 / Unreleased: free download in 2014]
Found it thanks to: The Blizzard social media channels

“The Best Things Are For Free”, they say. In the case of this freebie, that’s definitely the case! Early in the year The Blizzard made a previously unreleased track of theirs available for download. It kicks off with those typical Blizzard sounds and bassline. You can just taste that Kalopsia flavor throughout the track. At 01:51 they give us a glimpse of the track’s melody through gentle pads and the breakdown comes sooner than you’d expect: 02:23. And what a breakdown it is… Alongside Krush and Souvenir, Whiteout brings me another emotion-rich breakdown that just lays a blanket of goosebumps on my skin. If these powerful nostalgic synths don’t touch your soul, I have no clue what will. 03:20 a typical Blizz lead takes over from the strings and you can’t help but feel the nostalgia be turned into a grateful euphoria. The climax comes and woosh: melodic heaven is upon us! The strings then back the main lead though that very sad touch from the breakdown is tuned down somewhat. They get a bit of a solo near the end of the midpart before pads take over and the track moves to its finale. Simply gorgeous. The best things are for free indeed.

21. Solarstone - Nothing But Chemistry Here (EA3 Edit) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Orkidea’s Radio Unity #066

The third track of Orki’s crazy #066 sequence was a big tracklist surprise to me. I was slightly reminded of Lifetime Warranty when this captivating Trancer caught my ear. It’s built upon this crazy lead that’s at once catchy yet energetic with a bit of an acid undertone. As it grows fiercer and calmer the track progresses to a breakdown so subtly you don’t notice until that enchanting Eastern female vox is upon you with the magical pads to complete your state of Trance. Background percussion goes into climax mode and then the robotic voice speaks: “There’s nothing but chemistry here”. BAM. The crazy lead returns and you feel the chemistry between yourself and the track as you embrace it among your favorites of the year. Without doubt one of Solarstone’s coolest tracks in recent years. He missed out on my 2013 Top 30 (Theme from Bladerunner was cool but couldn’t compete with my main 30) but returns in 2014 with class. I am curious though, did he get a hand from Tapio with this one? I REALLY get an Orki vibe out of it!

22. Phase Difference - Utopia (Relaunch Remix) [2013]
- Found it thanks to: Rok Hecl’s Trancified #020 (Live Broadcast)

How stupid can you be? You hear this killer choon in Rok’s live DJ set, note it down, buy and then you DON’T put it on your mp3 player until the last quarter of the year. -_- I know, I can be such an idiot. But, better late than never they say! This track ended up catching me by surprise TWICE. The first time was during Rok’s mentioned live set, the second time was when I went for a walk in the city and suddenly this dark Techno-inspired beat kicked in that awoke me from my daydreaming. Pads suddenly appeared out of nowhere with the beat temporarily gone. When they returned in unison with the pads I was like “Holy shit, this is epic stuff!”. A quick glance on the mp3 player revealed mr. Relaunch was knocking on my brain’s Top 30 acceptance door, to claim his well-deserved third spot among the very best records I heard this year.

23. Rex Mundi - Seek & Destroy (Original Mix) [2013]

A similar case to Utopia this one. When I heard it in GDJB last year, I thought it was the weakest of his three track EP. For Mundi standards, it just “wasn’t there” although I did think it was solid. Thought it might have to grow on me. So I bought it when I was on my huge December 2013 shopping spree. Then, a couple of weeks later I was on my way to work with the new purchases list on. This one came by. And I completely forgot who made it or what it was called. The vengeful synth stab that’s almost part of a synth based rhythm grabbed my attention. Check out the part between 04:15 - 05:02 when a melody pattern is revealed without the beat! As the track winded down I grabbed my mp3 player to check whom had just given me an energetic rush. I was convinced this was the Gabriel Ananda - Smash tune my bro had acquainted me with a couple of weeks earlier as both tracks have similar synth-like stabs. I was amazed: it was none other than Sexi Rexi. The irony? Neither of the other two tracks on the EP ever got near my 2013 or 2014 Top 30s. Never judge a tune by its original creator (or… something like that?) ;)

24. Sander van Doorn - Get Enough (Original Mix) [2014]
Found it thanks to: Violeta Boneva & Mannie Kumar

Once upon a time, SvD was very likely to end up among my 30 faves of a given year. After 2011 sadly, this changed. Imagine my surprise when at some point in this year I found out mr. van Doorn had unleashed a powerful industrial-flavored dancefloor destroyer in his once-typical Techno/Tech Trance inspired fashion (perhaps with a slight touch of modern Bigroom FX here and there). Most likely the biggest Sean Tyas fan out there (Violeta) brought it to my attention that Sander was still capable of bringing the goods like he used to. By the end of the year it was mr. Fight The Daylight blogger Mannie Kumar that reminded me I had not yet purchased one of the biggest positive surprises of 2014! In comparison to the old SvD gems this one might not be among his best of the best, but of everything I heard this year, this has been one of few to guarantee me some good ol’ headbopping to madness. I should bring to your attention that if you really dig this monster, be sure to check out his collab with Oliver Heldens titled “THIS” as well: follows the same logic albeit a bit more groovy / Tech House oriented. He might not be one of the best in the game anymore for me but Get Enough has taught me that even “fallen” names might have a nostalgic glance back every now and then and actually deliver something right up your street. Kudos Sander!

25. Relaunch - Stellarity (Original Mix) [2013]

You know his Utopia Remix and Rexi’s S&D caught me by surprise? Exact same story for the stellar Stellarity. It was on one of the last summer-ish days we had. Get this: it was October already! Regardless, the sun decided to grant us the enjoyment of a 20 degree Celsius day for the last time this year so I made sure I went outside to cash in on this opportunity. Earlier that morning I had FINALLY bothered to put purchases of the first half year on my mp3 player. So it happened that about 10 minutes before I got home shuffle selected this track. It’s instant deep, dark industrial groove surprised me. This…I don’t even know what to call it… “Wave” sound (at least it sounds like it moves like a wave, subtle up-down pattern) and its highly hypnotic power instantly captivated me as this swelling single-tone synth/pad backed a percussive climax. After a while it slowly started raising again. Little did I know that by this second climax three minutes had already passed. Suddenly this strange voice and short whispering appeared out of nowhere, flanked by strange sounds and fx. Once again the swelling synth-line backed the continuous(!) wave as it moved to yet another climax. The beat was absent now as the fx, voices, wave and synth-pad were joined by some hats. The tension was raising once more: my mind was completely captivated as the fourth climax brought back the beat, to great eargasmic effects. I was dumbstruck by the inescapable rhythm and hypnotism of this track. The sun was burning down on me gently as I walked home, almost in automatic pilot. I was convinced this was one of the Mauro Picotto tracks of 2011 I had bought since those were the only tracks among my purchases which I actively remembered to have been Techno-styled. But it wasn’t the Italian Legend. It was that German mastermind again. From Datenstrom. It was Relaunch. Curiously enough, just about two weeks later, during a typical autumn night with the leaves falling and being reflected by the street lights, this tune popped up again. And even though the setting was almost completely different to my daylight experience, my nocturnal experience of this track was even more mystifying and its hypnotic grasp seemed even firmer. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this kind of track on such a deep level… I think we all have our moment when that one dark tune that’s quite abstract somehow captivates us… But this was different, this was on a whole new level! It made Stellarity the deepest and most melody-less TOTY contender I’ve ever had.

26. Relaunch - Camis Minor (Original Mix) [2014 -Razormane Tune Of The Year]

Unbelievable record this. It’s as if the best of Datenstrom and the Utopia Remix are combined into an even greater stand-alone beast called Camis Minor. It doesn’t even give you a chance to prepare yourself. From the first kick onward a deep, heavy duty monster bassline pulses in your ears before all sorts of wild FX start crackling and whipping all over the place like an uncontrollable audio thunder: at 1:01 a smooth stuttering echo effect is introduced, I have no clue what to call it but it paves the way for a bouncy, infectious monotone mega synth line that rolls through the track in such a subtle way that you can’t help but give into its teasing! We are suddenly released into an atmospheric pad-rich realm whilst background fxs climax us straight back into that relentless trademark dark Relaunch groove!! Teasing mega synth returns, hiding in the background but drawing your attention as it grows fiercer and fiercer whilst right behind it the pads return to take us to a soothing breakdown with a gentle nostalgic touch. At 4:34 it’s just these beautiful melody layers, the mega synth (which feels different to such a melodic backdrop) and the stuttering build-up echo. As the melody progresses to its last notes the unforgivable dark groove returns as the bassline and beat are smashed right back unto the center stage. The mega synth continues its background teasing without reaching former levels of ferocity. The track slowly winds down with a reversed piano sweep its final words. Unbelievable record this. An all-out energetic experience laced with crazy whipping fx and a powerful monotone synthlead that brings with it two moments of general soothing entrancement through melody until eargasmic heights are reached through the return of Camis Minor’s mighty beat. I’ll say it again. This year Relauch has revealed to me a blending of Techno, Trance and Progressive befitting of a true Champion. 2014’s best producer and new name to me personally could be no other. And as such, there is no other producer that could have presented me with my Tune Of The Year 2014. B|

27. Winkee - Awakening (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix) [2014]
- Found it thanks to: Orkidea’s Radio Unity #070

Imagine my dumbstruck face when I went to look up that awesome Estuera-ish tune from RU 070. To think it was mr. GO behind such a true Trance piece of all people! Over the years I’ve made no secret that I can’t stand his (imo) generic Trance sound. A lonely voice of opposition in a vast sea of admirers. Still, 8 years ago he blew me away with his crazy remix for the Jimi Hendrix-covered M.O.R.P.H. and Van Eyden single Y68 so it’s not like I never had an example of “GO doing it right” for my tastes. This remix ups that range of examples to two. THIS is how I like my uplifted Trance. No cliché 3 minutes breakdowns or stupid over-the-top happy melodies. Or toe-cringing sweet vocals. No, none of that. Give me an instrumental like this: one with a MONSTROUS bassline ala Mark Pledger and Super8 & Tab – Worldwide. Give me an instrumental with minimal layers but maximum effect like GO did hear. Give me an instrumental that sounds and feels like the gorgeous Intuition Recordings Trance of the mid ‘00s. It might have taken him eight years to pull it off again for me but Ottaviani delivers a master-class production that puts a lot of 2014 “Trance” to shame. I can only salute you for it, Giuseppe!

28. Mauro Picotto - Kebab (Kebab) [2001 -Classic #2 of 2014]

Earlier this year I went into a “names frenzy” shopping spree. I felt like stocking up on names that should be more present in my music library. So I got my hands on Joris Voorn, Jody Wisternoff, and Mauro Picotto among others. This one was on his 2011 album. Ignoring the funny title, this track stood out instantly with its “New Time, New Place” sounding arpeggio synthline and relentless Techno energy. As the year came to a close I noticed it was one of the tracks that had managed to captivate me the most. The big surprise came afterwards, when I went to discogs to be sure its release date was 2011 and not 2010 or 2009. Seems I was completely wrong: Kebab is from 2001. And so the 2nd Classic for this year’s Top list was decided.

29. Rank 1 - Down From The Deep (Live At Trance Energy 2002) [2002 / Unreleased -Classic #1 of 2014]
- Found it thanks to Eduardo Perelta on Youtube [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbwfnl167E8]

The Symsonic DVD: a treasured DVD containing Rank 1’s mighty live performance at Trance Energy 2002. Back in 2005 I first viewed it with my brother followed by solo revisits in the years that followed. As my appreciation for the Rank 1 discography grew, so did my hunger for their tracks. Now Down From The Deep has been a firm favorite ever since we got the extended mix in summer ’08. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered through the Tranceaddict forums that Down From The Deep WAS performed at Trance Energy 2002 but didn’t make it to the DVD since the tape recording of that section was corrupted. It was a double disappointment considering my love for this track, beside the thought of never hearing this particular piece of the Rank 1 history. Ironically, in the shitty year that was 2014, I would hear the live performed Down From The Deep after all. When I ran into the youtube link I posted above, I felt a strange excitement coming up once I noticed the duration was some 5 minutes longer than the TE2002 set I had in my collection. As it would turn out, this was a recorded Radio 538 broadcast of the night!! I ripped the set from youtube and fastforwarded to the point DWTD was cut out of the DVD. And yes, sweet salvation and dear God, in the next 4:46 minutes I got to hear that piece of Rank 1 history I thought I’d never hear after all. And despite the low quality of the broadcast

30. Brainchild - Synfonica [1993 -Classic #3 of 2014]

Whereas Hypnotic Shuffle digs its strength and beauty from its journey aspect, for me Synfonica’s captivating charm lies in its dramatic melody and the many variations of that one simple bit of piano play which alternate, merge and separate throughout its much more humble length. I’ve hammered this one on my media and mp3 players almost non-stop for the past two months or so. I wonder if this track may have been the inspiration for those modern dramatic Trancers Rank 1 - Opus 17, Tiesto - Elements Of Nature and Armin van Buuren - Mirage (the title track). Granted, the credits for that inspiration might belong to Cygnus X - The Orange Theme but this lesser-known sibling might have been the earliest predecessor to these modern gems. The piano intro is at once gorgeous and menacing, the haunting vanishing dark synth stabs give off a loaded vibe, as if warning for an upcoming disaster. Once the beat kicks in, a very Orange Theme sounding synthplay makes it way to the frontstage, be it monotone and not parallel to the main lead yet (sound- and progression wise this is slightly recognizable in Opus 17 too). The piano returns guided by the earlier dark stabs when the track reaches its breakdown in which the piano melody is slightly altered and followed by a breakbeat-ish part in which the build-up synthplay takes over again.In the track’s second half a new rougher synth is introduced: have to admit I had to get used to it at first since it sounded somewhat out of place. But once I got used to it, this track earned its spot among my favorite 30 tracks this year. Such grace for a track that could have been my younger sibling with a 3 year difference! The idea of this tune being respectfully reworked into a contemporary cinematic masterpiece makes my mouth water (and my eyes too for it could only be an incredible emotional soundscape)…

My Own Music
In retrospect, this year was the opposite of what I had hoped for it to be but sometimes shit needs to hit the fan before we open our eyes and start seeing our own faults as well as those of people of whom we pretend they don't have them. In the end I'll take a year of eye-openers over a year of "false peace" since it (hopefully) leads to improvement. Just like with creating music or creating anything for that matter...This year saw one goal horribly delayed endlessly and I am starting to wonder if I should just give up on doing an album altogether. At the same time, when things happen that are beyond your power, you'd best accept it rather than lament it till the end of days. Instead of the bad, look at the good! Never before did I reveal six finished tracks in one year, one five-track EP [https://soundcloud.com/razormane/sets/24-7-the-first-ep] and one remix [https://soundcloud.com/razormane/the-vibe-razormanes-slightly-darker-remix]. And to top it off, the follow-up to last year's MFT -though an AWFUL pain-in-the-butt (as usual)- turned into my best track ever! You can judge for yourself here btw: [https://soundcloud.com/razormane/mane-festival-theme-iii] And there is much more to come in 2015. The Second EP for the 24-7 project is on the way, and will try my hand at either more House or Techno oriented tunes too. You see, I am on a quest to create every genre/style that I like as a music fan. It will be a long quest and I hope the final destination won't ever be reached. Instead I want to be able to reflect on the steps taken, and be able to feel proud about them as the years go by. :)

To conclude: my hopes for music in 2015? May it be the way up from 2014 and I sincerely hope that it will be the year of reborn Tech Trance with Techno influences. No Bigroom Trouse Hardstyle mumbo jumbo or generic formualic 140+ blabla. Just some killer Tech madness like Sander van Doorn, Leon Bolier, Marcel Woods and others used to deliver in 2005-2008... Let's raise a glass to that. ;) Be safe with these fireworks tonight and have a Happy New Year. See you in 2015!

- Papa Razor

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