maandag 20 juli 2015

Single Review: Rank 1 vs. M.I.K.E. Push - Juno [July 2015]

Premiered by Armin van Buuren at ASOT 700 in Mumbai, supported by Ferry Corsten, Above & Beyond, Cosmic Gate, Aerofoil, Sean Tyas and several replays at both A State Of Trance and Global DJ Broadcast... Twitter floods with positive reactions everytime this track rears its head on a radioshow. It's safe to say that as far as exposure and appreciation goes, the teaming up of the Dutch and Belgian Legends has worked its magic once more. Now that the masses have spoken it is time for Juno to arrive at the doorstep of Razor Judgement. My first encounter with Juno was when a fellow forum member said he had a feeling this first hour ID in Armin's Mumbai set could possibly be Rank 1's new tune, reminding him of My Enemy (Rank 1 Remix) / 13.11.11. I went to check it out immediately and after ripping the ID and replaying it several times, I was getting more and more convinced this was indeed the track that turned out to be Juno. This was roughly a month ago: many, MANY replays and a live experience at Electronic Family Festival later (thanks again Piet!) I think I've heard it in enough various settings (at home, on the road, live at a festival) to judge how it measures up as a standalone single as well as a follow-up.

Rank 1 vs. M.I.K.E. Push - Juno (Original Mix) [08:29]
Juno's bassline means business. Once it kicks in at full force, it pulses with the energy you would expect from the artists involved. Throughout the build-up it keeps swelling in force every few measures whilst this teasing pluck synth reveals the core of the main melody. In the background you hear a subtle pad: I am reminded of both Canvas and 13.11.11, two of my favorite 2013 tracks and without doubt some of the finest I've heard from both M.I.K.E. and Rank 1. There is a really absorbing vibe in this build-up and I have to say it might be Rank 1's most captivating since The Great Escape and Elements Of Nature: both of those just had this... Unrelenting energy that could barely be contained in just the opening few minutes. :)

We reach the breakdown where we are acquinted with a melody that to me sounds pretty M.I.K.E.-ish whilst the synth could be from either of the guys. It's a pretty simple and straightforward melody really, but if Rank 1 proved anything to me it's that simple can be hyper-active if done right. The main melody swells and soon we here those characteristic Rank 1 snares join in for the first climax of the track as the melody gets backed by an extra layer right before the big boom moment: climax is reached and the track kicks in with that tasty rough bassline pulsing underneath. Near the end of this first main phase an extra low and raw saw joins the fray, it has a very distinctive Bigroom M.I.K.E. feel to it. We reach the "bridge" of the track with a very oldskool hypnotic lead which soundwise reminds me of "Frankie Knuckles - Your Love". Does it get more oldskool than that?? A new climax smoothly rolls in whilst the kick fades in the background. The melody returns back with extra layers for a more epic tone and the bassline kicks back in with full force for a modern-day Rank 1 vs. M.I.K.E. rush! After this final main phase. the build-up pluck returns simplified, as a fading echo as the track winds down to let you rest after nearly 8 and a half minutes.

As a stand-alone tune
After hearing this track live, I've come to LOVE that crackling bassline and the build-up tension really gets me going too. You can tell both artists were involved in this one and much like with Elements Of Nature they've given us a +8 minute length tune rather than conforming to the (imo) ridiculous 4-minute club mix standard we have nowadays. Soundwise everything is in the right place, and there is even a reprise! Papa Razor loves reprises B| As a standalone track, it does what it should. A cool collab between two of the best producers I've known these past 10 years.

As a follow-up
I'll be honest here: as a follow-up I think it's inferior to EoN. Which is not an insult, mind you! It's just that... When they announced their first collaboration, it tickled my imagination. When the track's teaser came out in December 2012, it got me super-excited. And when I finally heard it in full in January 2013 I was in love. Never had I hoped for a specific kind of track in a way and did the artists deliver the way they did as with EoN. And sadly for Juno, everything magical about that first time was going to be impossible to reproduce, emulate or surpass a second time around. EoN is still a track I listen to regularly and I haven't grown tired of it at all: we are 2,5 years ahead since it was released and it still stands as one of my absolute favorites of the past 3 years. That's how brilliant it is to me. Check out the review I did for it here:

All in all Juno is a very cool tune that will deffo be seeing my money (then again, even if it was sh*t I'd buy it: you know, being a Rank 1 collector and all that). But... For me personally there is something missing in this tune despite all it does right. I think my biggest problem is that I love the build-up more than what follows afterwards. The main lead lacks a little something, can't quite put my finger on it. I like it but I feel like it could have used more... Airwave/Awakening/The Legacy/Strange World kind of power in the synths and its rhythmic pattern. It's kind of like when you are 99% sure about something being right or wrong but you just need that little Push (yes, pun intended) to be fully convinced of your point of view. With Juno it's the same for me. I love it for 99% but something prevents that 1% of being added. And so far, even with the live experience I haven't been convinced (whereas with for instance Floorlifter -a far more simple and should I say "mainstream-minded" single- I was fully convinced after the live Floorlifting at Back In The House 2013). Perhaps it will take time or perhaps the subconscious hope for an "Elements Of Nature beater" prevents me from fully embracing the track for what it is.

There is no doubt Juno is riding the appreciation (hype if your feeling purisitically cynical) wave at the moment and the ASOT twitter account went as far as to nominate it a possible Tune Of The Year candidate. Even though I don't consider ASOT the standard for Trance I once did and as much as I want Rank 1's music to reach far and wide and be appreciated on a massive scale, something feels very off to me when L.E.D. There Be Light, The Great Escape, 7 Instead Of 8, Elements Of Nature and My Enemy (Rank 1 Remix) all missed out on Top 20 spots (be that by a hair or otherwise) througout the years and Juno actually gets annointed a TOTY candidate. The same goes if I view this track solely as a M.I.K.E. production: I think Canvas from 2013 deserved a Top 20 spot more strongly than Juno does. In the end it's all a matter of taste but though I like Juno, I feel that compared to what has come before from both artists, it's getting a bit too much credit...

That said, I'd rather see a very solid tune get overhyped than a lame or poor one. Notwithstanding the Test Of Time, for now Juno will be enough to satisfy my hunger for new Rank 1 material. Also, comparing it to EoN is an unfair battle really: right now it almost seems as if I think Juno is a bad track whereas for me it merely fails to live up to the strength of its older sibling. On its own it is a very enjoyable track and if you are not one of those people that lets the tempo or two-minute "emotional" breakdowns dictate whether you will like a tune or not, you should deffo get this. Heck, if the hype train is running in full force we might as well try and see if Juno can crack the Beatport Trance Top 100. It would be a nice warm-up achievement if it is indeed to become the ASOT Tune Of The Year 2015.

Anyhow: Rank 1, M.I.K.E., thank you for another tasty treat. And readers & R1/MP/Trance fans, wait no longer: get Juno now!

Ps. Gentlemen! In case you decide to collaborate for a third time in (I would expect) 2017(?) and you are wondering what direction to take... How about a collab with a "Universal Nation vs. Opus 17" vibe? Theoretically speaking I believe it has the potential to be an EoN beater and heck, perhaps one of your best efforts ever. Just a thought if you are ever looking for a direction ;)

| Single Review | July 20th 2015 |

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