Various Artists - Five AM Sessions Vol 1, Mixed by Gareth Emery

Image For Various Artists - Five AM Sessions Vol 1, Mixed by Gareth Emery

(Five AM Records)

Gareth Emery, who also goes under the name GTR, has been cranking out trance sets around the world for a while now. Having produced tracks such as Mistral in 2002, a huge track that was picked up many big name trance DJs including Tiesto, Paul van Dyk and Armin van Buuren, and Reason to Believe (2004), this is his first full length compilation. Three more of his tracks are included on this CD.

Overall, this is a well structured set which has been intelligently put together. The tracks do not progress from soft to hard in a typical, unexciting and non-innovative manner common to many trance sets. Rather, the set ebbs and flows. Throughout the proceedings, driving energy is introduced but not at the expense of melody, and not by simply moving to banging tracks. It is possible to increase intensity without replying on hard banging sounds and beats, but it requires thoughtful track selection, which is apparent here.

The other way many DJs build energy in a trance set is to rely on big vocal anthems to ‘peak’ the set. Gareth Emery avoids this overused technique. The sources of energy he relies on are more subtle and stem from two sources. First, he has chosen tracks that have more developed, and more dirty basslines than is found in many trance tracks (e.g., MiikkaSircceli).  Second, he selects tracks with more complex rhythm and percussion than is found in most of the plethora of current trance tracks (e.g., Nicholas Bennison & MicahFueled, which would fit as easily within a dirty progressive house mix).

The CD progresses nicely through several phases which intertwine rather than stay completely separate. After a fairly classic sounding start to the CD (Stigma by Descent), the set explores the sounds of progressive oriented trance, including the superb work of Leama & Moor on Fact of the Matter. The sound of this section is bright and  ‘sparkly’ progressive, a style that personally I like, but is viewed less positively by those who prefer their trance to be more pure. To me, the sounds are those that a mass of twinkling stars might make, if we could hear them, particularly on the Probspot remix of Locust’s Aerospace.

More energetic driving trance then emerges, such as the well known Adrenaline by Purple Haze. The energy builds throughout the middle section of the CD before we reach three tracks produced or co-produced by Gareth Emery. The energy drops off slightly again through this section. As a producer, Gareth Emery makes fine trance tracks. Of the three here, Bouncebackability which he co-produced with Jon O’Bir, is the pick of them. With a driving beat, and a broken-up vocal sample used as an instrument, it is underscored by long tension raising synth pads. It is a good set builder, driving toward a peak and tension release that never quite comes in this track.

After teasing us with the energy of his self-produced Flood Control, the sets peaks over three tracks including the one vocal track on the CD, the brilliant Behind Silence by A-Force feat. Yahel. The set captures a night on the dance floor and condenses it into one CD. With intelligent track selection, I recommend this CD to trance lovers, particularly those not disposed toward trance that is too ‘fluffy’.

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