Sunday, 30 January 2011

Unexpected finds Part One: J-Pop trance remixes

Just a quickie here.  My never-ending quest for more vocal trance music continues unabated, and I recently ran across a source I hadn't thought about - Japanese pop remixes.  Now this is a risky, because pop remixes are an uncertain business even in Europe, and J-pop is an unknown quantity for me, having only been exposed to the highly Western sound of Utada Hikaru before.  With east Asian pop music I usually err on the side of expecting bubblegum, and probably squeaky voices.

So I stumbled upon two compilations of remixes in the trance style from the Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki.  I have no familiarity with the original material at all so these mixes have to stand alone, and they do that pretty well on the whole.  Hamasaki has quite a shrill voice, well above someone like Jes Brieden or Jan Johnston in pitch, probably closer to Elly Jackson of La Roux, the treble-heavy production of that band being able to give your ears a bit of an endurance test after a while with a voice like that.  Thankfully in the hands of the musicians responsible for the mixes on Cyber-trance presents Ayu-trance one and two this problem doesn't arise.

The albums are from the early 2000s and the names you can spot on them are very familiar to me: guys like Above and Beyond, Ferry Corsten and even less famous ones like Push contribute to this.  Remix work is the kind of thing that pays the bills for musicians like this who don't have the name-drop power or celebrity mates of Paul Oakenfold or DJ Tiesto, so I doubt that the fact that most of them (probably all of them) would never have heard of her fazed them much.  They're all living up to their usual standards on these albums, none diverging from what could be called their signature styles too much - Minimalistix in particular sticking with his usual piano riff heavy songwriting that allows you to spot him a mile away and Darren Tate producing another hands-in-the air pad fest just like his work as Orion and Jurgen Vries. Not that trance in general doesn't have a lot of that, but you can quickly pick up on someone repeating himself if you listen to as much as I do.

Note that the second compilation repeats many tracks from the first, but is also fully mixed, whereas the first in unmixed, and all tracks are kept short so nothing has to outstay its welcome with a protracted intro and outro a la early Tiesto.  Anyway, if you don't mind high-pitched female vocals that you can't understand, check these out, even if just to file under "guilty pleasure".  

Contributors to these that I am particularly fond of:
Svenson and Geilen
Above and Beyond
Darren Tate
System F
Armin van Buuren (possibly one of the safest hands in the business for quality trance, original and remixes)

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