My most memorable encounter with ATB‘s music was in the summer of 1999. I was at a “rave” held in Guelph, ON. There I was, dancing at “Utopia”, in a huge room lit up by nothing but blacklights, and ATB’s 9pm (Till I come) fades into the DJ mix. I wasn’t taken by surprise though. I was simply filled with joy and excitement. I had heard this song so many times by this point that I almost had a dance routine arranged to it. This was one of the tracks that I had been waiting for all night. If walls could talk, they could tell you how many hours I’ve spent listening to it along with Don’t Stop, Obsession, his version of Olive‘s You’re Not Alone(1998), Ecstasy and Here With Me (2004). In fact, two of these tracks played in my iTunes random playlist just this morning. Needless to say, ATB is a part of my regular trance diet, and I’m so lucky to get the opportunity to review his new CD!
This CD kicks off with the vocal track In and Out of Love feat. Ramona Nerra. Don’t kid yourself; this track is nothing like AVB‘s track with Sharon Den Adel. The track commences with a progressive groove as a slow and steady build falls away to the lyrics. In comes Nerra. Her voice has a slight gravelly edge to it and is full of power and soul attributed to artists such as Mariah Carey, Katherine Mcphee, or Adele. I immediately liked her voice, but didn’t really know who she was, so I looked up Nerra’s biography online (and translated it). Then I went to Youtube where I was brought to tears by her live singing of Adele’s Someone Like You. Ramona Nerra is such a gem, and this song is beautiful! I welcome her to my musical library!
Norin & Rad vs. Audien‘s Triumph is the second track on this CD. It has a dirty electro-house undertone to it, and an uplifting trancey piano melody that reminds me of the track by DJ’s Tatana and Energy End of time (Newbies: if you don’t know this track, look it up!). Whenever I hear End of Time, I always imagine somebody winning a race in slow motion, so I wonder if there is a connection between the feelings Triumph and its name. Either way, this track is very uplifting and moving in a positive way!
Track 3, Baila by Probe, is a really funky track. It’s crazy in a calm sort of way, using fun sounds in the same fashion used in dub and progressive psy, but maintaining melodic trance qualities throughout. When listening to this track, I get the same raw, “bad” feelings that I get from breaks with the warm feeling I get from a trance. Yes, these feelings blend. If you don’t believe me, listen to this track!
Next up is ATB feat. Ramona Nerra Never Give Up. This track starts off mellow, but, as Nerra reaches the end of the first chorus, the track comes on strong, driving hard. This pattern repeats. It is a wonderful toss back and forth between the forceful vocals of Nerra and the forceful musical creations of ATB.
Before you even realize it, the 5th track has slipped into the mix. This track is Antillas feat. Fiora Damaged. This track is typical of lyrical trance with of an electro twist in the backbone; however, the lyrics express something that we can all relate to. Fiora sings about feeling damaged by a person in her past, and her voice is manipulated throughout the track so that certain syllables repeat and become a part of the overall melody. It’s pretty cool. Producers uses everything at their fingertips, even manipulating voices and sounds from what they originally were, in order to enhance and add to the track that they are creating. All the best producers of recorded music have done this, and this track is an obvious representation of that. It sounds great in the end, but I bet producing it isn’t quite as easy.
Markus Schulz presents Dakota Gypsy Room in the Duderstadt remix is the next track to join the mix. I really like the sounds that are like bubbles popping. Its the little noises like this that turn me on when I’m listening to a track. It’s not like the intense turn on I get when I hear a breakbeat during the buildup in a track I haven’t heard before, and have to grab my belly. It’s more like getting kissed in that little spot just behind and below the ear. I just waited for the bubble sounds the entire track, to be honest with you.
OK, so I think I would kiss the girl singing in Track 9 which is LTN‘s Ordinary People (D-Mad remix). I don’t even have to see her to know how adorable she is. I’m so attracted to this voice that I didn’t focus as much on the beats. That having been said, the background is worth listening to. This remix maintains a steady level of energy throughout, and the build in the middle is both interesting and playful. It has a big-room sound to it, overall, but it is a nice track.
Track 8 is by Stereojackers, Offshore, and it stirs a mystical and ambient atmosphere. At first, I thought it would maintain its chill vibe throughout the entire track, but, slowly and surely, this track picks up towards the end, and then it just flowers into life for the last 2 minutes.
The Thrillseekers and Fisher make a great musical couple. The Last Time is a polished track, and I bet it remixing it was a huge challenge. Johan Malmgren 2012 remix, however, is actually quite awesome. I won’t lie to you, I had to go back and listen to the original so that I was able to hear the differences. I actually encourage everyone to do this with tracks that they are unsure about. I am saddened by the amount of people that either mistake a remix for the original, or listen to the remix without knowing the original. Both are equally bad. Don’t do this! If you hear a track you like, but are unsure if it is an original or not, it takes just a few minutes to figure out via the internet. I noticed that the mid-section of this track has this breakdown period where the beats fade out and Fisher’s voice slip into an acoustic sounding version of the song. Then the trance eventually fades in again. I listened to the original to see if this is something that is consistent with both versions, but it isn’t. Therefore, I think I like this remix better than the original, but I know why I like it more with respect to the original.
Track 10, The Madison & Simon J – Follow Up seems simple at first, but it isn’t once you listen to it carefully. There is this sliding scale that happens here and there that has a hypnotic effect to it, and this clacking sound. If you listen for them both, you will totally zone out!
Hazem Beltagui‘s is up next with Into the Blue. Sound-wise it is the opposite of Ferry Corsten‘s original Out of the Blue, and that is sort of funny. To be honest, I don’t know how I feel about this track. I can’t say I dislike it, but it just doesn’t catch me as much as the other tracks in this mix. It sort of reminds me of the DJ Eco remix of have of Pulstate‘s Lost Forever. I’m attached to that remix. It makes me think of watching the sunrise over skyscrapers on a freezing-cold winter morning. This similarity might be stalling my ability to enjoy “Into the Blue”.
ATB slides his own track back into the mix at track 12, spicing it up with the male vocals. All You Took feat. Amurai is an “empowering myself to aim for the better” track. These types of tracks are essential! I mean, we live in a world where it is easy to get in a rut and stay there. Other tracks with this sort of message are Armin Van Buuren‘s Broken Tonight and PVD‘s Home. What I like about these lyrics is that they remain slightly ambiguous. Initially it seems as if Amurai is singing about getting on with life after an ex, but then you listen some more and think “Hmmmm, You know, he could be fighting for a better life, and realizing his potential beyond what he has currently known”. It meaning ranges from superficial to philosophical. I got very lost in these lyrics, just thinking about life, and I really like that.
The second last track on CD 1 is the Juventa Club Mix of Mike Danis‘s For You. Again, I had to listen to the original in order to compare. I like them both, and I love how the robot voice comes into the build right before the beat drops. It might just be in my head, but the voice sounds more isolate to me in Juventa’s mix. The pause when it speaks seems more obvious and pronounced. You listen to them both and tell me!
The final track on this CD, track 14, is Fade with Beautiful Moment. This is a beautiful track. At the 2 minute mark, I got up and danced. It’s one of those tracks that draw some really smooth and fluid dance moves out of me!
Time to flip the tape! CD 2 begins with the perfect track for a sunny afternoon. It is a track produced by ATB himself feat. Anova Sunset Beach. It is very relaxing. There are even wave sounds in it. We can shut our eyes and imagine the sand, the glare from the hot sun off the water, and the beautiful people lazing around on towels in bathing suits. Then it ends and we are both back here, on our computers.
Andain! Andain! Andain! Who doesn’t have a special connection with an Andain track? Nobody! We all do! That’s what I thought. From the one person that couldn’t get enough of, we get the track Much Too Much in the Zetandel chill remix. I won’t lie; I get really excited when I read “chill”, “chillout”, “chill remix”, etc. Anything chill is usually good! Do you guys remember when we had “chillout rooms” and “chill out tents”? These areas weren’t just were we played this genre. They were where we went to actually chill-out! We’d sit around in groups, sharing stories and writing in each other’s books. It’s also where we brought the ones we needed to babysit because they took one too many vitamins. Anyways, this track is as expected, chill, sexy and lovely to listen to!
Track 3, Klangstein feat. Sine Klangsine, totally rocks! I love it! I love the beat. I love the melody. It sort of reminds me of Vibrasphere‘s Breathing Place, but it’s different enough that I can like it on its own. CD2 seems to be getting better with every track!
Now a “downtempo” mix! Wonderful! ATB presents Amurai Love & Light (Downtempo Mix). I like that “chillout” and “downtempo” are distinguished in this track and the previous. It made me laugh! No, I won’t explain the difference. Ask ATB, he obviously knows. Even better, why don’t you listen to these tracks until differences jump out at you? Amurai’s lyrics are really pretty, but I can see them becoming depressing some days. I really love it when a vocal artist’s lyrics make you feel more human and connected to strangers in the world around you. Even if these lyrics are a bit sad, they are very real. I like that about them. It’s a “downtempo” track with a good message!
ATB’s track With You! is very uplifting and emotionally stirring. This song blends together slowly, leading into a breaks-chillout beat and catchy keyboard riff. Overall, the mid-section of the track is a bit repetitious, but in a hypnotic and pleasant sort of way. I also really like the outro/ending. It is a slow fade, like in the intro, and is unique from the rest of the track. For fun we could compare this to Obsession. Technology changes so much, so quickly. How does ATB keep up?
Virtual Riot feat. Amba Shepherd Superhuman in the Titchimoto remix definitely has a classic chillout sound to it. In addition, Shepherd’s girlish sounding vocals, and an electric guitar, transform this track into an intricate, multi-layered groove.
Track seven greets us with DJ Milews RMX‘s remix of Coastline‘s Adriatic Sea. This track makes me feel like I am floating on the water. I don’t know if that was the desired effect.
After this track, Gary B’s track Time to Slow It Down (8) couldn’t say it better. CD2 is has definitely slowed it down. This is the sort of CD to listen to when you just need to relax. When you need to zone out the world around you and breathe deep for a little while. As if to drive the point home further, Polished Chrome jumps into the mix with Desire. Polished Chrome is an awesome name for an alias, and this track is definitely pretty sleek.
If you aren’t in heaven by this point, Asheni is up next with Lost In Time. This will take you places. I love this track! What an angelic voice! If this song doesn’t bring you to tears, the next track Kaskade feat. Skylar Grey Room for Happiness in the Kaskade’s ICE mix will. It might be because I’ve been struggling with a recent separation from somebody that I really cared about, but this song just spoke so truthfully of how I felt that I almost cried. I need to model this sort courage in my current life! This track is the right choice to follow Lost in Time, which lifts me up until I let my guard down, causing me to feel open and ready to receive Skylar Grey’s beautiful lyrics.
Track 12, Summer of Space‘s Beautiful People, is a really really slow moving track. Even the lyrics tarry with a lazy, carefree tone in them. Then Sine‘s acoustic intro to Wolke materializes into the mix. This track has more melody than Beautiful People but produces the same effect of slowing down time. When Chillbar came in, I thought it sounded a lot like Wolke, but that makes sense considering they are coming from the same producer. The guitar in Chillbar reminds me of me of the Phil Collins song Another Day in Paradise. I can’t say that this is a bad thing. I mean, I actually like Phil Collins. This connection might just be in my head. Try singing the lyrics of Collins song to this chillout track for me? Then we’ll know for sure.
The second CD is drawn to a close with Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold. I wasn’t expecting this track. I was taken aback. What a beautiful version of Sting‘s song! What a great way to draw an end to this 29 track journey. I got the same sort of goose bumps that I got when I heard the Armin Van Buuren reworking of Laura Jansen‘s cover of Kings Of Leon‘s Use Somebody for the first time (Side note: have you seen the Armin Only video of him mixing this? The camera catches him at one point as he’s wiping his eyes! All the ladies singing it to him made him cry! I love him.). Cassidy has a crystal clear voice that is full of emotion. The first time I played this track, I freaked out in my kitchen!
Well ATB, “you’ve won me over again with your loving charms”. I can’t even choose which CD I like more. CD2 is the type of music that I seem to gravitate to these days, but CD1 is also within my musical taste, just not as much so as CD2. They’ve both won me over. ATB demonstrates his skill in production as well as mixing and track selection through this release. ATB has been treading musical water for a long long time now, and I don’t hear him tiring out. If the pace of this CD is any indication, I’d say that ATB is really enjoying his swim!
Lindsey Lou – EDM TOR
01 ATB with Rudee feat. Ramona Nerra – In And Out Of Love
02 Norin & Rad Vs. Audien – Triumph
03 Probe – Baila
04 ATB feat. Ramona Nerra – Never Give Up
05 Antillas feat. Fiora – Damaged
06 Markus Schulz presents Dakota – Gypsy Room (Duderstadt Remix)
07 LTN – Ordinary People (D-Mad Remix)
08 Stereojackers – Offshore
09 The Thrillseekers feat. Fisher – The Last Time (Johan Malmgren 2012 Remix)
10 The Madison & Simon J – Follow Up
11 Hazem Beltagui – Into The Blue
12 ATB feat. Amurai – All You Took
13 Mike Danis – For You (Juventa Club Mix)
14 Fade – Beautiful Moment
01 ATB feat. Anova – Sunset Beach
02 Andain – Much Too Much (Zetandel Chill Remix)
03 Klangstein feat. Sine – Klangsine
04 ATB presents Amurai – Love & Light (Downtempo Mix)
05 ATB – With You!
06 Virtual Riot feat. Amba Shepherd – Superhuman (Titchimoto Remix)
07 Coastline – Adriatic Sea (DJ Milews RMX)
08 Gary B – Time To Slow It Down
09 Polished Chrome – Desire
10 Asheni – Lost In Time
11 Kaskade feat. Skylar Grey – Room For Happiness (Kaskade’s ICE Mix)
12 Summer Of Space – Beautiful People
13 Sine – Wolke
14 Sine – Chillbar
15 Eva Cassidy – Fields Of Gold