November 8, 2007


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DJ 4 Strings, Ultra Trance 07
Ultra Records, Oct. 9
Ultra Records will continue dictating the modern dance-club paradigm until further notice; the compilations the imprint churns out invariably focus on who’s-who remixes of the world’s biggest songs. In March, to cite just one example, Tommie Sunshine compiled Ultra Rock Remixed, which included techno-fied versions of tunes from Good Charlotte, Glitch, Mindless Self Indulgence and Gang of Four. Sunshine’s a weird guy, with his ZZ Top look and never shutting up about his love for his hot girlfriend, but he’s a go-to guy in that space, as DJ 4 Strings (two-man collaborative fronted by Carlo Resoort) is within the progressive trance realm.

If you’ve been out of the scene for a few years, you’re advised to listen to a few samples before committing to this album. 4 Strings is into progressive trance, a major jump from traditional trance, which is characterized by its hyperactive thumping beats and anthemic melodies. Progressive trance has a more subtle way of implementing high BPM (beats per minute) counts, thus if you’re expecting crazy-ass stuff like Darude’s “Sandstorm” you’re going to be bummed. Thin White Duke retrofits Gwen Stefani’s mid-tempo ghetto-torch “4 in the Morning” with extra blips and whaps and one or two upticks in overall speed, but it comes off more as a glorified house tune than a laser-blasted mind-blower. More obvious is the Vission vs. Aude remix of Hilary Duff’s “Stranger,” which is without question general-issue house.

So it goes through disc 1, the most action coming from Tiesto’s original “Break My Fall.” Disc 2 is more enticing going by the track list alone — Above & Beyond have the progressive trance genre down better than anybody, and their “Good For Me” is a sight for sore ears. Other pay-attention names on disc 2 include Sander van Doorn (with the original “Grasshopper” in all its system-crashing glory) and Armin van Buuren’s hard-charging “This World is Watching Me.” Speaking of van Buuren, keep in mind that his more traditional State of Trance albums are the ones trance-heads buy up without hesitation; the progressive trance thing is cute and all, but it’s ripe for creating mass confusion, which has indeed happened on more than one occasion.C+Eric W. Saeger