Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Review: Antares - Exodus

Antares Exodus
More psy-trance here, this time from 18-year old baby-child Antares from Suntrip Records, and his debut album Exodus. Well, technically I suppose this is goa-trance - less in the way of those super-engineered basslines and more acid drenched old-school melodic goodness. I'm pretty sure that's the difference between psy and goa, although after ten years of listening to trance I'm still buggered if I can say for sure. Either way, those of you whose Albums Of The Year lists consist entirely of 125bpm techno records are going to run away crying from this album.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this album, but my God is it exhausting. There's a run of tracks in the middle, particularly 11-minute Aurum Solis, that just feel like never-ending outer space hallucinations. I've been to psy-trance parties without being on drugs before and it's a serious test of endurance (no wonder they have those chill-out rooms full of ambient dub and dope smoke), and even without having to dance to these tracks I'm getting a similar sensation. It's total sensory overload.

It's worth sitting through this middle stretch, though, because both the beginning and end are awesome. The opener, The Exodus, is a real beauty, a piece of low-tempo cyber-dub full of lush sitars and summery vibes, while second track Mysticism unfurls into a piece of liquid trance. Once you come out the other side of the Beyond The Infinite section, there's the delights of Mount Meru and the appropriately star-streaked Astral Plane to savour, and then another low-tempo groover to close on in Sun Sanctuary. Well, I say low tempo, this one is still at 125bpm, which is Peak Time Madness to the Resident Advisor massive. The album essentially has a pyramid structure, rising in energy and intensity to a mid-album peak and then bringing you back down again. The apex of this structure is a little too much for me, but the bits on either side are pretty damn excellent. And best of all, this is an unabashed, undiluted goa trance album that manages to be almost completely devoid of the unbearably cheesy references to LSD, bongs, extra-sensory perception, consciousness expansion or ancient alien colonists that blight so much psy/goa. I scarcely thought such a thing was possible.

I don't think this one is quite as good as Artifact303's album Back To Space, which also came out on Suntrip Records, has a better name and better artwork and is probably the best trancey album I heard all year. But I do need to relisten to Artifact303 and in the meantime this is a bang tidy album. It's not particularly original - in fact it could probably have come out in 1996 and everyone would have been too addled on acid to have noticed the anachronistically good production quality - but this sound is pretty rare these days, which means this counts as a Revival rather than a Rehash. In other words - it doesn't really matter if something's been done before if it was done so long ago it sounds fresh to hear it again.

Genre: Goa trance
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 8/10

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