Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Review: Blue Planet Corporation - Blue Planet

Blue Planet Corporation
If ever someone asks me to define what "trance music" is all about, what it should be about; the rare, fleeting ideal of a genre blighted with so much shit, I point them to Blue Planet Corporation. If you have to sum up trance in one single track, it would be the eleven minute launch into the stratosphere that is Alidade. There are better trance records, there are probably even better trance albums, but nothing as pure, sweat-soaked trancey trance as this.

Even the name is perfect. Blue. Planet. Corporation. It's practically poetry in how these three words encapsulate trance so perfectly, with such soaring evocation and sleek minimalist efficiency. Immediately there's spaciness and futurism, and also the lush expansiveness of "blue planet", but this is a lushness that is created not through nature but through science, technology, the machine. And then there's the tight order and quantized control suggested by the Corporation. The artist name instantly brings to mind a colossal inter-galatic terraforming conglomerate, entire worlds being transformed while vast shipping yards and construction platforms hang in outer orbit. These images are the perfect metaphor for the music on this album - ultra-long bleeds of beautiful high-energy futurism where delicate melodies are wrought from the chaos of swirling acid and precision-engineered beats.

This is trance in the proper sense, of how I think a trance record or even an entire set should unfold. At the start most of these tracks seem incredibly simple, the first two or three minutes might even sound boring. But trance is the music of star systems, nothing happens in 30 seconds. Layers build up until the music is flying along with ridiculous speed, and those opening minutes make sense. This ain't a record where every single second is packed full of ideas, but one where entire minutes are devoted to the larger picture. Building better worlds doesn't happen quickly, y'know. The tracks draw you in until you're totally entranced, and suddenly you look out of the port hole and see stars pass in streaky blurs and realise you're travelling at point five, past lightspeed and it's a rush like none other.

It isn't quite a perfect album. The opening ascent of Apex, Crystal and Alidade is so thrilling and face-melting that it would be impossible to keep up the momentum, and there is a slight mid-album lull with the more minimalist Atoll and Dialect. Again, though, these tracks may sound individually less impressive, but they set up the peak of Open Sea in the way all good DJs do - spacing out the explosives to give you chance to recover your energy, and place them in structuralist contrast for maximum effect. The last two tracks, Roma and Arcana, bring you right back down to alight on the planetary surface, still-hypnotic pieces of synthetic ambient material that finish the journey on exactly the right note.

For a long time, Blue Planet was extremely rare and ultra-expensive to procure, elevating it to the legendary status reserved for only the rarest and most expensive records. Usually this is because tales of the record's quality are second or third hand and reach almost mythical dimensions. After all, nobody is willing to admit they paid £100 for a duff album. Happily, Blue Planet has been reissued by Northern Exposure Recordings and now anyone can hear it for themselves. It lives up to the hype. I don't know if I can give it 10/10, if only because there's a moment in Micromega when that robotic Kraftwerk voice intones "trance dance", which was a bit of totally avoidable cheesiness that might shatter the magic to a cynical non-trance convert. But come on. Blue Planet Corporation. What a brilliant name. I love how the album is just called Blue Planet, as well. None of that lazy self-titled bullshit. The musician is the corporation, this is your terraformed world. In a lifetime of writing I'll never find a metaphor quite as perfect as that. The guy is French, too - English ain't even his first language! So, so jealous.

Genre: Trance
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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