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V/A - Afterhourz


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Artist: Various

Title: Afterhourz - compiled by Side-A

Label: Groove Zone

Format: CD (Digipack)

Released: July, 2006

Cover: http://www.wakyo.jp/img/jacket/l/GZCD-005.jpg

 

 

Review:

 

Groove Zone Records is a label based in Japan, that launched back in 2004 - the first releases where focused on progressive psytrance sounds, but lately the label has moved more towards the housier sounds, which also recently resulted in the opening of the sidelabel Aqua, where they have released 2 CD's so far. The last release from the main label Groove Zone was roughly one year ago, the morning-oriented psytrance compilation "Aerocruz", and now, one year later they are ready with the compilation "Afterhourz".

 

"Afterhourz" is compiled by Side-A (Olivier Cambier), one of Frances upcoming talents on the progressive scene, already with releases on labels like Tatsu, Sub Machine, Tribal Vision, Candyflip and Domo. The CD contains mostly unreleased tracks, and mostly centered around artists based in France.

 

 

01. Dousk - Estrange [130 BPM]

The opening track is by Yiannis Douskos from Greece, who has been releasing deep, progressive house/trance crossover for some years now, appearing on releases from key players on the scene like Bedrock, Vapour, Audio Therapy, Renaissance, Lost Language and maybe most importantly Klik Records, where he released his stunning debut-album last year. "Estrange" is a re-release from a 12" Vapour on last year, and it holds all the trademarks from Dousk - deep, tribal progressive house with subtle melodies and breathtaking atmosphere. Superb way to open the compilation.

 

02. Parham & Dominic Plaza - Once (Kasey Taylor & Chris Meehan Remix) [126 BPM]

Next up is another 12" re-release, Taylor & Meehans remix of "Once" by Parham & Plaza, which was released on Fokused Records last summer. Kasey Taylor is the label-manager of one of my favourite progressive house labels, Vapour Records, and like expected this track is a real beauty, although not exactly cutting-edge. Very gentle progressive grooves with blissful trancy pads.

 

03. Motion & Side-A - Activated [132 BPM]

"Activated" is a French collaboration between Side-A and Tetraktys' progressive sideproject Motion, and I've loved it since the first version I got several months ago. It's a progressive house/trance monster with an epic big room sound, catchy voice-samples and lots of dancefloor power for the big rigs. This track is basically "da bomb", and seeing it getting released, I can imagine it being a huge hit the rest of the summer.

 

04. Tetraktys - Interstellar Overdrive (Motion Remix) [130 BPM]

Vincent Courcot aka Motion is also involved in the next track, which is a remix of "Interstellar Overdrive" from his self-titled album released under the Tetraktys moniker a few years back. The original was a dangerous minimal/techtrance tune, and you can still hear the harsher, mechanical themes in this big-room progressive house version. Really powerful tune, one of the best Motion-tracks so far in my opinion.

 

05. Solead - Accoutume [132 BPM]

Vincent Courcot team up with his fellow French partner Charles Michaud (who many might know for his psytrance project Triptych) in their new progressive project Solead. What I've heard from them up till now has been very funky and electro-driven progressive house, but "Accoutume" is more laidback, with sophisticated French voice-samples and beautiful dreamy melodies that remind me of Jaïa. Superb.

 

06. Jaia - Last Call [132 BPM]

With last years stunning album "Fiction", Jaïa from France established himself as one of my absolute favourite producers, and "Last Call" is another beautiful piece of music from him. The atmosphere is lush and dreamy, the grooves are warm and very catchy, and the melodies range from subtle and thoughtful to downright epic. Such a positive piece of music, it's impossible not to get in a good mood.

 

07. Side-A - Synopsis 1.1 [130 BPM]

Side-A, responsible for compiling the compilation is up next with a track of his own, "Synopsis 1.1". The powerful groove seems quite similar to that in "Activated", but the atmosphere here is much more melodic and trancy with soft, gentle chords and once again a generally very uplifting mood. I definitely consider it among his very best releases so far.

 

08. Rai - Comet [127 BPM]

Rai from Czech got his breakthrough on the first releases on Tribal Vision Records, and "Comet" continues in the somewhat same vein as his early releases, meaning soothing and very relaxed, laidback house-grooves. You won't find a fully-packed dancefloor peaking to it, but it's a very smooth and pleasant tune, perfectly suited for the sunny Sunday afternoons. Pure class.

 

09. Side-A - Synopsis (Silicon Sound Remix) [bONUS TRACK] [130 BPM]

Last but not least we're presented with a bonus track, and what a bonus this is. Johannes Regnier aka Silicon Sound is one of the big names on the morning full on scene, and here he's made a quite surprising remix of Side-A's "Synopsis 1.1", running at "only" 130 BPM. The theme-melodies from the original are intact, but there's a lot more punch in the electro-influenced bassline, and the melodies and pads are given another notch up the epic-scale. Amazing tune, continue to make more of this stuff!

 

 

Bottom line:

 

I always had a thing for uplifting and melodic music, and "Afterhourz" definitely hits the spot for me - it's an almost perfect selection of beautiful progressive tunes ranging from laidback or emotional progressive house to more pumping progressive house/trance morning anthems. While this might sound like a promotional speech from Groove Zone, I must say that the overall quality of the tracks is almost ridiculously high, and with so many amazing tunes and no fillers it's really hard to point out any tracks in particular - I could imagine playing all of the tracks in a set, and all of the tracks would be among the highlights if they where to be released on another compilation.

 

Are there Drawbacks? Well, my only complaints are that the first 2 tracks where previously released, the last bonus-track abrupt an otherwise very well-made flow, and the fact that the release is contained in a mediocre digipack - but basically all that is just nitpicking. Bottom line is that I absolutely love this release - so far it's the best compilation I've heard this year, undoubtedly the best from Groove Zone yet, and one of the most essential releases this summer.

 

Highly recommended!

 

 

Favourites:

 

1 (!!), 2, 3 (!!), 4, 5 (!!), 6 (!!), 7, 8, 9 (!!) - yes, that's all of them.

 

 

Verdict:

 

9,5/10

 

 

Links:

 

Groove Zone: http://www.groove-zone.com

Side-A: http://www.sideasoundlab.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Super sweet release and imho Groove-zone's best yet -

Kudos for Side-A on choosing very stylish tracks allaround.

 

fans of psyprog better stay away - this is housey territories, but it still is progressive trance and a damm good one.

 

definitly waiting for the next groovezone release :rolleyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

V/A – After Hourz

 

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Hi-res cover: front

 

Artist: Various

Title: After Hourz (Compiled by Side-A)

Format: CD (jewel case/digipack)

Label: Groove Zone (Japan)

Cat. #: GZCD-005

Distribution: Wakyo Distribution

Date: July 2006

 

Track listing:

 

01. 10’33” Dousk - Estrange

02. 09’09” Parham & Dominic Plaza – Once (Kasey Taylor & Chris Meehan Remix)

03. 07’53” Motion & Side-A - Activated

04. 09’03” Tetraktys – Interstellar Overdrive (Motion Remix)

05. 08’02” Solead - Accoutume

06. 08’21” Jaïa – Last Call

07. 08’52” Side-A – Synopsis 1.1

08. 08’05” Rai - Comet

09. 08’26” Side-A – Synopsis 1.1 (Silicon Sound Remix)

 

Review:

 

Back on plastixx!!

 

After exactly one years hiatus (though with a couple of releases on the sub-label Aqua Recordings) Groove Zone Records from Japan are back on plastic. Groove Zone has released some real fine compilations, but the last one, Aerocruz, I didn’t really find essential… Sure, it had its moments, but overall speaking I found it a little too fluffy… That’s all in the past though, and I’m approaching this fresh compilation with an open mind… Frenchman Side-A compiled it, and by the looks of the tracklist he has dug out quite a few big names within progressive trance… Let’s dig in…

 

Let me take you thru the tracks…

 

#01: Dousk – Estrange [130 BPM]

Greek producer Yiannis Douskos is all over the place at the moment with his ultra-deep house/progressive crossover stuff… This lengthy track was originally released on wax by Vapour Records in 2005 and has been released on a Renaissance compilation too… Deep, progressive stuff is Dousk’s trademark, and trust me, this is extremely deep… Very lush and somewhat minimal without really being minimal… It just is! Luscious, floating and totally groovy… Perfect for lazy afternoons or late night urban clubbing… Sexy stuff that keeps going on and on and on and on and on and… Usually that would bore the hell out of me, but this track has a charm that I can’t resist…

 

#02: Parham & Dominic Plaza – Once (Kasey Taylor & Chris Meehan Remix) [126 BPM]

The next track was also released on wax last year… This is my first encounter with both the original composers and the remixers, so I have no idea what to expect… Anyway, this is the slowest track here – and that doesn’t go by unnoticed. The groove is pretty laidback despite the somewhat simple and surprisingly blunt bassline… I like the groovy pads and the massive reverbs – and the melodic touch is nice too… In fact it’s all fine and dandy, but I’m afraid the cheese factor is a little too high for me to totally dig this… The unnecessary long break bugs me too… A little edge and this would have been among my fav’e tracks here…

 

#03: Motion & Side-A – Activated [132 BPM]

Motion is Vincent Courcot from France – better known as Tetraktys… Side A is Olivier Cambier also from France. They first collaborated on the Tatsu Recordings compilation Ground Grooves released in 2004 and again on the Candyflip compilation Levitation released in 2005… Especially the latter track was lovely with its distinct feather-light melody and constant progression… And lovely is just what this track is… It’s über-lush with its floating melodies, deep reverbs and slick progression… But despite its somewhat commercial elements, I really dig it… Certain passages remind me of Sasha’s legendary Xpander which is among my fav’e club tracks ever… Sweet!

 

#04: Tetraktys – Interstellar Overdrive (Motion Remix) [130 BPM]

The next track is also by Vincent Courcot, but this time he’s on his own… Interstellar Overdrive was the minimal opening track off his self-titled debut album released on Sub Machine Records in 2003. And now it has been upgraded under his Motion alter ego - so basically he’s remixing himself here… Some of the harsh, minimal-slash-industrial elements from the original are still present here, but generally this is a slicker, groovier vision – in keeping with the traditional Motion sound… The drive and NRG is unsurpassed, and unlike the previous track this is much more lodged in the underground… It’s edgy! Brilliant!

 

#05: Solead – Accoutume [132 BPM]

Solead is yet another Vincent Courcot project in which he collaborates with Charles Michaud aka. Triptych. The sound here is upbeat progressive trance with very distinct electro-elements… The perfect transition track when going from progressive trance to electro – or the other way around… It’s nice and has some real funky passages, but overall it’s not as good as the 2 previous Courcot tracks…

 

#06: Jaïa – Last Call [132 BPM]

Yannis Kamarinos is a living legend within electronic music… Based in France, Yannis has been responsible for some of the most important trance/chill releases in our scene… He has successfully mastered the most popular subgenres of our scene: Full breed goa trance, eclectic chill & ambient and most recently he has ventured into progressive trance/house/electro. The album Blue Energy has been a fav’e since it was released in 1998 and the 2005 album Fiction has already reached the status of being a classic… So yeah he’s quite a capacity and this track shows just why. This is a subtle, groovalicious, low-ripping, high-catching bomb of progressive trance track… The melodies are ripe, the electro influences just right and the housey progression leaves you sweaty, panting for more…

 

#07: Side-A – Synopsis 1.1 [130 BPM]

Olivier Cambier who also compiled this CD, is back with another track… Again the epic, uplifting qualities prevail and this is a very melodic, commercial piece of crossover club/progressive trance… But unlike the previous track, this seems a little blander and less inspired… Sure it’s nice, epic and floating, but there’s nothing here we haven’t heard before…

 

#08: Rai – Comet [127 BPM]

Rai is Roman Horinek from the Czech capital Prague. I’ve only heard the two tracks he has released on the Tribal Vision compilations Lime Light and Street Art… The first one was a little too Balearic for my taste, but the second one digged much deeper into electro/progressive house territory with synth galore and über-smooth sequencing and a tight rhythm section… This track finds its place nicely between them… The tight rhythm section and the electro influences are distinct, but there’s also a commercial side to it… It’s a pretty nice track, but it’s more wallpaper than a stand-out…

 

#09: Side-A – Synopsis 1.1 (Silicon Sound Remix) [130 BPM]

The last track is supposedly a bonus track… I’ve never really understood the concept behind bonus tracks, but that’s really besides the point… This is a remix to Side-A’s track made by fellow Frenchman Silicon Sound (Johannes Regnier). And where the original was somewhat bland and uninspired, this track has more stamina… It’s easily more melodic and trancy… And best of all, it’s got the edge that the original is lacking… I’m especially impressed by the percussion, the melancholy melodies and the general punch! Not exactly the kind of morning trance we’re used to from Silicon Sound, but that’s just another plus. Diversity rules! …A great example of the remix kicking the shit out of the original! This is a huge track!

 

And now I can safely say: Groove Zone Records are definitely back with a vengeance!! This is a very solid compilation! Oh yes, there’s a bunch of excellent tracks here – and even the less-good tracks are still pretty solid. And my main gripe with those less good tracks is their commercial nature which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

 

There’s some real excellent progressive trance to be found here – and often it crosses well over into house, club trance and electro… Fans of such stuff should definitely check it out… It’s one of the better progressive trance releases of 2006 – up to par with Iboga and Plusquam stuff! The simple digipack has some really boring artwork, but do not despair – the music more than make up for that… Enjoy!

 

Favourites: 1, 3(!!), 4(!), 6(!), 9(!!)

 

DeathPosture

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External links:

Groove Zone Records: http://www.groove-zone.com

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/713644

Saiko Sounds: http://tinyurl.com/lor5o

Wakyo: http://tinyurl.com/mdnbx

Cisco: http://tinyurl.com/noflz

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I saw Motion, Solead & Triptych live on Sat night and Motion (Vincent) stole the show, he played tracks off this album and the Instellar Overdrive remix is utterly stunning. Its gotta be my fav release this year and Activated isnt far behind.

 

Fantastic album. :rolleyes:

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