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Anjunabeats Worldwide 04, Mixed by Maor Levi & Nitrous Oxide (album review)

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Now in its fourth edition, Anjunabeats Worldwide offers a glimpse inside the wonderful world of Anjunabeats — a magical place where the future of melodic trance is groomed for the big time. In the past, the album has helped launch the careers of Mat Zo, Arty, and Super8 & Tab, all of whom went on to crack the DJ Mag Top 100. Anjunabeats Worldwide, therefore, is an appropriate title for this series, because all the artists featured here are world-class.

Anjunabeats Worldwide 04 comprises two excellent but entirely discrete mixes. The first, from Israel’s Maor Levi, is classic Anjuna — full of swirling, twirling, trickling melodies that can completely fill a room while still managing to sound like they’re coming from far away. The second, from Poland’s Nitrous Oxide, is a devastating reminder that for all of trance’s ethereal beauty, the genre is still very much about wicked beats.

But the real stars of the show are Southern California’s Norin & Rad, the up-and-coming trance duo who supply most of Anjunabeats Worldwide 04’s biggest moments. The roaring, rumbling “Pistol Whip” hits harder than anything else on CD1. This is a rave weapon, folks, plain and simple. Buckle your seatbelts and pray that it doesn’t bring your walls down.

Norin & Rad – Pistol Whip

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Norin & Rad also make significant contributions to CD2 with beautiful remixes of “In And Out of Phase” and “Helion.” Just as you’re drawn into quiet introspection, Norin & Rad come hammering back with a demonically massive break. Their beats are deep, groovy reminders that good dance music is supposed to make it easy to dance. Fast forward to 1:15 of “Helion” for one of the most exquisite moments of this entire album.

Andrew Bayer & Matt Lange feat. Kerry Leva – In And Out Of Phase (Norin & Rad Remix)

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Mike Koglin vs. Genix – Helion (Norin & Rad Remix)

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Maor Levi leans heavily on his own remixes to supply the requisite energy for CD1. Notable tracks include his delightful remixes of Boom Jinx’s “Phoenix from the Flames,” Super8’s “Alba” and Ost & Meyer’s “Safari.”

Boom Jinx – Phoenix from the Flames (Maor Levi Remix)

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CD1’s emotional high point is Inpetto’s a triumphantly exuberant “No More Serious Faces,” which should bring a smile to your face.

Inpetto – No More Serious Faces

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On CD2, Nitrous Oxide spins together 72 minutes of trance 2.0 storytelling. This is basically a Nitrous Oxide Essential Mix, with a beginning, middle, and end. It’s always melodic and occasionally enchanting, but it does have one downside — the mix makes much more sense as a live set than it does as a stay-at-home album.

To fully understand, appreciate, and ultimately enjoy CD2 of Anjunabeats Worldwide 04, you’ll need to have an active imagination and a sturdy subwoofer (or headphones if your roommates hate EDM — but really, if your roommates hate EDM, why are you living with them?).

Tracks like “Nautica” and “Orion” are pure trance — protracted, complex builds with classic synths and smooth breaks. By the time “Human Turbines” (Beat Service Remix) — which we first heard on Above & Beyond’s imperious 2011 Essential Mix — kicks in, you’re well and truly riding the trance wave. This is music to lose yourself in completely — ebbing, flowing, twisting, turning, enchanting.

Edu & Cramp – Human Turbines (Beat Service Remix)

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Again, it’s always difficult to listen to a trance album out of context. Trance, more than any other EDM subgenre, lends itself to spectacle — to theatrical, majestic synths; dramatic, existential track titles; and massive, happy crowds. When I close my eyes, it’s very easy to imagine a sea of blissful ravers losing themselves in the lights and the sounds and the inevitable smiles of an Anjunabeats event. When I close my eyes, Anjunabeats 04 makes complete sense. But some might reasonably point out that you shouldn’t need to close your eyes to enjoy an album. Music like this requires patience and a genuine love for trance music. This is not an album to convert the non-believers.

Nitrous Oxide’s original production “Gr8!” and Dan Stone’s remix of Ost & Meyer’s “Scarlet Heaven” signal that Anjunabeats Worldwide 04 is moving to its conclusion. Both contain a ferocious energy that non-trance EDM fans will probably fine a little too intense. But trance is and has always been about making beautiful music that just happens to be EDM. So if you enjoy ethereal chord structures and the indescribable feeling of being swept well and truly off your feet and out of your own head, there really is nothing better.

Nitrous Oxide – Gr8! (Original Mix)

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Ost & Meyer – Scarlet Heaven (Dan Stone Remix)

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Oliver Smith’s triumphant “Progress” is a fitting end to the album. After more than two hours of emotion and intensity, it’s nice to have a little catharsis.

Oliver Smith – Progress (Original Mix)

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To be honest, there isn’t a bad track on Anjunabeats Worldwide 04. Trying to curate the best ones for you was painful, because all of Nitrous Oxide’s contributions on CD2 are worthy of mention. If you’re a melodic trance fan who wouldn’t mind spending 72 minutes with your eyes closed, this is the album for you. The words “musical journey” certainly seem appropriate.

Purchase: iTunes, Beatport

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