Trails We Blaze, the debut solo artist album from British veteran Jody Wisternoff, is an exercise in maturity. This is dance music for seasoned ears, full of sophisticated, soulful grooves that feel engineered for dance fans who’ve outgrown their neon outfits and brashly-sloganed tank tops — unless you can fit “I Love You But I’ve Chosen Dreamily Exotic Deep House with a Tinge of Progressive Trance” on a tank.
Truly excellent house music works well both in the background and on the dance floor. In this regard, most of Trails We Blaze‘s 12 tracks are solid. A few, however, are sublime. On “How You Make Me Smile,” “95” and the superb “Out of Reach,” Wisternoff delivers brilliant electronic dance music that’ll do the trick whether you’re setting the mood for a relaxed cocktail party or rumbling through a late-night afterparty mix session for a bunch of sweaty ravers. Once again, the considerate folks at Anjunadeep have given us thoughtful, rhythmic deep house music that will help your mind drift as your body sways.
Jody Wisternoff – Out of Reach (feat. Jonathan Mendelsohn)
Jonathan Mendelsohn can belt out trance anthems with the best of ’em, but he’s much more restrained when he appears on Trails We Blaze. We get Mendelsohn vocals on three tracks, the best of which is “Out of Reach.” Here, the Brooklyn-born singer supplies discreet, husky emotion. Somehow, he’s able to sound vulnerable without coming across as weak. The beat, when it comes, is the kind of exquisite vibration to remind you why you spent so much money on your subwoofer.
Jody Wisternoff – How You Make Me Smile (feat. Peat Josef)
The album’s other primary vocalist, Pete Josef, sings with warm sensuality on the opening track, “How You Make Me Smile.” Wisternoff’s dreamy, intimate production is the perfect foil to Josef’s overt romance, and the result is a dance track that’ll help you get closer to someone worth caring about.
Jody Wisternoff – 95
Wisternoff does away with vocals on the acid jazz-inspired “95.” When we do hear human voices, it’s in the form of ambiguous chanting, and effect is instrumental rather than narrative. This is the trippiest of Trails We Blaze‘s tracks. The breakdown is unhurried, but when “95” crescendoes magnificently just over five minutes in, the beat that arrives is deeeeeeeeeep.
Jody Wisternoff – Babylon Calling
“Babylon Calling” finds Wisternoff in a punchy, energetic mood. This is as close to a banger as we hear on Trails We Blaze, but as the track drives unrelentingly towards its conclusion, we’re treated to a surprisingly euphoric breakdown. Gentle, tinkling major chords and the hint of of a violin provide breathing space before the return of the beat. Here, Wisternoff clearly derives inspiration from Goa Trance, perhaps directly from Paul Oakenfold’s seminal 1994 Essential Mix.
Trails We Blaze is another solid addition to the Anjunadeep catalog. Wisternoff’s dance music pedigree is apparent on all of the tracks, and it’s nice to hear the influences of the 90s British rave scene in his sound. As half of progressive trance duo Way Out West (along with Nick Warren), Wisternoff made a significant contribution to electronic music’s history. But Trails We Blaze is more than an homage to the past — it’s a reason to be optimistic about EDM’s future.