Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Music Review: Nadia Ali - Queen of Clubs: Diamond Edition

Music Review: Nadia Ali - Queen of Clubs: Diamond Edition

Since 2001, the world has known the voice of Nadia Ali. Her work with iiO, collaborations with some of the foremost names in dance like Armin Van Buuren, Serge Devant, Tocadisco and Chris Reece means that she is one of the most sought after vocal performers in the dance world.

Queen of Clubs: Diamond Edition is the final release in her Queen of Clubs trilogy. The three part release has previously had Ruby Edition and Onyx Edition and this completes the catalogue. Spanning the three albums has been the best of Ali's worked remix and Diamond is definitely a case of saving the best for last.

Opening the album with Rapture is like opening the cover of your favourite book. In the years since it's release, so many people have danced to the track and here is a shiny new remix (Gareth Emery Remix) of it to win over more listeners. It's still got the same feel as when it first came out and is as anthemic as every. For, what has now been, nine years - Rapture has been a club favourite and has dancers sweeping to the floor and this track will do nothing but rejuvenate the lover affair with this stunning track.

Following is the new track Call My Name which is Ali's collaboration with Ned Shepard and Sultan. The pair are some of her favourite people to work with in the studio as she revealed in an interview not long after the release of her debut artist album Embers. The beat is catchy and, as always, Ali's voice is perfectly suited and captures the ear easily.

Ride With Me (DJ Shogun Remix) and Triangle (Michael Badal Remix) follow and continue to lift the standard of each track. The album really starts to come into it's own, though, with Point The Finger (Lost Stories Remix) which is such a departure from the original which was more downtempo. The song keeps moving on with a forward sound. Ali's voice isn't overdone or altered in any way and that is part of the endearing part of the track.

If you remember iiO, you'll remember the following single At The End. Here is a trip of nostalgia for you. It's a stunning piece of music with a lifting melody which is couple with Ali's voice and a driving beat. You will be sweating while you dance to this track. This track is a reminder of why people feel in love with iiO in the first place. The dance, the melody, the beat and that stunning voice.

It would be impolite not to mention the electric inclusion of Love Story (Andy Moore Remix). The track is amazing. There's not much more that can be said about it. It's driven and it's enthralling. It's a fantastic remix and, again, proves why Ali is the household name of dance.

Finishing the album is Fantasy (Starkillerz Remix). The track is hard to describe other than a complete eargasm. From the start with the build of the song to the peaking crescendo, the track never stops growing or leading the listener on the journey.

The only downside that can really be found with the album is that it doesn't have more of the amazing remixes that are out there included (TyDi on Fine Print and Scumfrog on Love Story being examples). Though when coupled with Ruby's 14 tracks and Onyx's 18 tracks, this is a massive body of work.

The overall effect of the album is a constant reminder of why Ali is as popular as she is. She's a strong female with a voice that is pure bliss to listen to. Her music is astounding and riveting. Ali has amazing talent as does everyone who has loaned a hand to making each remix of the album (and indeed the trilogy). This album belongs in the collection of any Ali fan or DJ's collection.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Music Review: Signum - For You

Music Review: Signum - For You

Since 1997, Signum has been a leading name in the world of trance. They have preformed at Gatecrasher events worldwide and remixed many of the industry heavy weights like Delerium, ATB, Armin Van Buren and OceanLab over the years. Signum is a household name, even if you don't realize it.

Now, after two years of careful preparation, they have released their stunning artist album For You.

Cinematical is the opening track which blends electronica, trance and makes it sound like a mixture of water and music playing from the distance. The effect is magnificent to watch. The track is thrilling and as crisp as the early hours of a new day.

Following is the lush vocal track Gonna Take Time featuring Antonia Lucas. The music is warm and surrounding. It's beauty is certainly something to behold. Surprisingly for a dance track produced for a predominately trance outfit, the inclusion of the piano is stunning and fits with Lucas' luscious tones wondrously.

The pair gradually raise the tempo and energy of the album until you hit Liberate which includes the vocals of Kate Louise Smith. To be honest, this was the track that caught my attention to buy the album. It was featured in Armin Van Buuren's A State of Trance podcast 148. It's certainly a track which you will either love or hate. To some it's repetitive and to others it's hypnotic. Personally, I find it be delightful. The energy that the track generates is something to behold. Mix that with the stunning vocal delivery, and it's almost reminisce of Drifting Away by Lange back in 2002.

Following directly after is another track which was featured in the State of Trance podcast 149. It's Never Be The Same featuring Julie Thompson. The track actually manages to sound even more energetic believe it or not. Thompson's voice is light and breezy and wholly attractive. When you listen closely you can hear, I'm not sure which, pipes or flutes playing in the background. The overall effect is riveting, engaging and enthralling.

After the last two vocal classics, we move back into the instrumental dance orientated direction. Beginning the sequence is Addicted. Now this track is easy to love with it's driving beat and happy melody. Now this is a track that was ready made to become a classic before it's release. The sensuality of the music is enrapturing and captivating. It's easy to become quite taken, or even smitten, with the track.

Way back when in 1999, there was a single. It was called Coming On Strong. It was a pure track. It was a trance track. It was and still is a favorite of many. It stood the test of time. Now, in 2010, we have a revitalization of this time honored monument of trance history. CoS 2010 is as epic now as it was originally. The words just aren't available to be able to aptly describe this song.

Healesville Sanctuary is easily recognizable as having Roger Shah influence it. The track is a cross between a Signum signature track and a trance based emotive song. The track won't make you burst into tears. It won't make you laugh like a madman. It will catch your breath and dare you to say that it isn't a stunning track. The work and effort that has been put into crafting this track earns it near masterpiece status.

Both Beyond This Earth and Centurion are proof positive that Signum know what they are doing and a beacon of light for the trance world of which many seemed to be becoming disillusioned. Both tracks are reminders of what is right with dance music. The driving beats. The sacred melody. The thump and grind that just calls from the dancefloor. Elevating and enthralling. The two tracks are a journey that can't be shared. 

Finally, Ancient World finishes the album. It's almost devastating to see that the album is over. Why should this be allowed to happen? Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Even musical masterpieces such as this must eventually finish playing. The ambient, downtempo sensation of the music that is enriched with nostalgia does for this album what Serenity did for Armin Van Buuren's album Shivers. It rounds it off nicely and leaves you wanting to hit the play button all over again.

Is this album worth purchasing? Hell yes. It's everything that people have been complaining that trance music has been missing over the last few years. It's driven. It's enthralling. It's entrancing. It's hypnotic. It's the dance album that you need to but this year and have playing so loud that even your neighbors will love it. Signum have released a stunning piece of work that will live on for years to come.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Music Review: Conjure One - Exilarch

Music Review: Conjure One - Exilarch

For five years, Conjure One has sat quietly. The writing and recording process neither hurried nor urgent. Now, they have returned with the exquisite album Exilarch. Ten stand out tracks selected and put together for the listener's delight.

After the last album Extraordinary Ways, there were many fans who were quite skeptical that this album wouldn't turn into another overly commercial release as well. Fortunately, it would appear that the fears were unfounded and this is the album that should have been made five years ago.

From the opening track Like Ice, which features the stunning vocals of Jaren Cerf (who has worked with the likes of Dash Berlin, Serge Devant and Armin Van Buuren). It is plainly obvious that this is going to be an amazing album. The album moves back towards the bands roots of heavy synth with a mixture of gothic and middle eastern influence.

Following is the second track Places Like That Don't Exist. A instrumental track that seems almost of throw back from producer Rhys Fulber's days in Delerium and Front Line Assembly. The track is masterfully put together. The constant reminder of electronica with the softer melody over the top. It is quite a difficult piece to describe but certainly well worth the time to listen to.

On the track Zephyr, Jaren Cerf returns providing her remarkable amount of talent to the song. As the majestic strains of music meet with Cerf's voice, the entire album lights up brightly and sounds out beautifully. It's dark and light all at once with an uplifting sensation. A track that has to be heard to be believed.

Nargis reminds the listener of the middle eastern influences that Conjure One is well known for. Add to that the beautiful singing voice of Azam Ali and it's a stand out track. The feel of the traditional music of the East meeting the electronic movement of the West and combining in a stunning way to leave the listener enthralled.

Going forwards is the third collaboration with Jaren Cerf on the album highlight The Distance. If you buy this album for no other reason, it should be for this song alone. The song is light and airy. It's almost ethereal in it's beauty and simplicity. The track is stunning. There is no other way to describe it. The album as a whole is a stand out but this track... it is THE highlight of the album.

Popping up on the emotive track is Leah Randi who has previously worked with Delerium and Front Line Assembly. The track is I Dream in Colour and it's breath taking. When coupled with the following track Existential Exile, also featuring Randi, the effect is nothing short of amazing. It's a tribute to the fact that Conjure One has now found it's own path and is no longer following down the path the Fulber previously walked with Delerium.

Closing the album is the last instrumental track Oligarch which is breathtaking in it's own right. It's got the sweeping strings, electronic beats and, again, middle eastern influence. The track is a phenomenon. It's honestly a shame that there are nine other tracks to get through before reaching this one. 

For those who have thought that Conjure One was an attempt to cash in on his previous fame with Front Line Assembly and Delerium, this album has certainly proven them wrong. This album has the mood of Semantic Spaces, the electronics of Civilization and the darkness of Karma. Exilarch is not a poor man's Delerium. This is Conjure One, standing proudly on it's own next to Fulber's previous works.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Music Review: Glee Cast - Glee: The Music, Volume 4

Music Review: Glee Cast - Glee: The Music, Volume 4

Well there's a surprise. Christmas is just around the corner and what happens? Sony drop a new album from one of TV's most popular shows at the moment. Yes, Glee has now released it's fourth soundtrack just in time for parents to stuff it into their tween's Christmas stocking.

Okay, so now that the derision over the timing of the release is out of the way we, we can actually look at the album. Look, like all of their releases you know that it is going to be half way decent and up to par with the rest of the releases.

Covering the likes of Britney Spears, Joan Osborne and Katy Perry - there really is no shortage of music on this album and somehow, Sony has managed to showcase it all in just 18 tracks. From the memorable Me Against The Music featured on the Britney Spears tribute show to the heartbreakingly tender One of Us which the gang performed after Kurt's father was in hospital. 

The album even features several solo's. Yes, sorry, it was inevitable. Rachel was going to get her own solo. I, like so many others, do wish she would just shut the hell up but unfortunately, the producers seem to like her. Saving the album from falling to pieces after Rachel's wailing solo is Kurt with his version of I Want to Hold Your Hand.

There isn't really too much that can be said about this album because you know what all the songs sound like if you watch the show. It would have been nice if Mark Salling had been able to include one of his own solo style songs as found on his album Pipe Dream but due to the target age group (read as: Tween), it wouldn't really work if included. Shame.

So yes, it is a good album. Yes, the kids can sing. Yes, the Sony marketing machine wants your money for another Christmas stocking stuffer. People of all ages will enjoy the release if they want a bit of light fluff which doesn't demand too much attention.

As featured on the album, the lyrics of Teenage Dream say:

"We can dance until we die, You and I, We'll be young forever."

At least with this album we'll be young at heart. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Music Review: David Guetta - One More Love

Music Review: David Guetta - One More Love

From his meager beginnings as a DJ in the Parisian gay club Broad, David Guetta has gone from strength to strength. He gathered a powerful reputation in both the gay and straight dance culture roping in fans from near and far. Then in 1992, fortune struck his DJ table and he met Robert Owens, a Chicago-based house music specialist who heard some of Guetta's own works and picked one to do his own vocals on. The resulting song was a hit called Up and Away. He also has the distinction of being the first French to organize Ibiza in 1996.

Since that time, Guetta has released four albums of his own work with the latest release One More Love (the third incarnation of his massively popular album One Love) having just been released to the international music market. Featuring some of the biggest names in music today doing vocals on his album, the album with its moving rhythms, solid vocal delivery and melodic beats is destined to be one of the biggest dance releases of this year. 

By now, everyone has heard the lead single When Love Takes Over featuring ex-Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland. The soaring vocals combined with the intricate piano melodies have given the track mass air play worldwide. Guetta taps Rowland's talents again on It's The Way You Love Me which is going to be a welcome addition to Guetta's already extensive repertoire. It's never been a secret that Guetta is a talented song writer and his knack for knowing what the listener wants is in the spotlight with catchy lyrics, music and sounds that catch any listener's attention. The song also highlights Rowland's truly dynamic singing ability and why she has lasted song long in such a cut throat and fickle industry. 

Not content to finish with Rowland there, he blends her talents with that of rapper Ne-Yo on the surprisingly stunning duet Choose. Guetta has successfully blended the two formidable industry heavy weights into one track and used his knowledge of what sound good in a club to good use. The almost trance sounding music blends nicely with Guetta's house music roots. The music at times does overwhelm the vocal delivery from both singers leaving the end feeling a little bit rough but still an eager listening experience.

Also featuring on this latest incarnation of the album is Rowland’s song Commander which she released herself as featuring David Guetta. The song sounds superb and is the perfect blend of Guetta’s and Rowland’s individual styles. It reinforces that they are both on the top of their game when it comes to having their ear to the ground with the dance music.

No stranger to Guetta releases is Chris Willis who features on no less than four tracks throughout the album. His Gospel sounding voice rings out loud and proud over the tracks Getting Over which is reminisce of Guetta's other smash hit Love Is Gone (which is incidentally now included on the album.) The song is actually featured twice on the album. In its original format and again when it was recorded also featuring Fergie (of Black Eyed Peas fame) and LMFAO. It’s okay, I had no idea who they were either and after hearing the track, I have no real inclination to know who they are.

Willis also pops up on the outstanding track Sound of Letting Go which borders on an electronic rock song. The background music almost falls prey to stereotyped dance anthems. It starts off with almost an early to mid-90's synth track and then becomes an almost synth heavy track that belongs more in a rock category. The overall effect makes it a track that will be played frequenty. Fortunately, Willis' voice is strong enough not to be overwhelmed by the musical backing and features beautifully about halfway through when the music makes a brief pause.

It would be unforgivable to not mention the inclusion of I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas which Guetta helped write and produce for their album The E.N.D. earlier this year. The version on Guetta's album is the FMIF Remix Edit which has a more electronic feel than that on the Black Eyed Peas release. 

Enjoying much airplay at the moment is Guetta's song Sexy B***h featuring work with Akon. The singer has long been known for his melodic abilities and hip-hop attitude. Guetta has taken these two factors into account and has worked them together nicely creating a track that has an overall invitingly sexy appeal. The beat is one that you can tap your foot to quite easily and the backing music, as with many of the tracks, features an easily recognizable riff. 

Showing that Guetta is truly a master of multiple dance genres is the ambient chill out track If We Ever featuring the talents of Makeba. The music is lush and the vocal delivery relaxed and liquid. If ever there was a track readymade for featuring and headlining a Ministry of Sound Chill-out volume, this is it. The track feels like it has just fallen into place easily and leaves you just wanting to lie back and bask in the sheer beauty of the song. 
It’s at this point that we now run into Guetta’s latest smash hit with the dynamic Rihanna, Who’s That Chick? Which blends in perfectly with the rest of the album. It has the distinct Guetta feeling with the catchy riffs and lyrics. Rihanna’s voice, as always, sounds delightful but it was surprising to hear just how much they used a vocal exciter. It was unnecessary but hey, whatever blows their hair back.

Also now included on the album is his remix of the Madonna hit Revolver. It’s catchy and easy to listen to. As a whole, if you are expecting the earth to be moved, you’re not going to find it with this mix. It’s well done, just not real exciting.

As homage to where he has come from, Guetta has also included three of his past hits on the album. The World Is Mine which features JD Davis, Love Is Gone featuring Chris Willis and the track that launched him into international stardom Love Don’t Let Me Go (Walk Away). All three tracks have played integral parts in getting Guetta to where he is today. Each song with its own merit, its own piece of Guetta history and its own right to be played at a thumping level and dragging people onto the dancefloor.

The album is an amazing piece of musical creativity with Guetta traversing several different dance genres. The well constructed house and trance beats meets the laid back ambience. Guetta then ropes in some of the biggest names in the hip-hop genre to add their own magic to his music. With names like Kelly Rowland, Ne-Yo, Kelis and Akon, how can anyone not question just what makes this man so talented that these people are lining up to work with him. The truth is in the beats, the bass and the melody. The testament to Guetta's ability stands here in the finished product. One More Love is a complete musical journey on it's own and an album which can be put on heavy rotation without fear of becoming bored with listening to it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Music Review: The Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning

Music Review: The Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning

A few weeks back, there was a notice about a new track from The Black Eyed Peas called The Time (Dirty Bit). At the time, it was met with mixed reception but since then, it has gone on to become quite a popular track. In light of that, the band have now release the follow up album to the international smash hit album The E.N.D. and it's called The Beginning

Going in a new direction from where they came, the group seems to now be more electronic then hip hop. All the original elements are still there but it's just changed the feel of the music. It's not detrimental to the band at all, it's actually quite the opposite. The new sound is fantastic and very listenable.

The first track, as we know, is The Time (Dirty Bit) and it's been getting heavy radio play and thumping out in a lot of clubs recently. If you haven't heard it, there's something wrong with your ears. It is literally playing everywhere and more and more people are starting to love it.

Some of the other tracks have a distinct 80's feel. A prime example is the the third track Love You Long Time. The synth heavy opening is reminisce of music decades past. Most people would actually find that concept quite comforting. After all, who wants to relive the mullet, shoulder pads and leg warmers? Well, this track will certainly be a little reminder of that era. Fortunately it's a great track and one that can be played over and over.

The biggest reminder of their hip hop background comes to the fore on Do It Like This. It's still got quite a heavy electronica influence but it's tempered out by the vocal performance.  It's actually quite refreshing and a nice change of pace. This track will sit quite well on their greatest hits album (whenever in the future it may be release) with some of their earlier works.

Listening to the album in it's entirety, it's easy to hear that their work with David Guetta has influenced the music they write. Some of the Guetta's trademark 'ticking' appears on some of the tracks. Whether or not  they are conscious of it remains to be seen but it's not a bad overall effect.

Venturing into near ballad territory is Just Can't Get Enough. It's not a ballad, don't worry.  It starts to stray in that direction that way though. Fergie's vocals are beautiful and sweet. She actual sings in a higher pitch which suits her voice quite well. It's an enjoyable track with a nice mix of beats and sentimentality.

All in all, this is a phenomenal release. It's an amazing blend of electronica and hip hop. It's setting an all new standard for other music makers to live up to. The quartet work well together and have released hit after hit with their work. No album has been lack-luster and this album is no exception. As their track Play It Loud says:

"I pledge my allegiance,
To rhythm and sound.
Music is my medicine,
Let the rhythm pound."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Music Review: Deadmau5 - 4x4=12

Music Review: Deadmau5 - 4x4=12

Who doesn't love an awe inspiring dance release? Who doesn't love a music maker who wears a huge mouse head while performing? Throw these two together and you have Deadmau5, a Canadian music make (don't call him a DJ). He's back with his latest album, 4x4=12 and ready to, again, remind the world just who he is. A very talented man who is quite skilled at his art and this release is no different. With his own flare, he mixes in doses of house and electronica to create dancefloor bliss.

Each and every piece of music on the album is easily recognizable as a Deadmau5 original. The beats, the thump, the feel. The arrangements all have a familiar feel, yet maintain a certainly uniqueness that makes this release as anticipated as any of his previous efforts.

For anyone who loves the dance festival sound, will absolutely adore the track Sofi Needs a Ladder with guest vocalist Sofi Toula. It's the type of song that you expect to hear thumping out on a hot afternoon while grinding along to a steady beat at your favourite musical festival.

Other listeners have fallen in love with tracks Animal Rights which is, strangely, reminisce of Human After All which was originally made by Daft Punk. Don't worry though, this is still an original piece and going to be playing for some time yet.

It really is hard to pick out major highlights with this album as there are just so many amazing tracks. It really is quite fascinating how such a big dose of awesome can be contained within 11 tracks. The epic track of the album though, coming in at over 10 minutes, is Cthulu Sleeps. Worried that a track that length will put you to sleep? You obviously haven't heard the track then. The steady build, the journey, the excitement and the crescendo. You really aren't ever coming down.

Sorry to the listeners who want to hear so half-assed rehash of Faxing Berlin, Jaded or even Strobe. You aren't going to find it on this album. This is all fresh tracks and there's no going over already walked paths. There's a reason Deadmau5's music is called progressive. That's because it is and it's certainly moving forwards and creating entire new possibilities of where to go with electronica in the future.

This album will have fans screaming, dance floors jumping and the subwoofers thumpings. It's all the good things of dance music which seems to have disappeared over the years. It's a solid release that is going to entice so many more people into the fold. The album parties hard and everyone listens. To relive your favourite dance festival, grab this album. You won't be disappointed.

4x4=12 is out now!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Music Review: Mark Salling - Pipe Dreams

Music Review: Mark Salling - Pipe Dreams

With the glee phenomenon that is sweeping the world, it was only a matter of time before one of them released an album. Leading the charge is Mark Salling, better known for his role as Noah 'Puck' Puckerman, who has released his follow up album to Smoke Signals which he released under the working name of Jericho.

Given the basic proviso of the show, it's good to know that it isn't another 'celebrity' attempting a singing career like a certain blonde hotel heiress who's own release was met with a less than lukewarm reception. Salling, fortunately, is liable to succeed with his endeavor to pursue a recording career. 

It's actually a pleasant surprise to hear that this album isn't terrible. Actually, it's quite the opposite. Salling has done well with the song selections and has mastered several genres on the one record. From rock 'n' roll to alternative. Even a bit of 60's folk-beat era for the keen ear.

The biggest disclaimer for this album should be that if you want to hear music like you would on Glee, you are simply out of luck. Go buy the soundtrack again if that's what you want. This shows Salling's ability as an artist in his own right. His earthy tones blend perfectly with the music that's on each and every track.

In this instance, it is actually quite difficult to find absolute standout tracks or tracks to steer clear of. The easy listening capacity of each song has it's own merits. Sometimes the tracks blur but when you sit down and actually listen to the album, each song has it's own story to tell.

The first track to pull attention to is one called Higher Power which samples the iconic song I Will Survive with quite a bit of dignity and actually sounds incredibly good. The song is certainly worth a second listen if you don't catch the talent of the track first go round.

The only track that had anything resembling a real cringe was Doppleganger which has an almost country feel to it and then goes sideways when Salling attempts to rap across the track. It could almost be a track by Barenaked Ladies. It's not a bad track and it does have it's own merit (mostly the bravery to be included on this release) but it really just doesn't fit with the rest of the album.

All in all, this is a great album from the start of the first track to the closing bars of the last song. The biggest problem that Salling is likely to encounter with this release is that the music doesn't sound anything like what is on Glee. This is a solo release and showcases Salling as an adult performer and it really is to his credit. It's a strong release and has been on heavy rotation since it's release.

Pipe Dreams is out now through Universal.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Music Review: Markus Schulz - Do You Dream?

CD Review: Markus Schulz - Do You Dream?

When faced with finding a good dance artist, it's hard to go beyond Markus Schulz. He's a man who has been remixing music since 1993 when his version of Why Is That? Fuk Dat by Sagat was released. Since then he's reworked names like Bette Middler, Madonna, OceanLab and Rank 1. With such an impressive list of names under his belt, it's almost guaranteed that his own studio album will be nothing short of phenomenal.

Do You Dream? is Schulz's fifth studio album and takes the listener on a heady experience that hasn't been seen since the release of Tiesto's Just Be album. With 16 tracks filled with trance hit after hit. Every nail has been hit on the head. His unique style of house infused trance glistens on each track with an uplifting feel each time.

Starting off strongly with Alpha State, the album sets a level that puts Schulz up amongst the masters of his genre like Armin Van Buuren and Tiesto. The steady thump of the bass and the melodic overlays are listening bliss.

This album is skillfully put together and features slick production with guest vocalists appearing on multiple tracks. Featuring on one of the album highlights, Not The Same, is Jennifer Rene who is known from tracks with Armin Van Buuren and Jose Amnesia. Her gentle tones are perfectly mixed in with the backing track and make a track which can be played time and again.

The title track Do You Dream? is a beautifully crafted piece of trance which thumps along and will no doubt be featured at dance festivals worldwide over the coming months and even years. The music takes a life of it's own and is a listening experience that will enrapture anyone who listens. Pounding base and uplifting trance melodies make this THE track to listen to on the album.

It wouldn't be right not to mention Schulz's work with the stunning Susana Lise. The track is Unsaid and there's not enough that can be said about the track to do it justice. Lise, who is best known for her work on the track Shivers with Van Buuren, has always had the soaring vocals ability which works with any music to turn a track near anthemic. The track, again, features Schulz's house/trance fusion and belongs in a night club with the bass pounding out and invading the listener's ears.

The last track to be singled out is the closing number Goodbye. Following the previously mentioned them of house meeting trance, it sings loudly with heavy bass and foot tapping yearning. The track isn't just there to be listened to, it demands attention. The music along with vocal work by Jessica Riddle, make a mood which is resplendent of Schulz's musical ability and is nothing short of amazing.

For lovers of house and trance alike, Do You Dream? is an absolute must. This album belongs in your collection and there's no question about it. This album is a dance lover's orgasm and nothing short of phenomenal. With enthralling sounds, delicious beats, heavy rhythms and divine voices, there is nothing that this album doesn't have. You want to hear this album, more to the point, you want it in your collection.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Community Service Announcement: World AIDS Day

Now while this blog is generally used for discussing reviews, it is being hijacked for this one particular entry to let people know about World AIDS Day. 

December 1st every year is World AIDS Day. 

From the World AIDS Day website comes the following:

The theme for World AIDS Day 2010 is Take Action. No Discrimination. The aim is to encourage all Australians to be aware of the prelavence of HIV/AIDS; to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting safe sex practices; and to accept individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

With so much information out there, it is hard to believe that numbers of infections are on the rise again. Some put it down to the fact that we have gotten lax now that the pandemic is over. Unfortunately, it isn't and people need to realise this.

If you want to help, contact your local sexual health clinic and they should be able to tell you who to speak to. Whether it be financial aide or if you want to spend a few hours delivery food. There are plenty of organisations out there looking for your help.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Internet Phenomenon Review: Sam Tsui & Kurt Schneider

Internet Phenomenon Review: Sam Tsui & Kurt Schneider

So it would be remiss to have a review about pop culture and not mention this internet phenomenon that has swept the world. The vocal works of Sam Tsui and the production team of Kurt Schneider.

It is absolutely amazing to listen to. Tsui is quite a talented singer and his vocal range is impressive. Schneider is a diverse musician as well and also doubles up as the team's producer.

The pair have appeared on Oprah and The Bonnie Hunt Show performing both times and wowing the audience with their sheer ability. The smooth delivery of each performance and Tsui taking on each song like he was the one who first performed it. This is just an incredible team.

With taking on the challenge of doing an A Capella Michael Jackson medley, the pair surged to popularity. Since then they have gone from strength to strength doing covers of hit songs like Fireflies by Owl City, Don't Stop Believing as made famous by Glee and a second medley of Lady Gaga songs.

This pair have proved they are more than a flash in the pan and it'll be interesting to see where they go from now on. For now, have a look at their youtube clips and marvel at the phenomenon. 

The link for their complete youtube channel is:

Michael Jackson Medley:

Love the Way you Lie Mash Up

And the latest masterpiece Just A Dream by Nelly

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Christopher Rice - Blind Fall

Book Review: Christopher Rice - Blind Fall

When you're the son of a highly acclaimed author, there's a lot of expectations to live up to. Fortunately, this hasn't stopped Christopher Rice from writing his own style of novel and taking the publishing industry by storm.

In this, Rice's third novel, he starts to take on gay men in the military. The main character of the novel is heterosexual and must now deal with the knowledge that one of his marine brethren is a gay.

The story revolves around the main character John Houck finding out that his best friend in the marines, Mike Bowers, is gay and has a lover. Add to this the fact that Bowers is murdered and his lover blamed and it starts to becoming interesting.

Houck must put aside what he thought he knew about gay men to solve the mystery of who killed his friend. A marine who, in Iraq, saved his life. Houck's personal journey or reconciling the man he knew as he friend and the now deceased gay man is actually quite interesting to watch. Rice has managed to capture the inner turmoil and confusion beautifully.

Rice has certainly become quite adept about writing gay themed novels and this one is no exception. Whether it be through personal experience or through talking to people, there's a certain reality to what he writes. It sits stark on the page and each reality more eye opening than the last.

Over the course of the previous three books, Rice has certainly honed his already impressive writing skills and has become a master of his own work. Blind Fall is an impressive piece of work dealing with loss, mystery, learning and homophobia. It's certainly a welcome addition to any bookcase.

Music Review: Medina - Welcome to Medina

CD Review: Medina - Welcome to Medina

With the dance world beckoning, Danish sensation Medina has released her debut international album Welcome to Medina to the pleasure of clubbers world wide.

The album is packed with track after track of glorious cool but insistent beats. Kicking off with the title track Welcome to Medina and finishing with You & I (acoustic mix), the ear gets pleasured with a relaxed and refreshing dance sound that has been absent since the times when Tina Cousins released her first album.

The album was originally recorded and released in Danish back in 2009. Since then, Medina has gathered an international following thanks to the inclusion of her hit single You & I in the Ministry of Sound 2010 annual. Now it has been re-recorded and released in English and the listeners are lapping it up.

It's hard to select a single stand out track as effort has been poured into each track with slick production and chilled, haunting vocal work. The most well recognised song from the album is You & I due to it's popularity and inclusion on several compilation albums.

Sounding similar yet standing on it's own is Lonely which was released as a subsequent follow up single and has started to pop up on a few compilations as well.

Mesmerizing is Medina's track Addiction. It's smooth delivery and relaxed insistent beats keep it stuck in the listeners mind. It's easy listening nature combined with the overall feel of the album, is a winning combination.

The world is paying attention to the electropop work that is starting to appear and Medina is certainly making herself a forerunner in the field. Her single are appearing in the top 10 in Germany and even at number 6 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Airplay Charts.

This is a fantastic album and an amazing way for Medina to introduce herself to the international dance music scene. She doesn't put a foot wrong and gives us hit after hit with each one following a tried and true formula but still unique in it's own way.

Album available 7 Dec 2010 out now

Friday, November 19, 2010

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

We all knew that this was going to be the biggest Harry Potter movie of them all. It promised to be the summer blockbuster movie that rocked our world. It promised to be, the beginning of the end. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is now in the cinemas and living up to the hype all around the world.

Reprising their roles, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are back as the Golden Trio and setting out to destroy Voldemort's horcruxes so they can finally defeat him. Along the way, we can expect run ins with the fearsome Death Eaters, Ministry of Magic run militia, a few slightly odd characters and of course, Voldemort himself.

There were a curious few who wanted to know how the movie was going to show the tale of the deathly hallows or if it was just going to be Hermione reading the story from her book. While she does narrate the tale to her friends, there is an animation on screen telling the story of the three hallows and starting a quest to locate all three - the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility.

As with any of the Harry Potter movies out there, certain elements have been glossed over very quickly and others have been altered because... well, mostly because the movie studio could. Vernon Dursley, played for not even five minutes by Richard Griffiths, no longer puts up a fight before leaving his house. The Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) sees Harry before the wedding and Harry attends Bill and Fleur's wedding without disguise.

Needless to say, these are only minor details but they are changes for the sake of changes and given the role J. K. Rowling has with the movies, one can't help but wonder if they threatened to half her payment unless she approved the changes without a fight.

In saying that, we finally have a Harry Potter movie which is mostly true to the book. Walking out of the cinema, there were excited whispers that it wasn't a complete disaster like there was a general expectation. This is exceptional news for David Yates who butchered the two previous movies in the series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Maybe now Yates can walk down the street and not be looked upon as the man who ruined the Harry Potter series.

All in all this is a great release with Ralph Fiennes as the evil Lord Voldemort, Alan Rickman is as unflappable as ever in his role as Severus Snape (well for the few brief moments he's in the film anyways) and Helena Bonham Carter as delightfully twisted Bellatrix Lestrange. 

This movie is everything that it promised and is going to have fans around the world clamoring for the final installment of the franchise due out July 2011. This is the summer blockbuster that we hoped for and a movie you don't want to miss.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Music Review: Rihanna - Loud

Music Review: Rihanna - Loud

After the dismal success of Rated R, one of the most anticipated albums of the year has finally be released. Rihanna has returned to the scene with her new album Loud and is determined to make a success this time.

Kicking off the album is the sexually driven S & M which makes good use of frenetic electro beats.The chorus is catchy with lyrics "I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it, Sex in the air, I love the smell of it." The track thumps along and shows it's going to be headed to the clubs very soon.

Rihanna then switches pace very quickly with the second track What's My Name featuring Drake. The opening rap is boring and sounds like Drake is groggy after just waking up. The Caribbean feel of the song is relaxing enough but the track, overall, fails to impress the average listener.

The Friday night anthem Cheers (Drink to That) could almost be sung by anyone enjoying after work drinks. It's got a relaxed rock feel to it and is quite enjoyable to listen to. Especially after a hard day in the office.

The next highly notable track is the lead single Only Girl (In The World). If you haven't heard the song yet, where have you been hiding? It's infectious electro beats and easy vocal delivery have made it a fantastic release for Rihanna. It's certainly one of the hottest tracks to have been released for 2010.

California Bed King is probably one of the poorest tracks on the album. An unnecessary ballad that doesn't wow the listener. It's tired and listless in an album of enjoyable tracks. At best it could be considered generic. At worst it's a track that the likes of Lady Gaga would burn at the stake in a pagan ritual to a God she didn't like.

Fortunately, Man Down follows and makes good use of her heritage and Barbadian accent. The almost reggae feel makes the song quite enjoyable. Telling the story of Rihanna murdering a man and then going on the run. It's certainly worth a listen if you like songs that tell a story.

The second of the duets on the album is Raining Men featuring Nicki Minaj. The song quickly becomes all about the guest artist rather than Rihanna. The song is a great addition to the album with Rihanna's 'go with the flow' vocals supporting Minaj's rapping skills. Certainly a highlight of the album.

The electronic sounds continue with Complicated which is a borderline ballad. The soaring vocal gymnastics at the start are reminisce of early Mariah Carey (y'know... before she started wailing). The song has a nice build all the way along before hitting it's peak and dragging the listener along for the ride.

Skin is overtly sexual in both lyrics and sound. It's seductive to the ear and the vocals have a husky quality which invites mental images of a candle lit bedroom and promises of a sweaty night. The song is perfectly delivered and shows Rihanna as a grown woman as compared to the girl she was when she started off.

Rounding out the album is the final duet. Love The Way You Lie (Part II) featuring Eminem. It was certainly one of the highlights on Eminem's last album and stands out as a highlight on this one as well. If you haven't heard it yet, you can't have been listening to the radio too much recently. Rihanna's sweet vocals sing out across the track match Eminem's rapping which raises the mercury and temper quite quickly. The two styling work well together to make an amazing track.

All in all, Loud takes one or two listens before it really takes hold and you can appreciate what is going on with it. It's a mature combination of Good Girl Gone Bad and Rated R. With one or two misses, the album as a whole has a consistent high standard. Even if you decide you don't want to buy it, at least promise yourself to listen to it. It's a great release and a perfect stocking filler for Christmas.