Progressive House is funny old thing in 2009! That’s nothing new actually; it has been for a good long while now. As a genre it is opaquely defined and, as a term, mucho-open to interpretation. The days of the neatly pat “sounds like Sasha & Digweed, innit?” are long, long over. There are now just two types of progressive to my mind: the good type and the bad type. Happily ‘Streamlined’ opens with 3 absolutely rip-snorting examples.Opuswerk’s ‘Sechs’ , Heinrich von Baum’s ‘Urug’ and Bolier’s own ‘St. Kilda’ provide an overture that quickly breaks the compilation’s ice. Hard grooving, Richter-scale-registering and plenty tough enough to count on the floor, they dodge the bullet of noodle-ly over-complication without breaking a sweat.
Equally, they also set quite a heavy precedent for the next 21 tracks to live up to.
Burning through this Prog cloud cover is Richard & Moore’s (aka Coenraad and Hagenbeek) luminous ‘Nevada’ . Two months since I first heard it, its summery corona (complete with Grade A authentic Spanish guitars), hasn’t lost a single iota of charm. It delivers a ray of melodic trance sunshine, which, some might think, appears surprisingly early in the mix. There’s good reason for that though. ‘Streamlined’ has a lot of ground to cover!
That thread continues unabated by pitching a quick succession of Barnes & Heatcliff’s very fine dub of Rene Rodrigezz’s ‘Hey What’s Up’, Chantola’s ‘More Sense’ and Poze’s ‘B.I.N.K.’ at the listener – maintaining (or possibly even stepping up) the overall momentum.
From there, spinning straight out of leftfield we’re served with Flux & Lola’s ‘Romance’ . Truly one of the most godforsaken titles ever to christen a track; you have to question the state of mind of producers who would burden an opus with it! The track itself is a bit bonkers too. Based around a highly idiosyncratic violin sequence, it admittedly becomes more addictive the longer you’re exposed to it. Like ‘Nevada’, it also serves as a very useful ‘mix landmark’, giving you (during early listens) an instant navigational fix on where you are in the disc.
The final quartet flurry comes from an all-Dutch line-up. MuseArtic’s ‘Loosing Touch’, Cliff Coenraad’s ‘Gone South’, Joop’s ‘Pradera’ and Leon’s ‘Beyrouth’ all bring Disc 1 to a rattling-ly good climax.
The start of disc 2 wheels out one of those big producer collabs. The kind that get the forums a-buzzing and subconsciously mislead us into thinking that it ‘has to be twice as good as our last favourite tracks from the constituent producers, right?!’ Well they don’t often (if ever) work out that way. Here, it’s Bolier vs Menno De Jong (the return match following their previous outing ‘Momentum’) with ‘Last Light Tonight’ – a power hungry roof-raiser that kick starts Pt.2 in rapacious fashion.
Hot on the heels of that comes, hands-down, the finest moment on the album, and very likely this reviewer’s favourite track of 2009 so far.Airbase’s ‘Interfere’ brews a perfect storm with its matchless arrangement, sounds and sequences inexorably tied to Floria Ambria’satypical lyrics and vocal delivery. This is something not lost on Bolier, who drafted her for vocals on ‘This’, which crops up about 20 minutes further down the line.
Make no mistake, you need a big gun to follow ‘Interfere’ (and that’s not the first time this thought has crossed the mind while reviewing the album. Breakfast – one of the most reliable studio-hounds out there – is a great shout, and ‘Remember’ eases the transition beautifully.
Leon’s appropriately South American referencing ‘Medellin’ Vast Vision’s ‘Contact’ and Jan Oostdyk’s ‘Out of the Box’ whistle past, providing the most techy chain sequence in ‘Streamlined’s arsenal. And then its time for the big finale, which produces euphoria-inducing turns from Kyamoto, Nuera staccato-synthed ‘Nocturne’ and Leon’s own ‘Lunar ‘Diamond.
Verdict: So after the Judge gives the jury some direction (so they don’t cock up the conviction), its looks like ‘Streamlined’ been caught bang-to-rights on all counts. Stylistically it’s a pair of CDs with far more scope in terms of genre spread than expected, covering just about every trance base. The mixing is bang-on-the-money (we’d have been surprised if it hadn’t of been) but it’s the track selection, right from the get-go, that makes a major purchase consideration.
1. Opuswerk – Sechs
2. Leon Bolier – St. Kilda
3. Heinrich Von Baum – Urug
4. Richard & Moore – Nevada
5. Rene Rodriguez – Hey What’s Up (Barnes & Heatcliff Dub Remix)
6. Chantola – More Senses (Storyteller Remix)
7. Poze – B.I.N.K
8. Fluxx & Lola – Romance (Max Moroldo Vs. Paul Luke Reloaded Mix)
9. Smartminds – Two Way Street
10. Museartic – Losing Touch
11. Cliff Coenraad – Gone South (Leon Bolier Remix)
12. Joop – Pradera (Jules & Jazper Remix)
13. Leon Bolier – Beyrouth (Club Mix)
1. Menno De Jong & Leon Bolier – Last Light Tonight
2. Marcus Schossow – From My Heart
3. Airbase Ft. Floria Ambra – Interfere
4. Breakfast – Remember
5. Leon Bolier – Medellin
6. Jan Oostdyk – Out Of The Box
7. Vast Vision – Contact
8. Leon Bolier Ft. Floria Ambra – This
9. Kyamoto – One Moment Of Thought
10. Leon Bolier – Lunar Diamond
11. Nuera – Nocturne