Zen Mechanics - Holy Cities (Neurobiotic, April 2008)

Author: pr0fane
Date: Apr 11, 2008
Views: 2754

Dutch talent Zen Mechanics, known for releases in Iboga, Neurobiotic, Nano, Flow and Alchemy unleash a beast of a debut album.

Artist: Zen Mechanics
Title: Holy Cities
Label: Neurobiotic
Format: CD
Released: April 2008


If you've been a guest at one of the major psychedelic trance festivals in the last couple of years, chances are pretty good that you've encountered a liveset from Zen Mechanics. Zen Mechanics is the solo project of Wouter Thomassen, the most well known Dutch psytrance artist at the moment, and a name in high demand world wide. His first release was back in 2004, and since then he has been made quite an impact on the scene, with releases ranging from blissful chillout on Aleph Zero, progressive psytrance on Iboga and Flow to high tech full on on some of the major players like Neurobiotic, Nano and Alchemy.

Now, over 4 years after his first release, and after having performed on some of the world's hot spot dancefloors like Boom, Universo Paralello, Glade, Sonica, Solstice and Rainbow Serpent, he is ready with the debut album "Holy Cities", released on Edoardos label Neurobiotic Records.

01. Zen Mechanics - Modified [140 BPM]
The album starts out with the 10 minute long "Modified". As expected there is a rather long and very nice intro, before a female voice-sample says "Hello" and the bassline kicks in. A bit harder and more serious track than I had imagined to start out the album, but nevertheless a really good one - will undoubtedly be one of the most played tracks of the album.

02. Zen Mechanics & Allaby - Immerse [140 BPM]
Up next is a collaboration with one of my absolute favourite full on producers in later years, Matt Allaby. "Immerse" is a nice mixture between Allabys subtle, underplayed melodic universe and Zen Mechanics more crowd-pleasing full on style, and the result is among the best on the entire album. Despite the pounding bassline it never feels in your face obnoxious, and the overall atmosphere is very dreamy in an almost melancholic way. This in some way reminds of misty outdoor parties, when the sun is just about to break through for the first time. Lovely and elegant tune.

03. Zen Mechanics - Mecha [140 BPM]
The intensity is kicked back up a notch on "Mecha". It's a typical high tech Zen Mechanics tune, with clever break-arrangements and a beautiful almost oldschool psytrance-style melodic breakdown that'll do wonders when played at the first rays of sunlight on an outdoor dancefloor.

04. Zen Mechanics - Off The Grid [142 BPM]
I believe the original title for the album was "Off The Grid", and this aptly titled tune could have been a good title-track. The atmosphere is sort of metallic or industrial, with some excellent floating pads thrown in for good measure. The best part in the track though is the main breakdown, where Wouter shows some proper breakbeat-talent.

05. Zen Mechanics - Industry Of Love [144 BPM]
The most distinct feature about "Industry Of Love" is the voice-sample (heard before in Talamascas "Speaking Robot" if I'm not mistaken) towards the end. The melodies aren't quite as deep and subtle as some of the previous tracks, and the track generally has more groove, take-offs and stomping dancefloor appeal. Not the strongest track on the album, but still good.

06. Zen Mechanics & Headroom - CBR [144 BPM]
South African producer Adam Metcalfe aka Headroom joins Zen Mechanics on "CBR", and for most part it is a massive combo. The groove in this one goes straight to your feet and the voice-samples are very well-chosen, but unfortunately the melodies become a bit too stressful along the way for my taste. Could have been among my favourites - it loses me a couple of times, but I can imagine it'll be one of the DJ-favourites this summer.

07. Zen Mechanics - Vale De Lua
As an interlude before the last few dancefloor tracks, the feet are given a rest with the chillout track "Vale De Lua". This is neither his first or last encounter with downbeat, as he has previously released on Aleph Zero, and he has a new purely downbeat project called Transmissions in Bloom. Judging by this track and the release on Aleph Zero we can expect some great things - lovely sort-of-ethnic-sort-of-modern chillout with a nice rainforest atmosphere and some great breakbeat grooves.

08. Zen Mechanics - Ground Control V.2 [136 BPM]
Back in 2005 Zen Mechanics released his first progressive track - the track was called "Ground Control", it was released on Iboga, and it turned out to become a small hit and afterwards also licensed to labels like Yellow Sunshine Explosion and Waldfrieden Events. Now here's a new, updated version. The main features are still the same, with the characteristic voice-sample playing a big role once again, but overall the production is much more up to todays standards, and the semi-full on bassline and drive has been given a bit more punch. Great track.

09. Zen Mechanics - Holy Cities [136 BPM]
Finishing the album is the title-track "Holy Cities". I had it some time prior to the release, and have used it for great effect at a couple of occasions - the style is again semi full on, semi progressive trance - the fact that the speed is lowered to 136 BPM makes it more suitable for the midday, and I consider it something of a nice, uplifting outdoor anthem. Great closer for the album.

Bottom line:

In today's over flooded market of full on music, it's rare to see artists waiting four years after their debut to release their first album. Maybe more should follow Wouter's example - compared to most new albums on the morning full on market, "Holy Cities" is a very mature album, with very high quality crisp production, a well-composed flow and enough variety to even appeal to some of the most picky progressive psytrance heads.

Make no mistake though - this is dancefloor music, and this album isn't going to change the world, but it certainly has more potential than the average full on album, which contains a couple of good or decent tracks, while the rest are fillers. The quality is consistent here, and this is much more than just DJ material. Well done.

Recommended release.


1, 2(!!), 3, 4, 8(!!), 9







Author: Slackjoint / Date: 17.04.2008 13:34:31

Bomb album!
Deep and dirty with high tech touch, perfect mixture!
Really love track 1 (Modified).

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