Atmos - Tour De Trance (Spiral Trax, December 2008)

Author: pr0fane
Date: Dec 8, 2008
Views: 4892

The legend is back. Atmos, one of the greatest pioneers of progressive trance, is ready with his 3rd album "Tour De Trance".

Review by:
Jannick Andersen // DJ pr0fane (Iboga Records)


Artist: Atmos
Title: Tour De Trance
Label: Spiral Trax
Format: CD/MP3/Compactstick (CompactStick features 6 extra tracks)
Released: December 2008






Without exaggerating I can safely say, that "Tour De Trance" is one of the most eagerly-awaited releases this year. A new Atmos-album was announced well over a year ago - first planned to come out on Digital Structures, but after a long while without any news, it was suddenly announced a few months ago that the resurrected Swedish label Spiral Trax was the new home for this long-awaited new album.

So Tomasz Balicki aka Atmos is back with the same label who released his first two albums (not including the Atmos/Echö-Lab release "Overlap" from 2001): The landmark release "Headcleaner" from 2000, which I personally consider one of the best albums in the history of trance-music, and the amazingly positive follow-up "2nd Brigade" from 2004. Both albums today are classics, just as tracks like "The Only Process" and "Klein Aber Doctor", and therefore expectations for his new output are enormous. Get ready for a "Tour De Trance".

01. Stay Awake [126 BPM]
As on the first two Atmos-albums, "Tour De Trance" starts out slow and atmospheric. "Stay Awake" is over 9 minutes long and starts out quite deep, but slowly evolves into a more positive mood, including synth-pads which remind me of some of his pre-2000 stuff, and a long, hypnotizing male voice-sample. Great, laidback opener, which even gives slight associations to the amazing opener on "Headcleaner", "Fill The Hat".

02. Skintrade [128 BPM]
In "Skintrade" there are also some oldschool scando-trance elements present, and with some really cool, laidback grooves we're certainly in no hurry to get to the dancefloor. Although the rhythm is underplayed, the sublime, quite moody atmosphere still puts this tune in the trance-category, and the soothing female vocals are the icing on the cake. Beautiful.

03. 46 DAZ [128 BPM]
Things get a little more pumping with the strangely titled "46 DAZ". We're still not going throttle though, but "46 DAZ" has more dancefloor appeal than the previous two tracks, due to the more full and distinct and full bassline. Again there are some great female voice-samples, and even a bit of soothing singing. Sweet tune.

04. ToWhatMyMindAttend [128 BPM]
"ToWhatMyMindAttend" starts out rather calm with some gloomy pads, a groovy rhythm and some deep male vocals, but that all changes after three minutes, when the rolling bassline the dancefloor has been craving for, is finally introduced. At first it's rather minimal, but over the next couple of minutes it slowly progresses even more and when the high hats kick in, it's full power morning trance. Sublime.

05. Ride The Flow [128 BPM]
We're halfway through the album with "Ride The Flow" - a track which I have quite ambivalent feelings about, as the track is somewhat impaired by some very dominant male voice-samples which are quite over the top cheesy for my liking. Apart from that, it features some beautiful strings and uplifting pads, and if it hadn't been for the voice-samples, this would probably have been my favorite track on the album.

06. Nick Of Time [130 BPM]
The tempo is raised a bit with "Nick Of Time" - one of the fastest tracks on the album. The groove is still reserved though, and it fits the mood of the track perfectly. At first slightly moody, but after the middle breakdown we're introduced to a beautiful melodic section, moving into deeper territories again, before we finish with a hint of the uplifting melodies once again. Class!

07. Power ON [130 BPM]
"Power ON" is a small, 4-minute breakbeat interlude. An interesting little tune with elements of robotic voice-effects, oldschool house synths and some elements I associate with old demo-scene music. Cool intermission from the 4/4 stuff.

08. Into The Groove [130 BPM]
After the small interlude, Tomasz puts us back into dance-mode once again with "Into The Groove" - undoubtedly one of the most dancefriendly tunes on the album due to the addictive rolling bassline and groove. On "Tour De Trance", this is probably the tune that reminds me the most of "2nd Brigade", and with the optimistic melodies I predict this tune will be one of the DJ-favorites from this release. Great morning trance.

09. Jellybean [126 BPM]
On the final track, "Jellybean", we're back in the starting tempo, 126 BPM. It features a very electro-influenced offbeat bassline, some pristine, crystal clear sounds, some very distinct, almost naive melodies and some bass-heavy breaks. Generally an ok track, but doesn't match some of the best on the album.

Bottom line:

These are interesting times for the psychedelic trance-scene. Where many dark psy and full on artists seems to be competing who can produce the most intense and obnoxious music, some progressive producers have gone the other way; slowing things down below 130 BPM while still keeping it trancy. Perfect Stranger recently took the techno-route on his "Free Cloud", and now Atmos has taken a mellower direction with "Tour De Trance", slowing things down even more than on "2nd Brigade".

Despite some minor flaws, "Tour De Trance" is a sophisticated, classy album with elements of both oldschool Atmos-trademark sounds and newer progressive house sounds, and an album which proves that progressive trance can be both very melodic and subtle at the same time. Also, despite being low BPM and a reinvention of his old sound, Atmos doesn't try to blindly follow the trends of electro and techno, and that deserves some credit in book.

My guess is that many people will initially disappointed with this release, and I doubt it will have the same dancefloor-impact as, lets say "Headcleaner", but that doesn't really bother me. To me, "Tour De Trance" is more of a trance-journey with the home listeners in mind and when given some time, I am sure a lot of people will appreciate it in the end. Also - in the right time and setting, most of the tunes here, can create magic on the dancefloor. Great album.


1, 2, 3, 4 (!!), 6, 8 (!!)




Spiral Trax website:
Spiral Trax Myspace:
Atmos website:
Atmos Myspace:
CD at Psyshop:
CompactStick at Psyshop:

Author: acid / Date: 11.12.2008 15:01:08

I heard the samples at Psyshop (see Links). Dissapointing, I agree. This is pop. Track #8 has something to do with trance music.

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