VA - Inner Circle (Tribal Vision Records 2005)


Author: Basilisk
Date: Oct 13, 2005
Views: 2693

Slater & Schwa have been doing a great job of compiling a diverse cross-section of deeper psychedelic vibes over this past year. Inner Circle is their third release, once again featuring fantastic cover artwork, plenty of artist information in the liner notes, and a fully stocked CD with 73 minutes of music. This time the theme is the darker side of the progressive psychedelic sound. While this is usually accomplished with a minimalist approach, the material found on Inner Circle remains resolutely entrancing and full of sound. I’ll skip the inoffensive intro and cut straight to the chase; let me take you on a tour of the Inner Circle…

Shaman’s remix of Corrosive Juices by Beat Bizarre really kicks the compilation off to a quality start. I’ve not been much of a Beat Bizarre fan, perhaps because their specific style is most often served up as a whole album. Shaman’s take on a single track is a great way to introduce the mood of the compilation though. This is highly hypnotic progressive trance that builds power through the slow rising activity of detailed and subtle sound particles. Everything is nice and crisp, standing out from the breezy drum layers with precise poignancy. A very fine opening suitable for early evening sets and deeper morning moments when transitioning out of the dark of night.

Prisoners of the Sun deliver a slice of their darker side with Pole Position Club, another hypnotic vision that drags the listener deeper into the labyrinth. The artists are experts in percussive manipulation and manage to show a lot of class with the arrangement of the beat in this one. There is a slick and confident power at work here, chunky rhythms with an easy grace that punch through the speakers with a satisfyingly dirty slapping sound. In the introduction a preview of a key atmospheric droning sound is made - it later returns close to the fourth minute to impose a grim mood that elegantly compliments the tribal-textured drums. Pole Position Club possesses the rare tech noir sound that I have a particular fondness for, elevating it in my view to a great piece of melancholic music.

Parrket initially came to my attention through the very first Tribal Vision release - Urban Legends. I wasn’t particularly impressed by his work then, but Science in my Mind is changing my opinion. The track title becomes an electro voice sample that repeats in several key segments throughout the pumping progressive flow. The percussion is very well-suited to the song, showing skill and originality - especially with the cycling drum sounds in the major break, running off rhythms like a dot matrix printer. Hypnotic atmospheres once again lace the song with an appealing background presence. The lead melody that emerges after several minutes of tension-building pulls at the heart strings with a sad mystique. Intelligent arrangement is displayed in the final run, as all the key themes return for the most powerfully emotional sequence of the journey. This is easily the best from Parrket yet, surprising me with a great arrangement and a strikingly thoughtful atmosphere.

Kalimax continues the flow of the compilation very nicely with Demons, another brooding hypnotic work of trance. The minute long intro is a lush preview of things to come! The song carries on with a cold pulsating beat in the Scandinavian style for a while, slowly integrating sweet atmospheres with dramatic transitions. Echoing into the void, a gorgeous female vocal ushers in the new act: beautiful emotional melodic sweeps that cascade down from the stratosphere. Reaching the breakdown in a mysterious mood, the track takes a darker twist with chilling notes that flare up from the depths. The final minutes, after the understated return, let the listener drift off, never building beyond the strength of emotion expressed in the heart of this moving journey. Though the arrangement is dissimilar to trance standards, I really enjoy this track. Harmonically mixing out of the last two minutes is sure to yield powerful results on the dancefloor.

Prosect provides a more upbeat tune while continuing the flow of the compilation with Sonified. Details proliferate across the sound field as little percussive tricks intersect with snarling melodic fragments in the first few minutes. Clear melodies finally arrive in the third, already well-supported by a churning foundation of appealing noises. A lengthly and luscious breakdown early on ushers in a funky return after a sample plays: “it beings very simply - it begins with a house”… and then the foundation is poured: a sticky clattering array of percussion that grooves on for a while. Next comes the framework as the song accumulates atmospheric texture and melodies that drive the track onward to a second big break. On it goes with the installation of all final fixtures, smoothly flowing into the outro with some very epic sounds at work. This approach is tricky to pull of, but Prosect have managed it. My only reservation concerns the production quality, which isn’t as deep as some of the other songs on the compilation. Nonetheless, that’s hardly much of a drawback considering the song’s creative contents! Another great track.

NASA’s Sloppy Noodle continues the artist’s string of compilation appearances with a deep and original sound character. Primarily relying on small sound particles, somewhat on the minimal side, this style is vividly sophisticated and crafted with attention to detail. Tribal textured percussion and smoothly flowing underwater effects give the track a hazy organic atmosphere, while low pads that swoop upward bring on a cosmic vibe. While there aren’t any key hooks to make this a highlight, the depth of production ensures the quality of this song, which will surely be useful in a variety of sets, and sounds wonderful in the context of the compilation.

Human Blue provides Screwdriver, returning to provide inspiration for the darker side of psychedelic progressive. While his last album was unabashedly epic and earned the praises of top trance DJs everywhere, this is digging much deeper. The percussion is so intricate and dramatic, with an irresistable teasing groove accentuated by sleek ethereal sounds that surge up from the abyssal strata. Freaky riffs come tumbling down from the heights to manifest a paranoid mood, setting the listener on edge. Maintaining a steady flow and a masterful poise throughout, Dag Wallin delivers a high-class piece of sophisticated dark progressive trance. Fantastic work!

Etnoscope is up next with Fast Licking, a pleasant yet plain fusion of tribal trance with electro lines, sounding closer to Ticon’s modern style than their own debut album from 2004. There isn’t much to say here - it’s smooth but uneventful, though the tribal drums are as appealing as ever. Etnoscope moves unpredictably from an anthem like Screamer Slice to diet soda versions of their unique style with tracks such as this and Pannalized. Despite not being as exciting as some of their better tracks, this one is still solid material. It’s not bad at all, but this could have used a few hooks and a more dynamic arrangement.

Tegma returns after the recent release of their excellent second album with a new track in their increasingly original style: No Time. The kick is the first thing you will notice on this one - it is hard and distorted, and manipulated all over the joint. Rough and dirty bass riffs begin to throb in the seething underbelly of this monster as it really gets going. Nearing the half-way point the title sample initiates a flurry of bubbling activity, with fluttering sound particles rapidly moving across the sound field as energetic riffs creep and sneak above that deadly beat. A huge crowd-pleasing build-up comes rolling in soon enough, rocking back into the hard groove with more slick tricks. Tegma provide a ripping dancefloor bomb to finish off this gem of a compilation!

In essence, Tribal Vision have done it again. Their consistent high level of quality while showcasing different styles of deep psychedelic trance has escalated them to the higher echelons of trance labels. Inner Circle is a great piece of work that flows smoothly as a whole listening experience, while providing maximum value for all the DJs out there. As a DJ myself, there isn’t a single song on the CD that I wouldn’t play out - all will have their moments on the dancefloor or in a mixed set. That is impressive and nearly unprecedented. Slater and Schwa clearly have a finely-tuned ear for great music, and Inner Circle is proof. Highly recommended for all psychedelic trance fans!

Favourites: 2, 3(!), 4, 5, 6, 8(!), 10
Rating: 9

Basilisk -

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