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Paul Oakenfold “Trance Mission” – Album Review

Perfecto Records (2014

Designed to introduce the new Las Vegas crowds to the bona-fide classics of the trance genre and stir up memories for those seasoned clubbers who were there during the heady days of Gatecrasher, God’s Kitchen and Cream, Trance Mission sees pioneering DJ Paul Oakenfold offer a new spin on twelve dance anthems that he’s consistently hammered over the past 25 years.

Recorded from scratch rather than simply remixed from the originals, the follow-up to 2006’s A Lively Mind is certainly a much more interesting prospect than your average compilation of trance favorites, covering everything from O.T. Quartet’s unashamedly camp “Hold That Sucker Down” to Fragma’s European number one “Toca Me” to Simple Minds’ early instrumental B-side “Themes For Great Cities.”

Indeed, Paul Oakenfold certainly can’t be accused of phoning it in here, breathing new life into the likes of Energy 52’s iconic Balearic staple, “Café Del Mar,” and Quench’s chiming techno-tinged “Dreams” with a punchy bold production which impressively still remains respectful of their source material.

Removing the Spandau Ballet sample of Rui Da Silva’s 2001 chart-topper, “Touch Me” is transformed into a blissful blend of sweeping strings, floaty synths and a newly-recorded emotive vocal from Cass Fox. Elsewhere, an inspired reworking of Grace’s 1995 “Not Over Yet” which recalls the sound of Oakenfold’s much-loved Perfecto Fluoro compilation, and a collaboration with Beatman and Ludmilla on Bunkka standout “Ready Steady Go!” show that the 50-year-old isn’t averse to giving his own work a makeover, either.

Not every new interpretation on Trance Mission works. A misguided added vocal on William Orbit’s “Barber’s Adagio For Strings” pushes the stunning piece of classical-electro into overwrought Swedish House Mafia-esque territory, while a breakbeat take on Rank 1’s “Awakening” sounds like a leftover from the soundtrack to a low-budget 90s cyber-thriller.

But overall, Trance Mission is as an intriguing alternative history of the genre which explains why Paul Oakenfold has outlasted so many of his superstar DJ peers.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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