Global Underground: Ibiza

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You knew there had to be one. Out of the myriad Global Underground albums spotlighting a major international city, you knew there had to be an Ibiza album. After all, it's only fitting that the most popular DJ mix series of its time spotlight the most popular drug, drink, and dance getaway of its time. And it's also fitting that the Ibiza volume spotlights arguably the world's most popular DJ of the time, Sasha. Furthermore, it's perhaps fitting as well that he spins two sets of almost entirely trance, including all the big records of the time: Space Manoeuvres' "Stage One," Sasha's own "Xpander," BT's "Mercury and Solace," and the biggest of the big, Bedrock's "Heaven Scent." Keep in mind that this volume appeared in late 1999, at the peak of the worldwide trance craze. Therefore, in some ways, Global Underground: Ibiza can be seen as the culmination of all the hype: It features the trendiest DJ, the trendiest locale, the trendiest records, and so on. However, all of this may cause you to presume that Global Underground: Ibiza is the victim of its own excess. After all, popularity and trend rarely correlates with quality in dance music. More often than not, popularity and trend correlate instead with accessibility, mediocrity, and hyperbole. Well, whether you want to admit it or not, this album tends to be somewhat of an exception to the norm. It's no masterpiece, for sure, and certainly isn't anything particularly novel or daring. Rather, as mentioned earlier, it's the culmination of the late-'90s trance movement at its peak (only a year or two before the backlash truly set in and trance suddenly became an ugly word, sending the style spiraling toward the dark, dreary melancholia of the newly termed "progressive" movement). And as a culmination, this zenith is at times impressive, featuring the era's best producers: Breeder, Quivver, L.S.G., Sander Kleinenberg, and Cass and Slide, along with the others already mentioned. Face it: dance music doesn't get much more blissful than "Stage One," and it doesn't get much more over indulgent than "Heaven Scent" or more pseudo-euphoric than "Xpander" -- and that's the beauty of Global Underground: Ibiza. However, if there's anything this album needs, it's some diversity. Track after track of epic trance can start to wear on you after awhile. It's simply too much. And that's precisely why Sasha recoiled after this album for a bit, realizing that he'd taken his trance shtick as far as it could go for the time being.

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