DJ Brian

Hardesertrance 2

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A year after DJ Brian released the first album in the Hardesertrance series, he released a second volume that departed from the techno-tinged style of his original. Hardesertrance 2 updates its sound to the style of trance that was just beginning to flood the electronic music scene in the late '90s, moving towards fairly straightforward progressive house rhythms and a heavy use of synthesizer riffs. Brian doesn't go for the massive breakdowns and build-ups that many of his peers favor, nor does he go for the candy-coated synth melodies that even an infant could latch onto; instead, he goes for the straight-ahead, stomping power of progressive house to drive the rhythm and also tends to drift towards tracks with accompanying synth riffs that aren't as psychedelic as acid or as melodic as Paul Van Dyk-style trance. This strikes a happy medium where the trance isn't nearly as threatening as that featured on the first Hardesertrance album or as excessively cliched as that spun by peers such as Kimball Collins. Of course, this uncharismatic style of rather generic progressive house with a hint of trance motif sprinkled throughout results in a dull mix. Only a few of the songs tend to possess any noteworthy characteristics worth returning to and many don't even include salient moments worth noting. Some songs such as Sonic Fusion's "Emotions" try to get wild but sound awkward and out of place; other songs such as Sandra Collins' "Red" elevate the mood of the set with their trancey build-ups and overly polished synth riffs but only leave the listener hungry for more action. The set's most exciting moment comes three-quarters of the way through the set when Brian drops the Palefield Mountain remix of Albion's "Air," an undeniable trance anthem of the late '90s. This remix takes the traditionally soothing song and tears it to shreds with spiraling synth riffs until late into the song when the song's signature melody appears in the aftermath of the song's storm-like climax. Besides this song and the oft-heard vocals of Amoeba Assasin's "Rollercoaster," DJ Brian's second album in this series sadly disappoints with its lack of adventure.

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