Alex Kassian means it.
Trance is surfing the zeitgeist right now, but this release from Berlin's Alex Kassian on the newly minted Test Pressing label sets its sights on longevity. 'Voices' is free from irony or knowing winks to the listener. Kassian has total belief and, thankfully, the musical chops to back it up. Coming off the back of two hugely successful and well-liked releases on Pinchy & Friends, 'Voices' arrives with significant weight of expectation. Not that you sense that at all. This record aims high, dreams big, and succeeds in its goals. It's epic in the best sense of the word.
Whereas many trance revisionists nail the genre's tropes, they fall short on the killer melodic hooks that linger in the listener's mind. Alex Kassian has genuine talent and applies a songwriter's methodology to his instrumental music.
'Voices' arrives in three very different but highly complementary versions. The Jenova mix is an exercise in restraint and excess. Celestial voices pave the way for rushing, tumbling synths rising and falling, building, building, building. It's three minutes before Kassian lets a kick join the fray, but even then, it's somewhat muted and not 4/4. The power lies somewhere else altogether. And it is some power. The Swarm mix is a two-minute beatless reprise, a pallet cleanser before the next thing.
And the next thing is the Materia mix, the dancefloor take. It's a delicate balance of grit and gossamer while driving along at quite a clip. One of the synths is a definite 90s progressive house/ trance signifier, but Kassian's sense of melody and richly textured production makes it all his own. Finally, 'Lifestream' is a switch of gears and a flex of his versatility. A gentle new age reentry with a touch of the Vangelis about the sweeping synths. Warms subs and washing oceans. Simply beautiful.
The bar has been set high for Test Pressing Recordings and Alex Kassian. Let's see what comes next.
'Voices' is out now on Test Pressing Recordings.