Max Graham Transport 4
by Shannon Petrick
Max Graham is a rising superstar. His biography is one to be reckoned with: a deal with Hope Recordings (home of Leon Alexander and Timo Maas) and he has recently released the much lauded Transport 4 on Kinetic Records. He's been behind the tables for fifteen years and has no intention of stopping now. He began as a house DJ and soon (with the likes of BT, Underworld, Sasha and Oakenfold) entered the world of progressive house. Max's immensely popular "Airtight" took the dance world by storm, leaving him in the praises of such DJs as Dave Ralph, Pete Tong and Nick Warren. But success hasn't tainted him like other dance music artists: I recently met him at Space in Miami, while on his Transport 4 tour for Kinetic. He was very friendly and talkative and immersed himself in the music and the energy of the crowd. It's easy to see why dance music listeners have an insatiable hunger for his music...and why his music will continue to break barriers.
The haunting voices turn in to a strange, robotic voice from Boom's "Boy Versus Girl" (Peace Division Dub). It was a sharp contrast between songs. I've decided the Peace Division remixes always contain something strange, unusual and new.
"Boy Versus Girl" is very housey and reminiscent of a certain Fluke track. Next, a mix into track 4, "Turned" by Ben Pound. Really good song! Beats and voices are subdued, then brought back in full force, over and over. "Turned" can be loud one minute and soft the next. It's very powerful, especially when it reaches full volume.
A short build-up of voices carries in "Strange World" by Greed, featuring Lesley (Blackwatch "King Monkey Dub"). I'm sure most listeners have heard this one: female vocals repeating, "strange, strange world" with an amazing build-up! Intense is the only word to describe it. I can't imagine what this would do at a club.
A flawless mix leads you into Sugarglider's "Slow Motion" (Van Bellen Remix). Beautiful song with a mesmerizing, floating female vocal (her voice is close to that of the lead vocalist for Morcheeba). Very romantic and laid-back with a perpetual, flowing melody.
And here it comes...the beginnings of "Sudden Journey" by Mad Dogs (Leon Alexander Remix). Leon is my muse...everything he touches turns to gold...so I have to give this one props. And I'm not alone: virtually everyone has gone mad for this track. Max Graham played it at Space and I witnessed what it can do to people (Graham's exquisite mixes help too)! "Sudden Journey" is minimalistic but like Oliver Lieb's creations, it's absolutely perfect.
A simple (but effective) mix brings you into "Dark Sympathy" (Planet Heaven Remix) by Murph. "Dark Sympathy" almost makes you feel like you're in church, with angelic, choir-like voices in the beginning and end. The track only lasts for 3 minutes and 23 seconds before the mix into "Vernon's Wonderland" (Hybrid's Matrix Dub) begins. Hybrid once again executes another dazzling remix: dark sounds coupled with assaulting bass. It's deep, intelligent and moving.
Next on the list is Max Graham's "Tell You." Really good song to follow "Vernon's Wonderland." "Tell You" is more mollified than "Airtight," which shows Max Graham's skill and versatility as a producer. This track is interwoven with distinct and soothing sounds and a beautiful female vocal. "Tell You" ends suddenly when the beats for "First Light" by Ogenki Clinic are brought in. "First Light" is probably the least extreme track on CD 1. It's very simple and unembellished of any unnecessary sounds or vocals. An excellent way to end the first set.
Soon, Blackwatch's "Skin Deep" (Gulf of Tonkin Mix) moves its way in. "Skin Deep" compliments the first track with its pure, uncluttered melody and sounds. It creates an atmosphere of unpretentious beauty.
An unblemished mix brings you into the immensely popular "Reformatted" by Sonic Infusion (I'm sure you'll recognize this one). A radiant track, full of fluent melodies.
The mix into Max Graham's "Shoreline" is abrupt but has to be, as it pushes the listener into a harder, more demanding landscape. This track is creative and unusual. It should be called "Going Absolutely Mad" instead of "Shoreline"...it's a chaotic mix of crazy sounds that are likely to cause some sort of dementia. Max Graham is a genius.
Similar sounds pull "Shoreline" and Pascal Feos' mix of Tata Box Inhibitor's "Freet" together beautifully. Although not as insane as "Shoreline," "Freet" has its moments with well-defined sounds and varied beats.
So what would a intelligent DJ use as a follow-up track after two crazy, demented songs? A Timo Maas creation, of course! Timo's "No Trance" is the understatement of the year. You're never sure how to classify his music which is what makes it so great! Critics never know what to do with him.... It's typical Timo Maas: complete anarchy.
Only a Japanese mind (with the help of Junkie XL) could follow-up a Timo Maas production. In comes Ayumi Hamasaki's "Vogue" (Computerhell Vocal Mix): all futuristic sounds, clever piano-noise movements, and a quiet voice whispering, "Vogue."
Fabulous mix into Hybrid's "High Life" (Live version). Julee Cruise's voice echoes, "Together, forever" above flawless, amazing music. Hybrid creates something incredible once again. Another incredible group, Underworld, follow "High Life" with "Kittens." You can't beat Underworld, whose productions have the quality of the great masterpieces in classical music. "Kittens" doesn't lower the standards...you'll have to hear the CD to fully understand it. It was so moving, it made me shiver. You can't beat this track.
Max pulls off another perfect mix into "Redemption" (Max Graham Dead Sea Mix) by Conjure One. God, can this CD get any better? It's hard to use words to describe the Hybrid, Underworld and Conjure One tracks. I'd have to be a poet laureate to accomplish that. Since describing them wouldn't do the producers (or Max Graham) any justice, I'll let you buy it instead. All I can say is that if I die, this is the music I will hear. In fact, why am I writing this? I should be laying on my bed, in the dark, with my eyes closed to experience the full effect!
Max closes his divine CD with "First" by Private Taste. Really great track as well, enveloping the listener with absolute bliss. A perfect ending...a perfect CD.
If you haven't bought Transport 4 yet, you're missing out. Max Graham is a mastermind at what he does. An added bonus: the "recording was made entirely from vinyl and inevitably contains the normal pops and clicks associated with this format." How often are you able to experience that on a CD? You can only get quality like this, of course, from Kinetic Records.
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