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  Liam Kennedy Atomic Trance
by Charles Michael Fulton

The moment I received a copy of Liam Kennedy's Atomic Trance, I ripped it open and threw it in the CD player. I had it on in the background as I was preparing to go out and meet some friends, which was a mistake. The CD actually grabbed me in mid-wardrobe selection and I was forced to dance around like a loon for about twenty minutes. Now, I am chronically late, so I was already running behind schedule. Thanks to Kennedy's Digweed-esque track selection and smooth mixing, my friends were precariously close to abandoning me.

So, with the cursory listening, I didn't really have a chance to get the full experience. Although, to Kennedy's credit, I knew from the opening track that I would want to sit down and listen to the entire album start-to-finish. And I did the next day. Twice. In a row.

Kennedy opens with "First Light" by Ogenki Clinic, a track that opens the CD like a door opening into a room filled with wall-to-wall impressionist paintings. The synth lines are relaxingly atmospheric, but the bassline moves your ass as they relax your back. Add a little hand drum action, and we have a delightful track, which sets themes and tempos for the first half of the CD.

"First Light" is followed up by two tracks that continue the deep, tech house feel but start building an aggressive tension; which, of course, a good DJ is going to do if he's going to get the kids off their butts. "Space Divini" by Portabello has an incredibly funky, danceable bassline and well-timed layering that leaves you wanting more. The Medway remix of "The Love" by Fade fills that need like Grandma's Sunday dinner. He's one of my favorite producers, and this remix deserves another gold star and slot in your record bag. It adds another level of tech, gets even deeper, but continues that groovy house feel.

With "Fusion" by Sleepfreaks, Kennedy trades in his deep house-coat for a tighter bassline and a more aggressive, traditional progressive feel (is that an oxymoron?). Which is subtly done, given the continued theme of ambient background sounds that this track develops into more melodic modes. This track makes me want to go out and lose myself in a multi-roomed massive. It's been too long.

The Traveller & Quest remix of Blakstone's "One Thing" deepens the journey by adding more progressive sounds into the mix. All this progression is justified, in this reviewer's mind anyway, by the presence of one funky-ass cowbell that works its way in and out of the track. The progressive sound culminates with Drumscape's "Transmission," which gets deep into Space Maneuver's territory with a bassline and samples that evoke sense-depriving space-scapes. A well-timed break from the more moving, then assailing beats of the rest of the album.

We're brought back to the ground by the more four-on-the-floor feel of Fanciulli & Blewitt's dub mix of "Dockside." Ok, so it starts out with Boards of Canada-esqe ambience, but trust me, that bassline will kick in. The ambient beginning is well calculated to allow this track to build into quite a foot-stomper. Add some synth triplets, another funky cowbell, and you've got one hell of a deep trancer.

After about 4:40 of track 7, Kennedy makes a bold move into more aggressive trance territory with Driven Child's "Polar Tech." He calls it tech-trance, I call it dangerous. But as long as it keeps the kids on the dance floor and out of the gun stores, more power to you, Liam! This energy continues to build into the anthemic "Hong Kong Junkie" by Fred Numf vs. Five Point 0. Here's a track that you will be hearing a lot of this summer and on into the fall. Of course, you probably won't hear it mixed as well as you do here, unless you get out of your friend's basement and to the more well-established clubs and venues around our fine city. According to the press-release, Liam built this CD around this track, and the breakdown will tell you why. Hey, when you're on the floor and you're trying to place this one, running to all your friends and screaming, "What is this? Do you have this? C'mon, you know, it goes dah-nah-nah-nah-nah-doot-denut-doot," remember it's "Hong Kong Junkie" by Fred Numf vs. Five Point 0.

This is the breaky feel of the Tocharian & Lewis mix of Tocharian's "Circadian Rhythms." Yes, the music is causing that tensing sensation in your back. Yes, dance music is supposed to do that. No, you don't need to seek medical attention. Don't worry, the release will come, and come hard with Kennedy's closing track, the Force Mass Motion mix of "Mojo" by Filterfuks. And boy, will it come hard, with synth sweeps for the glowstickers and little electro hits for the poppers. Another track that will fill the floors for the rest of the year.

This is a damn good CD. I'm not a huge fan of progressive, but Liam mixes enough tribal and deep house elements to keep my attention...well, to keep me deep in his mix for the entire CD. If you're looking for a bridge between Christopher Lawrence and Digweed, Liam here is your man. And considering this is his first mix CD, he will be your man for quite some time.

At Amazon.com

Atomic Trance cover art Atomic Trance
Mixed by Liam Kennedy
Record Label:
Topaz/Red
Track Listing:

  1. First Light - Ogenki Clinic
  2. Space Divini - Portabello
  3. The Love (Medway Remix) - Fade
  4. Fusion - Sleepfreaks
  5. One Thing (The Traveller & Quest Remix) - Blakstone
  6. Transmission - Drumscape
  7. Dockside (Dub) - Fanciulli & Blewett
  8. Polartech - Driven Child
  9. Hong Kong Junkie - Fred Numf Vs. Five Point O
  10. Circadian Rhythms (Tocharian & Lewis Mix) - Tocharian
  11. Mojo (Force Mass Motion Mix) - Filterfuks

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