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An Anjuna-hiccup or a sign of change?
on 29 April 2012
Just had to get something off my chest so bare with my review:
I rarely write a review of a product, especially not for an Anjunabeats or Anjunadeep release as I feel the quality speaks for itself. I always pre-order any release under these two labels without waiting for reviews as I have every confidence in them. However I feel this is the first time I have felt a little let down so I'd like to share my thoughts.
I have been an avid trance/house fan since the first ever Euphoria album and have since witnessed the genres transform. Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep are ALL I listen to. I stopped buying ASOT (Armin Van Buuren) as it was beginning to sound a little too similar to pop and too close to commercial sounds for my liking. EDM seems to be a key ingredient in many pop songs these days and so I understand the need for it to change and maintain it's independent sound and Anjunabeats has always succeeded at this. Until now. For me this albums overall sound screams the sort of sound similar to Swedish House Mafia or any other DJs popular in the commercial side of EDM (i'm talking about the sort of stuff you hear in the charts in most clubs). Don't get me wrong, not all the tracks are like this, in fact I will list the specific tracks that I HAD to skip after 2 or 3 listens as it saddened me to hear this unpleasant transformation:
CD1: Track 5 and 8 CD2: Track 2
Now that may not seem a lot but my god (in my opinion) THEY WERE AWFUL! Just noise. And this feeling ruins the whole album for me (not to mention a few bad mixing efforts). On the other hand, the highlights (and there are a fair few):
CD1: Track 4,7,9,10,14,15 (the last 2 are only there because they are remixes of amazing tracks) CD2: Tracks 1,5,7,8,10,12,13,15,16
All the rest of the tracks not listed help the flow of the album but are just ok in my opinion. And this is the thing, this is just my opinion. For me this album signals that EDM has changed a lot and there are loads of discussions floating around forums all over the internet arguing whether this is in fact a good thing or not (ever since Anjunabeats 9 which was actually similar sounding to this). Personally I do not like the change, the music has lost a bit of its sophistication and emotion, instead opting for energy but doing so with a barrage of electro effects that overall do more harm than good, making the once unique music sound like pop music or trashy dance anthems from a Ministry of Sound Clubbers Guide album (and yes it's been a long time since i listened to one of those). It's almost like Anjunabeats have targeted a younger less appreciative audience with this release.
I may be overreacting here as there are evidently lots more quality productions out there but for me they all belong under the Anjunadeep label and progressive house genre. Anjunadeep releases maintain what makes them so enjoyable because the numerous electro effects work well for a chilled out progressive sound just not with more upbeat tracks.
So in a nutshell this release has worried me a little, about the future of Anjunabeats (a little dramatic maybe). I loved A&B's Essential Mix 2011 and for the sake of a few tracks on Anjunabeats 9 I enjoyed that too (and of course Anjunadeep 4), but this...well this just makes me a little uncertain. Lets just hope none of Anjunabeats releases find their way onto a mainstream radio station anytime soon.