REVIEW: Solarstone – Touchstone Remixed
Genre: Progressive House, Trance, D’n’B,
Label: Solaris Recordings
Release Date: January 23, 2012
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.0
Solarstone also known as Richard Mowatt, is a British composer, producer, and DJ. In earlier years Solarstone also included Sam Tierney (1994 – 1997), and Andy Bury (1994 – 2006). Since 1994 they produced Trance, Progressive, and Chillout, and to date “Last Summer Fields”, “Seven Cities”, and “Spectrum” are the most popular releases.
In 2010, Solarstone delivered a 12 track album released on Solaris Recordings titled Touchstone, in which styles such as Trance, Downtempo, and Ambient are incorporated. Not even two years later on January 23, 2012 Touchstone Remixed, a remix album is also released on Solaris Recordings. Tracklisting is in the same order as the previous non-remix album, but all tunes have different remixers spicing it up with styles such as Progressive House, Trance, D’n’B, and Progressive Trance.
The album begins with “Is There Anyone Out There (Dirty Herz Remix)” featuring Bill McGrudy, a progressive track with deep and breathy vocals. The track has a wonderful bassline, and once McGrudy begins singing, the chorus starts with “is anyone out there”, the track lightens up. This is definitely, a catchy tune for the hardcore dancefloor trancers.
Up next is a dreamy remix done by Tucandeo of “Ultraviolet” which is a mood setter for the following tunes. It starts off with a progressive bassline, eventually layering into a mellow, dream-like state accompanied with female vocals. Its uplifting buildup almost makes you feel like jumping between the different parts of the light spectrum.
Third song on the album is “Night Signals (Vadim Zhukov TFA Remix)” which is a quite interesting tune. The track begins with a bassline while adding on a weird sequence of sounds, perhaps the night signals. This track doesn’t have too much layering and stays the same throughout the 9 minutes while adding on haunting vocals by Julie Scott. In my opinion, I don’t find this too impressive and believe the original remix was definitely the better one.
The Elfsong remix of “Touchstone” after which the album is titled, is one of the best remixes on this album. A slow progression of progressive sounds with guitar-like noise kicks it off to a great start. Eventually transforming into colorful trance with relaxing riffs, and it’s songs like these that make you drive down at night with windows down blasting it as loud as you can.
Ambient sounds with minimal beats describe “Electric Love (Piotro Microprog Love Mix),” a second track that features Bill McGrudy. A perfect relaxer, this chill track has an unreal combination of micro progressive bass, airiness, and echoed male vocals to add to its perfection.
Next, is “Intravenous (Konektiv’s Epicentric Mix)” a track that somehow doesn’t sit well with me. It’s filled with a beat that sounds strange almost represents the spoken word “wow”, but both do not appear to be synchronized together. It creates confusion for me, which makes the arrangement almost sound off beat.
The second half of the album begins with a more upbeat remix by Dave Horn of “Twisted Wing”. Once again, featuring Julie Scott, this is a more uplifting harmony than any of the previous ones. Slowly builds up to an enormously powerful and beautifully crafted trance tune.
Although the title says otherwise, “Slowmotion (Klauss Goulart Remix)” is definitely not lacking its speed. A beautiful cool off is encountered that has a mesmerizing melody in the middle of this club banger. It has been worked on by both Solarstone and the reputable Orkidea.
The single “The Best Way To Make Your Dreams Come True Is To Wake Up (Miss Nine Remix),” was released on the same date as the album; January 23rd, 2012 and is surely the longest song title on this album. Lyrically, it’s very interesting singing about the future, dreams, aliens, and time, which make it seem a bit futuristic. Musically, I think this would be better as an instrumental.
Nearing the end of the album is “Zeitgeist” remixed by Dennis Shepard, another track revisited by Orkidea. “Zeitgeist” is another very upbeat beautiful track satisfying to the listener’s ears. Constantly singing “fly with me,” not sure if it has something to do with flying back in time and remembering good times (“zeitgeist” means “the spirit of the times” in German).
Taking a turn into the Drum’n’Bass department with “The Last Defeat Pt II (Royal Sapien Remix)” definitely stands out. This is the only D’n’B track on this release, but is perfectly layered with a faster paced drum beat, while matching Lucia Holme’s soothing vocals with it to create an exotic environment.
Last track on the album is “There’s A Universe (Chris Johnson Remix)”. It begins very simply: a drum beat, occasional sound pattern layered up very slowly. To cool off, ambient sounds are intertwined with echoic male vocals that are overpowered by music. It makes it hard to understand the lyrics.
Touchstone Remixed offers various styles while keeping on the mellower, progressive side of EDM. Personally, it took me quite a few listens to get a feel of some of the tracks and let them sink in since I’m more of an upbeat type of a Trance fan however there are some really nice remixes, while some others are better in its original form. I look forward to Solarstones future releases and would like to see a new variety of collaborators and remixers joining him.
Review by Eva Sipkova
This post originally appeared on Electronic Nightlife, now a part of beatcue.