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Ferry Corsten – Once Upon A Night

Released by Ultra Records, 3/30/10

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Ferry Corsten has been labeled the “architect, pioneer, and instigator of trance music’s global dominance”, solidifying his status as the definition of “International DJ”. Having toured the world over so many times, Jules Verne would be a fan.

Fusing the evolution between the trance and house genres, Corsten’s latest mix CD (Ultra Records) is a reflection of his influences and experiences in his time traveling earth.

With 25 unreleased tracks and a handful of choice remixes, Once Upon A Night is a showcase in Corsten’s current song selection. Neither disc has an actual Ferry Corsten song on it, but maybe that’s the point. Every trance-head will tell you it’s all about “the journey”. As an appreciator of all genres of electronic music, this journey is like traveling while standing still and letting the music take you there.

The first 4 tracks takes us down a deserted highway in a convertible sports car breaking the speed limit, blasting “Progressiver pres FineSky - Fine Sky” as the sun starts to crack over the horizon and we finally have an excuse to still be wearing sunglasses (from last night). Not so much the beginning of a journey, but more like the “god, I’m still high/why am I driving?” end of a hard-clubbers weekend.

As the eye-drops kick in, we get our first taste of electro with “Tritonal feat. Soto – Forgive Me, Forget You (Ashley Wallbridge Remix)”. Noticeably influenced by the jacking synths that have become synonymous with electro-bangers, this track keeps the white noise filters and air jet low ends perfectly aligned with female vocals, reminding us that we are still alive (or still dreaming).

It isn’t until three tracks later that we see this energy again in “Phynn – Hello Love”. Darker in tone but still heavily structured in trance, this track fills in the blanks from a more-or-less straightforward 40 minutes. Disappointingly, these two are the only real standout songs from the first disc.

As our sports car catches up with the morning commute, we look to disc two to bring us home safely. “Mark Sixma – Forsaken” seems like an aptly named opening track, as the overall theme of this disc is definitely not for mimosas in the morning on your hotel balcony. From the driving industrial techno of “Tempo Giusto – Metropolitan (Alex O’Rion Remix)” to the anticipating tones of “Bart Claessen – Hartseer”, disc tws contains moments of physical clarity, but not enough to stimulate a relieving buzz.

Maybe this is when one should be reminded that Corsten produced one of the most prolific club anthems of 2002, “Punk”. It was industrial enough for vampires and commercial enough for 200,000 ravers during the early part of this decade. To those that are unfamiliar with the musical history of the genre, “Punk” was definitely a progressive turning point for trance, with Corsten at the for-front with peers Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, and Tiesto.

Sadly, as we pull in (or out) with the gaslight on and bass-bins blasting pain in my skull, I can’t help but experience a sense of relief. The synth-influenced emotion forced onto the listeners throughout Once Upon A Night reminds this traveler that although Ferry Corsten is a world-renowned, award-winning DJ and synonymous with the phrase jet-setting-international-superstar DJ, this mix was decent, at best.

The format of build up, white noise, 4/4 muted kick and repeat is better experienced live, with 499,999 of your best friends taking ecstasy on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean instead of in the T-top hatchback you thought was a convertible on a Monday morning late to work.