Thursday, 12 April 2012
Review: Cygnus X - Collected Works
If you've heard of Cygnus X at all, you probably know him for two tracks - Superstring and The Orange Theme, which were both remixed into stupid trance anthems back in the glory days of stupid trance anthems, and gave many a clubber an E rush at one time or another. If you know more about Cygnus X than these two tracks, you've probably an old school trance junkie. Collected Works is, predictably, a collation of Cygnus X's singles, mostly from the '90s, and pretty much epitomises the classic trance sound which Cygnus X produced and is totally unremembered for.
This flavour of '90s Germanic trance is about as purist as trance gets, and has an extremely limited appeal. To most trance fans it simply sounds too dated to appeal, and the kind of listeners who appreciate deeper and more vintage-sounding dance music usually find it far too fast and ravey. There is an extremely specialised breed of Internet-dwelling trance snob who actually enjoys this kind of stuff, the kind who accuse everything made after 1998 of not being "real trance". And I, ladies and gentleman, am one of those Internet-dwelling trance snobs.
If - and this is a big one - if you like classic old school melodic, acidic, extremely fast (often 150bpm) trance from the '90s, Collected Works is a good listen, although slightly pointless. The bulk of the tracklist consists of slightly shorter edits of every single track from Cygnus X's 1995 album Hypermetrical (and classic trance fans hate anything that shortens their ultra-long hypnotic journey tracks) as well as two mixes of Positron, and of course Superstring. There's a bonus disc of remixes, most of them pretty poor, but really not enough material to warrant a "collected works" compilation.
It's interesting to hear the original Superstring without Rank 1's boring, predictable arrangements and stupid uplifting basslines, if only to marvel at just how fast it is. Positron is a beauty, an old Sasha and Digweed favourite, and there are a couple of tracks (most notably Indakasa) that dip into breakbeat rhythms with surprisingly good results. I never liked The Orange Theme, which nicked its melody from the synthesised score to A Clockwork Orange, but the rest of the tracks are pretty strong, dated production aside.
Really though, the niche for this record is so narrow that you already know pretty much if you're going to like it or not. If you're just dipping into the roots of trance this could be worth a listen, but it hasn't aged any better than most of the material from this era.
Genre: Old school trance.
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 7/10