Trance Europe Express 4 (Volume, 1995)

Review
Also known as “Music Without Frontiers”, the fourth instalment in Volume’s Trance Europe Express is somewhat of a step down in quality compared to the first three classics.

Setting the scene are Deadstock and the lengthy excursion that is Octarine. A muscular sped-up trip hop workout that’s interesting but really outstays its welcome. Fluke come on in, the self-fulfilling Synth Bit a nicely layered moody effort. They cite the Bullitt car chase as their favourite motor race. Points are deducted for the terribly snobbish muso comment “An album’s meant to be more than a collection of singles, otherwise it just smacks of M People.” In 1996, Darren Emerson and Alex Paterson released a joint double CD mix‎ named TEXtures with all tracks sourced from Trance Europe Express 1-4. It opens with Bitesize Nuns’ simmering Codpiece, the third tune here. Next are the laughingly rebellious Vulva with the tinny plink-wank of Haunted House before the anodyne doom of Rue East’s Viper. This is followed by Solcyc’s pedestrian techno KY9 that seems to last an eternity.

Finally we get a decent track in the form of LFO’s ambient bliss number Helen. “Smooth, ruff and rubbery” is how they describe themselves. Next are Coldcut with the mildly diverting Nominal Aphasia; it’s the text that’s really interesting here as they recall the events after the success of remixing Paid In Full. They also pop up on CD2 in Hex guise with the more arresting Homunculus. Evoking a different type of rush is DJ Crystl (Danny Chapman) and the heady jungle beats of Crystlized while the jagged and unruly Delik 1 mix of Chemical Brothers’ Life Is Sweet remains a TEE exclusive. After this impressive sequence, we’re dropped back into the mundanity with Rootless’ toothless Return To Savananah. Somebody’s been watching too much North & South. CD1 ends with a bang(er) – Depth Charge’s buoyant and supremely atmospheric Sex, Sluts & Heaven.

On Deviant, Node’s Alternator kicks off the second half. This is remarkable, a rushing moody beast that conjures up the Blade Runner soundtrack (as also mentioned in Dele Fadele’s interview). Remember them from Volume Twelve – this is more of the same. Things continue to look up with A Guy Called Gerald’s When You Touch Me, quality drum and bass for home listening. The text fills us in on what Gerald had been doing since Voodoo Ray’s explosion in 1988. There’s a sharp turn into hard techno with Redagain P – 2 Live and Miss Djax’s Groovy Bitch with the meat in that sandwich being Acid Junkies who drop their djaxed-up 303 beats on Figment Of One’s Imagination.

Halfway through CD2, Skylab vs Deluxe appear with the sweet psych trip-hop Twister, that reminds me of Lemon Jelly. Shame it’s not on You Tube. Next are Future Perfect and the funky Wonder-like weaver Got It Goin’ On. In a similar laid back vibe, ex-Woodentop Benny Staples is now part of Lava Lava and their progressive rhythmic Chaka is a grower. Meanwhile Move D’s accurately descriptive Makes You Move steers us back to the dancefloor with its sounds reminiscent of UFO nights and Wisdom To The Wise. Following on are Alaska (Laurent Garner & Nic Britton) and the gradual euphoria of Unreleased Project 1. “F Communications sacked the usual gimmicks of white labels and shrinkwrapped snobbery, making their entire catalogue available on both vinyl and CD.” Finally we end with the epic Dark Hard by Underworld, 11 and a half minutes of bliss, one to wake the sun up. As far as I know, its only vinyl appearance is on this compilation.

Favourite tracks
Underworld – Dark Hard

LFO – Helen

Alaska – Unreleased Project 1

Lest we forget
Node – Alternator

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