Tiësto’s iconic ISOS series has been resurrected by Gabriel & Dresden, Andy Moor, & Markus Schulz in the most powerful of fashions [Album Review]
Back when Tiësto was still “DJ Tiësto,” the trance pioneer, he created what soon became one of the most iconic compilation series in the genre’s history: In Search Of Sunrise (ISOS). Each release, meant to take listeners to each location that inspired its creation, earned wide acclaim for its impeccable track selection and mixing.
Richard Durand took over in 2010 following Tiësto’s departure from the series, steadfastly holding its unadulterated ethos in place until he too went on an indefinite hiatus in 2015. Trance fans all over mourned its loss, recalling memories built around its early days.
Sometimes, however, a break is needed to realize the importance of continuing down a certain path. Through its struggles, passion from fans, its label SongBird (owned by Black Hole Recordings), and artists who ISOS inspired over the years have catalyzed its rebirth. The task of ushering in its return fell upon Andy Moor, Gabriel & Dresden, and Markus Schulz, each of which mixed a disc that expressed their vision of the compilation and where they’re at musically. Though each of these names are heavyweights with proven skills across long careers, apprehension was certainly mixed in with excitement. Could these three live up to ISOS‘ name?
They certainly did a formidable job, in our eyes. In fact, as the journey unfolds, not only is trance in its current age defined and diligently manifested, but the overall caliber and aural signature of the compilation is a hopeful one that firmly states, “trance is back.” It feels like the ever-resilient genre is once more getting in touch with its original ethos and more nuanced facets, while simultaneously distancing itself from the more commercial sounds of late that have made it lose credibility a second time in the eyes of quite a few.
ISOS 14 opens with Markus Schulz’ contribution. Though higher in energy and euphoria than the proceeding Gabriel & Dresden, his effort makes sense in its placement. He does a pretty well in curating a batch of progressive-leaning tracks with subtle hints of uplifting that entice the senses and fit in with the ISOS sound. However, we felt there was a bit of room for improvement in terms of the story that could have been told with the chosen records, and the smoothness of a number of transitions. These minor areas of opportunity ultimately didn’t overshadow the mix in the end, though, and Schulz offers up a dreamy exclusive in the form of a collaboration with his fiancée titled “Breathe Me To Life.”
Gabriel & Dresden explore the deep side of trance in their mix, winding through pathways of progressive and tech with polished expertise. They carefully lead listeners into a different dimension, crossing through euphoric, bittersweet, and cunning soundscapes along the way. The arrangement is cohesive and driving, as the duo whisk their subjects breezily forward from track-to-track with flawless, celestial transitions. A real climax ensues toward the one-hour mark, with an explosive “Breathe (Timmo Rework)” kicking things into high gear for the remainder of the trek Gabriel & Dresden laid out. Indeed, it’s nice to see the pair translating what made them great into a forward-thinking canvas.
Finally, ISOS 14 closes on a truly stunning note with Andy Moor’s disc. While Markus Schulz and Gabriel & Dresden did well in their posts, their artistic visions and a look into the series’ potential future were prominent. Moor’s, on the other hand, is most closely representative of the series’ deep personality, in our opinion. He opens on a toned-down, ethereal note, before building the BPM up to the mid-130s with a number of tunes that raise goosebumps with expertly-woven melodies and subtle, yet warming pads.
This isn’t the “cheesy” trance that one might expect when hearing the word, but rather, Moor’s selection reflects the same elements that touched so many in its heyday, yet feels refreshed in its aura. Heavy anticipation has been bred as to what’s in store for ISOS, and trance as a whole, in the coming years; the CD also serves as a salute to the artists that have stayed true themselves and fought hard to restore its name.
Reviving a series with a reputation like In Search Of Sunrise is an arduous task. Luckily, Black Hole displayed keen in trusting that it would be in good hands with Schulz, Gabriel & Dresden, and Moor. Each prolific artist brings a unique flavor to the table, which, together, capture ISOS‘ most profound nature while also coaxing the listener to open their mind to where the series can be pushed moving into the future.
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01. Markus Schulz & Jam El Mar – Hymn of the Replicant
02. Ben Böhmer – After Earth
03. Pavel Khvaleev – Rainbow
04. Above & Beyond featuring Justine Suissa – Cold Feet
05. Dylhen – Illuminate
06. Markus Schulz presents Dakota vs. Arkham Knights – Something About You
07. Dave Neven presents Ocata – Travelling
08. Anske – The Light In You
09. Hazem Beltagui – You Before Me
10. Solarstone – Midsummer Nights
11. The Thrillseekers presents Hydra – Affinity 2018
12. Ferry Corsten & Paul Oakenfold – A Slice Of Heaven
13. Markus Schulz & Emma Hewitt – Safe From Harm (Markus Schulz In Bloom Mix)
14. Dennis Sheperd & Bjorn Akesson – Memoria
15. Markus Schulz featuring Justine Suissa – Perception (Johan Gielen Remix)
16. Arkham Knights – Into the Fire
17. Moogwai – Viola (Elevation Remix)
18. Markus Schulz & Adina Butar – Breathe Me to Life
Gabriel & Dresden
01. Naden – Submersion
02. Eelke Kleijn – Home
03. Lucas Rossi – A Part of Myself
04. Cioz featuring Collopio – Fury
05. Estiva – Space Dust
06. Gabriel & Dresden featuring Jan Burton – Underwater (Tinlicker Remix)
07. Dirty South – Night Walks
08. MR.MNT – Pause
09. Dirty South featuring ANIMA! – If It All Stops (Gabriel & Dresden Re-Rub)
10. ADNT – From Now On (Max Cue Remix)
11. Above & Beyond – Is It Love? (1001) (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
12. Clint Stewart – Breathe (Timmo Rework)
13. Gabriel & Dresden featuring Josh Gabriel – Over Oceans (Gabriel & Dresden Club Mix)
14. Gabriel & Dresden featuring Sub Teal – Only Road (Cosmic Gate Remix)
01. Aly & Fila vs Scott Bond & Charlie Walker – Shadow (Paul Thomas Remix)
02. Clameres – Soundwalker
03. Peter Steele – Zen
04. The Thrillseekers – In These Arms (Stoneface & Terminal pres. Gundamea Remix)
05. Lange & Sarah Howells – Out Of The Sky (Omnia Remix)
06. Ariscan – Amberfall
07. Airbase – Vermillion
08. Andy Moor featuring Becky Jean Williams – The Real You
09. Digital Energy – Living the Dream
10. Mike Saint-Jules – Beacon
11. Andy Moor & Alex Ryan – Reflection
12. Neptune Project – Proteus (The Thrillseekers Remix)
13. Neptune Project – Bioluminescence
14. Neil Bamford – They Are There
15. Supernal – Supernal