If you’ve paid attention in the past couple of years, you might’ve spotted the name Para X here and there, especially on Discover Records. While uplifters like Laguna or the tremendous World of Illusion have gotten him the well-deserved recognition recently, the German producer has been at it since the mid 90s, with his first track dropping at the beginning of the millennium. Putting the experience gained from over 50 singles and remixes to good use, he’s ready to present the lovingly crafted debut artist album, Rising Star. Let’s see what it’s all about, shall we?
Open the album and you’re presented with its title track, a lush ambient number which acts as a marvelous intro to Para X’s sound. The track’s delicate melodic touches glide atop its wonderfully immersive atmosphere sans effort, leaving your imagination to run wild. If ever there was a way to reel in a listener, this is it.
Since we’ve become accustomed with surroundings, let’s move forward and see what else is in store.
The second track is where the LP picks up the pace a little, fusing progressive and uplifting to great effect. Though progressive tracks tend to be a little on the darker end of the spectrum, this is a surprising “best of both worlds” approach, managing to still show off the uplifting side in all its glory. Filled with a myriad of panning sounds and strategically placed FX, Northern Clouds managed to outdo itself by including what I’d deem a rare treat these days. Wait for the breakdown to emerge and you’ll be presented with an epic sounding Progressive Breaks segment, something that was quite common back in the 90s prog tracks, but seems to have disappeared in recent years.
I think it’s obvious that this production is going to be in heavy rotation in my playlist. But then again, it’s so damn good!
This is where the floodgates finally open, letting the familiar Para X uplifting sound through. A powerful kick and base combo ignites the track’s slingshot-like progression towards the break, where everyone gets a moment of respite. Amidst the goose bump-inducing vocal chops, the euphoric lead melody rises, quickly followed by percussion. With everything in place, Sparkling Waterfalls wastes no time unveiling its massive main event. A strong contender for album favourite here.
Beautiful (ft. Claire Willis)
Keeping proceedings equally uplifting, we then get to Beautiful, the only vocal track off of the LP. Those of you who read this blog know that vocal tracks haven’t been my cup of tea in recent years, and that it takes a pretty special execution for these kinds of tracks to grab my attention.
I’m happy to say that this Claire Willis-sung number does in fact tick all the right boxes, providing a surprisingly bubbly vocal uplifter. Neither the vocal nor the main melody gets suffocated by the other one’s presence, which is always a plus in my book.
Moving forward we then encounter a fantastically euphoric voxless uplifting beast titled Sunset Highway. The kick is much more noticeable here, which helps it stand out from the crowd, but the main melody definitely steals the show. Its monumental presence does help give the entire arrangement an incredible sense of scale. Very nicely done.
You must’ve gotten thirsty after reading everything above, so why not have a refreshing Psycolada?
In essence, this is probably the biggest departure from the sound folks have associated Para X with in recent times. This heavy psychedelic number still hides some nicely woven melodic layers, but as a fan of the sound, it’s the acid drenched edge of this track that stands out to me. Just to make sure, I’ll hit play a few more times. In the meantime, more tracks await below.
In case you haven’t figured out by now, epic uplifters are Para X’s specialty, and this one no doubt falls in the same category.
Keeping a similar theme to the previous track, you’ll find Hypnotizer’s acids are turned up way past 11, the rhythm is way accelerated, and the listener kept as unsuspecting as ever. Nothing quite prepares you for the sheer power of the lead melody, in all its dark and crystal clear glory.
Of all these tracks, this left me gobsmacked the most, as it triggered chills I didn’t even know were possible to get. Absolutely astonishing track.
Next up is another melodic beast, Elevation. As the gift that keeps on giving, this features yet another amazing melody. Listen carefully and you’ll hear hints of World of Illusion in there, especially in its kick and base combo. A clean, powerful uplifter worthy of being part of this collection of excellent productions.
The fittingly-dubbed Different Ways does still keep proceedings in the uplifting realm, but it has one of the most interestingly structured melodies I’ve heard. I feel like using unique too many times in a post like this might diminish its value, but the word’s use is nowhere more appropriate than in this case. The subtle acids don’t hurt the mix either, instead enhancing the overall vibe. As it seems, the surprises just keep on coming.
You’d expect a track with this title to be incredibly euphoric, whether you mean on the darker of brighter end of the spectrum. In this case, the piano melody manages to yet again create a sense of sheer scale, and when the lead is finally uncoupled from its leash, the result is absolutely incredible. A true master class in the darker side of uplifting trance.
Heal My Wounds
Capping off this absolute roller coaster of an album is the eleventh track, which yet again sees Para X show off his chillout-crafting skills. Heal My Wounds is a cinematic journey through sound which quite frankly I have not heard many pull off so well. The balearic vibes are unmissable, and the resurgence of the breaks influence is just the cherry on top.
I went into this knowing full well that Para X would deliver some incredible uplifting tracks, much like he had done in recent years. It was surprising to say the least seeing just how diverse a sound he managed to put forth with Rising Star, and just how well the various influences were integrated into his album.
If I’d be pressured to choose just one of those, I would probably go with Northern Clouds due to its fantastic progression and Prog-Breaks influence. Luckily, there’s no pressure so I just choose all of them, as each is awesome to experience in its own right.
Para X’s debut album, Rising Star, is headed for a May 15 Beatport exclusive digital release. The launch of the physical CD as well as availability in other stores is set for May 29. Until then, here’s a taster of the title track, which was released in anticipation of the eponymous long player, and also features a very nice uplifting mix which you can find here.
Beatport Exclusive: 15.05.2017 | General release, Physical CD: 29.05.2017
Country: UK / Style: Trance, Ambient / Year: 2017 / Label: Discover Records*
*Part of the Recoverworld Label Group.
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