- Much has been made of the musical direction Paul Oakenfold has taken over the last few years. Depending on your opinion, you either love him or hate. Where his DJing abilities are concerned, I’m a fence sitter. While I’ve never seen him perform, I have enjoyed some of his numerous compilation releases over the years. His early contributions for Global Underground are just some that helped establish the series as one of the most influential ever created in respect to electronic dance music.
It can be argued that he was one of the most prolific figures to introduce ‘trance’ to the masses. However that point is mute because opinions on this differ as passionately as those who love or hate the genre. Eventually, after having achieved as much as a DJ can, in particular a listing in the Guinness Book of Records, Oakenfold went onto release his debut artist album ‘Bunkka’ in 2002. For many, it was a shock to the senses because it wasn’t what they would have expected from this legendary DJ. Something like this can either work for you or against you depending on the actual material. For whatever purposes, it was a point of conversation amongst many. From my perspective, it was an utter disappointment regardless of whether it was aimed at a mainstream audience or not. Until that moment, I had a sense of respect for this man, which strayed upon hearing this rather ‘average’ release.
Having said that, I’m a forgiving person by nature especially where my love of dance music is concerned. But to be honest, when I received the promo for this particular release, I laughed. Out loud. For a very long time. I laughed simply because I had received a ‘Paul Oakenfold’ promo. Without looking at the tracklisting or even listening to this compilation, I’d already come to an opinion as to what this would be like. My unfounded opinion was not a positive one. Fortunately, I was wrong. While my tastes mainly run towards the progressive end of the musical tip these days, I’m still a sucker for a good trance mix. After all, this is where it all started for me. As such, ‘Creamfields’ mixed by Paul Oakenfold is a pleasurable journey into a sound that once helped me to not only discover a subterraneous world that I never knew existed but it also helped me discover a part of myself that I never knew existed.
The first part of the compilation begins with ‘Point Zero’ by Matt Darey presents Li Kwan. This is a luxury to hear which reminds me so much of when I first heard and loved trance. The simple but effective depth of the bass just draws you in immediately and is continued with Interstate’s ‘I Found U’. I have a soft spot for vocal tracks and for me this one is beautiful. The pace is slightly increased with Duran & Aytek’s ‘First Sight’, which has an almost Balearic feel within its melody. Up next, we’re introduced to Sultan & The Greek with their progressive giant ‘Wadi’. In a relatively short time, this duo has conquered a scene that can often be unforgiving. While the melody and bassline are warmly familiar, the added use of a vocal still causes a shiver. The typically uplifting elements of trance are brought into the mix with ‘Clear Blue’ from Markus Schulz presents Elevation without ever really meandering into an overly syrupy sound. Its infectious beat continues to keep things in the groove.
Up next we have Carlos Vives’ ‘Comu Tu’ which is truly symphonic in feel. Fundamentally trance in sound, it’s structured in a very progressive way. The subtle nuances of this track would be lost in a big arena but emphasised in a small club. Class! This is followed by ‘12’ from the truly gifted Tilt. The mix is now in full blown progressive trance territory with a slightly darker twist. The intricate sounds that can be heard throughout only add depth to the beats. The progressive feel continues with ‘Living The Dream’ by D:Fuse. This is a very simple sounding track that is dramatically enhanced by the vocals. A twist in the mix is created with the addition of Quivver’s ‘Space Manoeuvres (part 3)’. When I initially looked at the tracklisting I thought this brilliant track would have sounded out of place. It doesn’t. While a familiar track already, its inclusion creates a certain spike in the overall feel of this mix. With that, we then move onto another Tilt track, ‘World Doesn’t Know’ with Andy Moor’s presence greatly felt. It’s all about the dark urgency in the bass and it’s crazy good. As all good things come to an end, this part of ‘Creamfields’ is completed with the galloping bass and vocodered vocals of ‘Jump The Next Train (Probspot) by Young Parisians featuring Ben Lost. It’s happily infectious and I love it! A fabulous way to end a mix that I, surprisingly, wished would never end.
The second part of ‘Creamfields’ opens on a slightly dramatic tip with ‘Ocean of Love’ by DJ Suzy Solar which, for all intent purposes, is a progressive breaks tune with epic proportions. Following on is ‘One Day’ by Nubreed & Luke Chable, two artists from a growing contingent of Australian talent. Its broken beats fuse the line between radio friendly and underground appeal. Up next is the almost angelic sound of Pinkbox Special’s ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’ which manages to maintain the so far prog breaks feel within the mix. The pace is picked up with the Lemon8 mix of Girl Nobody’s ‘Cages’. A darkly melodic tune that grows with every listen. With the beginnings of ‘Scatterbomb (Original Spring Mix) by The Sneaker I’m once more transported into my trance past. The sounds of this track, with its galloping bass and subliminal melody perfectly remind of why I became fascinated with the genre. This groove is continued with ‘Perfect Wave’ from Peter Martin presents Anthanasia. While the beats have been slightly increased, the progressive trance feel of this whole compilation has been maintained.
So far, everything has been great but up until now, with ‘Time Of Your Life (Shane 54’s Rolling On Ultra Mix) from Oakenfold himself in this mix, I’m not too keen. If anything this is somewhat cheesey and I don’t think it fits in the overall feel of this CD. I don’t hate it… but I don’t like either. Luckily I’m appeased with the opening strains of Auranaut’s ‘People Want To Be Needed’. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this track. The first time I heard this was in 2001 and for me, it defines that time of my life. The trance elements combined with the slightly techno aspect make this a track that I never tire of hearing. Following on are the halting yet melodic beats of Stel & Good Newz’s ‘Particle’ with its atmospheric breakdown leading into an uplifting tone. Unfortunately, at this point the overall feel of this mix takes a seriously disappointing plunge. Yes, it’s the Perfecto 2004 mix of U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’. I really don’t like this track or U2 and especially Bono’s humbled by so much money vocals. Moving right along, Mauro Picotto came to my rescue with ‘Lizard’ in the guise of the Paul Oakenfold 2004 remix. We’re now in foot stomping, hands in the air territory. As a finale, the dub mix of John ‘00’ Fleming’s ‘I’m Not Fooled’ is the last stop. Being a J00F fan, I’m pleased Oakenfold chose this darkly rumbling trance scorcher as his last track. Kick your heels up and dance like there’s no tomorrow. For me, a pleasing conclusion to this seriously enjoyable compilation.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this compilation not just once but many times over. With a combination of both old and new, this was a pleasure for me to experience. Technically, the mixing is quite simple but it’s predominantly about the music. While many of us have moved on to other aspects of the underground, I’ve always made a concerted effort to stay in touch with my trance roots. Not every trance release is great but compilations such as this are a real indulgence. From an analytical point, my pick is CD1 because it leans towards my progressive tastes. There’s a deeply mature sound to its groove that sucked me in immediately. That’s not to say that CD2 is a let down. While there are a couple of tracks that I didn’t really like, it’s definitely the more banging of the two parts. If anything, it typified the sound I would have expected but still found refreshing especially the first half. As a DJ, Paul Oakenfold managed to surprise me greatly, which is exactly what he achieved with this ‘Creamfields’ mix. This will not be to everyone’s tastes but it fits mine.
1. Matt Darey presents Li Kwan – Point Zero
2. Interstate – I Found U
3. Duran & Aytek – First Sight
4. Sultan & The Greek – Wadi
5. Markus Schulz presents Elevation – Clear Blue
6. Carlos Vives – Comu Tu (Paul Oakenfold Mix)
7. Tilt – 12
8. D:Fuse – Living The Dream
9. Quivver – Space Manoeuvres (part 3)
10. Tilt – World Doesn’t Know
11. Young Parisians featuring Ben Lost – Jump The Next Train (Probspot Mix)
1. DJ Suzy Solar – Ocean of Love
2. Nubreed & Luke Chable – One Day
3. Pinkbox Special – Nice Guys Finish Last
4. Girl Nobody – Cages (Lemon8 mix)
5. The Sneaker – Scatterbomb (Original Spring Mix)
6. Peter Martin presents Anthanasia – Perfect Wave
7. Oakenfold – Time Of Your Life (Shane 54’s Rolling On Ultra Mix)
8. Auranaut – People Want To Be Needed
9. Stel & Good Newz – Particle
10. U2 – Beautiful Day (The Perfecto 2004 Mix)
11. Mauro Picotto – Lizard (Paul Oakenfold 2004 Remix)
12. John ‘00’ Fleming – I’m Not Fooled (dub mix)