No other Trance duo from Germany has seen the success and legacy that the legendary Cosmic Gate has achieved over the last ten years and their continuous journey is still going strong as Nic Chagall and Bossi have released their sixth studio album entitled Start To Feel. Cosmic Gate began in 1998 as a Harder tinged Trance duo who quickly blitzed through the scene with their iconic singles of Fire Wire and Exploration Of Space and have since remixed long standing tracks such as Tiesto‘s Urban Train, Vincent De Moor‘s Flying Away and Ferry Corsten‘s Punk. For the next five years, these two were known as staunch champions of Hard Trance and released two fantastic studio albums entitled Rhythm & Drums and No More Sleep, which solidified their status as industry leading musicians. In 2006, their third studio album entitled Earth Shaker shied away from the sound that they had been known for and focused on a softer, more laid back style of Trance, which even changed further with their release of Sign Of The Times in 2009. After their remix album release of Back 2 The Future in 2011, the duo decided to take another stylistic change with the release of their innovative Wake Your Mind album, which promised to look into other styles by being open minded about the music. These two are no longer amateurs and their ten plus years of experience has transformed them into iconic veterans of the scene who only have their imaginations to hold them back. Now to solidify this brand new change, their sixth studio album, (entitled Start To Feel), is a continuation of Wake Your Mind‘s core mantra and includes a slew of fantastic singles and collaborations.
Within this album, their main focus is less on immediate success and more towards what they call ‘the long game’: “We want to create tracks in the studio with a real long life expectancy. We want to make ‘years-from-now’ music, where every time you come back to a track, you hear something new; something different; something more than you caught the last time. There are so many moments and elements with which you can start to feel a track. We want to encourage people to experience Electronic Music in a deeper and wider way.” Nic Chagall offers his thoughts on the matter: “The point we want to get across with this album is that Electronic Music doesn’t always need to start and stop at the drop. It doesn’t have to only be about that sixty seconds. I mean, we do love that type of music. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have made tracks like So Get Up. But those are only starting points to Cosmic Gate’s music. Not end ones.” Throughout the entire album, we get to see the duo work with vocalists like Eric Lumiere, Sarah Lynn and Emma Hewitt and also collaborate with artists such as Orjan Nilsen, KhoMha and Jerome Isma-Ae. So what are our thoughts upon it? It’s always tricky when complimenting a critisizing an album, because we don’t want readers to think that we are die hard purists that won’t accept change. We always try to keep it partial and objective and only look through the lens of musicality rather than the lens of bias. Throughout the entire album, our reviews were generally mixed and as we continue through our review, you’ll see why some instances are good and some are maybe not so good.
This opening track of the album signifies their first real foray into Progressive House. When they first announced their unofficial metamorphosis with Wake Your Mind, they were intent on incorporating Prog House and the new Group Therapy sound that has been recently dominating the airwaves into their sets. And for this type of genre, it actually does a pretty great job! With euphoric melodies, engaging harmonics and a perfect sound structure, it is a memorable track that incorporates many pop elements into a new and exciting sound.
2. Falling Back ft. Eric Lumiere
The first vocal track of the album doesn’t come along with the polish and gleam that Cosmic Gate is known for. While I do love the piano part that brings forth a great melody, it almost is indistinguishable in style and tone from the opening track, and the vocals are much too poppy for my own tastes. As an anthem, it works for a dance floor, but it does not contain that timelessness that these two are striving for.
3. Cosmic Gate & Orjan Nilsen- Fair Game
Here is where we start getting into the nitty gritty of Start To Feel as the thunderous collaboration between Cosmic Gate and Orjan Nilsen strikes gold with immense amounts of melodic power and striking rhythmic torque. The main melody is classic Orjan at his finest and the added clarity and depth of Cosmic Gate really makes the track stand out as a clear favorite. The ending Tech part is particularly juicy and I can easily see why it was chosen as a separate release before the album was dropped.
4. Alone ft. Kristina Antuna
Yet again, we are met with another Trance 2.0 melody that continues to work off of the Festival formula. This isn’t to say it’s the wrong way to go, but it already sounds tired, especially since the same EXACT structure format was used for Falling Back. Again, it isn’t a bad production and for a Progressive House track, it works incredibly well. But it does not contain that timelessness that they want, and this becomes a recurring theme for future tracks in the album.
5. No One Can Touch You Now ft. Mike Schmid
This track is a bit weird in all honesty and I feel like it almost shouldn’t even be on the album. I do have to give credit to the direction that No One Can Touch You Now goes towards, as I really dig the thematic choices and the low, paired down Progressive House style. However, (at least for the promotional copy I am listening to), the EQ levels are way off as the main lead overpowers both the vocals and the entire arrangement. The entire piece sounds janky and out of place, and lacks the cohesion that these two are known for.
6. Cosmic Gate & Jerome Isma-Ae- Telefunkan
YES. Now this is definitely a track I can vibe to. I always love any work by Jerome Isma-Ae and the combined sounds of these three Trance titans smash it out of the park in terms of quality and depth. While it is mostly in the style of Jerome, there is also a bit more grittiness and mysteriousness infused within the track than usual and its supreme level of sound design ensures us that each aspect of production was inspected with a fine toothed comb. One of the best tracks in the album for sure.
7. Run Away ft. Eric Lumiere
We absolutely love the beginning of this; it’s punchy and full of ‘in your face’ attitude that creates the perfect backdrop for the piece. Again, the levels of the vocals are a little out of place, but the gradual unfolding of the piece is both impressive and even surprising. The breakdown is fantastic and really imbibes on the core emotional spectrum within its minor melodies. While I personally don’t really like the main lead, it is nevertheless a great addition to the album that really showcases their expansive abilities.
8. Going Home ft. Emma Hewitt
This is a surprising turn from the other tracks in the album, as Cosmic Gate start to experiment more with field recording samples, cinematic strings and a beautiful piano line to lead the charge on Going Home. Emma‘s vocals do tend to get swallowed up at times, but her voice mostly glows with the purity of angels and cuts through the arrangement with surprising conviction. A great reprise for the album that was needed after all of the club ready tracks.
9. Sparks After The Sunset ft. Sarah Lynn
The buildup of Sparks After The Sunset is one of the best in the entire album and it leads into a great bassline that plays around with the acoustics of the ear. However, in the end, the melody sadly falls flat and doesn’t really get back up throughout the rest of the track. It lacks the spark that’s needed and the melody sounds like the other Prog House melodies from before.
Oddly enough, this is the only new instrumental single that’s from the album, but it is a piece that truly shines through with quality and power at their helm. With the signature ‘Yai‘ sound preset, it has everything you would expect from an intense Cosmic Gate production: epic breakdowns, beautiful melodies and decisive releases. The energy flow is perfect throughout the buildup and the timbres that are utilized are second to none.
11. So Get Up
I personally am not a huge fan of this track, but I know for a fact that it works for clubs and is a hit with many fans, so my opinion really holds no weight for this particular piece, especially since it’s already been out for some time.
12. Try ft. Jaren
This is one of the only times I’ve heard Cosmic Gate go into Progressive Breaks and I was pleasantly surprised by the end result. It’s a nice change of pace and the crystal clear clarity of Jaren ‘s vocals allows her voice to envelop the soundscape in a golden hue of sonorous entombment. It’s a cool combination between Prog House and Breaks and it really vibed on me as an actual artistic piece rather than a tool for festivals/clubs. Great work from these two on Try.
13. Start To Feel ft. The Cary Brothers
As the headlining track of the album, Start To Feel contains certain expectations that it has to live up to, and we are glad to say that it goes above and beyond the needed call with an extra dosage of clean experimentation. With a heavy emphasis of percussive melodies and paired down basslines, it chiefly reminds me of their Back 2 The Future mixes that I love so much. Its lack of festival textures shows us that they want people to remember this track as something that emotionally moves them later in life and its message is much more meaningful than any other track in the entire album.
14. All My Life ft. Jonathan Mendelsohn
This track definitely gets a pass for a perfectly acceptable Trance track, but is definitely not one of my favorites. The vocals are pristine and clear throughout the track and Jonathan does a great job of accentuating the micro-movements that’s needed for All My Life. However, the mixing is all over the place once again and the final drop sounds disjointed and almost rushed in production at times.
15. Cosmic Gate & Alexander Popov ft. Jannika- Shine Forever
While this is another Trance track within the album, there is a clear jump in quality between this track and the other pieces, and the fluidity in sound and phrasing is a welcome change of pace. Smooth vocals, elegant breakdowns and a swift command of every production parameter makes this track a clear cut winner. Again, this is Cosmic Gate at its best and they completely nail it with a beautiful Trance melody with decadent timbres for our ears to feast upon.
Still one of my all time favorite Cosmic Gate tracks to date. This is as close to Trance perfection as it’s going to get.
17. Cosmic Gate & KhoMha- Tormenta
My personal thoughts on this track are split down the middle, because I have to mention my own bias versus how the track actually sounds within an aesthetic point of view. While I think it sounds a bit too cliche and even hokey/goofy at times, I cannot deny that it’s incredibly well put together with its hard hitting basslines, fast punching melodies and furious sense of urgency. If you are a fan of Tech Trance, then you will definitely love this track.
So what are our final thoughts? All in all it’s an album that’s definitely worth purchasing and discovering for yourself time after time again. There were definitely some tracks that really stood out for me personally and almost all of the collaborations were spot on, as they brought out the pinnacle of their abilities. There was definitely some hiccups down the road and some of the vocal tracks either sounded tired or had odd EQing issues, and some even felt unfinished as a whole. While the entire album might not be a perfectly polished work of art, it is nevertheless a fantastic release that solidifies their sound as one without boundaries. You can now purchase Cosmic Gates‘ Start To Feel via Beatport or iTunes, so make sure you buy a copy and support real talent!
Keep the music alive. -Q