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Surreal - Beyond

 ( MDMA ,  Jan. 2002 )

1. Beyond 9:05 2. BeatsíníPieces 7:50 3. Sky Fall 8:21 4. Speech Failure 8:21 5. Black Rock Cities 8:06 6. Common Citizen 7:40 7. More than a Drop 7:13 8. Mind Canvass 8:12 9. Dealing with Demons 6:33

What a pleasant surprise from Israel! Surreal is a project from Yakov Biton (former Spiral Active Project/GMS) and Shay Raviv (Violet Vision). With their album Beyond they have succeeded in creating an instant timeless classic that sounds original, groundbreaking and fresh and yet sounds very familiar and even nostalgic at times as well. They are one of the few that break new grounds by introducing new sounds and approaches in today's rusted psytrance sound; setting new standards for others to follow (I hope).

This CD opens with a beautiful acoustic intro that raised every single hair on my arms and my expectations of things to come- and meeting up to those expectations they did! What follows is a rollercoaster ride through dynamic hi-tech futuristic psychedelic dancefloor music that satisfies you on all fronts (at least me and I'm a critical bastard!)
Their overall sound reminds me a lot of Eat Static in their Implant days, mainly because of their tapestries of enchanting ambient synths, strange vocal samples (often used as sounds instead of sentences), BEAUTIFUL Housey chords, typical 'question & answer' games between alien bleebs and robotic sounds and a strong alien/sci-fi atmosphere in general. Another thing they have in common with Eat Static is their often basic and Housey/funky approach in grooves and rhythm which keeps it all very swinging, playful and digestible- but never too fluffy as well!
And that's where their strength lies - it's all perfectly balanced. Their tracks are often hypnotic and trance-inducing bet never get repetitive or boring by their clever sense of timing and there's plenty of stuff going on to keep your ears and mind entertained. They also keep things very trippy and mind-bending but never overdo it or get carried away in a frenzy of over-the-top wackyness and experimental nonsense.
Each song is a complete detailed journey in itself where every sound truly has a purpose; taking you to places never seen and heard before; filled with surprising twists and turns and breathtaking intermezzos but never loosing the plot and always allowing to let the pieces fall into place in the end- making you realize how brilliant it all is.

Recomendation:  In general this album is very diverse, and as far as I'm concerned knows no weak moments. It works great on the dancefloor but also definitely has enough musical content to listen to at home (preferably on headphones of course!)
I've played this gem over and over again and it keeps growing on me. I am totally convinced that this album will stand the test of time- something very rare in psytrance these days.
Highlights: every track is a winner, but stand-outs: 1,2,3,4. Rating: 10/10

Review by : Wouter

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