The second year of Atlantis Trance Festival (City of Titans) staged by Totem Trance in Australia needed to deliver after mixed reviews in its premier season of 2015, I might be biased but I thought it delivered in spades this year.
Every new festival has its teething problems and perhaps the line up to some wasn’t as deep into trance as you can go but despite that, a serious line-up was found in 2016. I went with an open mind having only seen David Gravell perform in the past year. After opening A State of Trance in Melbourne last year he proceeded to open Atlantis with a moderate crowd (due in part to two gates and lengthy queues to enter the venue) From his set at A State of Trance which impressed me greatly, Gravell again delivered a great opening set from the early Man on the Run Remix to his latest tune to end it, which by that stage the crowd were pouring in.
The stage set up left me a little cold with the lack of early lasers and surrounds surprising me, and I wondered if they’d saved the best for later and discovered I wasn’t wrong in that assumption with the pyrotechnics kicking in later in the night. I thought Gravell deserved better but I’m always good at spending other people’s money so perhaps I’ll leave that to the experts.
The crowd was then treated to Orjan Nilsen, Giuseppe Ottaviani and the home boy Marlo. If there was any doubt this was a trance concert it was dispelled by that stage. Nilsen and Ottaviani I hadn’t heard a lot of and I determined after the sets to seek out more. Both delivered solid hardstyle trance which put the more melodic set of Gravell’s into perspective. Although I enjoy both, the crowd began really pumping and the greeting Marlo received showed pure unadulterated Aussie love for the transplanted dutchman. His set grabbed you from the first pulsating trance beat and built into a set that had the entire crowd seething with energy, each remix, each song was greeted with huge cheers opening with Ignite from A State of Trance following it straight into Titans and Atlantis, the anthems he created for this event. The Vini Vici Remix of Free Tibet exploded the crowd into a frenzy and the softer Dreamer with wife Jano’s vocals calmed before the build up into his finale. I’ve never been disappointed with Marlo and seems like this will continue.
I could wax lyrical about all these artists I’ve mentioned but we all know why we went this year and that was to see Ferry Corsten’s world premiere of Gouryella. After the initial release of Anahera which blended the trance beat with a melodic orchestral overtone of synths and strings, I can say I was fairly excited for what I was about to see. The comments for the previous shows in Sydney and Perth I’d read had been sparingly few but the overwhelming response seemed to be ‘speechless’
If trance could deliver an Opera then Ferry Corsten’s is the man who delivered just that! From the opening visuals that promised a movie, a journey into the realm of Gouryella and the strains of the melodic sounds emanating from the speakers, Corstens had the crowd, including me completely hypnotized. The backdrops delivered the story as it scrolled across the screen with scenes one could only describe as a cross between the scientific universe and the Matrix. It complimented each and every part that is Gouryella and it mesmerized you to the point that I felt my whole body had moved from the plane of reality into some mystical force that just took you with it whether you wanted to go or not. Corsten’s message was about sound and life and the journey of a beautiful mind throughout the centuries of the world into the technologies that hold us prisoner and the progression that there is a creator for all this and all this can be broken down into sound for without sound there is silence. If I seem like I too was completely captivated you’d be right! I’ve had moments where trance has welled up and fallen as tears but I can never remember an entire set causing tears to stream down my face throughout the entire performance. When you thought you’d receive a small break by reading the words scrolling Corstens would just blend it into another amazingly emotional melody building it with beat and volume until there was no other place you could go but to smile and feel the tears well again.
I promise you this, for anyone who is able to witness the beauty that is the journey of Gouryella it will live with you for a lifetime of lifetimes, the melodies will not only be remembered in your head but they’ll be remembered in your heart and I was honored to be a part of this world premiere of what I’ll always call the first Opera of Trance.
The hour was late, Victoria failed again with it’s lack of all night public transport before a public holiday and yet getting home seemed so light that it felt like floating. I hope trance will always deliver that feeling.
(Photo credits-Atlantis & Nathan Doran Photography)