I'd initially mentioned that The Thrillseekers (A.K.A. Steve Helstrip) had created quite a high bar to surpass with the release of Nightmusic V.1, which is an amazingly strong album. From the moment I placed the first disc (Plus365) into my stereo, I quickly realized that not only had Steve surpassed his previous high-quality bar, but had arguably pole-vaulted clear over it. In the race for what I consider to be the best [Trance] album of the summer. I place Nightmusic V.2 amongst the top three contenders for the title as I see it.
Plus365 begins with a Thrillseekers original, "Waiting Here For You," an extremely beautiful melodic trance track with incredible vocals. The first disc is truly Night Music, and is some of my favorite electronic music to play whilst driving on a highway or any type of road at night, occasionally stealing glances at the moon and feeling the shivers sent down my spine. Oftentimes I just can't help but smile to myself. Plus365 is peppered with incredible artists whose tracks all contribute to form a Balearic mosaic of sound that is quite unsurpassed by DJ's as relatively new as Steve. Included on the first disc are tracks from the likes of Kyau & Albert, Solarstone ("Late Summer Fields" is a personal favorite), Marco V., Joop, Forerunners and Simon Patterson's fantastic "Strip Search." Going back to the first track, it is a bit of a teaser because Helstrip wastes absolutely no time in upping the tempo and BPM so that we find ourselves encapsulated once again in pulsating trance euphoria similar, but more developed, to that of those tracks found on V.1. Weaving brightly distinctive melody with relentless and ever-changing beats compounds the strength of this album, making comparisons to similar artists almost impossible. Occasionally, select tracks will up the ante with a jolt of more forceful trance; such tracks include "Reflect" (making a great appearance on Tiesto's In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza), "Possible But Unlikely," "Project: Project" and the final two tracks, "Strip Search" and "Innerstamatick." There is no question that an initially pleasantly melodic album ends with BLISTERING severity. It is just the crux of The Thrillseekers' ingenuity at work.
Disc two (Minus365) enters with a trippy remix of "Keep On," a nice avant-garde acid house track that jumpstarts pulses and foreshadows a wild and interesting disc to come. Again, an all-star lineup of artists has been selected for inclusion such as Supermodels From Paris, Simon & Shaker, Headstrong, Delerium, Purple Haze, Alex M.O.R.P.H., Above & Beyond, Stoneface & Terminal, The Thrillseekers and Sander van Doorn. As you may have noticed, I listed just about every artist on the second disc, which should act as a final testament as to how good this disc truly is. "The Truth" and "Angelicus" inject the heat into Minus365, and the acid house vibe rides comfortably alongside a progressive trance vibe a la Markus Schulz. This dichotomy disguised as paradox comes into fruition during "Zero" and the entire sequence between and including "Nymph" through "Hurt of Intention." The Thrillseekers' second self-produced track to appear on the compilation, "Newlife," literally breathes new life into the mix after A&B's blistering Club Mix of "Good For Me." Newlife dually paves the way for the cataclysmic climax of Minus365, begun by Sean Tyas' "Lift" but absolutely erupting with Sander's "Punk'd." This track is so intense it mirrors almost precisely the live performance he gave in Baltimore in early August that I was lucky enough to attend. In the same blister-inducing fashion as Plus365, Minus 365 comes to immensely satisfying closure with a track by the sublime Stoneface & Terminal, segued into perfectly by Sander's insanity.
Bottom line, this album will leave you drooling down your shirt for Nightmusic V.3. Steve Helstrip is one of the most exciting new DJ's to enter the scene in the past several years, and his wondrous efforts are gloriously catalogued within these volumes. Nightmusic V.2 is, without the slightest doubt in my mind, just about twice as fantastic as was its predecessor, and I believe that if The Thrillseekers continue to make pole-vaults of such strength in the future, Helstrip should contend for the trance Olympics. A must-have for "The Summer of Trance."