« Older Entries

Sep 19

Hime Trance 4
Release Date: 1/27/10
Price: 1886 yen

Well, here we are at the end of an era. After the release of Anime*Mix in January of ’09, all was quiet on the Hime Trance front until EMI’s surprise decision to finally release Hime Trance 4 in 2010. Keep in mind that Hime Trance 3 had been released in 2007. Was the wait worth it?

In a word, hell yeah. Okay, that was two words, but one wouldn’t have been able to describe my love for the album. Most of it came down to Delaction, who produced 4 new incredible songs for the album, but there’s a lot of awesomeness to be found overall, which you can read about in my review.

This marked the end of Trance Paradise, unfortunately, but at least it went out with a bang. I hope you guys had a fun time going down memory lane. If there’s any interest in a similar series on Mega Trance or Super Best Trance, let me know.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 18

Hime Trance Anime*Mix
Release Date: 1/21/09
Price: 2171 yen

After three relatively disappointing releases in a row, the Hime Trance series finally got back on track with Anime*Mix. EMI finally stopped being cheap and commissioned a lot of new songs, and it made all the difference. The album was fresh, fun, and varied, with nary a bad track in sight. I did a full review a few years ago, and I still consider it a favorite. Sadly, as with Hime Trance Speed, it would never end up getting a sequel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 17

Hime Trance Tsukasa Mix
Release Date: 11/12/08
Price: 1886 yen

After a Best release and a Speed off-shoot, it was certainly time for a proper Hime Trance 4, right? Whelp, we got another spinoff instead. Tsukasa was often labeled as the “queen of Hime Trance,” so she got a mixed album featuring pretty much all of her songs up to that point. It’s not a bad selection, but the nonstop mix is only 40 minutes, and there are only 3 or so new tracks. That said, it was worth it for an epic rendition of “Eternal Blaze,” which would end up shaping Delaction’s sound for the next few albums.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 16

Hime Trance Speed
Release Date: 7/30/08
Price: 1886 yen

I was so excited when this was first announced, thinking that it would bring about a resurgence of the Dancemania Speed series. Well, it brought back repeats from the series, at least. Most of the songs still held up well, but “Butterfly” was in desperate need of an updated remix and “Willy…” still has the outro from “Smile” for some reason. The only new Dancemania remix was “Girlfriend,” which I thought was fantastic. It’s a shame they never identified the remixer, though it sounds almost as if Saifam remixed the DJ Ten remix.

The album also includes a few new J-core remixes of Hime Trance tracks. “Paya Paya” and “Doubt” ended up great, but the DJ 92 tracks sound oddly hollow.

Unfortunately, EMI never moved forward with more Hime Trance Speed releases. The album just serves as a painful reminder that we never got a Jenny Rom trance remix.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 15

Hime Trance Best
Release Date: 5/14/08
Price: 2171 yen

Okay, so after Trance Paradise Best, EMI were surely out of repeats, right? Nope, instead of giving us the long-awaited Hime Trance 4, they decided to do a best-of album for Hime Trance instead. And, since they had already used the best tracks (the EMI remixes) on Trance Paradise Best, they went with another angle and collected only the Japanese-language tracks.

It’s a decent collection of songs, with about 7-8 new tracks thrown in, but the reliance on repeats was getting ridiculously tiresome. I will say, however, that it has my favorite “Zankoku” trance remix ever.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 14

Trance Paradise – The Best 1999~2008
Release Date: 2/14/08
Price: 2838 yen

The beginning of 2008 should have seen the release of Hime Trance 4 or Trance Paradise 6, so naturally EMI just released another excuse for repeats instead. The title is a bit misleading as well, since the Trance Paradise series at that point was less than 4 years old. Instead, the title refers to the beginning of the trance boom in 1999. As such, the first disc spans a decade of trance, with songs from the Trancemania days all the way to Trance Paradise 5. The final 3 tracks on disc 1 are also brand new.

Disc 2 focuses almost exclusively on the various EMI remixes that had appeared over the course of the series. It also has 3 new tracks, the best of which being Delaction’s remix of “Neraiuchi,” though I was hoping they’d add the vocals.

TP Best wasn’t a bad release overall, but at this point I was getting really tired of the endless repeats…

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 13

Hime Trance 3
Release Date: 8/22/07
Price: 1886 yen

Had EMI stuck to the original schedule, Hime Trance 3 should have been released in January of 2007. Instead, it was 7 months late thanks to Hostrance distractions. And unfortunately, the repeats that so heavily dominated Hostrance started to infect Hime Trance as well. There was only one new EMI remix here, a Shohei Matsumoto remix of “Natsu Monogatari.” All of the other EMI songs were just repeats from Trance Paradise 5. But what really pissed me off was the inclusion of the original version of “Dam Dariram.” I couldn’t believe the balls they had to pretend it was anywhere close to trance.

And that’s the big problem with Hime Trance 3: it wasn’t all trance. For some bizarre reason there’s a whole section of non-trance songs that just sound weirdly out of place. The worst offender (aside from the aforementioned “Dam Dariram”) was the DJ Kaya dance remix of “Wake Up,” which was really odd since there as already and incredible DJ Kaya trance remix of the song.

The album wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. The new tracks from Japanese producers were fantastic, including the Middle-Eastern flavored “MAGICA” and the DJ Kousuke-produced “Friends.” Sadly, “Friends” would be the last track he produced for Trance Paradise, and I think it was one of the last tracks he produced, period.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 12

Hostrance 2
Release Date: 6/27/07
Price: 2381 yen

I didn’t think it could get any worse than the first Hostrance, but its sequel proved me wrong. Hostrance 2 is pretty much all repeats, and once again the few new tracks were ruined by hosts talking over them. The first Hostrance at least had “That’s the Way” as a saving grace, but there’s not a single new EMI remix here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 11

Trance Paradise 5
Release Date: 5/23/07
Price: 1886 yen

Now this is more like it! Trance Paradise 5 was about 8 months late, but it was a return to form after two awful releases (Cover Trance and Hostrance). EMI commissioned a lot of new songs for the release, including no less than 6 Dancemania remixes. My personal favorites were the Delaction remix of “Dub-I-Dub” (which made up for the ho-hum Dank-One remix on Hime Trance) and the amazingly epic Nasca Joker remix of “Beautiful Man.” The resurgence of “Beautiful Man” was a truly perplexing thing. It had appeared once on Dancemania in 1999, and I remember always loving the song, so I was ecstatic when it reappeared on Dancemania Treasure, and even more excited when it got a brand new trance remix.

“Up,” “Hung Up,” “You Raise Me Up,” (notice a trend?) and “Sky High” round out the new remixes. “Up” suffered from a lack of verses, but DJ Kaya and DJ Joker managed to infuse “Sky High” with more energy than the original DJ Kaya mix.

There were also 5 new Japanese originals from various DJs like Oriental Space and Heavens Wire. “Day Break” is the best of the bunch, somehow being both mellow and high-energy at the same time.

I do think that overall Trance Paradise 4 ended up being a more solid album, if only because TP5 had some unfortunate song choices when it came to licensed tracks. I was never a huge Handz Up fan, so the Cascada song was useless to me. And “Carlito (Cannon Cracker Remix)” is pretty lousy compared to Delaction’s superior version.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 10

Release Date: 1/31/07
Price: 2381 yen

Imagine you’re EMI and you’ve just come off a year with two hit albums in the form of Hime Trance 1 and 2. On the 1-year anniversary of the release of Hime Trance you’d obviously release Hime Trance 3 in order to capitalize on the success of the series, right? If you said, “yes,” then you’re not stupid enough to be EMI.

Theoretically, Hostrance should have been a companion series to Hime Trance featuring songs with male vocals (Captain Jack, anyone?). Instead, we got repeats from Hime Trance and random talking. Technically, there was one new remix in the form of “That’s the Way,” which ended up really good. There were also 4 new tracks from Heavens Wire, DJ Kaya, and Oriental Space, but they were mostly ruined by “host calls.” This was truly an awful release that really showed how cheap and lazy EMI could get.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 9

Release Date: 9/29/06
Price: 1886 yen

Uggh, here we go, the first awful Trance Paradise release. Truthfully, the track list isn’t too bad, but you have too look at it in context. This was originally scheduled to be Trance Paradise 5, but was changed at the last minute to become an excuse for repeats. So, instead of getting new tracks, we received songs that had just been repeated on Auto Gallery 2006. The only upsides were the new Delaction remix of “We Are the Champion” and the existing Delaction remix of “Everytime We Touch.”

Sadly, this release would be a harbinger of things to come…

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 8

Auto Gallery Tokyo 2006 presents “Drive On” Grand Dance Trax
Release Date: 6/28/06
Price: 1886 yen

Released on the same day as Hime Trance 2, AGT 2006 was a tie-up release with a car show. It ended up being a sort of Trance Paradise Best, since it contained most of the non-Hime Trance EMI remixes from the Trance Paradise 1-4. It’s actually a really good collection of songs and serves as a nice counterpoint to Hime Trance. There aren’t really any new songs, though the Apollo and Digimind songs are “new” to the series at least.

Also notable is the short Eurobeat section at the end, including a new Y&Co. remix of “Willy Use a Billy…Boy.” It was the first time Y&Co. had done a remix for EMI in years, so it was quite a pleasant surprise.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 7

Hime Trance 2
Release Date: 6/28/06
Price: 1886 yen

The much-anticipated sequel to Hime Trance tried to replicate the formula that made the first album so magical, but the song selection didn’t end up quite as strong.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: “Everytime We Touch” is garbage unless it’s the Delaction remix. The Scarf mix uses the worst possible synths and it didn’t help that the song was overplayed at this point. Speaking of overplayed, was it really necessary to have “Mermaid” again? As much as I love Delaction, their decision to not include most of the vocals kept the song from being a truly great one.

The 6 new EMI remixes were a bit of a mixed bag. “Boys” and “Hero” ended up as incredible as expected, but the rest took a while to grow on me. My biggest issue is that instead of remixing Dancemania tracks, they chose completely random Saifam tracks that never even appeared on Dancemania. I was dying for a Bambee, Ni-Ni, or Jenny Rom remix.

DJ Kaya and Heavens Wire produced most of the new original songs on the album. Heavens Wire didn’t disappoint with “Doubt,” “Paya Paya” and “everyday, everytime” (My name is Gavin-desu!), but DJ Kaya’s Miu*Miu tracks were mediocre at best.

Hime Trance 2 would still be a good album overall, and nearly matched the first in sales, but the cracks were starting to show.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 6

Trance Paradise 4
Release Date: 3/31/06
Price: 1886 yen

Hot on the heels of Hime Trance’s success, Trance Paradise 4 marked a turning point for the main series, as it’s the first to be almost all Japanese produced. Hime Trance’s popularity meant 3 repeats from that album, but there were still an impressive 4 new EMI remixes. “Gasolina” is probably the most memorable of them all, since it’s so unlike most of Delaction’s other oeuvre. Misa’s soccer-themed “So So” would also prove to be an instant classic, so much so that many of OHC’s future remixes would try to mimic its sound.

The emphasis on Japanese trance that started with TP3 continued here with original productions from Delaction, Heavens Wire, DJ Tora, and DJ Kousuke. There’s an entire section of J-trance that my friend jokingly called the “school section” since it reads like a list of school subjects. Also noteworthy are two licenses from Universal, “I Want You” and “Reason,” that were both produced by DJ Kaya.

Pretty much the only missteps on the album are the awful Crazy Frog inspired “Axel F” (which is thankfully the shortest song on the album) and the bonus track, “Alabasta,” which just sounds like noise to me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 5

Hime Trance
Release Date: 1/25/06
Price: 1886 yen

In early 2005, I began work on a Dancemania fan mix called Dancemania Springs (an homage to Dancemania Summers/Winters). My idea was to make a bubblegum dance mix with female vocals only. Imagine my surprise a few months later when EMI decided to do the same thing, except with trance! Hime Trance, a.k.a. Princess Trance, was announced in late 2005, and I remember being blown away when I first saw the early track list. New trance remixes of Dancemania classics like “Butterfly” and “Dub-I-Dub”? It was like a dream come true.

The amount of effort that went into Hime Trance is pretty shocking, especially by EMI’s usual repeat-heavy standards. Up until this the Trance Paradise series had been limited to 2-3 EMI remixes per album, so to have SIX on this one release was unprecedented. This was my first exposure to Delaction and Nasca Joker, and their remixes of “Butterfly” and “Moonlight Shadow” were nothing short of extraordinary. Shohei Matsumoto’s Misa remixes were also fantastic, but that was to be expected. “Dub-I-Dub” was probably the only disappointment of the bunch. It has some awesome percussion, but the lack of vocals keeps it from really hooking into my brain.

My favorite remix on the album is easily DJ Tora’s incredible take on “Willy Use a Billy…Boy.” Keep in mind that EMI had included the 2003 trance remix on Trance Paradise 3, so I somewhat expected them to take the cheap route and use it again. Instead, DJ Tora delivered an absolute masterpiece, and to this day I don’t understand why the remix never showed up again on any other compilations.

Interestingly, the early list for Hime Trance also included remixes for “Cartoon Heroes” as well as Cut ‘n’ Move’s “I’m Alive.” The former would end up being remixed for Hime Trance 2, but sadly “I’m Alive” never did get a trance remix.

Hime Trance also saw the debuts of 4 original J-Trance songs: “Nobody Knows…,” “Stay for Freedom,” “Don’t Leave Me,” and “Voyager.” Other songs like “Love & Sunshine,” the Tsukasa duo, and the Big Kiss tracks made their debuts on other albums a few months earlier. The one thing they all have in common is that Shohei Matsumoto had a hand in all of them. He would continue to be a driving force in the series going forward.

Of course, this is an EMI album, so that means repeats. Thankfully, there are really only 4 repeats on the album (5 if you count “Banzai” as a repeat), and the songs they chose to repeat were all great. “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” was a little overplayed by this point, but I commend them for choosing Cascada’s best song instead of the inferior and overexposed “Everytime We Touch.” And I could listen to “Another Night” all day and night, so didn’t mind it coming back with a massive 6 minute edit.

Hime Trance would go on to enormous sales, and ended up being certified gold in Japan with well over 100,000 copies sold. It also won the RIAJ’s Gold Disc Award for “Special Product of the Year.” Its success had a huge effect on the industry, with everyone suddenly rushing out cheap imitations (Erocawa Trance, Umi Trance, and my personal favorite, Hime Trance World). But no one, not even EMI, would be able to recreate the magic and perfection of this first release.

Read the rest of this entry »

« Older Entries