by Hobey Echlin
Paul Oakenfold is the world’s highest-paid and best-known DJ and rightly so, having pretty much invented rave culture a decade ago when he brought back the all-night, spring-break, dance party spirit of Spain’s Ibiza to his native England. Not surprisingly, for his major label-debut mix CD, Oakenfold sticks with what he knows and has championed best, the breezy idealism of early rave. These days, the Oak-man finds that same mantralike awe of decade-old techno in the streamlined funk of “trance,” the squeaky-clean, techno-house hybrid currently all the rage on Europe’s higher-rent dance floors.
On “Tranceport,” Oakenfold shows himself a master of trance’s shiny midrange — blending the breezy melodies and pulsing frequencies of tracks by the likes of Paul Van Dyk and Binary Finary into a swoony ether over a rock-steady-but-nicely-cushy 4/4 beat.
But as Oakenfold’s best-of track list makes his case for trance, his coal-into-diamond-tight mixing points out the genre’s limitations, and at times the mile-high, jetset, disco vibe feels more like recycled air on a transatlantic flight: cool but stagnant, with its breathless drum builds and drama-queen drum drop-outs. As a stateside introduction to trance’s more mature, patient approach to dance floor soul, Tranceport works, though it’s gonna take a few spins to convince the home listener.