Every great artist has their first crowning moment; their coming of age. After years of DJ support by everyone from Above & Beyond to Armin Van Buuren, that moment is now for Super8 & Tab. Completing their transition from architects of the most innovative modern trance to true album artists, the Finnish duo are here with ‘Empire’ – an 11 track journey that will sit as easily on a lazy Sunday afternoon home stereo as it will a lazer-shot 3am stadium on a Saturday night.
Firmly established as Anjunabeats best selling artists behind Above & Beyond, the humble pair have been building up to this moment ever since joining forces in 2005. As each year has passed, accolades like their IDMA Best Compilation (‘Anjunabeats Worldwide 01’), Beatport number one chart positions and five star reviews in global dance bibles like Mixmag and DJMag have become increasingly regular propositions.
Always placing quality above quantity, their creations have stood out from the crowd time and again. Side-stepping the obvious and the overblown, releases like their definitive ‘Helsinki Scorchin’, the ethereal epic ‘Suru’ and the hypnotic, electro-twisted ‘Elektra’ have all taken their individual paths, but each one bears the classic Super8 & Tab hallmarks; heart-lifting melody, a widescreen warmth of sound, solid groove and intricate, innovative and unrushed production values.
On ‘Empire’ their expansive visions are at last given full room to breath. Far from just a collection of dancefloor tracks, Super8 & Tab have crafted an LP of genuine depth and diversity as they head into the realm of powerful song for the first time.
A diversion from the standard cheesy trance vocals so many favour, Jan Burton’s searching, distinctive tones feature on tracks like the bubbling groover ‘Slow To Learn’, the emotional rollercoaster of ‘Mercy’ and the edgy, subtle title track ‘Empire’.
A former James Holden collaborator, Julie Thompson graces the blissful, gentle prog-trance of ‘My Enemy’, Alyna is on the swooning St. Etienne-styled electronic-pop of ‘Perfect Day’ and Betsie Larkin contributes her sassy husks on the upbeat ‘Good Times’.
For fans of Super8 & Tab’s instrumental melodic trance there is still plenty to savour.
The strafing Jean Michelle-Jarre-esque melodies of recent single ‘Black Is The New Yellow’ (with fellow Finn Anton Sonin) is Super8 & Tab at their sweeping, soaring best. On ‘Irufushi’ they blend the pacey groove of the Swedish house sound with the stadium sweeping euphoria of climatic trance, while ‘Bliss’ is an unashamed, energised homage to the rushing waves of the ’99 trance era.
The album closes, however, on the appropriately reflective ‘Free Love’ – a beautiful, bittersweet downbeat number with Jan Burton.
The perfect finish, it rounds off arguably the most complete trance-influenced artist album since Above & Beyond’s own ‘Tri-State’ in 2006. Super8 & Tab’s time is now; the ‘Empire’ is upon us.