Stars Above Us
Letter to Beloved One
Down to Love
Speed of Light
No Time to Talk
For anyone familiar with progressive trance or EDM, Arty’s name will be one you’ll almost certainly be familiar with. Also known as Alpha 9, this talented Russian producer and DJ has torn up many dancefloors over the years since 2009, from A State Of Trance events to the most recent ABGT 500 showcase in Los Angeles. In fact, Alpha 9’s set that night was arguably the best and overshadowed every set – including Above and Beyond’s.
With a new year upon us, it’s perhaps fitting then that we kick off 2023 with a bang – and a brand new “Arty Party”. Alpha 9’s debut EP, New Horizons, is something special. Showcasing his exquisite production skills, Arty takes up his Alpha 9 mantle once more to deliver an impressive showcase of technical prowess and blistering progressive and trance beats.
Across 14 tracks, each bringing the run-time of this album to around an hour or so, Alpha 9 shows off brand new tracks from his growing repertoire, with many vocal and instrumental tracks that stand out. From vocal-heavy euphoric bangers like “Final Frontier” and “Down to Love” to more instrumental-focused numbers like “Letter to Beloved One”, Alpha 9 leaves no stone unturned as he delivers a focused and impressive progressive album that really shows off his talent.
Alpha 9’s talent has always been in the production side of things, and for those who have seen him live (or on sets recorded across on YouTube), his style usually relies on quick blends between tracks or show-stopping never-before-heard remixes rather than long, subdued beatmatching to blend two songs together like some DJs.
That’s not particularly a problem here though, given the EP is completely unmixed. While this helps to distinguish each individual track, at the same time the album’s pace and tone does feel a bit uneven at times, especially if you intend to rave to this from start to finish. The album tends to swing back and forth between vocal and instrumental tracks, while the first half of the album feels much stronger given the sheer number of euphoric, memorable songs. However, that’s a minor quibble as New Horizons has some absolute belters throughout that’ll keep you in a euphoric state regardless.
“Down to Love” feels destined for vocal trance greatness, with simple lyrics and a very catchy hook, while “Magic” is surprisingly subdued and works incredibly well as a progressive track bridging the gap between slower, more focused trance tracks and dancefloor destroyers. The build-up for the final 90 seconds of this is absolutely goosebump-inducing and easily one of the more understated stand-out moments of the whole album.
These stand-out moments are nestled throughout New Horizons and discovering them across the hour is part of the joy here. Alpha 9, now returning to his progressive trance roots after just over a decade of tearing up dancefloors, is a very welcome comeback and one that’s likely to have you embracing with open arms.
With tight production skills, plenty of goosebump-inducing tracks and a great blend of instrumental and vocal tracks, New Horizons sets a high bar for progressive trance this year that’s going to be tough to beat.
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Verdict - 8/10