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As my sister’s birthday clashed with the open-to-close set by Indecent Noise in Sydney, we decided instead to make our third (and final) FIFO clubbing trip of the year and travel to Melbourne for the corresponding event. This was a little easier on us than the two previous (Solarstone and The Thrillseekers), which had also been back-to-back … with the Melbourne night following straight on from the Sydney one (which we’d also attended). Nevertheless, it’s still a big effort to catch an evening flight to Melbourne and a 7am flight back the next day. At least we didn’t need a hotel room!

It was a fairly busy night at Room, in Hawthorn – although the club wasn’t packed out, so we didn’t get too hot. The club itself has a certain charm, not having been updated since – at a rough guess – the mid 1970s. With lots of mirror balls, a couple of podiums and even a cage, it looks like it doubles as a strip joint and I would recommend avoiding the carpet as much as you can – the stickiness underfoot suggests three decades or more of split beer has soaked in! And yet the lack of pretension of the space is a refreshing change from glitzy, sparkling venues that risk putting less important aspects ahead of the music and dancing. My only gripe is that it’s pretty hard to find a spot where the sound isn’t muffled by too much bass.

img_4030Unfortunately, my phone only managed one video and one photo before throwing a wobbly and refusing to capture any more moments. So you will have to get a flavour of the night from the tunes I managed to ID, as follows. Da Cool – Meet Her At The Love Parade, Faithless – Insomnia, Ratty – Sunrise, Ferry Corsten – Beautiful (Aly & Fila Remix), Binary Finary – 1998, Sunscreem – Please Save Me (James Dymond Remix), Marco V – Godd, Faithless – We Come One, Veracocha – Carte Blanche, Saltwater – The Legacy (Alphazone Remix), Jurgen Vries – The Theme, The Thrillseekers – Synaesthesia, Rank 1 – Airwave, Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – Silence (DJ Tiësto’s In Search Of Sunrise Remix), Tiësto – Suburban Train, Armin van Buuren feat. Justine Suissa – Burned With Desire, Ayla – Ayla,  Paul van Dyk – For An Angel and Tillman Uhrmacher – On The Run (Ocean To Shore Club Mix).

As well as such memorable classics there were whole sections where I didn’t recognise a single tune – some of these I enjoyed more than others, but over the course of seven hours, there was more than enough great music to wear out our legs dancing, and some good time to chat and catch up with friends. Lastly, I don’t really want to go into too much detail publicly, but there were some fairly eye-opening sights to behold at times, as we observed the stark differences between the Sydney and Melbourne crowds. It’s safe to say that there were things happening that you simply wouldn’t get away with in over-regulated Sydney!

Overall it was a great night and certainly a good way to see out the year’s clubbing (if it weren’t for the small matter of a very big New Year’s Eve coming up).

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Friday nights in Sydney are usually all about Voodoo at Home nightclub. But last Friday we passed up on our usual choice of clubbing in favour of a new option – Trance Department, courtesy of Trancendence. The guys at Trancendence have put on a couple of events previously, including the great night at Jam Gallery in Bondi Junction, with Fady & Mina, which we’d enjoyed so much. This time the venue was a bit closer to home (or rather, to the CBD) in the heart of King’s Cross at Zoo Project (formerly The Bank Hotel).

15193604_830655390410022_2028786764128554538_nEver since he and Standerwick burst onto the scene as Skypatrol, I’ve been a big fan of Tibor Tomecko, better known as ReOrder. He is amongst the most energetic and engaging DJs around, constantly bouncing around, climbing up on the stage to dance and involve everyone on the dance floor – giving his sets a real energy and buzz. Even if the journey gets a little lost in all the excitement, this hardly seems to matter, especially in the kind of shorter set he usually plays.

15179063_830656250409936_6948875674754285801_nTonight was my first visit to Zoo Project and it’s a great little venue, even if the toilets did seem a very long way away! The Trancendence team always put a lot of effort into their events and the production was good, if not on the scale (obviously) of Voodoo. They also manage some nice little touches, such as bringing round the lollipops with a smile. So it was a pity that the event hadn’t attracted a lot more of Sydney’s trance family, as those who stayed away (or went elsewhere) missed a good night.

15179082_830655967076631_4027647220944748851_nFirst up was Tygris, who played a lot of classics, especially from the Anjunabeats label. We heard Ridgewalkers Feat. El – Find (Andy Moor Remix), Cara Dillon vs 2 Devine – Black Is The Colour (Coco & Green Remix), Aalto – 5, Randy Katana – In Silence (Txitxarro Remix) and Galen Behr vs Hydroid – Carabella (Galen Behr vs. Ørjan Nilsen Remix).

15073370_830654680410093_155966193046145688_nAlthough the numbers were a little down, that didn’t really affect the atmosphere, especially as ReOrder started by encouraging everyone to “come closer!” And for three hours we had a great time dancing as he played lots of great music. As we had suspected, the sense of a journey wasn’t there, but because it was so much fun, it hardly seemed to matter.

15202498_830656047076623_1202322653759439514_nAmong the tunes he dropped were Ferry Corsten – Beautiful (Aly & Fila Remix), Delerium – Silence, ReOrder & Ian Standerwick present Skypatrol – Folding Your Universe, Veracocha – Carte Blanche, Simon Patterson & Magnus – Evoke, Robert Miles – Children,  Aly & Fila with Skypatrol feat. Sue McLaren – Running, Solarstone – Shield, Pt. 1 (Skypatrol Remix), Paul van Dyk – Nothing But You, John O’Callaghan – Stresstest (John Askew Remix), ReOrder – Venice Beach and Aly & Fila meets Roger Shah and Susana – Unbreakable.

15181345_830654493743445_4282342108124591510_nThere was a bit more psy-trance at the end than I really liked, but overall it had been a good three hours when he gave way to one half of Banana Bros (Lokesh, as Lax was overseas) playing back-to-back with BB (whose DJ name defies my keyboard’s attempts to transcribe it correctly!). They kept things pushing through to the close, although we had to skip the end in order to catch our bus.

15136003_830655977076630_6100562226408469634_nOverall it had been a fun night out and I’m already looking forward to the next Trancendence event.

Thanks to SHOT by BAZ for the great photos.

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I’ve heard Menno de Jong play deep, cruisy, progressive opening sets, I’ve heard him play peak hour uplifting trance and I’ve heard him bring nights to a close with psy trance and with classics. But until now I’d never had the chance to catch him do the lot in a single night with one of his renowned Menno Solo events. So, knowing that his supreme versatility with all forms of trance makes him one of the most capable of playing open to close, I was really looking forward to this night.

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The production these days at Home nightclub is seriously impressive – sound, visuals and lasers all of the highest standard. But what makes a night is always the music and Menno gave us a tour de force as he played five and a half hours taking us from more progressive sounds before midnight towards a suitably banging finale with plenty of classics thrown in.


It was Halloween and there was a big crowd of university students, many in fancy dress and I wasn’t sure if they’d be sufficiently into trance to stay the distance, but in fact the dance floor remained busy right to the end, as Menno put together a superbly paced set and I loved every moment.

img_3955Some of the tunes I enjoyed most were: Mekka – Diamondback (Adam Ellis Remix), Menno de Jong & Adam Ellis feat. Kate Louise Smith – Set To Sail, Menno de Jong feat. Noire Lee – Creatures Of The Night (Adam Ellis Remix), Lost Tribe – Gamemaster, Ludovico Einaudi – Two Trees (John O’Callaghan Remix), John O’Callaghan – Stresstest (John Askew Remix), John O’Callaghan – The Forging Of Steel and Rank 1 – Airwave.


As 3am approached, the night reached its climax with Tiësto – Suburban Train, Paul Oakenfold – Southern Sun (DJ Tiësto Remix) and the encore, System F – Out Of The Blue. I didn’t want it to finish and cursed yet again at Sydney’s ridiculous lockout rules that wouldn’t allow the fun to continue. If only Home was on the other side of Darling Harbour!

I’ve really enjoyed the recent run of open to close nights, which are a breath of fresh air compared to the nights with so many DJs on the bill that they only get an hour each. So long may this happy trend continue!

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After the fun of doing the double (i.e. both Sydney and Melbourne shows) for Solarstone earlier this year, we were excited to be doing it again, this time for The Thrillseekers – one of the very best producers in the game and a DJ who is guaranteed to deliver a great night, mixing classics and current smashes to great effect.

This was also our first visit to Voodoo at Home since late May, as we’d been away in Europe for most of the intervening period. Sneaking in just before the doors opened and finding the club with the lights up, we could see that a few changes had been made – the DJ booth is now closer to the floor, with a much narrower “stage” separating the crowd from the DJ. And the large stack of amps (or blocks of something) at the back right has gone, opening up the space behind. Minor improvements, I guess – but the video screens also appeared to have had another upgrade and the sound system has been overhauled too (although I had no complaints about the old system).


The set started with a progressive feel – not something that you expect with The Thrillseekers, but appropriate to the early part of the night. We heard tracks like Above & Beyond feat. Gemma Hayes – Counting Down The Days, Matt Darey presents Urban Astronauts feat. Kate Louise Smith – I See The Sun, iiO – Rapture and even Paul van Dyk – Another Way blended in with less familiar tunes that fitted the progressive groove as the club filled up.


It wasn’t long before the pace had picked up and we heard The Thrillseekers presents Hydra – Amber (surely the tune of 2016?!), The Thrillseekers feat. Stine Grove – Anywhere With You, Simon Patterson & Magnus – Evoke and The Thrillseekers – Just Because. The night went by almost in a blur as we were dazzled by great music. I was listening out for new tunes from the as yet unreleased album, Escape – but I don’t think I caught any of them! The night ended with Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – Silence (DJ Tiësto’s In Search Of Sunrise Remix) and Chakra – Home. But the highlight for me was the unexpected treat of hearing Ferry Corsten feat. Betsie Larkin – Made Of Love for the first time in about 7 years!

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The next day we flew down to Melbourne for round two. And, as with Solarstone previously, we enjoyed the Melbourne set far more than the Sydney one. Perhaps it was the additional time (none of the NSW lockout/curfew nonsense in Victoria) allowing for a much longer set? Whatever it was, I enjoyed the progressive early part of the set more and there was no doubt that he dropped some wonderful classics, not all of which had made it into the Sydney set.


The club itself, Studio 3 (part of the Crown Casino) was a good space, overlooking the Yarra River, if you could be bothered to look outside. The sound system was good and the laser show fantastic. Perfect for dancing to tunes like Who.Is – We.Are, Bedrock – Heaven Scent,  Solid Globe – North Pole, Solarstone – Seven Cities, The Thrillseekers presents Hydra – Amber (Skylex Remix), Stoneface & Terminal – Blueprint, The Thrillseekers vs Es Vedrà, Chicane – Autumn Tactics (The Thrillseekers Remix), The Thrillseekers – Synaesthesia (Factor B Remix), DJ Tim & Misbah – Access (John Askew Remix), John O’Callaghan – One Special Particle, William Orbit – Adagio For Strings (Ferry Corsten Remix), Push – Strange World (2000 Remake), José Amnesia – The Eternal (Pulser Remix), Solar Factor – Urban Shakedown, Paul Oakenfold – Southern Sun (DJ Tiësto Remix) and Paul van Dyk – For An Angel (E-Werk Club Remix). This time around, my personal highlight was Energy 52 – Café del Mar (Three N One Remix).


Overall it had been a wonderful weekend – thanks to Genesis, Trancegression Events and, of course, Steve Helstrip – the one and only Thrillseeker! These open-to-close events are certainly proving to be a great antidote and far preferable, in my humble opinion, to the “pack ’em in”, “too many DJs” events that are becoming all too common these days. So let’s hope that they prove as successful for promoters as I think they are for the serious trance fan.

 

sydneysoldoutLast weekend threw up one of those dreadful clashes, where two of the world’s best trance DJs are pitted against each other at different venues in the same city. We originally had tickets to see John 00 Fleming play his annual extended set at the Chinese Laundry. However, as we’d seen J00F three times for a total of nearly six hours over the European summer, we opted instead to make our way to The Metro Theatre for a five hour set by Fadi, of Aly & Fila (who, by contrast, we’d only seen for 90 minutes, in Ibiza).

img_3720Two years ago, at the same venue, Fadi had played one of the best sets in recent years and made a bit of a name for himself by offering to pay any fines incurred if he could just be allowed to play an extra hour (“fuck the police!”), before the venue and promoter insisted he finish. As a result, the levels of anticipation and excitement for his return were unsurprisingly high. And with the fortune of finding friends near the head of the queue, we were inside in good time for the start of the night.

img_3722While the consensus of those I spoke to afterwards was that this night did not quite match up to the magic of the 2014 event, I thought it was a really good set, showing Fadi at his best as he built quickly through some progressive tunes so that he could spend the majority of his set at the 138-140bpm mark, where he excels. The set included a heavy sprinkling of classics, but not simply the obvious ones that seem to get dragged out so often.


Of course there were many Aly & Fila productions – The Other Shore (Solarstone Pure Mix),  Where To Now (feat. Sue McLaren), For All Time (with Jaren), Laily (feat. Karim Youssef – Photographer Remix) and Lost Language among them. Plus a lot of collaborations: Aly & Fila with Skypatrol feat. Sue McLaren – Running, Aly & Fila vs. The Thrillseekers – Es Vedra, Solarstone and Aly & Fila – Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Mix), Aly & Fila with Luke Bond feat. Audrey Gallagher – Million Voices. Not to mention several Aly & Fila remixes, such as Ferry Corsten – Beautiful (Aly & Fila Remix), Luke Bond feat.Roxanne Emery – On Fire (Aly & Fila Remix) and Ferry Corsten press. Moonman – Galaxia (Aly & Fila Remix).


The highlights of the night for me personally were when he unexpectedly dropped two old Anjunabeats classics that I haven’t heard for years and years: Super8 & P.O.S. pres Aalto – 5 and P.O.S. – Remember (Summer Sun). Pure magic!


The sound was pretty good too, something that The Metro has sometimes struggled with and the lights and laser show was spot on, although as we spent most of the time right at the front, we probably didn’t get to experience the best of this.


Fadi himself was clearly having a great time and when he brought the set to a close with Aly & Fila feat. Jwaydan – We Control The Sunlight and Aly & Fila with Ferry Tayle vs. Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston – Nubia Is Good For Me, it was inevitable that he would ask to play for another hour. To the crowd’s delight, the promoter initially agreed – only to return a couple of minutes later with the venue’s (or most probably the police’s) insistence that the night was over.

img_3726This was one of the best nights of trance in Sydney this year and I had absolutely no regret at choosing it over the J00F option (if only I could have cloned myself and done both!). And the great news is that Fadi told us all at the end that he would be bring the Future Sound Of Egypt 500 celebrations to Sydney next year – let’s hope it’s not while I’m in Europe, or the same night as John 00 Fleming is playing elsewhere in Sydney!

 

img_3249Back from an extended break in London, The Netherlands, Italy and Ibiza, it’s now time to get back into writing my reviews. But first things first, I need to catch up on what I did while I was away. Finding time to write up every event proved too much this year, and once I’d let it slip, I decided that the best thing would be to write up a single review covering every event of the summer in Europe.

img_3256First up, of course, was Luminosity Beach Festival, of which so much could be written. As always, it was the perfect blend of wonderful music, amazing sunsets, meeting old friends, making new friends and dancing to trance across three stages. So many highlights, as always, but there were a few that I have to mention.

  • The Thrillseekers, who opened with Sasha – Xpander (a bold move), and just got better and better, over three wonderful hours.
  • Orkidea, of course, who opened the new stage on the Saturday, warming us up perfectly for the day’s musical treats ahead.
  • Signum, who played another brilliant set and surprised me when he dropped the wonderful London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years (Solarstone Remix).
  • Liquid Soul, whose deliciously melodic psy-trance was perfect for the time of day.
  • John O’Callaghan, playing possibly my favourite tune of the year so far: Ludovico Einaudi – Two Trees (John O’Callaghan Remix).
  • John 00 Fleming, ripping apart the new stage as only he can do.
  • Paul van Dyk on classics day as the sun set. How good it was to see him back in action!


The festival gets bigger and bigger each year, and perhaps as it does so it loses a little of its charm and intimacy. But it’s still streets ahead of anything else in the world for trance fans and next year’s tenth anniversary, with an extra day’s music to enjoy, has been put firmly into our diary (tickets and accommodation already secured).

Back in London we had the chance to catch the latest dance:love:hub night, at Brixton’s Club 414. Sadly, The Digital Blonde had to cancel, but we still had a great time dancing to some warm, melodic psy-trance, courtesy of Jon Cockle, Façade and others. These events are notable for the friendly vibe and the brilliant decorations of the intimate 414 really made for a special night.


Our annual pilgrimage to Ibiza took us to Amnesia for Cream and what a great night it was too! Without a doubt, Amnesia is my favourite club in the world, despite the ridiculous bar prices. Jordan Suckley played a really good warm-up set, which I probably enjoyed more than I would a peak hour set in his normal style. Paul Oakenfold relied a bit too much on EDM drops over old Perfecto classics in the first half of his set, but got it spot on in the last 45minutes – so much so that I forgave him for what had gone before!


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, in his element as the Cream resident, played even better than his Luminosity set and showed that his remarkable recovery from the life-threatening fall at ASOT750 is all but complete. And then Aly & Fila tore the roof down with a brilliant set that showed Fadi at his absolute best. What a moment when he dropped The Thrillseekers – Amber (ID Remix) and we got to hear the other contender for tune of the year on the sensational Amnesia sound system!


At the other end of our Ibiza trip we were hugely disappointed when the news came through that Solarstone had broken his ankle in Majorca and was unable to play either the Connect Boat Party or the Connect Pure Trance night at Es Paradis. Still, the show must go on, and Sied van Riel was flown in to cover. He played back-to-back with Alex Ryan on the sunset boat party, which is definitely one of the best things about Ibiza.

Version 2The Pure Trance night went ahead without Solarstone, and there was a disappointing turnout for what proved to be a night of superb trance. Orkidea opened with a wonderful 90-minute set, Sied van Riel played a wonderfully trancey set and John 00 Fleming played one of the best two hours I’ve ever heard from him, closing with Tiësto – Suburban Train and Brainbug – Nightmare. With plenty of room to dance, we had a brilliant night.


In between the big events that bookended our week on the white isle, we managed several trips to the wonderful Tropi bar, making friends and dancing to tunes played by DJ Ange, Nathia Kate, Amy Parnell, Paul Stone and others. There really is no other bar like it, anywhere in the world and we even left Eric Prydz at Café Mambo early just to get back to Tropi!


Back in the UK and there was time for an overnight trip up to Manchester for the last ever Majefa night, at Sound Control. The main room of the club was absolutely rammed and, with little ventilation, it was a real sweatbox. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed John 00 Fleming’s set – very different from the tunes he played three days earlier in Ibiza and I’d really love to know whose remix of Binary Finary – 1998 he dropped.


After J00F it was time for M.I.K.E. Push Live – and despite the heat and the short amount of time he had to play (55 minutes), what an incredible set he delivered, including Plastic Boy – Silver Bath, Push – The Legacy, Push – Strange World and finishing with an amazing live rendition of Push – Universal Nation.


We also caught a bit of Matt Darey’s set in the downstairs room and really enjoyed listening to Ryan Hamer in the bar, especially when he dropped Sean Tyas – Lift. The after-party was a bit of a let down, because instead of the billed 4-hour set by Akira Kayosa, he shared the DJ’ing with at least three others and it was such a mess that between them they managed to mix from one tune back into the tune they’d just played.

Our final event of the year before we flew back to Australia was Wax Format at the Magic Roundabout at Old Street roundabout in London. A mostly outdoor venue meant that the sound lacked a lot of punch, but it’s actually a great setting and has a bit of the feel of Sydney’s Greenwood, without the religious buildings! It was a good chance to see lots of our London trance family and friends for the last time this year and the only slight disappointment was that Richard Durand’s set, whilst full of classics, such as Veracocha – Carte Blanche, Armin van Buuren – Communication and Binary Finary – 1998 (Paul van Dyk Remix), didn’t really live up to its In Search Of Sunrise billing. After Richard Durand finished, Sam Mitcham played a really good set to call a close to our musical tour.

So that wraps up the last three months. Hopefully I’ll be getting things back to normal now, with a dedicated review of each event I attend.

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So here we are with my top 10 tunes. I found it almost impossible to rank these. On any particular day, it might have come out in any order, as any of these could be my all-time favourite tune ever, depending, I suppose, on my mood and what I’m doing, where I’m dancing, the weather, etc etc. They’re all so damn good – I hope you agree!

10. Paul van Dyk – For An Angel (E-Werk Club Mix) (1998)

9. Solarstone – Solarcoaster (Midway Remix) (2003)

8. Push – Strange World (2000 Remake) (2000)

7. Luminary – Amsterdam (Smith & Pledger Remix) (2006)

6. Cass & Slide – Perception (1999)

5. BT – Flaming June (Paul van Dyk Remix) (1997)

4. Binary Finary – 1998 (Paul van Dyk Remix) (1998)

3. Sean Tyas – Lift (2006)

2. DJ Tiësto – Suburban Train (2001)

1. The Thrillseekers – Synaesthesia (En-Motion Remix) (1999)

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All of these are good enough to be in my top 10, really. But sadly there’s only room for ten tunes in the top 10, so these just miss out. I have included just the one mashup in my top 100 – perhaps it’s cheating, because it’s really two tracks, but I think this mashup is so good I had to include it and I’m not completely sure the individual tunes would have made it into the top 100.

20. Push – Universal Nation (The Real Anthem) (1998)

19. Solarstone with Aly & Fila – Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Mix) (2012)

18. Above & Beyond – Can’t Sleep (2006)

17. Oceanlab – Clear Blue Water (Ferry Corsten Remix) (2001)

16. Chicane – Autumn Tactics (The Thrillseekers Remix) (2000)

15. Armin – Blue Fear (1997)

14. Push – The Legacy (2001)

13. Oceanlab – Satellite (Original Above & Beyond Mix) (2004)

12. Giuseppe Ottaviani feat. Stephen Pickup – No More Alone (2008)

11. John O’Callaghan & John Askew vs. Nadia Ali – Stresstest Rapture (Shura Vlasov Mashup) (2013)

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The closer we get to the top, the harder it seems to be to rank them. Here’s another ten classics.

30. Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston – No One On Earth (Gabriel & Dresden Remix) (2004)

29. Oceanlab – Sirens Of The Sea (Above & Beyond Club Mix) (2009)

28. The Thrillseekers feat. Fisher – The Last Time (2008)

27. Three Drives On A Vinyl – Greece 2000 (1997)

26. Rapid Eye – Circa-Forever (Aly & Fila Rework) (2008)

25. Armin – Communication (1999)

24. Andy Moor & Adam White present Whiteroom – The Whiteroom (2004)

23. Nu NRG – Dreamland (2001)

22. Brainchild – Symmetry (C-Mix) (1994)

21. Giuseppe Ottaviani – Linking People (2005)

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More great tunes for you all!

40. Giuseppe Ottaviani with Aly & Fila – Brilliant People (Sneijder Remix) (2013)

39. Chicane – Saltwater (The Thrillseekers Remix) (2004)

38. Oceanlab – Breaking Ties (Above & Beyond’s Analogue Heaven Mix) (2008)

37. Plastic Boy – Silver Bath (2002)

36. Above & Beyond feat. Zöe Johnston – Good For Me (Above & Beyond Club Mix) (2007)

35. Ralphie B – Massive (2002)

34. Agnelli & Nelson – El Niño (1998)

33. Veracocha – Carte Blanche (1999)

32. Galen Behr vs. Hydroid – Carabella (Galen Behr vs. Ørjan Nilsen Remix) (2006)

31. Coast 2 Coast feat. Discovery – Home (2001)