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This was Digital Therapy’s first adventures onto the waters of Sydney’s famous harbour. It was also our first chance to experience an extended set by Neptune Project – something that’s been on my bucket list ever since I first downloaded and listened to their set at Mandarine in Argentina last year. Combining the two with a little optimism about the Sydney autumn weather gave me high expectations that this would truly be an occasion to savour.

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Setting sail only a few minutes behind schedule, it didn’t take long for the tunes to start flowing and the memories to kick in, as the first part of the set was a tribute to the early days of Tiësto’s In Search Of Sunrise mix CDs. Tunes like Cass & Slide – Perception (New Vocal Mix), BT – Mercury & Solace and Solarstone – Solarcoaster filled the room and set the scene perfectly for what was to come.

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As the sun began to sink behind the famous Harbour Bridge, Dan from Neptune Project moved smoothly into an ambient set to take us through to sunset. I hadn’t been sure what to expect from this, or how it would go down – ambient music can be great for chilling out, but would it work in the middle of a dance party? I needn’t have worried. With the weather holding and the clouds staying away, we got the sunset we all hoped for – perhaps not the absolute best that Sydney can deliver at this time of year, but certainly photogenic enough – with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge to frame the golden-orange skies. And the beatless tunes provided a fantastic soundtrack to match the stunning natural visuals: Libra – Calling Your Name (Solarstone Chillout Version), Above & Beyond – Tri State, The Thrillseekers – Synaesthesia (Alaska Sunset Mix) and many others.

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As the light faded, Dan transitioned perfectly from the chillout vibe into proper trance with Oceanlab – Clear Blue Water and Neptune Project vs Revolution 9 – The Rabbithole. For the next hour, we heard a brilliant selection of Neptune Project productions and remixes. Lots of great tunes including Pink Floyd – Shine On The Dark Side of The Moon (Neptune Project’s Out There With Pluto Mix) and Bryan Kearney feat. Snatam Kaur – Ong Namo (Neptune Project’s In Search of The Mayans Remix). Ong Namo was probably the only Kearney track that I’d really wanted to hear at Voodoo the previous week that Bryan Kearney hadn’t dropped, so this made up for that.

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By now it was dark outside, more people had come inside to dance and there was a real buzz in the air (and, unfortunately, also a none too pleasant aroma drifting up from the toilets, which forced us to move away at times). As we entered the fourth section of the set, we moved away from Neptune Project productions and into an hour of fantastic classics (with a few recent remixes thrown in) that took the event to another level.

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Above & Beyond pres. Tranquility Base – Surrender and Oceanic, Solarstone feat. Jes – Like A Waterfall and Super8 – Alba … more memories energising the crowd and setting us up perfectly for the last hour – comprising Anjunabeats classics. For this last hour, Dan invited Big J to join him to play back-to-back, and off they went with Oceanlab – Beautiful Together. Although Anjunabeats no longer releases music that purists would regard as trance, there is no denying that it was one of the most influential labels back in the day. With tunes like Luminary – Amsterdam (Super8 & Tab Remix) and Above & Beyond – Alone Tonight (Club Mix) playing, the dance floor was full and everyone was singing along!

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Sixty minutes later, the boat docked and it was all over. Everyone wanted more, but it was time to move on or head home. Fortunately for me, I’ll be flying down to Melbourne on May 1st where the next Neptune Project 5 Hour set is happening. And I simply can’t wait, as I know it will be another wonderful journey through trance. Whether it can live up to the heights of this event is another matter, however – as the added elements of the sunset and Sydney’s amazing harbour made this event unique and one that will be remembered and talked about for a very long time.

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For those who were not lucky enough to be there, Neptune Project recorded the set and you can listen to it on their Soundcloud page. And for those who were there, it’s a great way to relive the moment! Here‘s the link.

This was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Many people have been saying it was the best event they’ve ever been to and while I don’t think I’d go quite that far, it is certainly one of the best. Thanks to Neptune Project and all at Digital Therapy – they are going to have to do something pretty amazing to top this!

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Thanks also to Luke Davids for letting me use some of his great photos!

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