Fans of epic trance and dance electronica will want this CD in their collection.
The Xpander EP is the first time Sasha’s talent as a composer and producer was really apparent. Don’t be put off by the fact that this is an EP. There are just four full cuts on this album, but they deliver almost 50 minutes of music.
The EP starts off with the radio edit of “Xpander”. This is a catchy trance track, but the short edit doesn’t do it justice. Fortunately, the next cut is the full, 11:29, version. “Xpander” features a bell-like sequence that interlocks with pulsating chords. Driving drums keep things moving.
The second full track is “Belfunk”, a darker trance track. It has a little bit more of an industrial feel, especially in the percussion. The electronic drum kit sounds like it is being filtered, giving it a dynamic feel. The drums and pads come in next and build the track slowly until about five minutes into the cut, where the kick drops out and everything thins out. The remaining elements sounds are just some quiet industrial percussion with ambient strings and a harplike sound on top. This is beautiful, chill-out music. Then the bass returns and Sasha does a variation on the beginning of the track.
“Rabbitweed” is the next track on the EP. Their is a long section of filtered echoing percussion. This serves as a mellow introduction on the EP, but would also be a perfect intro for DJ cross-fading. As the percussion and bass come in, the track takes on a bit of an electro feel. The string sounds on this cut are interesting – they have a Mellotron feel. There’s also some lead synth work that sounds middle-eastern. The combination of elements sounds a bit like some of Banco de Gaia’s work.
Sasha ends the album with a reflective cut, “Baja”. This gorgeous track is blissful trance music that takes you on a twelve-minute voyage to the world of electronica. It sounds like Sasha’s listened to a lot of early Tangerine Dream, because the slow, pulsing sequences that make up the first few minutes of this cut sound like some of TD’s work.
Sasha adds in gated vocals that pulse in sync with the music, creating a very trancy effect. It’s nearly six minutes into the piece before the percussion comes in, and this take the cut into another level. The drum kit is passed through a phaser, giving it a classic trippy sound. About two-thirds in, Sasha creates a short breakdown, and then quickly brings everything back to close out the track.
Xpander is a very enjoyable EP. It is not as melodic as a lot of trance music, but it’s just as listenable. It sounds like Sasha is looking back to some of the old-school electronica from the 70’s in his choice of sounds and use of live drums. One of the most delicious aspects of this EP is its pace. Sasha isn’t afraid to take his time to build his music up. He lets the sounds and rhythms have some space. This makes Xpander seem a lot less frenetic than some dance trance, and makes it a great listen for electronica fans.