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Saturday 09th, May 2009
Serge Devant - Wanderer
Updated: Saturday 06th, June 2009

Russian born, US residing Serge Devant comes from a rich, classically trained musical background. Having studied the piano and the violin for eight years at the prestigious Music School of St. Petersburg he has a more solid grounding in musical composition than many electronic producers. That has already been evident with early releases for labels like Lost Language, Baroque and most notably the superb Transparent with trance über-diva Jan Johnston on Captivating some five years back. For his debut artist album on US label Ultra entitled Wanderer, he draws on more of trance’s best loved vocalists du jour, such as Emma Hewitt, Nadia Ali, Jaren and Second Sun alongside less well known faces like Kyven, Kyle and Hadley.

His latest single is the club-slaying Addicted featuring a devastatingly sexy, utterly mesmerising vocal turn from Hadley. A superbly crafted beat, thumping keys and sweet synth flitters hit home and penetrate deeper than near enough any electronic vocal track since Rui di Silva – Touch Me or Iio – Rapture – it really is that good. Fortunately there is plenty more to come on the rest of the album.

The album opens with the very familiar, yet no less powerful, chords of The Beloved’s classic Sweet Harmony. It is always difficult covering such a well known track yet Serge does it with style, the celebratory vocal is always welcome and woven in neatly with a modern, chunky club house groove. Take Me With You features another beautiful vocal from Emma Hewitt, her breathy, airy voice carried away on coruscating, ever-building waves of blissed-out synths powered by a vaguely Deadmau5 bassline. A gorgeous dream-trance track. Stuck In The 80’s makes no attempt to cover its roots, the pulsating bassline, bleepy, zappy synths and retro electric guitar are clearly New Order-influenced yet there is no shame in that – it rocks.

12 Wives In Tehran has Libyan Nadia Ali delivering her most ethnic electronic vocal yet, a lyric-less performance that is still up there with her most sultry and sexiest. The traditional plucked strings transports you to a North African desert yet the rolling minimal groove keeps your feet firmly planted on a Western dancefloor in a beguiling culture clash. The fast-paced previous single Part Of Me shows off Serge’s amazing talent at creating perfectly harmonious and effortlessly catchy music. The moody male vocal from Kyven, with its haunting ‘it really doesn’t matter’ vocal hook sticks like glue but it’s the body-jerkin’ synth lines that really nail the track. After the aforementioned Addicted, there is an ill-advised rock-dance diversion with Second Sun, who, after one of the most exciting debut electronic artist albums I’ve heard (quite similar to this one in fact) have completely lost it. I hope Serge’s career doesn’t follow a similar path.

One of the most popular singers from Armin’s last album, Jaren, lends her candy-coated vocal chords to No Good, doing her best Gwen Stefani impression on another solid pop-dance composition. Sadly Serge can’t keep up the quality over the entirety of the album with several ‘filler’ vocals in the second half that, while not dreadful, are not that memorable. The exception is another gruff vocal performance from Kyven on Surround You that initially drifts through deep and murky waters yet builds to a sharp, synth-driven climax. The album finishes strongly, however, with the gorgeous chilled-out guitar-flecked electronica of People and one final rousing vocal from Hadley on Peace.

So a far from perfect album, which is a shame because if he had kept up the quality of the first half then this would be one of the most exciting dance albums of the year. As it is there is plenty to enjoy here if you are looking for an immediate, unpretentious electronic fix, so hit those download stores when this is released and pick and mix your favourites. With the big names in trance like Armin van Buuren and Paul van Dyk attempting ‘pop’ albums, this is the kind of perfectly formed accessible electronica they are desperately trying to acheive. With ‘Wanderer’ Serge Devant has hit upon a dance formula that is as infectious as H1N1, yet infinitely more pleasurable. 4/5

1. Sweet Harmony
2. Take Me With You feat. Emma Hewitt
3. Stuck In The 80’s
4. 12 Wives In Tehran feat. Nadia Ali
5. Part Of Me feat. Kyven
6. Addicted feat. Hadley
7. Shadow feat. Second Sun
8. No Good feat. Jaren
9. Midnight Train feat. Hadley
10. Surround You feat. Kyven
11. Wanderer feat. Hadley
12. People feat. Kyle
13. Peace feat. Hadley

Written by:
Jon Nix

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