Way Out West have been one of my favorite electronic acts since I first heard "The Gift" back in the late 90's. The duo of Jody Wisternoff and Nick Warren have gone on to produce four killer albums and countless classic singles, undoubtedly one of the best in the progressive house and breaks field. With Way Out West's last album coming in 2009, my interest was peaked when I saw a solo album by Wisternoff on the release schedule for 2012.
"Trails We Blaze" is Jody Wisternoff's debut solo album after almost 25 years in the electronic music game. Of course it will appeal to Way Out West fans, there are elements of that WOW sound spread throughout, but the music here is also distinctly different enough to separate it from the material recorded with Warren. This album is truly all about the groove, with bouncing basslines twisting within each track. There is a laid back atmosphere on "Trails We Blaze", it's the kind of album that needs a blistering hot, sunshine drenched day to truly bring out all of its character. A soundtrack to a tropical island club paradise. It truly did not strike me on first listen, but playing it non-stop during this recent heat wave, it 'clicked' with me.
There are five vocal tracks here and seven instrumentals, although a few of them use vocal samples as well. New York based singer/songwriter Jonathan Mendelsohn, who sang a track on Way Out West's last album, features on three tracks with the stand-out being "Out Of Reach". Pete Josef sings lead on two songs including the album's first single, the warm "How You Make Me Smile", and the soulful highlight "Just One More"
The instrumental tracks give Wisternoff more room to stretch out and are the tracks that most call to mind Way Out West material. "95" has that mix of dreamy vocal samples and a popping beat that made "The Gift" an instant classic while "Red Stripes" features buzzy keyboards in its electro-funk. There is a new version, he calls it a 'Refix', of his 2006 single "Cold Drink, Hot Girl" as well as a revamp of the 2007 single "Starstrings". Most impressive of all the instrumentals is "Babylon Calling", a rumbling stormer of a dance track that goes into a darker place than most of the material here, and to great effect.
All it took was spending a little time with this album to truly appreciate everything that is contained here. After at first being a little underwhelmed, it has quickly become one of my favorite electronic releases of the year. A perfect soundtrack to the summer, jam packed with groovy progressive house and club music. The long wait for Jody Wisternoff's first ever solo album was worth it, "Trails We Blaze" is a scorcher and a hell of a good time.
"Trails We Blaze" was released in the UK May 28, 2012 on the Anjunadeep label. It is currently only available in the U.S. as a download release.