A Thousand Nights is the debut long player from Gregor Tresher, a Frankfurt-based DJ and producer and one of the main proponents of neo-trance. According to Wikipedia (and forgive me for resorting to external sources for descriptions of techno sub-genres), “neo-trance is new genre that arrived in the vernacular to describe the recent developments towards more minimalist trance.” Tresher�s website claims that he is in the process of “modernising the algorithms of electronic music.” All of which sounds mightily po-faced, and lays the ground rather well for what the album actually delivers.
Over half of this 80 minute behemoth is cleanly-produced, inoffensive minimalist techno. There’s a clear formula – start with a clean bassline, add another layer of sound every 4 bars for the next two minutes, and loop the resulting concoction over and over again for a further five or six minutes. The tone could be characterised as nocturnal, but is rarely interesting enough to be called sinister. There are evident echoes of Kraftwerk‘s trancey Tour de France Soundtracks, though unfortunately lacking the warmth or evocative qualities of the earlier work.
Things get a little more interesting on a handful of tracks around the middle of the album. A Thousand Nights and Anti are closer to euphoric house (or uplifting trance / euphoric trance / uplifting house – delete as applicable depending on how the fancy takes you) and wouldn’t be out of place nestling alongside Roger Sanchez and Armand van Helden tunes on a Ministry of Sound compilation from the late ’90s.
Full Range Madness and The Now People stand head and shoulders above anything else here, and with their sleazy Daft Punk electro grooves and bouncy riffs, at least sound like they were made this side of the Millennium celebrations.
The trouble is, since then we’ve had oodles of cutting edge electro coming out of New York and East London, drawing in clever samples and engaging vocals to create a new dance music with personality and values; and this watered-down equivalent can only appear faceless by comparison.
Ultimately we’re back in the humourless world of the 90s superstar-DJ-turned-musician, where the dancefloor is a church, God is at the decks, and the sacrament has a Mitsubishi logo stamped on it, or something. And in 2008, it’s impossible to know what to do when listening to this. It�s unlikely anyone would play it in a club anywhere outside of the European mainland, and it’s certainly too polite-sounding for cranking up on the stereo of your Ford Escort while doing doughnuts around an abandoned supermarket car park.
Which means the only sensible activity to accompany A Thousand Nights is putting on some white gloves, chucking a few Junior Disprins down your neck, and dancing around your bedroom on your own making box shapes with your hands. If you’re so inclined.