Record Review 

Slowly growing in strength since Sasha and Digweed's Northern Exposure release in 1997, trance has been the "It" genre since late 1999. Florida helped provide the gateway for Sasha, Digweed and several other big-name progressive DJs, so it's no surprise that the "It" sound found its way from Orlando to places like Miami, where George Acosta held it down at South Beach's Shadow Lounge.

Now Acosta -- an internationally traveled DJ spinning the kind of European trance hammered by Paul Oakenfold, but who also has produced more garage/house-style tracks -- has put two strikingly different faces on trance with two separate discs, Release -- PM Edition and Release -- AM Edition. This two-CD approach isn't new. Actually, Sasha and Digweed's second Northern Exposure was separated into East Coast and West Coast editions that complemented the continent's separate feels.

The two Release volumes are Acosta's second (and third) release for Ultra, following last year's Awake, which trafficked in melodic epics just to the softer side of Paul Van Dyk's kind of selection. Release -- PM also features some (mostly more obscure) epics, but seems to follow more of a build/break pattern than Awake. Release -- AM, while featuring slightly bigger names (Talla 2XLC, DJ Scot Project) is more plodding and unrelenting, but also more unwavering and less varied.

PM is more suited for building you up, while AM could possibly break you down. Nightclub's "French Kiss" is the kind of reverberating, escalating pounder that, followed by Yakooza's dark "Cocaine," teeters perilously close to the edge of creating mass hysteria. While both volumes may not be for every listener, they reveal Acosta as a DJ willing to stretch and test his audience, whether "It" may be more trance or more techy.

George Acosta spins at Studio Central Sat., April 28.

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