I don't mean to be a smart ass, but perhaps the Tranceport series in general needed a womans touch for once. Although I've heard some grumbling about Collins starting out this particular disc with about 5 minutes of rumbling noise to sort of set the tone, I think it's a great addition. In fact, I think that even more improvisation and experimentation would have been welcome as well, because with the multitude of trance mix discs flooding the market (and new series popping up about every month), the genre is getting watered down real quick like.
While some hardcore fans may notice the slight differences in songs between one release to another, the overall masses aren't going to really give much of a toss when things all start sounding alike. One of the big limitations of the CD format is that while it's nice to have a live set of a trance DJ, it doesn't fully capture their sound anyway. Even if they pack the disc with their best and favorite tracks, it's not going to be a very good document of a sound and a feeling when placed side-by-side with a 6 hour DJ set. Those marathon sets work as a functioning whole and when you try to boil them down into 70 or 75 minutes, it's just hard to capture the energy levels.
Which takes me back to my first point of the review, which is that Collins is actually doing something good by messing with the standard trance formula for mix discs. Instead of going, going, going for the full length of the disc, she attempts to sort of condense the feeling of a larger set by including the beatless intro. With the rumbling tones and big pulse explosions, she's actually just building a nice tension which she then releases over the course of the next 11 tracks (and 70 minutes). Once she does get going, she doesn't break the flow once and her song choice (although a DJ friend of mine had some of the same songs on a self-produced mix CD that came out months before this) is great, keeping things rolling along at a steady pace.
I've already mentioned the whole lead-in to the release, so I won't delve into it much more, but Collins also works some different angles throughout the release. Her inclusion of "Rush" by Bradley gives things kind of a grimy edge with the ragged-edge synths while she drops out everything but some weird clanging noises between "Desanitize" by Mara and "Boomerang" by Dune before layering things up again and getting the beat pulsing. While the second half of the disc bogs down slightly (and it's partially because Collins lets individual tracks run for much longer stretches of time), there are also some very solid tracks to sort of help shake it off. Voyager's "Motion" builds very very slightly and steadily (but what else were you expecting from a good trance tune?) before a huge beat finally drops and makes everything pay off. Obviously, if you've enjoyed the series so far, you're probably not going to go wrong with this release, although it is quite a bit darker sounding than some of the lighter stuff that has come before it. Not only that, but it's one of the better in the series in my opinion (as well as better trance mix discs I've heard overall lately). While she's definitely no small name in the DJ field, she's gone off and done something more interesting than some of the big names who've been seemingly resting on their laurels lately.