First state
In 2005, Ralph Barendse (aka Ralphie B) and Sander van der Waal (aka Sander van Dien) formed the group, First State. Before this, both of them were already established artists with multiple releases. Together, with their combined talents, they released their first single, the self-titled First State, and it was picked up by the In Trance We Trust (offshoot of Black Hole Recordings) label. It received heavy airplay by Tiesto that year, and it eventually led to their only studio album in 2007, titled Time Frame. The album contained what is probably their most popular single to date, Falling featuring Anita Kelsey on vocals. I believe this was the track that shot them into mainstream trance, as it was played by many DJs and was featured in Tiesto’s ISOS 6. Recently, 2008 and 2009 saw a lot of great remixes from First State as well as a handful of hard, gritty, productions from these two. Unfortunately, this year Ralphie B left the group, leaving the reins to Sander van Dien. I have always enjoyed listening to their productions, whether it be from First State or their individual work. Their style ranges from techy to progressive, which happen to be my favorite styles of dance music. Check out the following tracks representing a timeline of their work:

First State – Falling (original mix)
Here’s the track that brought them into the limelight. I consider this to be a classic vocal track now, and even though it was played out in 07, it brings back a lot of memories from that summer. There is a high commercial appeal to this track, and it’s hard not to be sucked into the chorus. Anita Kelsey does a good job on the voals, and the verse starting with “I’m fallin under your spell….”  is very catchy. Somewhat cheesy, but what vocal trance isn’t?

First State – Falling (First State’s Stuck Parachute Remix)
This track shows a lot of the flexibility of the First State sound. I love the name of the remix too, and it is very befitting for the remix. The chorus is the same, but the breakdown leads to a hard, chaotic sounding beat drop. Might not be for some, but I like the creativity.

Tiesto – Ten Seconds Before Sunrise (First State Remix)
Off Tiesto’s Elements of Life Remixed album, First State provides an edgier, faster remix to a somewhat chill song. They actually made two remixes of this track, but this one is the better one.

Armin van Buuren – Unforgivable feat. Jaren (First State Smooth Remix)
Nice remix off Armin’s Imagine Remixed album.

4 Strings – Catch a Fall (First State’s Dark Remix)
This is my favorite remix of theirs. They also made multiple remixes for this track as well. The bassline is similar to that of the Ten Seconds Before Sunrise remix, but it sounds better in this song. I really like what they did with the vocal reverberation… great interpretation by First State!

First State – Off the Radar (First State’s 808 Clash Mix)
This track is my favorite First State track. Released in January of this year, this track incorporates really nice techy sounds with a great progressive breakdown. The bassline is really driving and you truly get the feeling of wanting more as the beat pushes you along. There is also a First State big room remix of this song that is just as good, but less dirty and a little smoother. Magnificent work by these two!

Vimana – We Came (First State Remix)
Black Hole re-released this trance classic along with 3 new remixes in May of this year. This remix still contains elements from the original track, but also has an upgraded, faster bassline and dirty breakdown. Great tribue to the classic made by Vimana (Tiesto and Ferry Corsten) ten years ago! (1999 Trance!!!)

Sander van Dien – Aurora (original mix)
Here is the first solo track produced by van Dien after the group split up. The track takes a while to build up, but it is a fine example of some great tech work.

I really hope these two get back together to start producing again. Check out the review for their studio album here, along with their interview regarding the album release.

Here is the latest track from First State featuring Sarah Howells called Brave in the Crossroads Remix.