Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Quality Trance Tunes

After all these years, I still enjoy trance music greatly. I got into it way back in late 1990s, when it was literally just being born – I still remember the times when modern-day superstars such as Tiesto or Ferry Corsten were playing in large tents amidst the mud in suburban Holland. Then, there were raves – underground parties when it was still under the radar. Then, trance skyrocketed into the peak of its popularity. Every self-respecting club from Ibiza to New York was playing those catchy, pulsating beats.  These days, trance is on the decline. No, there’s still plenty of followers – the main DJs are still going strong, and the new crop of producers keeps sprouting up every year. But the popularity has waned, at least in North America and Europe, mostly in favour of hip-hop – alas. Trance has become the domain of teenyboppers and Asians – at least those 2 groups of people seem to be the majority of followers.  Whenever I tell someone I like trance, people either yawn or inform me they used to like it, like, 10 years ago.

I don’t care. I love a good melody, and in trance, a good melody is a must. I love the uplifting tunes especially – they are great to listen to while in a down mood, or just to boost energy level without resorting to drugs. I listen to it while travelling long distance, while driving, while working out, sometimes in the mornings, sometimes before bed, sometimes even at work through my headphones. At any given time, about half of my music in my collection is either trance or other electronica.

The only thing I don’t like is cheesy trance. You know, the stuff everyone who is not familiar with the style things trance actually is: fist-pumping kind of beat, with “uhe-uhe” type of melody that people who accidentally find themselves in a club usually expect to hear. So, to those who care, I would like to list my all-time top 10 favourite quality trance tunes – in the hope that you would give each at least a 2-3 minutes, enjoy, and perhaps change your mind if you haven’t already.

1. Sasha - Xpander

Way back from the times when trance was nowhere near mainstream, this relic from around 1999 is an absolute classic. It remains one of the best and smartest trance tunes of all times - a great example of  what I call “intelligent” trance. I love how this is borderline progressive house, which Sasha basically co-invented in those days together with John Digweed.

2. Sunlounger - In & Out

This track made my 2-week hike in the Himalayas 5 years ago so much easier as I listened to it on those particularly steep climbs. A goosebump-inducing uplifter by Roger Shah aka Sunlounger, who went on to become one of trance's best known DJs. To me, this track just doesn't grow old.

3. Tiesto - Nyana

The Dutch pioneers have taken over trance music production in early 2000s and never looked back. This track is a great example of minimalistic, electric trance in the letter and spirit of the early Dutch producers. A lot of modern DJs trying to play “hard” trance to please the drunken audiences would do well playing something similar to this. 


 4. Mindcircus - Way out West (Gabriel and Dresden remix)

This track is long, but I love it – this is a real song put to trance, with a little bit of everything in a perfect balance: vocals, beat, subtle uplift, lyrics, melody. Great remix by homeboys from San Francisco – Gabriel and Dresden.

5. Solarstone - The Calling  + Virtual Vault feat. Orjan  - Too Late

OK, I cheated. I put 2 songs in one entry, because I cannot think of a more organic mix-up of 2 fantastic trance tunes.  The first one is a beautiful example of simply magical vocal trance, and the second one should be the definition of “uplifting” in the dictionary. Truly an amazing duo of tracks.

6. Gaia - Status Excessu D

Gaia is a creative name of one of trance greats, mr. Armin van Buuren himself, and while he has written a fair share of good tracks, this one stands out for its complex structure, controlled melody and beat. 

7. RAM - RAMsterdam

An excellent high-energy, uplifting track from a talented producer. To get to the best part, fast forward about 3 minutes. Great workout music!

8. Orjan Nilsen - Between the Rays

It’s not easy to find purely melodic trance without it sounding primitive or otherwise cheesy. Sure, some people don’t mind it, but if I am listening to trance rather than dancing to it, I prefer something more sophisticated. This track by the super-talented producer from Norway is short by the standards of the genre, but is definitely among the best of all times.

9. Andrew Rayel - Aeons of Revenge

There’s a lot of “piano” trance out there, especially coming from Russia and Eastern Europe, but this young fellow from Moldova puts up some of the best stuff. This is my favourite track from the last year, and it gives me hope there’s still plenty of future left in good ol’ trance.

10. Armin van Buuren - Burned with Desire

I will leave you with this beautiful track by Armin van Buuren that I enjoy to this day. This song was remixed countless times by various DJs, into high-energy beats and tremendous uplifting energy, but I prefer it in its original version – one of the best examples of chillout trance.


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