Trance music never went away, writes Philip Sherburne, and I agree. But I’ve not progressed with the sound since I first fell for it 25 years ago, when I was a wide-eyed, impressionable teenage raver. Whenever I listen to my “Old School Trance Favorites” playlist on Spotify, I’m whisked back to 1998 — on some dance floor in some dark warehouse, with a classic track like Three Drives’ “Greece 2000” or Veracocha’s “Carte Blanche” blasting in the room. The trance we danced to in those years was uplifting, life-changing. But as I ventured deeper into this world, the sound was a mere step in a longer journey — it marked a period of raving with training wheels, of hours-long DJ sets of spoon-fed transcendence.
Still, as some of Sherburne’s sources perfectly put it in the piece, there’s just something about trance, and listening to a “vintage” trance anthem from the late ’90s and early ’00s, however schmaltzy it may be, can give me shivers like no other type of music.
Sherburne writes a fun piece about the revival — or perhaps reimagination — of trance among a younger generation of producers and DJs who are outside the scene and, thus, more open-minded and experimental.
But where those projects carried a whiff of mischief, the new wave of trance feels like a more earnest and direct homage. Perhaps it’s a generational shift, as artists who first discovered electronic music from their friends’ stepdads’ Tiësto CDs begin to look back on their own musical upbringing. Maybe it’s just that people are jonesing for all the euphoria they can get right now.
Vestbirk believes that the shift is partly generational. A new wave of clubbers doesn’t have the same prejudices about trance that the old guard did. And the artsier end of the scene is bored with techno, which—in its overground, festival-filling incarnation, with an emphasis on formulaic structures, identikit sound design, and gaudy spectacle—has become as stale, commercialized, and ridiculous as mainstream trance once was.