Styles & Forms | Trance | Dance

Effectively a hybrid of Tangerine Dream-style cosmic synth-rock and Giorgio Moroder Euro-disco, trance began to crystallize out of turn-of-the-decade trippy techno at the end of the 1980s (although disco records such as Grace’s ‘Not Over Yet’ or Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, produced by Moroder and Pete Bellotte, could lay claim to being earlier trance cuts).

It was Hardfloor’s ‘Acperience’ on Harthouse that set the blueprint for the haunting textures of trance. Layering 303 acid sounds across each other like intertwining snakes the track sold shed-loads, paving the way for the rise of German, Dutch and British labels like MFS, Platipus, Eye Q, Noomand Rising High and the eventual conquest of many dance floors in the US.

Going To Goa

In the early 1990s, nights at The Omen in Frankfurt, Trance Buddha in Amsterdam and Megatripolis in London swiftly became techno-trance meccas. The coalescing sound began to become popular at outdoor techno parties in Goa on the west coast of India, a stop-off haven on the hippy trail. Hosted by the likes of Goa Gil and Mark Allen, Goa trance emphasized the spiritual and ethnic elements of the sound. Key components of Goa began to filter back to Europe, with Brit DJs such as Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold briefly adopting the sound after visits to the region and German producer Sven Vath sampling sounds from the jungle on the Indian subcontinent for his An Accident In Paradise album.

In addition, many Israelis would visit the region when travelling after national service. Returning home, revellers would try to recreate the spirit of those memorable outdoor Goa trance parties in clubs in their own home countries.

Cheese With Your Cerebral Ethnodelia?

In London, Raja Ram’s TIP label, Youth’s Dragonfly, and acts such as Eatstatic, Juno Reactor, Hallucinogen, Total Eclipse, Man With No Name and Shpongle fed 150bpm cerebral ethnodelia into fluoro-tastic club nights Return to the Source, Escape From Samsara and Pendragon. From Denmark, Koxbox introduced a more psychedelic component to the sound, and outdoor full-moon parties kicked off at exotic locations around the globe. Some would sneer that the scene was full of trustafarians (trust-fund hippies) seeking both enlightenment and druggy hedonism, but for many, the psychedelic-trance scene and lifestyle was life-changing.

In Europe in the late-1990s, a watered-down strain was starting to creep into the German charts. Promotions such as the UK’s Gatecrasher and Gods Kitchen took the sound into the superclubs. Trance was beginning to dominate dance floors everywhere. As the sound became more commercialized, some DJs jumped ship (‘I’ve had enough,’ said Sven Vathin 1998), and tracks by Euro-trance acts like Alice Deejay, Lange and ATB – who produced trance’s first UK No. 1 with ‘9PM (Till I Come)’ – hit paydirt.

Inevitably, there was a backlash, in which trance became increasingly derided as too cheesy and lacking any sort of authentic funk. However, 2002 saw a resurgence in its popularity, with credible underground Dutch trance...

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Source: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music, general editor Paul Du Noyer


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