Sunday 18 October 2020

A Love Letter To Euphoria

It's about that time again where I get a bit self indulgent. This time, we're talking all things trance. I've never been too shy about my adoration of that particular blend of trance from the late 90's to early 2000's, but as you've seen with other genres I pretty much embrace it these days. And like those other genres I am fully aware that a) it's not for everyone and b) it can get pretty silly at times. But regardless, I'm going to try put into words what I love so much about it, so hear me out and hear some tunes won't you?

I sat and did some thinking about why I like trance so much in prep for this post. On a purely abstract level - I'm a sucker for a good breakdown, and Trance - especially the Euphoric variety - is explicitly based around massive breakdowns that all lead to that one big payoff. Enter one of the big names for this post: Lange. I've always liked some of his productions but recently they have been really hitting the spot. Take Follow Me for example, sure the vocal is pretty cliché a good 20 some years on but I'll be lying if I say that the build-ups don't get me a little excited each time. As far as trance tracks go, this one is pretty balanced - there are some where I feel like the return to the break is too sudden (intentionally so, so you get hyped for the next release) but Follow Me avoids that quite nicely, the structure makes the ebbs and flows feel really natural.

There's something very evocative about the language used in Trance as well, both amidst the corny nonsense and sometimes within it. I mean, take that poster at the top of this post for a of-the-era example. For a genre that is often written off and generic dancefloor productions, you can't deny that there is passion behind it. Agnelli & Nelson are also among the top artist I'd use as an example, this time we're avoiding the vocal cliché entirely with an instrumental number (though there are alternate mixes of this track with them if you're so inclined!). It would have actually probably been a better track to open the post with as I think it's fairly accessible - and even if I hadn't banished the term 'guilty pleasure' this tune would be far from it. It's a sentiment I say time and again when dealing with slightly older tracks but this one is a delicious trip back in time, though not as dated as some of its contemporaries.

And I suppose that 'of-the-era' feeling is something else that colours my love of trance. To get a bit philosophical and nostalgic for a minute - even though I was too young to actively participate in the scene of the time, I distinctly remember admiring the whole uniting aspect of Trance, the idea of folk coming together and just cutting completely loose really appealed to me. To the young idealist in me it was fantastic - this was the future! Amazing electronic music and groups of people united under its umbrella, we could achieve anything!

In hindsight most definitely a naïve and over-romanticised view, but I was young. Still, jaded though I am, that's not to say that the underlying concepts of togetherness (no doubt assisted by various substances) don't still stir something within me. Peak example of that being Lange's remix of Lost Witness' Happiness Happening, it comes closest to evoking that feeling I had back then even all these years later - "Everything will be perfect, tonight and forever", a sentiment that while trite in the world of trance, will occasionally really resonate with me. 3 minutes of build up to one of the greatest payoffs of any trance track in my collection, I could live in a fragment of that breakdown and drop combination for ever and ever.

And finally rounding out with something a little less 'Arena' euphoric in it's execution. I've gained a real fondness for the original mix of Y-Traxx's Mystery Land, it's often overshadowed by it's (admittedly a stonking tune in it's own right) twin sister, the Sickboy Courtyard Remix which is more in that Arena style I mentioned above. The original mix by contrast is very different from the trance tracks I've posted so far, and the deliciously MIDI piano stabs and arpeggios throughout are more akin to the retro House and Garage me and Adam used to talk about. But in spite of that it has potentially my favourite of the examples I've put up so far of that euphoric vibe - the intro build up is nothing short of divine (if a bit dated), the little cut up vocal thing before the actual drop is incredibly powerful.

That's the skinny on the kinda comfort tunes I've been playing with at the minute, as I said before IRL things are picking back up (so posts might be a little lacking compared to before) but nothing chases the stress away like pretending it's 1999 and I'm about to peak. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, and I don't know how butchered these tunes will be by the 30-second Spotify previews but if you like what you've heard seek out the full ones, as you've seen here there is a surprising amount of it available on streaming services, and in my experience the recommendations you get once you start are much more useful than with other genres!

And - as always - Stay safe and enjoy the music.


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