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Retro trance comeback is on

By Marcus Barnes

Deeply emotive and euphoric, trance music is universally liked and disliked in equal measure. In an age where electronic music seems to have become divided between the ‘cool kids’ and the ‘not-so-cool kids’, trance has been rejected by many thanks to it’s often schmaltzy, unashamedly emotional sound.

When trance was hijacked by the commercial side of the music industry in the late nineties and early 2000s it became passé and it has never really regained any of the original underground credibility it had when it first started to appear in the early nineties.

Back then it was the main sound you’d hear at Berlin’s Love Parade for instance, and techno hero Sven Vath came out of the early trance scene.But that hasn’t stopped today’s incarnation of the genre remaining hugely popular, with many of its biggest acts selling out stadium shows on a regular basis, picking up millions of online fans.

Trance has never lost its popularity, it’s just lost some cool points along the way.

In recent years though, time has been a great healer, giving today’s most respected DJs the chance to dig out some of the classics and give them a spin. The universal appeal of trance means it featured heavily in the musical upbringing of many modern electronic music stars.

Playing the most famous trance cuts, making edits or remixes and creating music that has a hint of trance has given the music a new lease of life on the underground. You can hear it on Belfast duo Bicep’s playlist Spotify, released in 2018, which reeks of nostalgia.

Another talented Northern Irish artist, Ejeca, adopted his Trance Wax alias to explore the classics through his own reinterpretations. Ejeca’s edits gave old school cuts a contemporary makeover, making them perfect tools to weave into a set and enliven the dancefloor.

More recently, Amelie Lens ’ released an EP by Farrago called ‘Neontrance’ on her LENSKE label earlier this year.

Other infamous videos include Space Dimension Controller at AVA Festival in Belfast, where he played ‘Ayla (DJ Taucher mix)’ to a typically raucous response from the crowd.

Charlotte De Witte played ‘Universal Nation by Push at Rock Werchter and even Drumcode bossman Adam Beyer opened a set with Radio Slave’s edit of Humate’s ‘Love Stimulation’.

Radio Slave remixed ‘Hablando’ by Ramirez too and Drumcode titan Enrico Sangiuliano reworked CJ Bolland’s mighty ‘Camargue’ this year.

Meanwhile, Evian Christ has gone all the way and been putting on his own trance parties for a while. What all of these DJs are doing is repurposing the trance sound for today’s dancefloor.

You won’t hear anything cheesy or EDM-esque, it’s original trance sounds, sometimes slowed down, sometimes edited but played at the right time to make sense in their sets and give the dancefloor an uplifting, nostalgic moment.

Trance Revival?


At its core, the mini trance revival was all about tapping into great music from the past and utilising it for today’s dancefloors. It’s what DJs do.

Regardless of genre, good music is good music, it’s timeless and there’s always a place for it.

Audiences have been ready for it for a while, with some of the most popular selectors incorporating deeply emotive, melodic sounds into their music, stimulating the crowd’s emotional centres and anticipating a return to the trance realm.

Tale Of Us, Solomun, Dixon, Lee Burridge, the list goes on. It’s not trance per se, but there’s a whiff of it at least.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to experience a goosebump inducing rush of energy every once in a while? Playing trance is an ideal way to inject the dancefloor with some uplifting energy.

Trance from the nineties can slip right in among the techno and house that’s being made today, when played right. Which is why DJs like Charlotte De Witte, Maceo Plex, Nina Kraviz and many others have been playing it in their sets.

“I started playing trance three years ago,” Nina Kraviz told Belgian radio station Studio Brussels last year.

“In 2014 I had this trance flow, so I found a lot of old records and played them. I played‘ Cafe Del Mar’ at Time Warp, I think it started with that – a lot of people took videos of it.”