Trance Around the World

A Goa Sunset. Image Courtesy: http://howanxious.wordpress.com

As a young, avid and ferocious consumer of music dabbling in amateur production, this post has been a long time coming.  No doubt everybody has their individual preferences when it comes to music, and I don’t want to be that person with the single-minded elitist views on what someone should or should not listen to (for the record my favorite band is The Doors), because I’m not.  I love trance music, it’s melodic, it’s uplifting, it’s beautiful, it makes people dance, it has great history, and when it’s done right it can be very emotional.

What is trance?  Well by now, you may have heard of the “electronic dance music” craze that seems to be sweeping the world and enthralling young adults with its characteristic 4-to-the-floor kicks and thudding bass, but most importantly, the highly coveted “drop.”  Trance is of this EDM genre that also includes other sub-genres such as house, electro, dubstep, trap, hardstyle, and a slew of other genre-styles that are beyond my definition.  The differences between each sub-genre are extraordinary, and if you were to tell a trance-fan that Armin Van Buuren was the best dubstep producer in the business you could very well earn yourself a slap in the face, or worse, a thirty minute lecture on why you were wrong.

An electronic music performance at Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas. Image Courtesy: http://youredm.com

I must state that I absolutely love The Doors, I even consider them early pioneers of trance, and likewise I consider Jimi Hendrix an unlikely pioneer of trance as well; this isn’t because of their recorded sessions, but rather their live sets where they often had very very long improvisational jam sections (you can almost picture the stoned hippies dozing off and nodding their heads).  Hendrix himself was one of the most prominent innovators in sound manipulation and experimenting with synths; the wah-wah pedal, a form of frequency filtration, was one of Hendrix’ most well-known examples.

Jimi Hendrix in the groove. Image Courtesy: http://theguardian.com

However, I bring up “dad-rock” not only because I respect and enjoy it, but also because it’s the music my own dad has listened to and enjoyed since I can remember.  My dad would tell me stories about the 60s and 70s when Rock’n’Roll was beginning to bloom and the counterculture movement was taking off, he loved it and wanted to be a part of it and yes, he did see The Doors.  His parents grew up on big band music and show tunes, and when they heard the type of music my dad was playing, such as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, they shrugged it off as noise.  Reflecting on this fills me with a really strange feeling… or sense of nostalgia… or something akin to history repeating itself, because whenever my dad hears a dose of trance or electronic dance music he scoffs and asks me why I’m listening to video game noise (he’s never given it a chance).

But really, it isn’t just video game noise dad.

Trance has underground roots in Goa, India during the late 70s, 80s & 90s where experimental producers from Chicago (the birthplace of house) and the UK congregated during mass hippie movements.  It was during this time that new sound ideas and sound engineering itself matured due to the further implementation of synthesizers, and the scene in Goa became an attraction and experience in itself.  Eventually Goa fell out of favor with trance as its followers and producers became more mainstream and found new hubs in the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany; but trance in Goa still lives on and has retained its status as a birthplace of trance.

Where trance in Goa, commonly referred to as psychedelic trance, has remained consistently underground in terms of popularity, its contemporary progeny, progressive trance, has begun to dominate a certain youthful demographic around the world, most recently in the United States.  Goa is still championed by trance-faithfuls, and young Indians around the country are becoming more and more enthusiastic about trance and its resurgence in India is effectively guaranteed.

Above & Beyond members L to R: Paavo Siljamäki, Tony McGuiness & Jono Grant. Image Courtesy: http://newsroom.mtv.com

There are no other trance producers better at bringing trance back to India in its current form than the trio of Above & Beyond, who in my opinion are the single greatest trance producers in the world.  It is true that a lot of electronic music does sound the same, but London-based producers Above & Beyond consistently create music that evokes more emotion than anyone else in the business, at each set I’ve attended I have seen people weeping from joy.  Above & Beyond has been producing under its own record label, Anjunabeats (inspired by the beach in Goa), for more than a decade, and they have brought people together from all over the world to see their sets.  Having recently wrapped up their Group Therapy India tour, Above & Beyond has acknowledged that India is going to be the next big cultural hotspot for electronic music.

I have yet to witness a group able to bring people together like Above & Beyond is able — having travelled from the United States and reading and hearing testimonies from Indians, it amazes me and makes me happy to know that even across the world in a place I do not know and a completely different culture, I can still feel that emotional connection and appreciation for beautiful music.

I can still feel that eerily similar relationship with my dad that he must have felt with his own, but I have no regrets, because electronic music really is here to stay, and there is no reason not to embrace something you love if the rest of the world loves it as well.

Cheers & Trancefamily ❤

For more information about Above & Beyond visit their official website at:  http://aboveandbeyond.nu

For a crash course in trance music I recommend you check out Above & Beyond’s Podcast:  Group Therapy

One thought on “Trance Around the World

  1. Sounds like something between the background music and meditation music, but not quite. I can’t say I fully understand the noise made by a machine rather than human hand(s) strumming an instrument.

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