I'm listening to every single classic trance track ever made to write a book about them [Update #4 - Tier List sneak peek]

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PROJECT INFORMATION & FAQ


The book​

I have been writing a book about (classic) trance music since late 2020. Up until August 2022, I mostly worked on it occasionally. Since then, this project transformed into something larger than I anticipated/planned, and working on it became one of my core daily routines/activities. The work is ongoing, although I would expect the book to be finished/published no sooner than 2027 (and no later than 2030). To learn more about the book's main goal and what I aim to achieve with its publication, click on the 'FOCUS' chapter. To learn more about its structure, click on the 'CONTENT' chapter. To learn more about the working process (that the post's title refers to) and why it will probably take multiple years to finish the book, click on the 'RESEARCH' chapter.
I find it critically important to clarify what this book will be and won't be (or at least, what will and won’t be the main focus of it) to set the proper expectations for it and avoid any misunderstanding/confusion. So let's start with what it won't be (about). The book won't be history, statistics, or fact-focused. What do I mean by this? Well, to give a few examples, it won't be about explaining in a strict, 'academic way' what trance is or how it was born and how it evolved, changed and branched into different subgenres through the years. Similarly, I don't plan to regurgitate data about how X and Y popular trance tracks topped the charts in Z year. There are two reasons for this. First, many projects already covered these topics quite well (some in books and some in a freely available online form). Second, it's not something that particularly interests me as a writer. Of course, this doesn't mean that the book won't have snippets of historical (and other previously mentioned) information here and there (where it makes sense), but the focus will lie completely elsewhere.

This book is supposed to be a musical and spiritual journey through the different sounds of trance and a deep exploration of what music can be (and how it could affect people on an intellectual and emotional level). I intend to do this by carefully curating music into different categories (chapters), each representing certain themes, sounds, and aspects associated with trance. In these chapters, I plan to analyze the chosen tracks to try to get a better understanding of them and also demonstrate the many sides and nuances of the genre at the same time. Naturally, these music dissections will often involve exploring the tracks’ potential meaning, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual depth, background history, cultural effect, etc. This more involved/serious approach toward music is what brought the book’s idea to life to begin with, and this will be one of the defining pillars of the writing process (from the start all the way to the end).
In the previous chapter, I already made it clear what will be the main focus of this book. Essentially, it will feature detailed analyses of hundreds of trance tunes from the classic era, curated into specific categories that serve to highlight the different aspects of trance music. To elaborate further and give some actual examples: there will be a chapter solely dedicated to tracks with a cosmic, space-like sound or theme. Tracks like Armin - Communication, Absolute Project - Life Search (Trance Mix), or Aurora Borealis - The Milky Way. Another chapter will focus on experimental and genre-bending tracks that did push trance into new and interesting ways. The Francesco Farfa Remix of Mystic Force’s Mystic Force, Bedrock’s Set In Stone, and the Dream House Remix of R.A.F. By Picotto’s Ocean Whispers are all great examples. There will be 25 chapters, with 500 (or possibly more) tunes discussed extensively.

While this covers the majority of the book, at least 100 pages will be dedicated to other topics, with possibly the largest being the planned interviews. I intend to talk to as many trance producers as possible to see behind the curtain. I want to learn how certain tracks were made, what was the inspiration behind them, and what these artists would name their favorite picks from the genre. I have already contacted some key figures from the early trance scene.

There will also be bonus/extra chapters in the book focused on topics like the greatest trance tracks of the classic era (by considering many factors, such as each track's emotional effect, historical significance, etc.), and who are the most important trance producers (based both on the quantity and quality of their work). I’d also like to discuss other things on a few pages, like what are the ten crucial differences between modern ‘trance’ and classic trance music, what the possibles routes are that trance producers should take/explore to rediscover what the genre is about, what were the key periods of the classic era, and a half-subjective, half-objective explanation of what trance music is (or should be).
I’m a maximalist (regarding this passion project of mine, anyway). My original plan was to go through all the major trance compilations and radio shows of the classic era (D.Trance, Tunnel Trance Force, Future Trance, A State Of Trance, etc.) and combine that with my previously acquired knowledge to write a book. However, as time went on and my ambitions grew, I realized that I could only get the full picture and make the most authentic and trustworthy book possible if I had all the knowledge.

Thus, I ultimately decided to listen to every single classic trance track released between 1988 and 2009, although with a small compromise. I decided to only listen to 12” vinyl releases between those years (plus some of the key CD compilation series of the time). I made this conscious decision for two reasons.

First, nearly all the noteworthy tracks came out on 12”, as it was by far the most preferred format by DJs and producers in the classic era. So listening to those records and also to the previously mentioned CD compilations basically ensures I’ll get the full picture. Second, including other CDs (for example) in my research would have made things needlessly complicated (and possibly neverending).

For context, there are tens of thousands of CD releases on Discogs tagged with the ‘trance’ label (along with five other ones) between 1988 and 2009. These CDs often feature over 20-30 tracks, but in reality, most of those are from other genres (that I would only find out if I’d waste my time listening to them) or are tracks that can already be found on vinyl or the previously mentioned major CD compilations.
Design is usually one of the last steps of a book’s creation process, and while some early design work has already been done to get a basic picture of how the book’s layout will look, I’m not comfortable sharing any images about it yet. However, I can share some details to get my idea/vision across.

Because I plan to make the book visually pleasing and interesting, each of the 500 (or more) music dissections/analyses will be accompanied by a picture taken of their corresponding vinyl/album, along with a portrait of the artist behind the given piece of music. Around 35-40% of each page will be filled with images, while the rest will be filled with writing.

For easier reading and improving the design further, the pages will use a two-column layout, with small margins on all sides (with ‘justify text’ alignment). Color coding will also be a key part of the book, as each key chapter (e.g., the previously mentioned ‘Cosmos,' etc.) will have its own distinct page/border color and design (without negatively affecting the readability).

As for the materials, I plan to use the highest quality materials and printing methods available to make a sturdy book with deep, inky colors and (as much as possible) tear-resistant pages. So expect hardcover binding, high DPI photos with excellent print quality, etc. Also, due to the book's planned design and potential length, it won’t be regular-sized (A5); it will be double-sized (A4) instead, with at least 600 pages.
When all the work is finished (including the writing process, interviews, page-setting, proofreading, design, etc.), I intend to launch a Kickstarter campaign to make the book available in physical form. Donations will not be used for personal gains, only to cover printing and shipping expenses, so this will be a non-profit fundraiser. Furthermore, every supporter will receive a DRM-free digital copy of the book. I haven't decided about publishing the book in online stores, though.

I plan to contact a company based in middle Europe to get the books printed and distributed across the globe, as most copies will probably ship to countries like Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Hungary. In theory, this would help to keep shipping costs down. At least a few hundred supporters will be needed to make the physical release a reality, with an expected price between $50 and $75 per book (without shipping). This calculation is based on its estimated length (600 pages in A4 size), content (frequent use of colored images), and overall quality (hardcover, etc.).

About myself​

I’m David, 28 years old (soon to be 29), and I live in Hungary, Europe. Previously, I worked as a video game journalist (although I also covered tech news and movies), then as a financial news assistant. I also have years of experience in e-trading (with consumer electronics), and I was part of multiple podcasts/radio shows in the past that involved topics along the lines of politics & society, movies, music theory, and video games.
I was first introduced to trance music during my first year at school in 2000 (as far as I remember, mainly with some Tiesto tracks). I instantly fell in love with that distinct sound I’ve heard, although up until the late 2000s, my taste in music was still quite all over the place, unfocused, and perhaps directionless (or maybe I’m just harsh to myself). Around 2008-2009, I rediscovered trance thanks to a friend’s recommendations (Deadline, Carte Blanche, In Silence, etc.), who at the time was also an avid listener of Armin’s A State Of Trance radio show. It only took a few months for me to get hooked, and after that, every week, I eagerly waited for the next Thursday so that I could immerse myself once again in the world of trance.

Looking back at it, it was definitely the time when trance already started to drastically change and move away from its roots (and I actually stopped listening to ASOT a few years after), but it was still a great gateway for me to jump back into the genre and rekindle my love for this type of music (and discover many old classics). Especially because a decade or so later, my passion for trance is higher than before, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. It’s just that now I don’t really listen to any trance records beyond 2005/2006, aside from a few quality releases. This goes to show you that you didn’t really need to be a part of the underground club culture of the early 90s or the big clubbing life of the late 90s and early 2000s to appreciate what was made back then.
I have roughly 300 tracks in my lossless collection that I would rate 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars and would easily put these among the best trance tunes of all time. I was born in 1993 and was first introduced to trance in the early 2000s, but I have a soft spot for the early 90s (1993, 1994, and 1995 in particular). Naturally, this is somewhat reflected in my top list of tracks, although making a top ten list for me would still be nearly impossible. Regardless, these are some of my picks that I would confidently call my absolute favorites.

1. Ace Da Brain - Magic Waters [2005]
2. Malcolm McLaren - Remembrance (Parks & Wilson V's Obscure Remembrance Mix) [1997]
3. Nostrum - Polaris [1995]
4. Andromeda - Trip To Space [1993]
5. The Source Experience - The Source Experience [1993]
6. Lange Featuring The Morrighan - Follow Me (Lange's Club Mix) [2000]
7. Mystic Force - Mystic Force [1994] (commonly mislabeled as Psychic Harmony)
8. MAYBE | Sunday Club - Healing Dream (Original Mix) [1997]
9. MAYBE | Cosmic Baby - Fantasia (Celestial Harmonies) [1994]
My goals are quite straightforward with this book. I want to preserve this wonderful era/style of electronic music in written form. I also want to make people remember what’s great about the trance genre, thus potentially inspiring some of them to create tunes in the same spirituality and mindset again, preferably with old production techniques. I’d like people to think and care more deeply about music in general instead of just having surface-level connections with it. Plus, I would like to introduce new people to the world of trance.

FAQ​

You can help in multiple ways, but the most important part, for now, would be to streamline my workflow even more by automatizing certain things so that I could spend more time listening to and analyzing music instead of writing, searching, filtering, and comparing a lot of music-related data. If you have some basic programming knowledge and are familiar with SQL and the Discogs API, feel free to contact me via a private message. Other ways you can help involve helping me getting in contact with certain trance labels and artists, proofreading & translating the book, and creating the overall visual design/aesthetic for it.
I use Discogs, as it’s the ultimate source for finding and compiling music-related data. The site doesn’t recognize trance as a genre but as a style. I focus on 12” releases under the ‘Trance,’ ‘Progressive Trance,’ ‘Hard Trance,’ and ‘Tech Trance’ labels between 1988 and 2009. The other three trance styles that the site differentiates from each other are ‘Neo Trance,’ ‘Goa Trance,’ and ‘Psy Trance,’ but I ignore the latter two for reasons I explain in a later FAQ point, while I also ignore neo trance because it’s something that is pretty much exclusive to the modern days of the genre (and not something that has anything to do in terms of sound with classic trance anyways).

I also use online editors like Google Docs and Google Sheets to take notes, write down ideas and keep track of my work, but most of the time, I just update my ‘Ultimate Trance List’ chart (in Google Sheets) as I progress with my project. It has individual tabs for years between 1988 and 2009, a master list for all classic trance tracks (with artist names, track names, and release years included), color codes for better navigation, and some personal notes here and there.

For listening to and discovering music, I generally use YouTube. I don’t really like music-streaming services, plus I like YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, and it has the widest selection of music, thus maximizing the chances that I find the given track I’m searching for while working on my project. With all that being said, some really obscure tracks (especially pre-1993) can’t be found on YouTube either. In those rare instances, I can’t do anything but skip those tracks entirely.
If I have a track that manages to pique my interest, I try to acquire it as soon as possible in lossless quality to ensure that I give it ideal listening conditions. After that, I give it a few spins in order to decide whether it’s worthy of being among the best of the genre and being part of my personal collection or not. Sometimes making this decision only take a few listens, sometimes it takes ten, and sometimes it takes multiple weeks, as understanding and truly appreciating the given tune may require a lot of effort, like establishing a certain level of intellectual and emotional connection between it and the listener.
I have an extensive online chart (in Google Sheets) that I constantly edit and update as I progress with my research. It has individual tabs for years between 1988 and 2009, a master list for all classic trance tracks (with artist names, track names, and release years included), color codes for better navigation, and some personal notes here and there.

The chart is extremely handy (and even necessary) in helping me keep track of my progress and could also potentially be useful for other trance enthusiasts. I’m not going to make it publicly available yet, though, because it will be completely revised once we (me and a programmer friend) complete our custom script to grab specific data from Discogs using the Discogs API.
I think there’s a rough consensus in the trance community that the classic era started with the release of Jam & Spoon’s remix of The Age of Love in 1992 and ended somewhere in the mid-2000s when R&B, rap, electro, and other emerging genres pushed trance out of the mainstream and the clubbing world (which eventually led to a change in its sound).

While this is technically true, the change in sound didn’t happen in a span of a day - it was a multi-year transition instead. Thus, many tracks were still being produced in the vein and spirituality of classic trance in the second half of the 2000s (just noticeably fewer than before), most of the time with old-school production methods.

Somewhat interestingly, the popularity of trance music throughout the years and its slow change/transition in its sound in the late 2000s can be seen mirrored pretty accurately by the number of 12” vinyl releases. 12” was the most used/preferred format by those who produced and mixed tracks in the old spirituality and style, but as new production techniques started to emerge and trance music started to become less ‘organic’ sounding, fewer and fewer 12” releases came out.

In the heydays of trance (1999, 2000, 2001), the yearly releases were around 6,000, which dropped to a measly 1300 in 2007 (arguably the last noteworthy year of trance), while in 2008 and 2009 combined, only around 1200 records were released in total (these were the years when a few uplifting artists still managed to hold the line, like Talla 2XLC, Andy Blueman, etc.).

As for the early years (1988-1992), I honestly don’t expect to talk about many tracks from this era in the book, considering that the overwhelming majority of the music released back then of the so-called trance tracks were proto-trance at best (or just not up to my quality standards). Still, from a writing standpoint, it’s important to learn about this 4-5 year period that eventually led to the birth of trance music, as it gives valuable context to my work.
I associate many things with trance based on my best understanding and knowledge of it. Feelings, thoughts, concepts, themes. These elements include a continuously evolving/building (so progressive in the truest sense of the word) sound, a solid forward momentum/pacing, a strong emotional core, a certain type of musical consistency and harmony between the different parts of the music, etc. Said elements can be found in all the noteworthy works from the classic era (let it be Mystic Force's Mystic Force with heavy ambient elements from '94, Sunday Club's deeply meditative and journey-like Healing Dream from ‘97, or perhaps a hard trance banger like the Daedalus Mix of Flutlicht's Icarus from 2001).

Psy and goa simply don't fall under the same umbrella, in my opinion, and this is a sentiment I’ve seen echoed in many places. They are vastly different compared to other forms of trance. Thus, most trance radio shows and albums never really featured many tracks from these styles (definitely not in the classic era). Two of the largest classic trance Facebook groups also barely feature posts with goa/psy tracks. The same is true for the uploads of the Trance Classics channel, which is a number one source for most trance enthusiasts. Finally, there's a reason why people regularly leave the world 'trance’ out when they talk about goa and psy (in conversation, they usually refer to them as goa/psy instead of goa trance or psy trance).
I respect his insane knowledge and agree with some of his statements, like how trance as a genre name was probably coined in 1991. However, I heavily question (or even disagree with) him regarding some of his conclusions and observations on trance music. It seems to me that he implies trance was born in the late 80s, and then he explicitly states that “when [he] thinks of pure trance music, [he] really doesn’t think of anything past 1994.”

My problem with this statement is two-fold. First, I don’t really think it makes too much sense to tie a whole genre’s creation to a point when the first sounds associated with that genre started being used in tracks. Sure, the early The KLF and Dance 2 Trance works have had some trance elements (and it’s true for many other works pre-1993), but were they true trance tracks? If a track is mostly rooted in other genres and only a fraction of it is trance, is it truly trance?

The way I see it, trance was a growing and evolving element in those years and a form of a supplementary element to many early tracks, but it only really became its own, distinct musical genre in 1993, with the arrival of classics like Quench - Dreams, The Source Experience - The Source Experience, 4 Voice - Eternal Spirit, Andromeda - Trip To Space, and maybe Datura - Eternity (because calling this one trance could be a stretch).

My second problem is related to the 1994-statement. I realize one can make a really solid argument about how trance has changed after the early 90s. Indeed, it has changed, and I wouldn’t question it for a second. However, I wouldn’t associate that change in any way with the death of trance (even if I have a soft spot for early 90s stuff), and I would definitely disagree on when that turning point was. Not in 1994, that’s for sure, as the experimental mindset and spirituality common in this era were present until at least 1995 (and probably 1996 even). Just think about Nostrum - Polaris, Sunday Club - Paladian Dawn, or the Dream House Remix of R.A.F. By Picotto - Ocean Whispers.

OTHER​

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This spreadsheet will be used to compile every single worthwhile trance track (4.0+ stars, with a few exceptions where notes are included). Album names and artist names will redirect users to their corresponding Discogs page. Clicking on a track name will open a link to its most popular upload on YouTube. Release year and track length are color-coded to show in which trance era the given track came out and in which length category it falls. Clicking on a year switches to its corresponding tab in the spreadsheet (e.g., if you click on 1993, you will see a separate tab where you’ll be able to see all trance releases from that year). The ratings are based on my personal opinion and experience. The Web Purchase column shows the following options: Beatport, Juno Download, Apple Music, and Amazon Music (with hyperlinks if the given track is available to buy somewhere). Sometimes notes are included (e.g., if the track is available to buy but only in a shorter/mixed-over form). CD/WEB shows whether the track has seen a digital release or if it's a vinyl-only release. I may share the spreadsheet sometime in the future.


PROGRESS REPORTS

Due to character limitations, I edited the first comment under my post, in which you'll be able to read my progress reports.​
 
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PROGRESS REPORTS

(Era names and year ranges are not final. They are mostly just there for the sake of convenience.)
Green color = The work has been finished
Yellow color = The work is ongoing
Red color = The work has not yet started

The proto-trance era (1988-1992)

I decided to group 1988, 1989, and 1990 together since these years saw very few releases that were even remotely related to trance music. As a matter of fact, I haven’t really seen the term ‘trance’ used during this period at all, aside from a few examples. I could best describe these three years as the dawn of proto-trance, with some interesting releases (mainly from The KLF and Dance 2 Trance) that represented the first stepping stones on the road to the eventual birth of trance music.

In all honesty, if I ignore certain tracks’ historical significance, none of them are so special from this era that I would actually consider listening to them regularly for my own listening pleasures. Well, except one, if (moderate) cheating is allowed. In 1990, The MacKenzie released a track called Higher In The Sky. I think it’s fair to say that it was ahead of its time and definitely had a ‘trancey’ feel to it, but it also lacked something (well, two things) that prevented it be recognized as possibly the first (major) trance release in history.

First of all, the original mastering’s sound was quite muted and colorless, homogenizing the melody and making it harder to appreciate the track’s many nuances. Second, most trance tracks are between the 6-8 minute range for a reason, as this length makes it possible to build up (and then deconstruct) the music properly and achieve the desired hypnotic, transcendent effect. Well, in 2013, the track was remastered and re-released on The Sound of Belgium CD, bringing life to an old (but mostly forgotten) classic by making its sound significantly punchier, while a few years ago, MrFox (YouTuber) bumped up the track’s length from 4:38 to 7:27, thus creating an extended version of Higher In The Sky that now fully resembles a proper trance classic.

Here are a few tracks that I think have historical significance in the eventual creation of the trance genre (from 1988 to 1990):

1. The KLF - What Time Is Love [1988] (Hypnotize by Illegal City and Psycho from Psycho Team (both from '88) borrow elements from it)
2. Sigmund Und Seine Freunde - Erdbeermund (The Orchestral-Strobelight-Version) [1989]
3. The KLF - Kylie Said Trance [1989]
4. Age of Love - The Age of Love (Boeing Mix) [1990]
5. Dance 2 Trance - Dance 2 Trance [1990]
6. Dance 2 Trance - We Came In Peace [1990]
7. Lux - Deep Down (Dedicated Deep Age Version) [1990]
8. MC B. - Aquarius (Share The Dream) (Full Moon Mix) [1990]
9. Revelation - First Power (Domination Dub) [1990]
10. Subliminal Aurra - Ease The Pressure (Hypnotic/Trance Ambient Mix) [1990]
11. The MacKenzie - Higher In The Sky [1990]
1991 was definitely a more interesting year than the previous three combined, as a strong momentum toward developing/discovering a new type of sound was clearly noticeable in the electronic music landscape (a sound that we now associate with classic trance music). It was also the first year artists started to use the word' trance' quite frequently to differentiate their records from others (hence, the trance genre name was born).

It’s important to mention, though, that these records were still far from being trance in most cases (they just incorporated more trance elements), as many of them were heavily rooted in other styles and genres, such as acid, techno, new beat, ambient, Eurodance, and more. Basically, trance was just a supplementary element to their sound instead of being their main part. Still, 1991 was a year of significant musical expansion and evolution (probably the most important when it comes to the creation of trance), and it was the definitive year of proto-trance.

Here are some noteworthy picks from 1991:

1. Erasure - Chorus (Pure Trance Mix By Youth)
2. LDC - Wir Schicken Dich Ins All
3. Mental Cube - Q (Santa Monica Mix)
4. Midi Rain - Always (Club Vocal Mix)
5. Moby - Go (Subliminal Mix)
6. New Scene - Tonight
7. R.H.C. - Fever Called Love (Original)
8. Zyon - No Fate (Struggle Continuous Mix)
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The era of experimentation (1993-1995)

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The rise of trance (1996-1998)

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The golden years (1999-2001)

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The era of expansion / The dusk of trance (2002-2004)

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The dusk of trance / Changing tides (2005-2007)

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Changing tides / The last remnants (2008-2009)

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Magdelayna

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Youre coming up to an era which had the PvD lovemix of Love Stimulation and then Li Kwan - Point Zero. For me,those two are some of the most important early Trance records,they were years ahead of their time.

Great concept by the way! I bet you find some great gems.
 
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Gagi

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lack the melody and emotional depth I associate with the Trance genre
Not sure how I feel about this, as it seems to me you're looking at it retrospectively, by looking at old trance through the lens of the newer one, instead of exploring what trance was, and how it grew out of those unpolished, unrefined, chaotic tracks. Seems to me also, judging by your post, that it will be somewhat subjective and based on your taste. I'm hoping those interviews provide another point of view.

Also, how about those early tracks labelled as techno/whatever but are, in fact, more trancey? Are you counting in tracks labelled as, for example, Progressive Trance? Not sure how the search works on Discogs. Just trying to help.



In general though, love that someone is doing this, and I wish you good luck with it. Will certainly be following the progress, and if you need any information, feel free to use the forum.

In our The Best of Trance (1988-2007) section, we have tabs for each year, so you can make use of that if it helps you be more efficient. And also, if you find a great classic which we don't have yet, feel free to create a thread for it too!
 
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trancedanne

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Apart from Lieb and some goa producers, trance was pretty shit until 95-96
 
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Not sure how I feel about this, as it seems to me you're looking at it retrospectively, by looking at old trance through the lens of the newer one, instead of exploring what trance was, and how it grew out of those unpolished, unrefined, chaotic tracks.

I'm not entirely sure how you came to this conclusion, as I thought I was pretty specific/precise about how I look at Trance and never implied anything you assume. If what you think was the case, then my personal Top 10 wouldn't have four-five tracks from the early '90s (also, keep in mind these are tracks that I've listened to at least 100 times):
However, there are two critical things to note here.
  1. First, it's almost universally agreed upon in the Trance community that the genre only started in 1993, as nearly all tracks before that were proto-trance tracks or New Beat / Techno / Acid / etc. tracks with extremely minimal Trance elements. I've also seen this sentiment echoed/supported by multiple Trance DJs and producers I've talked to in the past. Even the prominent and highly-regarded Trance Classic YouTube channel only features a handful of tracks pre-1993. The same is true for Trancefix's The Best of Trance (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992) section. Of course, you can still point to Ishkur's Guide To Electronics Music to counter my opinion and many others' somewhat, but at that point, your selection of "Trance" music will be limited to an extremely small amount of tracks. Therefore, saying that I'm looking at old Trance through the lens of the newer one doesn't make sense. No, I'm simply looking at old "not-Trance-yet" tracks (e.g., proto-Trance) through the lens of Trance. So, in all honesty, I shouldn't even need to do this, but I still decided to go through 1988-1992 to get the complete picture and discover the origins and the steps that led to the eventual creation of Trance.
  2. Second, there are many things I associate with Trance. Feelings, thoughts, concepts, themes. A continuously evolving/building (so progressive in the truest sense of the word) sound. A strong forward momentum and pacing. I could go on and on, but as a non-native English speaker, right now, it perhaps would be a little challenging for me to fully explain my thoughts and feelings about this (in the book, though, I'll dedicate multiple pages to properly explore and understand the meaning and definition of Trance music). The point is that the things I associate with actual Trance music can be found in all the noteworthy works from the Classic Era (let it be Mystic Force's Mystic Force with heavy ambient elements from '94, Sunday Club's deeply meditative and journey-like Healing Dream from' 97, or perhaps a Hard Trance banger like the Daedalus Mix of Flutlicht's Icarus from 2001). So I'm not looking at Trance through a modern or an old lens. I'm simply looking at Trance through what Trance really is, based on my best understanding and knowledge.
Seems to me also, judging by your post, that it will be somewhat subjective and based on your taste. I'm hoping those interviews provide another point of view.

Of course, it will be subjective. Art is inherently subjective, as it makes you see things through the artists' eyes, and it's especially true for music. If I would ever even imply that my book would be objective, I would not just be lying to my potential audience but to myself as well, and I would be no longer credible after that. Being entirely objective is only possible when you talk about a product, not about a piece of art. However, the more knowledge/experience you have in a particular segment of art (e.g., video games, movies, paintings, etc.), the more your subjective views and the theoretical objective viewpoint will start to align. And I challenge you to find anyone else willing to put the same amount of work into exploring Trance music as I'm planning/doing right now.

And you are right. One of the reasons why the interviews will be there is to make the voice of prominent Trance producers heard, thus hopefully making the book even more balanced and possibly more objective (even though 100% objectivity is simply impossible due to the nature of art and how each individual perceives it).

Also, how about those early tracks labeled as techno/whatever but are, in fact, more trancey? Are you counting in tracks labelled as, for example, Progressive Trance? Not sure how the search works on Discogs. Just trying to help.

Any help is appreciated. I use the following search filters on Discogs: 12" and Trance (under Styles). The latter lists anything remotely Trance-related (ensuring I listen to every single Trance track ever made). So any track that has just a slight amount of Trance sound in it (e.g., New Beat, Acid, Happy Hardcore, Techno, Eurodance, Italian Disco, etc. tracks with Trance elements), as well as all sub-styles/sub-genres of Trance (Progressive Trance, Uplifting Trance, Balaeric Trance, etc.).

In general though, love that someone is doing this, and I wish you good luck with it. Will certainly be following the progress, and if you need any information, feel free to use the forum.

Thanks! I'll try to post updates after every year finished. I'll probably post the next one after finishing 1992.
 
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1993, 1994, and 1995 are a whole different story. Some of my absolute favorites came out during these years (and the topics you linked mainly include tracks from these three years). I already mentioned some in my previous comment, but there's Eternal Spirit by 4Voice, After Hours by Unreal, Point Zero by Li Kwan, and possibly many more.

Youre coming up to an era which had the PvD lovemix of Love Stimulation and then Li Kwan - Point Zero. For me,those two are some of the most important early Trance records,they were years ahead of their time.

Great concept by the way! I bet you find some great gems.

Thanks! Point Zero is definitely one of the best "journey-like" Trance tracks I've heard (it will be in the book).
 

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Thanks for taking the time to respond, and in great detail. I'll comment on the first part of the post, as I agree with the rest.

I was mainly basing my ("lens") comment on thinking that you seem to expect music to sound a certain way in order to be able to call it trance. I understand the pros of that, but when the genre was being born, we had no measuring stick. If it was called trance, it was most probably trance. Now you can say that it doesn't have what trance after it had, but that's about it. But seeing you haven't dismissed the tracks completely because of it, we're on the same page here. I understand the lines are a bit blurry when it comes to genre boundaries in early trance history.

Different producers who were there in the early days could definitely point you towards other important releases or sub-scenes, sub-cultures which gave birth to trance until it all became globally recognized. I remember Airwave talking about Peyote - Alcatraz being one of the early examples of trance (or best, or something along those lines).

You can also try to ping @Muzikxpress, he had quite a lot of interviews with trance legends, so he would be a good source of information if you need it. His YouTube channel is where you can find these interviews.
 
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Thanks for taking the time to respond, and in great detail. I'll comment on the first part of the post, as I agree with the rest.

I was mainly basing my ("lens") comment on thinking that you seem to expect music to sound a certain way in order to be able to call it trance. I understand the pros of that, but when the genre was being born, we had no measuring stick. If it was called trance, it was most probably trance. Now you can say that it doesn't have what trance after it had, but that's about it. But seeing you haven't dismissed the tracks completely because of it, we're on the same page here. I understand the lines are a bit blurry when it comes to genre boundaries in early trance history.

Different producers who were there in the early days could definitely point you towards other important releases or sub-scenes, sub-cultures which gave birth to trance until it all became globally recognized. I remember Airwave talking about Peyote - Alcatraz being one of the early examples of trance (or best, or something along those lines).

You can also try to ping @Muzikxpress, he had quite a lot of interviews with trance legends, so he would be a good source of information if you need it. His YouTube channel is where you can find these interviews.

That's a funny coincidence that I actually started listening to Peyote - Alcatraz (as part of my 1992 journey) just before I started reading your comment. I know Twan (from MuzikXpress), and I'm his friend on Facebook. I'll make sure to get in contact with him when I feel it's time for doing some interviews and such, but right now, my main focus is going through the years (1988-2009).
 
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HTY

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Your goal is to create a book to talk about the different sounds and aspects of Trance, but do you really need to listen to every Trance track ever made to do that? I don’t think so, seems like your time could be better spent listening and reading what the pioneers and producers were saying now and in the past. I feel like I could paint a relevatively extensive picture of some periods of Trance, but likely only heard 20-30% of total tracks from that period. You don’t need to listen to 500,000 tracks to come to an adequate conclusion or groupings.
 

LostLegend

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Seems like a crazy undertaking to try and listen to that much of just one genre. Fair play for putting in that much time and effort to your craft.

It is worth mentioning there are plenty of instances of tracks and artists that are not strictly trance that were kind of adopted by the trance scene and its followers. Faithless, Way Out West, James Holden and a few more, who would class themselves as house or breaks, but still had a massive influence within the genre.

So much of the progressive side flip flops quite a lot with the prog house scene as well. James Holden, early Gabriel & Dresden, Bedrock, Sasha & Digweed etc.

Best of luck to you though, look forward to reading how this thread progresses!
 

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What exactly is your book about, and what has driven you to write it? Because most books on a subject are written when someone can draw on a lifetime, or at least a couple of decades of direct experience. Your OP sounds a little like you made the decision to write a book first, and the decision to acquire the relevant knowledge second.

I'm not sure what value there is in writing your own subjective opinions on thousands of tunes that fit your own subjective opinion of what trance is. I've been listening to it for ~25 years and even I wouldn't claim to have the level of objective knowledge to make an interesting book. Statements like this:

each category/chapter will focus on different themes/concepts associated with Trance music, such as Dreams, Energy, Cosmos, etc.

are concerning because they are meaningless outside of your own interpretation. I have never heard anyone discuss trance in these terms.

Statements like this:
basically every relevant track came out on 12", so there's no point in looking at CDs

suugest that you are under-qualified to do this. One of the most important scenes in early trance music was Goa (India) which spawned Goa trance and Psytrance. There, DJs couldn't play vinyl because the country is too hot, records would melt in the sun (they played off DAT and cassette tapes). Sure you'll find most of the 'big in Europe' releases on vinyl, but many psy/Goa labels viewed CD as the most important format.

Perhaps most importantly, did you know this has already been done, just last year?

Hypnotised – A Journey Through Trance (1990-2005) book explores the genre’s history

A book which I'm fairly sure nobody here bought, and seemed to also suffer from subjective opinions, despite a significant amount of research and interviews.

I really think Musik Express has cornered the market here. Youtube video interviews are by far the best way to get across the stories and detail behind trance music. To capture people's interest you need anecdotes, stories, analysis of culture, clubs, DJs, record shops, studios, drugs and clubbers to get a true sense of why the genre existed and why it went where it did. It is never coming back in its old form, just look at any musical/cultural trend in history for evidence of this. We can only hope that something else exciting appears in the future.

Good luck and everything, I hope you enjoy some great tunes along the way.
 

Magdelayna

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What exactly is your book about, and what has driven you to write it? Because most books on a subject are written when someone can draw on a lifetime, or at least a couple of decades of direct experience. Your OP sounds a little like you made the decision to write a book first, and the decision to acquire the relevant knowledge second.

I'm not sure what value there is in writing your own subjective opinions on thousands of tunes that fit your own subjective opinion of what trance is. I've been listening to it for ~25 years and even I wouldn't claim to have the level of objective knowledge to make an interesting book. Statements like this:



are concerning because they are meaningless outside of your own interpretation. I have never heard anyone discuss trance in these terms.

Statements like this:


suugest that you are under-qualified to do this. One of the most important scenes in early trance music was Goa (India) which spawned Goa trance and Psytrance. There, DJs couldn't play vinyl because the country is too hot, records would melt in the sun (they played off DAT and cassette tapes). Sure you'll find most of the 'big in Europe' releases on vinyl, but many psy/Goa labels viewed CD as the most important format.

Perhaps most importantly, did you know this has already been done, just last year?

Hypnotised – A Journey Through Trance (1990-2005) book explores the genre’s history

A book which I'm fairly sure nobody here bought, and seemed to also suffer from subjective opinions, despite a significant amount of research and interviews.

I really think Musik Express has cornered the market here. Youtube video interviews are by far the best way to get across the stories and detail behind trance music. To capture people's interest you need anecdotes, stories, analysis of culture, clubs, DJs, record shops, studios, drugs and clubbers to get a true sense of why the genre existed and why it went where it did. It is never coming back in its old form, just look at any musical/cultural trend in history for evidence of this. We can only hope that something else exciting appears in the future.

Good luck and everything, I hope you enjoy some great tunes along the way.

I agree,i think most of here could write a book on our version of the Trance genre.

Id love to see a big budget BBC style documentry on the whole genre,with interviews of the pioneers etc...it probably would never happen which is a great shame. Theres enough rich history and amazing music to teach the world about this genre of music.
 

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Dudeeee. Every track?!?. That’s some commitment right there, do you not have to go to work or talk to your girlfriend or something or you just blasting the Trance 24/7 in order to hit your goals hahaha.

Listening to a track only once though….I dunno dude, seems flawed, not sure what results you are hoping for. Got a whole bunch of tracks I like that took multiple lessons to understand, and a whole bunch I couldn’t appreciate until later down the years. Sometimes a tracks gotta sit in the brain a while right before you understand it
 
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What exactly is your book about, and what has driven you to write it? Because most books on a subject are written when someone can draw on a lifetime, or at least a couple of decades of direct experience. Your OP sounds a little like you made the decision to write a book first, and the decision to acquire the relevant knowledge second.

Then your assumption is wrong. I've been listening to (classic) Trance for over two decades (and extremely actively for roughly 15 years), and the idea to write the book only came up approximately two years ago. I have an undying love and passion for the genre - you could say it's a part of my lifestyle and who I am as a person. And I realized there's perhaps something I could do that is meaningful and could be beneficial for the genre's health and community. Why should I only share my music analysis in Facebook messages, posts, and real-life conversations? Why not put those ideas in my head into a book? Why not try to use my knowledge and love of the genre to create something that can have a larger positive effect? Why not try actually make people remember what's great about the genre, and this way, potentially inspire some of them to create tunes in the same spirituality and mindset again? Why not try to respectfully capture and preserve this great era and style of electronic music in written form?

Let me put it this way. There are many reasons why I'm writing this book, but money is not one of them (I plan to make the book wholly non-profit and only use the Kickstarter funds to cover the printing and shipping expenses for the supporters). I do this for the passion (and you could say responsibility) I feel for Trance music. And again, no, the idea to write a book about it didn't come up first, but I thought it was already clear from the way how I talked about Trance music in the entirety of my post and also from this sentence: "Before I started writing the book, I had already discovered at least 250-300 tracks through general listening, suggestions, etc., that are more than likely worthy of being among the best Trance tunes of all time." I just simply want to make the best book possible because it's important to me. Therefore, I want to acquire as much knowledge and understanding of Trance music as I can.

I'm not sure what value there is in writing your own subjective opinions on thousands of tunes that fit your own subjective opinion of what trance is. I've been listening to it for ~25 years and even I wouldn't claim to have the level of objective knowledge to make an interesting book.

Well, then, maybe there's no value in it for YOU. But there might be value in it for others. The book is not supposed to be just for trance-heads. It's also supposed to be for people who might be interested in discovering something new that they haven't heard before. I don't want to make this book a strict, Wiki-esque music history book. There are already many of those, and it's not something that particularly interests me as it's not that relatable/interesting/engaging to me. Instead, my book is supposed to be a musical and spiritual journey through the different sounds of Trance music and a deep exploration of what music can be (and how it could affect someone on an intellectual and emotional level). And, of course, the book will be subjective. As I've stated previously in an answer to Gagi:

"Art is inherently subjective, as it makes you see things through the artists' eyes, and it's especially true for music. If I would ever even imply that my book would be objective, I would not just be lying to my potential audience but to myself as well, and I would be no longer credible after that. Being entirely objective is only possible when you talk about a product, not about a piece of art. However, the more knowledge/experience you have in a particular segment of art (e.g., video games, movies, paintings, etc.), the more your subjective views and the theoretical objective viewpoint will start to align. And I challenge you to find anyone else willing to put the same amount of work into exploring Trance music as I'm planning/doing right now."

Statements like this [...] suugest that you are under-qualified to do this. One of the most important scenes in early trance music was Goa (India) which spawned Goa trance and Psytrance. There, DJs couldn't play vinyl because the country is too hot, records would melt in the sun (they played off DAT and cassette tapes). Sure you'll find most of the 'big in Europe' releases on vinyl, but many psy/Goa labels viewed CD as the most important format.

Thank you, Mr. Armchair Critic, for pointing out how underqualified I am. I am still going to write the book, though. But I'll send you a copy once it's done just so you can leave a 1-star review, become satisfied, and feel a sense of accomplishment. As for Psy and Goa: these two are so vastly different from literally every other form of Trance that most Trance radio shows and albums never really featured many tracks from them. The same is true if you look at discussions in two of the largest Trance FB groups (Trance Classics - The Official Group and Classics Trance). Goa/Psy posts barely ever come up. The same is true for the uploads of the Trance Classics channel, and I could go on and on. Furthermore, there's a reason why people regularly leave the world 'Trance' out when they talk about Goa and Psy (in conversation, they usually refer to them as Goa/Psy instead of Goa Trance or Psy Trance). And I agree with these sentiments. Thus, I don't plan to explore the world of Goa and Psy because it doesn't have the elements, themes, concepts, and feelings I associate with Trance music. Of course, you can disagree with this statement, and that's fine.

Perhaps most importantly, did you know this has already been done, just last year? [...] A book which I'm fairly sure nobody here bought, and seemed to also suffer from subjective opinions, despite a significant amount of research and interviews.

I'm quite aware of it, as I was one of the book's 300 supporters, and I also got the limited vinyl with it. Hypnotized is undoubtedly a good source of knowledge and information. However, it's more of a Trance history book, so it's quite different in many ways from what I want to create. Again, I can only repeat myself: my book is supposed to be more like a musical and spiritual journey through the different sounds of Trance, and it's also about the psychology of understanding music on a deeper level. It will also be much bigger (600 pages roughly in A4 size, which would be 1200 or more pages in regular book size), featuring many images about artists and records for a more immersive/engaging reading (and listening) experience, with professional book visual design (some early design work was already done).

---

To conclude this long answer post: my work on the book really kicked into a higher gear after I was diagnosed with cancer, and I had to realize how fragile life can be. And we have to try to make the most out of it - in my case, trying to create and leave something behind that I feel/consider meaningful. I'm going to chemo every single week, and I find strength in the people who surround me, in Trance music, and in the book I'm passionately working on. I'm doing it for my undying love of Trance music.

And I'm a person who is between a realist and an optimist. The realist mentality keeps me on the ground, but the optimist attitude also helps me to dream, imagine, plan and realize ideas, climb the steps and reach things in life. I think this is a healthy mindset to have. I'm also a person who likes to have meaningful and fruitful discussions and who is entirely open to constructive criticism, as critical (but ultimately accurate/true) statements and suggestions could help to improve my work, who I am as a person, etc.

However, by reading your whole comment multiple times (and by reacting to so many of your thoughts), I had to realize that it's full of unnecessary negativity and spitefulness. It's almost like you would desperately want my book to never even get made. And although I have a background in journalism (movie reviews, news, video game reviews, tech reviews, etc.), I delved deep enough into the different aspects of human psychology (mainly between 2020 and 2021) to realize that I absolutely do not need this pressure and malevolence in my life, especially while I'm dealing with a life-threatening sickness.

So this will also be my last comment here, and I'm not going to update my post on this site, as I do not wish to be a part of a community that is so unwelcoming and hostile towards someone who doesn't have anything but love and passion for their supposedly common interest. There's no point in writing here if people mistake hostility for constructive criticism. However, for those who are interested and got in contact with me, you'll still be able to keep track of the book's progress via the public Google Sheet page that gets updated daily/live.

Listening to a track only once though….I dunno dude, seems flawed, not sure what results you are hoping for. Got a whole bunch of tracks I like that took multiple lessons to understand, and a whole bunch I couldn’t appreciate until later down the years. Sometimes a tracks gotta sit in the brain a while right before you understand it

Exactly. There are many tracks in Trance music that require a certain level of openness and growth from the listener before they can be truly appreciated and understood (or appreciated and understood on a deeper level). This is actually an interesting aspect of Trance that I'll dig deep into in the book. Moogwai - Viola (Armin Van Buuren Remix) was one of these tracks for me. When I first heard it, I thought it had something interesting going on (which convinced me to listen to it a few more times), but it didn't click for me. Then, after a few 'spins,' it finally clicked, sending shivers down my spine. Now I consider it one of the best Trance tracks ever. Another example is Robert Leiner's masterwork from the early days of Trance, called The Source Experience. I listened to this one over 100 (or 200?) times in the past year or so, and the fascinating thing is that whenever I hear it, I find something more (to be appreciated) in it. In a way, its name is quite fitting. The Source Experience. I feel like this track is an infinite source of musical creativity and inspiration, just as the Big Bang was the source of the universe and life as we know it.

So yeah, listening to tracks multiple times is essential in determining their overall quality (especially if the question is whether or not they could be considered one of the best tracks of their respective genre). However, it's also clear to me that when a track is, well, shit (or just mediocre), you can quite easily know it from one listening or even from just a few seconds (this is especially true for pre-1993 stuff when nearly none of the tracks had anything to do with Trance anyway that were labeled as Trance on Discogs). And I think when you have enough experience and knowledge with something (books, games, movies, music, etc.), you also develop the ability to realize when something is good/high quality, even if that doesn't necessarily click for you (at the time). A good example is the already mentioned Viola, which I listened to roughly 10 more times after the initial listening despite not really feeling the track at first. So rest assured, I'll always make sure that quality tracks have enough time to reveal themselves fully.
 
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dmgtz96

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70,000 tracks * 5 minutes/track (conservative estimate) = 350,000 minutes
350,000 minutes * 1 hour / 60 minutes = 5,833.33 hours
5,833 hours * 1 day / 24 hours = 243 days

OP I don't think you realize just how much time you will need to commit to this project if you really want to listen to every classic track made. The only comparable thing I can think of is when I obsessed over an MMORPG for four years and accumulated a play time of about 300 days. This was back when I was still in school and had no responsibilities, didn't cook for myself, and basically didn't have a social life or extracurricular activities going on.
If you want to keep a semblance of "normal" life while continuing to write your book, this project can legit take you up to 2040. IMO it shouldn't take any shorter for your own sanity.
 

dmgtz96

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Dudeeee. Every track?!?. That’s some commitment right there, do you not have to go to work or talk to your girlfriend or something or you just blasting the Trance 24/7 in order to hit your goals hahaha.

Listening to a track only once though….I dunno dude, seems flawed, not sure what results you are hoping for. Got a whole bunch of tracks I like that took multiple lessons to understand, and a whole bunch I couldn’t appreciate until later down the years. Sometimes a tracks gotta sit in the brain a while right before you understand it
Yep, can revisit a track and find "new" stuff in it that you missed during your first listen. Happens a lot with Solar Fields especially.
 

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Interesting idea. After skim reading your responses I can see a lot of passion in what you are trying to do. Kickstarter is a good move. I think the goa stuff should be included as it’s an important stepping stone and would fit nicely into any themes on spirituality or the inward nature of the genre. I wish you the best of luck.
 
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