Here's the official Best of 2021 from TranceFix, where we look back and declare the best tracks, labels, albums and compilations
from 2021 across the Trance, Progressive and general hypnotic dance music scene. Thanks again to the great community who helped us
formulate this, with all your votes, sharing, thoughts and discussion throughout the year in the forum. Great turnout this year. Let's go...
Runner up: Stoneface & Terminal
Special Mention: Narel
Congrats to Activa, who really did have a fantastic year, maybe his best ever. We saw him complete the Tri-State Series with 002 and 003, drop his third studio album ‘Origins’ and also notably get Anjunabeats to release their most serious Trance track in 5 years with the Trance Wax Throne Remix. He dominated the voting across a wide range of tracks, which I think shows how well he managed to connect differently with the listeners across the scene, whether that be mainstream or underground. Love his recognisable style and now with Borderline coming back we have more things to look forward to.
Stoneface & Terminal also had a strong year, with lots of votes for them and their productions. They because each release you never knew what you're going to get, whether that be techy like ‘You Are’, something uplifting like Moonscape, or something more journey driven like with ‘Lose My Need’. A very hardworking duo who appeared in lots of places, and like Activa manage to touch on the essence of great Trance with production style and ideas that resonate across the different levels of the scene.
A special mention has to go to Narel who was awesome this year. His album was a personal favorite from the year and his work with Cosmithex for Endgame was so nice. He also put out an Ambient EP and a few other top tracks on JOOF and Forescape too. Quality producer!
Winner: Digital Blonde - N3ON
Runner up: Activa - Origins
Special Mention: Narel - Diary of A Synthy Kid
Ricky perfected his N3ON formula for what is the best one yet in the trilogy. The monster 15+ minute tracks return for what is a truly epic take off experience that likely must be completed over many days of listening. A special kind of skill is required to produce 17 minute driving Trance tracks without them becoming uninteresting or feeling bloated and he pulls it off easily. Some of the old synth effects used were so nostalgic and powerful, awesome stuff. Nothing really sounds like this album. Shout out to Electronlyman’s album review, which really nailed it.
‘Origins’ could easily have been the no1 record of the year, with barely a few votes off. It had tons of great tracks across many different styles and it all flowed masterfully together to make a really enjoyable listening experience. You could really hear the nod to styles and inspirations of artists from an older time and with great results. Also probably some of the best vocal Trance we have had in ages too!
Special mention to Narel’s album ‘Diary of a Synthy Kid’, which was such a great and individual kind of album, with mixtures of Trance, Progressive, Dub Techno and Ambient styles all coming together in a very unique and memorable way. Coming back to it over and over again was a delight.
Winner: Pure Trance
Runner up: Forescape
Special Mention: Research & Development
Pure Trance had a massive amount of releases to check out all year, not to mention continuing the Electronic Architecture and Pure Trance compilations which were both very enjoyable releases. Rich still manages to keep Pure Trance in a different place from the other labels and still manages to sign lesser known artists and get great tracks out of them.
Forescape Digital takes no2 again, great to have them releasing all the underground Trance sounds, must have had 15 to 20 tracks added to my playlists in the year and Narel’s Album was part of that. We need to support the scene more, we only have a few places left where we can listen to these types of styles. Fair play to @Enlusion for his hard work.
Special mention to John Dopping's & Alan Ruddick's reborn Research & Development label, which dropped some of the best tracks from this year. Great to see them back.
Winner: Electronic Architecture 4
Runner up: Pure Trance Vol 9
EA4 was the best compilation this year and came with a lot of expectations to hit as the past 3 have been so phenomenal. It was mixed feelings for some, but in the end delivered a beautifully assembled experience with trademark diverse track styles and genres that flow together effortlessly. Coredata - 94 and S&T - Lose My Need were some stand outs, but I also think the melodic moments in general were brilliant, whether big and uplifting or more prog focused.
Best User-Made Productions
- @Julian85 - A New World
- @LostLegend - Hardwired (Original or 21st Century Mix)
- LostLegend - Our New Horizon
- @SecondNature - Flashbacks
- Second Nature - Longing For The Infinite
- North Cape - Into The Blue (@Halon)
- LostLegend - Shadow Moses
- Second Nature - Euphoric
- Enigma - Sadness (LostLegend Progressive Mix)
- @Magdelayna - Kaleidoscope of Memories
Very impressed with the tracks you guys have been making and sharing in the forum this year, a sexy top 10 I think! Many of these absolutely nailed that classic sound. Might even put tracks 1 and 2 a personal top 25 of the year… you guys definitely have talent. Great to be able to get excited about what’s posted in the producers section and also good to see all the upcoming producers sharing their tracks too for feedback, keep them coming. Next year we might open the vote for this too.
The Top 100 Tracks
- Enigma State - In My Fantasy [Self Release]
- Hoopoe - Matahari [Pure Trance]
- Enigma State - Enigmatic [Self Release]
- Narel & Cosmithex - Endgame [Forescape]
- Activa - Polestar [Blackhole]
- Activa - The Lost Language [Activa Music]
- Coredata - 94 [Pure Trance]
- Activa - Disharmonic [Activa Music]
- Digital Blonde - Age of Confusion [JOOF]
- Super - Frog Saves Tokyo - Ark [Electronic Architecture Recordings]
- Stoneface & Terminal - Moonscape [FSOE]
- Terk Dawn pres. Divinity Of Mind - Alpha Centauri (Vascotia Remix) [Blue Soho]
- Sebastian Brandt & Peter Steele - Singularity [Research & Development]
- Stoneface & Terminal - Lose My Need [Pure Trance]
- Ferry Corsten & Leon Bolier Feat. NBLM - Trust You [Flashover]
- Jam & Spoon - Stella's Cry (Push Tribute To Markus Remix) [Blackhole]
- Trance Wax - Throne (Activa Remix) [Anjunabeats]
- The Digital Blonde - Aventador [JOOF]
- Ferry Corsten pres. Gouryella - Orenda [Flashover]
- Stu Mcnally - Majestic [Forescape]
- Aldous - Moondrops (Stoneface & Terminal Remix) [FSOE]
- The Digital Blonde - Synthdrive [JOOF]
- Dark Matter - Girl With The Rainbow Hat [Forescape Digital]
- John Dopping & A Yarrington - Amrita (Vrije Staat Remix) [Research & Development]
- Activa - Into Pieces [Blackhole]
- Activa - Anamara [Blackhole]
- Narel - Everstone [Forescape]
- Marsh - Fable [Anjunadeep]
- The Digital Blonde - Look The Universe [JOOF]
- Jam El Mar - The Orange Flight [Jam El Mar Records]
- Universal Frequency - Tell Me When It Hz [Pure Neon]
- Activa & Shelley Segal - Fall In [Blackhole]
- Factor B - Sea of Thoughts [Theatre of The Mind Music]
- Mikkel Rev - Dissolve to Evolve [UTE]
- Super-Frog Saves Tokyo - Air Brake (12" Mix) [Electronic Architecture Recordings]
- Julian Del Agranda - A New World [Self Released]
- Dulcet - Fragments (Coredata) [Research & Development]
- Naden - Huldra [EDM Recordings]
- Glynn Alan - Limitless (Original mix) [Pure Trance]
- Dreamy, Temple One, Kandi - When You Saved My Life [Always Alive]
- Narel - Look There's The Walrus [Forescape]
- Amaylia001 - B [Amaylia Records]
- Esso - Thunder (Coredata Remix) [JOOF]
- Durante & HANA - Whisper Cell [Anjunadeep]
- Estuera - Anaphora (Original Mix) [Magik Musik]
- Daniel Kandi & Prox - Space Tonic [Always Alive]
- Trancemaster - Ultrapulse [Transatlantic Records]
- LostLegend - Hardwired [Self Release]
- Activa - Someone Else's Dream [Activa Music]
- Kineta - Cosmic Flux [UTE]
- Babylon X - Hyper Love [Tofistok]
- Sean Ae - The Question (Breaks Mix) [Morphosis Records]
- Martin LeBlanc - Lagom (Original mix) [Pure Trance]
- Above and Beyond - Sun In Your Eyes (Daniel Kandi Remix) [Anjunabeats]
- MiG-29 - Spacer Worlds [Digital Dreamscapes]
- Activa presents Mekk V - Rotation [Activa Music]
- Alex Wright - Airglide [Blue Soho]
- Cold Blue - Shine (Alex Di Stefano Extended Remix) [Blackhole]
- The Digital Blonde - Only You [JOOF]
- 4 Strings - Into Orbit [Carlo Resort Records]
- Mac & Monday - Silhouette of a Girl [Deep In Thought]
- Activa & Dopping - Future Memory [Activa Music]
- Maara - Open Up Coconut [Radiant Love]
- Facade - Razor Crest (Original Mix) [Forescape Digital]
- Kineta - Clone Drone [Space Traxx]
- The Digital Blonde - Balerika [JOOF]
- Factor B & JOC- The Oath [Subculture]
- Activa - Leave A Light On (Marcos Remix)
- Aly & Fila with Denise Rivera - Hymn Of Hope [FSOE]
- Activa - Repercussion [Activa Music]
- Talla 2XLC - No Fate [Techno Club]
- Joseph Ray - Ogou (Pran Ka Mwen) [Anjunadeep]
- Narel - Relinquish [JOOF]
- Stoneface & Terminal - You Are [Skullduggery]
- Will Atkinson - Last Night In Ibiza [Blackhole]
- Artifact303 - Unidentified [Global Sect]
- Naone - Falling Sun [Unknown To The Unknown]
- Wavetraxx - Without Compromise [Blachole]
- Artifact303 - Summer Storm [Global Sect]
- Factor B - Inner Space [Theatre of The Mind]
- Narel - Cortex Vortex (Pt 2) [Forescape]
- Eco - Let You Down [Blackhole]
- SoundLift - Reverse Thrust [Self Release]
- Activa - Fade From View [Activa Music]
- VillaNaranjos - Cala D'hort (Extended Mix) [FSOE Parralells]
- Xuri - Nectaries [Space Traxx]
- Legend B - Lost In Love (Madwave Remix) [Amsterdam Trance Recordings]
- Faster Horses - Transitional Outerwear [Seikan]
- Marwan Jaafreh - Milky Way [OLD SQL Recordings]
- Forerunners - Ancient Method [Pure Progressive]
- Breakfast - Morning Rain [EDM Recordings]
- Will Atkinson - Last Rave on Earth [VII]
- Funabashi - Back To The Future (Original Mix) [Blue Soho]
- JOC ft. Kate Miles - Behind The Silence (John O'Callaghan Remix) [Subculture]
- Enlusion - Amethyst [Forescape]
- Traveller - Bright Sign (Talla 2XLC Remix) [Techno Club]
- Daniel Lesden & Enlusion — Dark Entity [Forescape]
- Narel - Counter Entertainment [Forescape]
- Denny - Kamikaze [Anjunadeep]
- Trancemaster - Release It [Transatlantic Records]
Thanks to everyone who voted! We got over 700 tracks and suggestions to help put all this together and in the end the final year list looks awesome. A great mix of tracks and genres. The top 25 is fantastic actually, and definitely an improvement from last years list. Enigma State tracks did dominate the vote with around 100 votes between the both, but Matahari was not too far off and was a clear favorite by all. Activa, Stonface Terminal and Digital Blonde were voted on the most times.
2021 Scene Review
A great year for albums, one of the best in a long time actually, with something on offer for almost every sub-genre. We already mentioned Origins, N3ON and Diary of Synthy Kid, but also we had albums from Factor B, Enlusion, EverLight, Ovnimoon, Artifact 303 and more. Maybe that was a result of COVID forcing producers into the studio rather than the clubs, but whatever the reason, those albums provided many of the highlights from the year.
Regarding the underground scene; It feels great to follow it at the moment, with the Trance-like-cross-over styles still rolling through the Bandcamp and vinyl stores, with the momentum appearing to grow and continue. It is very nice to see, honestly. Love that these labels are always mixing genre styles together in their releases, and the producers are doing the same with the tracks too. It genuinely has a new and authentic feel to it all, and you can sense the sub-culture alive there, even if it’s just a digital one. Even the artwork is bespoke and feels loved. It’s exactly how a music scene should look and feel in the modern era.
Deep down however the Trance-head within still feels something is missing. These types of tracks we’ve been sharing really force us to stretch the definitions of what we consider to be Trance music, too much so probably, with most of the productions still keeping one foot firmly in the Techno or House worlds, not fully committing. I think ultimately the flowing nature is absent, that tension-building and story-telling aspect which characterises so much great Trance music. It’s getting very close…the signs are there… the sounds are there! Give it time and we might see great things happen. For now, the best (and possibly the only) place to find underground Trance sounds consistently is Forescape, and that really puts an emphasis on how important it is to support it.
The ‘mid-ground’ scene may have the answer. Sound wise that means offering a more identifiable (relatable?) and straight-forward form of Trance music, which doesn’t go too serious or too experimental, but can also handle the emotional content with finesse and class. It’s the sweet spot which connects people across the entire spectrum of the scene. Unfortunately the reality is that the numbers and reach seem to be similar, if not smaller than what the underground cross-over guys are currently achieving. Therefore you can’t help but feel that rebuilding from the ground up again is required, shaking off some of the old ways and hopefully helping re-establish the authentic sound and relationship with right subcultures that can make them grow.
Maybe that’s what we are seeing in select instances with the renewal or development of labels like Activa Music, Borderline, Research & Development, EDM recordings etc, all of which are feeling very self-made and self-releasing, with a less is more approach to signing tracks, and as expected Bandcamp orientated with some vinyl focus too. Who knows, maybe getting some of the UTE and SpiralTraxx guys donning the Pure Trance T-shirts and making tunes for Rich’s label might yield magic results?
Happy to end all this with a final nod to the Enigma State tracks this year, which captures all of this perfectly; An entirely self-released endeavour, with a crowd sourced vinyl campaign from an unknown producer who was found in the depths of Youtube by the owner of an online Trance community. He’s whipped out his hardware and given us stone-cold Classic Trance sounds and we absolutely loved it. Great story and a huge success, all off the back of those sounds we were told were relics of the past and not relevant anymore. The beginning moments of the modern day Trance Renaissance. You heard it here first.
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