What do you look for in new trance to figure out if it's good or not?

dmgtz96

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Just went through a bunch of 2021 tracks from Phoenix Recordings to see if there was anything I liked. Couldn't find any, since they all failed the following:

  • Engaging intro. Most intros just had the empty beats and "tech-trance background" sound. Hardly any melodies in the intro. No beatless melodic intros at all. Clearly DJ filler.
  • Kicks that sound unique. The tracks in the list all used steroids - no exceptions. Some had larger degrees of steroid-ness and reminded me of Harmonic Rush's early 2010s productions.
These are things you can find out within seconds of hearing the track. Once a track failed the two criteria, I was not interested in hearing them at all. Couldn't care for the melody, structure, or tightness of production, since I was not going to enjoy them anyways.
The only mild exception is Gary Murray - Amme. Not my choice of track, but it stands a bit above the rest with its "chilled out" synths, ambiance in the otherwise empty beats intro, and piano line.


What are some of the first things you look at when hearing new trance? How do you assess if a trance song is good, or something that you would enjoy?
 
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Gagi

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Nice thread! Hopefully serves as a pointer for some producers.

It's something similar to your criteria. If I'm feeling lazy a bit, I just go through the track, playing very short snippets from the various points of the track's structure; otherwise I play it fully.

Empty beats in intros with 0 creativity regarding drums/percussion/FX or the background melodic elements just put me off completely. The more generic it seems, the bigger the chances that I'll just dismiss it completely, and quickly at that. I'm willing to turn a blind eye for producers I appreciate for their tracks or entire discographies and give the track a chance; I don't really give much chances to the smaller guys if I can conclude in a couple of snippets that their work is generic.

I don't care about just the melody or the breakdown or whatever (or even kick for that matter), that is not really what trance means to me - and music in general. Something needs to stand out, and in a good way; it needs to be a bit special, it needs to evoke an emotion or just move me slightly, make me move my head a bit...anything.

Now that was just a quick litmus test. If a track proves to at least be interesting to listen to once, then it's a couple of more things, then it's the nuances and taste; are there (much) better tracks in that style, could it have been better, is it missing something, is something in it bothering me...and so on.

Look, I've been passionately listening to Airwave's work for 5 or more years now. And if I can still listen to Venus Of My Dreams for the umpteenth time and still be moved by it, why would I go listen to something else if it sounds almost exactly like everything out there or doesn't at least evoke something in some way? (I'm using VOMD as an example here, it's the same with all of my favourite trance tracks.)
 
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DazTC

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If a Trance track starts with a sledgehammer kick and rolling bass line I'll have written it off within the first 3 seconds. Next

What I look for is a nice clean polished production, hearing each layer compliment one another and with some subtle sounds you may only begin to discover after several listens. On top of this a decent groove, a memorable main lead, and something that isn't too generic sounding.

Feeling is probably the most important factor over all though. The track has to resonate with me, tell me a story of some sort and leave an impact. Far too many mediocre, instantly forgettable soulless releases in more recent times IMO.
 
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dmgtz96

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Nice thread! Hopefully serves as a pointer for some producers.
I've got another topic incoming, but I'll give it a week or so for this thread and the other one to get sorted out.
Now that was just a quick litmus test. If a track proves to at least be interesting to listen to once, then it's a couple of more things, then it's the nuances and taste; are there (much) better tracks in that style, could it have been better, is it missing something, is something in it bothering me...and so on.

This is an important distinction: the bare minimum vs good. I hadn't thought about it that way, but the things in the OP are just the bare minimum. They're more like deal-breakers when I'm trying to find something new. "Good" will depend on other factors, but if the track fails the criteria in the OP, I will not look at those other factors at all.
One factor missing by itself is not a deal-breaker, like that Amme track. That was the single 2021 track from Phoenix Recordings that I would totally hear again.
Another deal-breaker for me is the "tech-trance sound." I do not know how to describe it, but it's everywhere in 138-140 BPM trance. It's that one specific background sound that lets me know the producer made 0 effort in creating something unique. You can honestly pick a 2021 track at random from Phoenix Recordings, and you will hear it. To have an idea of what I'm talking about, listen at 0:02. It's some kind of synth that appears in every beat of the track. You can hear it clearly at 0:03 and 0:04. Interestingly, that specific sound is missing from Amme.
 
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IZE

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@dmgtz96
yea i know what you mean, that rolling tech trance style. When i first heard it in 2003 Tukan - Wonder of Life (F&W Remix) & Freeloader - Pure Devotion (Tukan Remix), straight away it blew my mind, its unique and stands out from the german hardtrancers and oliver kitzings' (kaylab/reeloop) dirty electro tech trance has to offer at that time. I pretty much Followed these Nordic guys F&W Records for over a year with only a handful of release and remixes at their belt and sadly it kinda died out as fast as it comes. I'm also a little upset that this rolling baseline has came back in todays trance but for all the wrong reasons
 

TwinSilo

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To make a track good for me I need that emotional connection, which usually comes from the interaction of the main synth and the bass, mainly how and when the key changes and how that works. The right key change can really have a huge impact, It's a shifting of moods. I don't want to hear overly happy and I dont want too dramatic, let the listener get his or her own musical take from it, without laying everything out on plate.