What really *is* missing from trance?

dmgtz96

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I've had this topic on the back of my mind for a couple of weeks already, but I wasn't sure how to approach it (and I still am unsure how to approach it). Hopefully this comes off coherently instead of a long-winded rant.
We've previously discussed qualities that make new trance tracks 'good'.
Go to any modern releases section - the one we have on trancefix, beatport, r/trance, and so on. What do you hear? Mostly the same kind of stuff that trended on Youtube 10 years ago, or that was played in festivals half a decade ago. If you're lucky, you will run into a neat sub-130 BPM anjunadeep style track that's just like the housey trance from 10 years ago. You will inevitably see cheap rehashes of classic trance, like Carte Blanche and Children.
Those things can be fine. I did not make this thread to just say that modern trance sounds all the same or whatever. Instead, I would argue that trance fundamentally lacks something deeper, an innovation that takes the genre beyond what it is right now. Why is trance like this? Even Armin's latest album feels like it was made a long time ago, including the poppy tracks. They feel like they were made for a different generation.
...
I don't claim to be an expert in 2010s music. I did listen to a good amount of 2011-2014 pop during my first break from trance (ex. Somebody I Used to Know, Riptide) and was exposed to mid-2010s American hip-hop/rap (ex. Hotline Bling, Black Beatles). I went right through the 2017 boom of reggaeton, which includes the Despacito that probably everyone on this forum knows and also more interesting, underground-sounding tracks like Karol G, Ozuna - Hello. I enjoyed hearing future house when it became popular in 2015. I was still in college when kpop broke into the mainstream in 2019, with tracks like Boy With Luv. Months just before the pandemic, there was a sudden demand for funky music, as evidenced by Don't Start Now and Say So. Around the same time, The Weeknd's Blinding Lights gave everyone the '80s sound that we all had been craving.

The general worldwide public of the 2010s saw many music genres come and go. Yet, trance remained largely the same way it started the decade {ex. Stresstest (John Askew remix) & even before that, like Inertia - The System}. It's failed to adapt, and that's pretty evident in the popularity of the genre. Just look at the worldwide Google trend of 'trance music'. I think this inability to evolve is harming the genre. The weird thing is, it's not like trance has zero sources of possible inspiration. It's right there, in popular music! Yet when Armin tries to make commercial "pop," it falls flat.
I do not know why trance producers saw all that was going on around them and just... ignored it and continued the same thing they've always done.

With modern trance, it's just really difficult to accept it as 2021 music. New releases don't feel like they belong with the rest of modern music.

tl;dr Trance failed to capitalize on worldwide music trends (early 2010s indie pop; reggaeton; kpop; American hip-hop; recent retro revivals like Blinding Lights) and has been paying it for a while. By remaining insular and sticking to the good old formulas developed by JOC, Askew, et al. from the 2000s, the genre is unable to reach broader audiences and progress meaningfully.
 
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jetflag

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Dunno m8.. I honestly don't think what *is* really missing from trance is furher innovation like influences from kpop, reggeaton, hiphop etc. of all things.. And I would argue that trying to incorporate those, (which is fine by the way) will simply see a unique genre or genres born instead of it "reviving trance" so to speak similar to how hardcore and trance ulitimatly gave way to hardstyle.

so if the goal is to make new fresh music or a new fresh genre, fine.

But if your goal is to sort of inject new youth into a, what I would personally dub a finished genre or set of genres, like trance, in order to sort of artificially revive or relive the (public) sense of wonder when trance actually *was* something new and unique (at least for the masses) , you're probably just going to end up with something that's half-trance half something else at best.

my 2 cents.

bit pessimistic/unconstructive I know and i'm sorry. but thats how I see this particular solution/suggestion unfold.
 
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Gagi

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Yeah there's not much to discover anymore, or at least it feels like it. The fusions all seem very seasonal and nothing sticks - think of synthwave, for example. We got a couple of average trance-synthwave albums and that was about it.

If I wanted to challenge Daysleeper and Propeller for the prestigious TranceFix Hipster Award 2021, I'd say that trance is just a word nowadays, a word that is used to label ('box') tracks with certain structures and sounds. Trance is not the idea itself anymore.
 
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Magnevi

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Maybe it's simply the "rave culture" that's missing. I mean: a huge group of people who actually go out to dance all night, every week, on trance music.

The current "ravers" are all for techno. And it has been like that for a while now. Techno is huge (again). And luckily for us, that genre is VERY SLOWLY moving towards trance. A clear sign of that is all the techno-remixes of trance classics we see lately. Like the recent Charlotte de Witte Remix of "Age of Love".

The plus side is, those techno producers are in it for the love of music. Not for money. Above track isn't released as Charlotte De Witte - Age Of Love. That would only happen in our current commercial "trance" scene. It's Age of Love - Age of Love (Charlotte de Witte Remix). With respect to the original classic. The future for trance is in the (good) hands of the techno-scene imo.

We only have to wait for a few years. Melody is slowly crawling into techno. Which basically makes it trance.
 

jetflag

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I agree with @dmgtz96 that most trance has become rather formulaïc, so in a nuttshell, big club beats with grandiose hooks

again nothing wrong with that. but it often lacks the idea that this is a piece of music intended to "bring you in a dream like state of trance" so to speak.

might be interresting to sort of take that idea back. So let go of conventional sequence structures. and just "design" a 125/142 bpm track that is intended to (in a dj mix or not) hypnotize you and bring you in a trance like state, bottom up.

back to roots basically.
 
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dmgtz96

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I agree with @dmgtz96 that most trance has become rather formulaïc, so in a nuttshell, big club beats with grandiose hooks
I agree that modern trance producers make some pretty long, dramatic, grandiose hooks... yet, even with all that and modern production techniques, all of them fall flat. There are no earworms. I would argue that one of the last memorable, earworm-style trance track was John Askew - Shine, which is much better on that respect than the more popular tracks released after it (Anahera, Origami).

Dunno m8.. I honestly don't think what *is* really missing from trance is furher innovation like influences from kpop, reggeaton, hiphop etc. of all things.. And I would argue that trying to incorporate those, (which is fine by the way) will simply see a unique genre or genres born instead of it "reviving trance" so to speak similar to how hardcore and trance ulitimatly gave way to hardstyle.

so if the goal is to make new fresh music or a new fresh genre, fine.
Fair enough. Those mixtures would be interesting, if difficult to incorporate. I'm not saying, have a kpop vocal run over a trance track, some dude rapping over trance or random reggaeton beats during a trance breakdown (LOL imagine), but maybe take inspiration from their aesthetic/characteristics. So the catchy, earworm style of kpop, the edgy darkness of hip-hop, and the balearic radio-friendliness of reggaeton. These things can be added while still having trance be.... trance, but everyone has been sticking with the "steroid trance template" for the past several years and is just doing what has always been done since 2004+.

But if your goal is to sort of inject new youth into a, what I would personally dub a finished genre or set of genres, like trance, in order to sort of artificially revive or relive the (public) sense of wonder when trance actually *was* something new and unique (at least for the masses) , you're probably just going to end up with something that's half-trance half something else at best.

my 2 cents.

bit pessimistic/unconstructive I know and i'm sorry. but thats how I see this particular solution/suggestion unfold.
Maybe. We'll never know until someone tries.
 
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