4 Ocak 2008 Cuma

Trance Out

~ Change it up: Even trance king Tiesto has altered his style ~

�ve been avoiding it for some time, hiding this festering hatred behind my general love for all God�s genres. But I have to come out of the closet: I�m an anti-trancite.

In the beginning, I was wooed by the cyclone energy of early-�90s post-techno trance (namely that of Sven Väth and his Harthouse label). Then I was taken by the romantic, ivory strokes of BT and Robert Miles. (Who could deny the elegant innocence of the artists� Ima and �Children,� respectively?) Then, West Coast trance acts such as Sandra Collins, Deepsky, and Christopher Lawrence added driving, aggressive, straight-line momentum to the loopy, synthetic sound. It was hard not to be uplifted by this California wave.

But by the millennium, trance had melted down into an ecstasy-fueled orgy of synth arpeggios-gone-wild. If there�s good trance out there today, I�d like to know where to find it. It certainly isn�t in the super-clubs, where Armani Exchange-adorned dorks with glow sticks and bottle-service tables have turned the trance scene into a satire about the shallowness of contemporary capitalism.

Trance has come to embody the prog-rock-like excesses of the global club scene. While the image of overpaid DJs playing other people�s music for legions of glow-stickers is an old joke, it�s still a reality in trance. Nearly three years after the British indie film It�s All Gone Pete Tong sent up superstar-DJ culture for the vacuous farce it usually is, hands-in-the-air trance jocks are still dominating dance culture. Dutch trance icons vied once again for supreme position in the annual DJ Magazine Top 100 DJs poll � Armin van Buuren beat Tiesto � and Billboard dubiously dubbed Tiesto the dance-music story of 2007. Billboard was dead wrong. Daft Punk�s resurrection, the indie-kid invasion, and the hip-hop/dance reunion (via Kanye West�s sampling of Daft Punk on �Stronger�) overshadowed trance by far last year. The trade publication�s proclamation was, however, classically human, embracing the familiar, cash-register-ringing genre of trance over a fresh flood of indie hipsters who invaded clubland in search of the new. The fact that the millennial-generation kids were drawn to the dance-punk side of things � Justice, LCD Soundsystem, Simian Mobile Disco � should foreshadow the impending demise of trance.

Much in the way Sasha Frere-Jones describes the white flight of indie rock in his fall New Yorker essay �A Paler Shade of White,� trance represents an ultra-white, soulless faction of clubland, far removed from the black rhapsody of core dance music. Just as most contemporary rock has abandoned its black roots, ultra-synthetic trance is miles away from its daddy � Detroit techno. Trance long ago made it safe for white, suburban kids with spiky hair and momma-bought gear to indulge a once-ghetto pursuit: DJing. While there�s nothing wrong with embracing white audiences, trance has done so to an unhealthy extreme. Point out the black guy at a trance show, and I�ll buy him a drink. It�s a cheesy scene, one abandoned long ago by the American dance-music trade magazines, ranging from URB to BPM to XLR8R. L.A.�s leading super-club, Avalon, went so far as to quietly close its doors to trance for its recent �Fall Winter Series� of DJ performances. Good looking out.

Perhaps worse than the wannabe rock-star spinners and ecstasy-fueled audiences trance attracts, however, is the music itself. If electronic dance music is a beacon for the future path of pop music, trance has become an anchor of same-old sounds. In recent years even its leading men � Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, and Ferry Corsten � have eschewed the typical trance sound for more muted, approachable tones on their artist albums. BT long ago left the genre he helped to define; onetime Madonna producer William Orbit, likewise, left trance for more quasi-classical leanings. They know: The ultra-arpeggiated sound of trance hasn�t much evolved in the decade since it first appeared. And still, at their mega-hyped DJ shows, stars such as Tiesto, van Buuren, and van Dyk spin trance at its most audacious and grating � all victory signs, sky-high strings, and thin, jack-rabbit kick drums. If you�re not on ecstasy, you won�t get it.

It�s un-e-music-like to embrace the staid. It�s 2008. Time to face the (new) music, and move on