Trance is a versatile genre by nature, always having been influenced by sounds from other genres and naturally evolving over time to reflect new styles and musical trends. With Armin van Buuren having recently launched his “Who's Afraid of 138?” label, it seems that trance fans are more segregated than ever in their support of the trance genre as a whole. While some fans are eager to see trance move forward, others are demanding that trance remains “pure” and might find themselves writing off tracks based on obscure niche preferences. Beyond that, trance is much like most other sub-genres of dance music in the sense that it is still very much dependent on DJ play-listing in radio shows and live sets to reach a majority of listeners. Combining these two elements makes for a dangerous road to travel for those artists who might not be catering to a specific sound, or releasing on record labels not heavily supported by major artists. This article is being written for the sole purpose of sharing some of the best progressive trance that has been extremely powerful but may have flown under the radar for the reasons listed previously.
5. Nic Toms – "Solar Breeze" [ Digital Society Recordings ]: Digital Society is a sub-label of Enhanced Music that seems to put out many releases that do not necessarily fit the Enhanced/Enhanced Progressive sounds. That's not to say what DSR puts out isn't quality, as this is one of the many releases that speaks volumes for the quality of this catalog. Nic Toms is an artist consistently putting out quality trance tunes of all styles, but Solar Breeze is simply unforgettable. It has a very unique production aesthetic combining sine plucks throughout the track with a deep groove and melodies both melancholy and uplifting. The simple guitar adds the finishing touch on the track, making it sound exactly how it's described by the title.
4. Blugazer – "Mindscape" [ Alter Ego Recordings ]: This track is an unforgettable gem delivered as a B side to Blugazer's Elvirica / Mindscape EP, but it's truly a track worthy of its own notoriety. Blugazer is an artist that fans of deep progressive house & trance would be familiar with, but he breaks from that mold delivering an energetic song that still retains his amazing atmospheric sound. His arrangement and execution are simply on point with Mindscape, and it's easily one of the most well-crafted progressive trance tracks of recent times.
3. Solid Stone – "Essence" [ ReBrand Records ]: Essence might be the one track of this article that seems out of place due to heavy support from bigger artists, but it is absolutely one of the best progressive trance tracks that has been released recently. Solid Stone is quickly becoming one of the most versatile producers in the trance scene, with a sound that ranges from deep house to driving progressive trance that is always still noticeably his music. Released with his track “For The Moment”, this is yet another B-side progressive trance gem.
2. Morvan – "I Believe" [ Enhanced Progressive ]: Another track from the Enhanced Music catalog, this time from an artist who's done all-things-trance from grooving progressive to energetic uplifting. Morvan, having mostly released with Infrasonic Recordings and Alter Ego, debuts on Enhanced with a beautiful “trance 2.0” style. Anyone familiar with his work will recognize the similarities between “I Believe” and his release on Alter Ego, “Only Forever”. Still, “I Believe” takes on a life of it's own and he's further polished his production aesthetic to near perfection.
1. Danilo Ercole – "Player One" (Gai Barone Remix) [ Saturate Audio ]: Anyone following trance will be familiar with Gai Barone's work at this point, having been consistently found in the track-lists of international trance acts for months at a time. Though Gai Barone is in no way a newcomer to the electronic music world, his recent productions have put him at the center of focus in the trance scene. His work has a modern and notably deep progressive twist, but it's still reminiscent of classic trance with lush supersaw pads and soaring atmospheres. He's even bringing back the use of phasers, and it's done very much in style.
This is a small window into the world of progressive trance, and hopefully it brings to your attention some artists or their work that have gone unnoticed compared to some of the more well known trance releases. These pieces tell stories that should be heard by trance fans, regardless of whether or not they fit into an artists live sets or a certain labels catalog. Hopefully, readers will keep an eye out for releases from these artists and labels and help organically spread the word on great music.