2019 has been a year of tremendous activity from the Armin van Buuren camp. The trance titan recently interrupted the flow of his successive series of singles with the release of the inaugural GAIA album, Moons of Jupiter. Produced alongside fellow GAIA constituent, Benno de Goeij, the 21-song endeavor was a clear stylistic deviation from the commercial, dance-pop side of van Buuren. But the story doesn’t end there.
An extended effort, an album the length of Moons of Jupiter would reasonably give fans cause to believe that van Buuren’s next release couldn’t possibly come so soon after his last GAIA production, but suffice to say, more van Buuren music is indeed on the way.
The trance pioneer announced that he would be following Moons of Jupiter in LP format during his Main Stage set at Electric Zoo’s recently concluded 2019 iteration. And now, he’s solidified the impending album’s arrival day, landing October 25, and entitled, Balance. The endeavor, according to the man himself, will be an explorations of sorts, “into known and unknown territories while finding the balance in between.” Pre-order here.
If you’re looking for fresh, inspired trance music, look no further than SUBMERSIVE’s catalog. The LA-based producer is injecting the genre with his own creative energy, and on his latest, he follows suit with Sara Skinner on “Wait.” The track is a seven-minute main stage odyssey with beating tribal percussion arrangements and pumping basslines.
“Wait” is high-octane rhythmic trance from front to back, with Skinner’s vocals carrying the release, weaving in and out of massive breaks. SUBMERSIVE continues to put the genre on his back, innovating modern, crisp pieces of Euro-trance, with “Wait” landing as another profile-building addition to the producer’s arsenal of setlist weapons. Hear “Wait” below.
Attendees of UNTOLD Festival in Romania were treated to a legendary experience when trance maestro Armin van Buuren threw down a seven-and-a-half-hour set on Aug. 2.
Opening with an orchestral version of his own “La Résistance De L’Amour” with Shapov, the State of Trance host took fans on an hours-long journey through some of his most iconic tunes and sprinkling in other trance favorites from artists like W&W, Blasterjaxx, Adam Beyer, and countless others. Also buried amongst the performance’s expansive track list were multiple IDs, undoubtedly leaving the crowd wanting more despite the set’s expansive length.
Van Buuren’s been churning out music since the late nineties, and at 42, shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. It’s even become a bit of a tradition for the storied producer to perform marathon sets at the festival, clocking in seven hours in 2018 and five in 2017.
It seems German trance authority, Paul van Dyk (real name, Matthias Paul), may have some difficulty collecting his $12,588,643.45 restitution money he was granted after a near-fatal fall in 2016.
Dyk suffered serious brain damage and spine injuries in February of 2016, upon falling from the stage during a performance at A State Of Trance Festival in Utrecht, a province in the Netherlands. The festival’s organizers, ALDA Events, were ordered to pay Paul the settlement funds for medical bills, future damages, as well as “other damages,” after the preceding judge deemed that organizers neglected to let Paul know the stage wasn’t “safe to stand on.”
ALDA is pushing back, however. Representatives on ALDA’s behalf are building a case to appeal the settlement, largely predicated on their claim that Paul was never in contract with them or their festival.
“The fact that petitioner Paul is a non-signatory and a non-party means that the arbitration agreement doesn’t extend to him,” ALDA Events writes in their opposition filing. “And no agreement to arbitrate exists between him and Alda.”
Paul is still performing and quite active under his van Dyk masthead. Earlier this year, he launched a record label, called VANDIT, which he says is dedicated to providing a release platform for up-and-coming trance artists.
Dreamstate was created by Insomniac in 2015 to serve as America’s trance hub. Distinctively, the weekend event championed trance sounds not often heard at the time on this side of the pond; everything from progressive, to uplifting, to psy trance was included on its singular stage. The event expanded four-fold the next year, and Dreamstate as a whole has risen up as a dominating global brand for the music.
Organizers have been teasing all sorts of sizable improvements for the flagship festival’s milestone fifth edition. They moved the San Bernadino gathering back one weekend to make it more accessible for fans, while additionally promising even crazier production, better sound, and stage design.
Its lineup is another area of huge leap for the brand. While Dreamstate has always been more forward-thinking than the status quo, its lineups sometimes overlapped quite a bit between editions. This one, however, branches even deeper into the obscure—and ambitious. Notable names showing up this year are iconic outfit The Space Brothers, Shpongle, John O’Callaghan under his Joint Operations Centre alias, and Ferry Tayle & Dan Stone’s joint project, Fables.
On the commercial end, watch Seven Lions experiment with psy trance alongside Dimibio for their Abraxis debut, and Above & Beyond move the main stage audience to tears during their headlining set.
Miika Eloranta and Janne Mansnerus folded temporalities on their recent compilation, Past, Present & Future, to simultaneously contemplate the origins of the trance genre, its current configurations, and the progression of its sound. With more than 15 years of expertise as trance producers, Eloranta and Mansnerus–collectively known as electronic duo, Super8 & Tab–are genre veterans who lay claim to a wealth of accrued insight regarding the maturity of trance sound over the years. It is this intimate familiarity with form that guided their fastidious shaping of Past, Present & Future, released this past March on Armada Music.
As its title denotes, Past, Present & Future scales the continuum of trance music, to position modern updates of older genre efforts like Super8 & Tab’s 2019 remix of their 2012 Anjunabeats instrumental, “Helsinki Scorchin.”
“We have a long, long history in [trance],” Eloranta tells Dancing Astronaut. “We wanted to take that journey that we’ve had over the past 15 years, and put it on the compilation. [Past, Present & Future] reflects what we play during our DJ sets: testing some new tracks, playing some classics. Now, it’s packaged.”
The forward-thinking quality of Past, Present & Future indeed figures in Super8 & Tab’s live sets, which Eloranta and Masnerus regularly use as platforms for debuts of new IDs. Both Eloranta and Masnerus hail from Finland, and return to the country to play about ten shows on their “home base” each year. Super8 & Tab’s interweaving of unreleased material into these sets has grown to be an experimental practice familiar not only to Eloranta and Masnerus, but also to the fans who attend Super8 & Tab’s annual Finland based shows.
“We usually test a lot of new tracks there for the first time, so it’s interesting for the people who come, because they know [to expect that],” Masnerus said.
While Super8 & Tab cite Finland as one of their favorite places to play, the duo’s travels have taken them all over the world, from Singapore to Madrid, and recently, to New York City, where Super8 & Tab caught up with Dancing Astronaut aboard Crust Nation’s Past, Present & Future Boat Party.
Enacted in support of the eponymous EP, the Past, Present & Future Tour is a live initiative that extends an engaging experience to fledgling fans of the genre. The new listeners who progress from first-time trance show attendees to well-versed dwellers in the domain comprise the future of the genre from the perspective of fan support, as Super8 & Tab know, and know well. Yet, Super8 & Tab also strive to apprise trance newcomers of the genre’s detailed past through their live format. Eloranta and Masnerus’ shared goal of acquainting their attendees with genre staples by featuring older and iconic trance cuts in their performances translates to Past, Present & Future.
“There’s a lot of new fans, so we wanted to get them to dig in deeper, to see what we’d been doing earlier,” Eloranta said of the release.
Super8 & Tab highlight Ashley Wallbridge‘s remix of the duo’s “Alba (Mixed)” as an emblem of a particularly well-executed contemporary rework on Past, Present & Future.
“I think he did a brilliant job,” Eloranta said when asked to identify the remix on the album that best exemplified a present take of a more dated trance release. “He kept the essence of the original, but brought it to 2019,” Eloranta added.
Both Eloranta and Masnerus underscored their 2019 revamp of “Helsinki Scorchin’” as another example of a successful current revision of a prior trance production. The present trend of re-imagining the celebrated cuts that color a genre’s past is one that Eloranta sees as sustaining the future of trance. Eloranta attributes the sustainability of remixing as a means of gleaning (and maintaining) listeners to a key component of trance tunes: their enduring melodies.
“There’s a lot of strong melodies in trance. They don’t get old; they’re timeless.”
Thinking further about the future of trance music, Eloranta and Masnerus salute Helsinki-based artist, Avenia, as a rising producer to watch. Avenia appears on Past, Present & Future, to collaborate with With The Winds on “Traverse (Mixed),” and to contribute his own individual release, “Kingdom (Mixed).”
“He’s really young: he’s 19 and has been growing up listening to Anjunabeats, but also Avicii, so he’s combining all [these influences], and has a new angle to transmit music. He’s talented and hard working and ready to take criticism,” Eloranta said.
Past, Present & Future features productions revered trance entities in addition to Super8 & Tab, including Armin van Buuren, Andrew Bayer, Ilan Bluestone, Ferry Corsten, and more. The wealth of support just further solidifies the torrential trance twosome’s profound presence within their sonic sector of choice.
Gareth Emery and Ashley Wallbridge have an extensive collaboration history that spans from single releases, producing under their parody moniker CVNT5, and co-owning record label Garuda. Earlier this year, the two artists took their collaborative efforts to the next level after announcing they would be releasing a full-length album together. The compilation, titled Kingdom United, is out now on Garuda, and the expansive body of work showcases the best from both producers.
The album is inspired by the producers’ love for their home, the United Kingdom, as the country faces turbulent political times. Emery and Wallbridge announced the forthcoming LP back in February by dropping the album’s title track, “Kingdom United,” which is the perfect sonic testament to what fans can expect from the album now that it is released in full.
Kingdom United is a trance lover’s sonic playground that features 14 songs ranging from instrumental-based “Kal El” to vocal-led “Lionheart” featuring PollyAnna. Emery and Wallbridge set the bar high with previous collaborative singles together, and the album not only meets expectations, but continues to raise the standards of what fans can come to expect from the artists working together.
“Kingdom United is an album that works equally well played live or at home with friends and a cup of tea,” the duo said in a release. “Wherever people choose to listen, we’re sure they’re going to love it!”
Emery recently announced that he will be bringing his infamous live show Laserface to New York’s Brooklyn Mirage. For those hoping to experience Kingdom United live amidst thousands of lasers, tickets for the event can be purchased here.
Armin van Buuren has released a new track that is nearly unrecognizable coming from the venerate trance and progressive producer. Titled “Lonely For You,” the song taps into an elaborate drum line with a faint drum n’ bass-inspired vibe that adds a unique compliment to poppy vocals, delivered by Bonnie McKee.
The producer speaks about his newest track in an official release, stating,
“’Lonely For You’ was written with the lovely Bonnie McKee. For me, it resembles the struggles we all face with and in relationships, ups and downs. I think it was appropriate to release it around Valentine’s Day!”
The track tells the story of getting over a relationship that has ended, and the moments of feeling alone even though the breakup was the right decision. “Lonely For You” has fittingly been released in conjunction with Valentine’s Day, and the accompanying music video features both Armin van Buuren and McKee dispersed throughout the visual narrative of a break up. “Lonely For You” is a worthy complement to the “Wild Wild Son” producer’s growing list of increasingly diverse releases, and if the Armada figurehead is actually on a mission to prove that he can produce a hit in every genre, he is certainly checking off new boxes with his work on “Lonely For You.”
Andrew Bayer‘s sound is not only tailor made to his home label Anjunabeats, but it defines it. His recent In My Last Life album checked most of the usual boxes: Evocative vocals from album collaborator Alison May, soaring and stadium filling pads and textures, and powerful chord progressions. But the album forwent the pounding, festival-ready trance percussion of the artist’s earlier offerings for downtempo, stuttering breakbeat rhythms. Now, Bayer has reimagined Above & Beyond favorite “Open End Resource” as a full-fledged arena smasher, aptly titled the “In My Next Life Mix.”
Refreshingly, the new arrangement still boasts some of the juiciest melodic elements of the original, including those buttery electric guitar strums and angelic atmospheres. Added to the mix are buzzing drops that sound instantly worthy of Bayer’s gorgeous buildups. An extra special touch not found in the original is an added breakdown featuring truly cavernous synth stabs, leading into a steady build that’s sure to be a certified moment on any dance floor.