It has been a long time coming, but I finally decided to start a blog in order to share my love for electronic dance music (EDM). I plan to update this blog with posts containing what I am currently listening to, weekly posts of trance radio shows, album reviews, and other things that may be on my mind.
I remember the first accidental steps that I took down the path of loving EDM. Shortly after my 15th birthday, I asked my parents to take me to a local Barnes and Noble. Admittedly a bookworm at that point, I had intentions of purchasing some great books with my birthday money, but I was distracted my the audio section of the store. This was many years ago now, and bookstores still sold tons of CDs that you could listen to on headphones. I stumbled across the EDM section and was drawn to an album called “Ultra Trance 09“. It was great luck really. I couldn’t have stumbled across a better compilation with an album containing the likes of “Ghosts n Stuff” by deadmau5 or “In & Out of Love” by Armin van Buuren.
I slipped on the headphones and randomly selected a track, which happened to be “On a Good Day” by Above & Beyond (as OceanLab). The track starts repetitive and unremarkable like most trance tracks, but something about the structure of the music caused anticipatory tension for what was going to come next. Unfortunately, I think this type of buildup preceding the core of a trance track can cause most listeners to lose interest, but this is part of the excitement for me! If done correctly, the relief from a tense buildup can be one of the most pleasing aspects of a track.
Anyway, after a short buildup I was introduced to my favorite element in all of music: haunting female vocals set to melodic trance. Whether this track set my preferences or I coincidentally selected a track epitomizing my preferences, I will never know. The music took me to another place entirely, and I was lost in my thoughts and emotions. For me, trance provides an experience by which I become so immersed in the thoughts, emotions, and imagery generated by the song that reality can fade and is replaced by the imagery that my mind is generating (dangerous while driving!). After the sample of the track ended, the shelves in front of me and ambient noise of the bookstore came back into focus, and it felt dull compared to soundscape I had just journeyed through.
Below is the audio for “On a Good Day” by Above & Beyond (as OceanLab). It is taken from the radio show so it has maybe a 3 second intro.
After that experience I was hooked. I purchased as many Ultra Trance compilations as I could and they were in permanent rotation in my car and MP3 player during all of high school. During this period I didn’t have a preference for one artist as I was still figuring out my evolving tastes. I came to learn that EDM is a huge umbrella under which many sub-genres coexist and intermingle in interesting ways. It was at this point that I stopped telling friend that I liked progressive and trance. The common response of “Oh…you mean techno?”, and the response later in college of “Oh…like dubstep?” became exhausting.
Ironically, because of this, the more I became interested in EDM the more I kept to myself about it. Fortunately, the proliferation of Twitter and increased utilization of Facebook allowed me to branch out and tap into an enormous global community of people who knew exactly what I was talking about. One group that engages its fan base exceedingly well is Above & Beyond. Through Facebook I learned about their weekly podcast and radio show called Group Therapy. Group Therapy is a weekly mix of the best trance/progressive/house in the world, and it has been the best source for new tracks. It was my study music during undergrad and I am sure it will continue to fuel my study session in medical school. Subscribe here. You wont regret it.
After many years of evolving EDM preferences, I have settled on the trance and progressive (occasionally deep) sound epitomized by Above & Beyond and their label Anjunabeats. I previously described my personal experience while listening to trance, but Above & Beyond was the first to introduce me to what happens when you place such a personal experience in a communal context. I have seen Above & Beyond live twice now, and the experience was mind-blowing. Through various outlets (Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, Instagram) they cultivate a sense of community and belonging among their fanbase and it is tangible at a show. Everyone embraces each other and takes part in each other’s personal moments. This emotional sharing and connectivity results in a rather euphoric experience.
It isn’t just Above & Beyond that is able to bond strangers and transcend barriers of language and culture. Rather, it is the genre itself. The genre, simultaneously containing echoes of loneliness and hopefulness, reminds many of the fleeting and isolated nature of life. However, it also reminds us that, despite the shortness of life, we can and should connect and enjoy the company of others and rejoice in our existence. This transcendent message needs no language or explanation because music is universal and the those themes resonate with all of humanity.
Thanks for your time, and I hope you will visit again! As a parting gift, take a listen to the track I had on repeat while writing this post. “Karma” by Sunnylax embodies my current sonic preferences. Sit back. Relax. Let this track take you on a ride…