Why Aly & Fila’s Essential Mix could mark the revival of trance to the mainstream
Radio 1’s weekly Essential Mix is probably the biggest radio show in dance music. It has been going strong for over 20 years and provides an interesting and unique opportunity for the worlds biggest DJs and producers to showcase their talents at a captive broadcast time (4-6am in the UK) which can provide some remarkable mixes such as Nero’s from 2010 or Nicolas Jaar’s from 2012. It keeps listeners up to date with the latest names and the latest trends in electronic music, and this week we were treated to a mix from Egypt’s biggest musical exports- trance producers Aly & Fila.
For a long time, trance has been nowhere near as popular as it once was around the 90s and early to mid 00s. Many of the genre’s biggest names, such as Tiesto and Above & Beyond have moved away from the harder and often faster sounds of the genre to produce sounds closer to festival and big room house, while often retaining some elements of their trance roots, such as deeply emotional chord progressions and melodies. Above & Beyond in particular marked this change in sound with the rebranding of their radio show from “Trance Around the World” to the current “Group Therapy”, named after the second studio album. Some people within the scene have been branding this particular style, also touted by the likes of Audien and Arty as “Trance 2.0”. While this has caused a lot of these producers to get slack from their older fans, it has allowed them all to develop their sound as artists and this so called “Trance 2.0” is incredible music in it’s own right too.
Despite this, there have been some producers who have stuck to the “original sound” of trance, although it’s hard to find many these days who are producing stuff similar to Jam & Spoon or Union Jack, there has been a massive resurgence of uplifting and melodic trance as exhibited by Aly and Fila’s incredible Essential Mix. It’s important to note, that their EM is the first trance mix on the show for 2 years, with the last one being Suckley in February 2014. The mix itself is a phenomenal blend of tracks with many coming from the Egyptian duo’s Future Sounds of Egypt (FSOE) label which is a monster in itself with the pair recently celebrating 400 shows of their FSOE radio show by performing a set at the pyramids of Giza. Some of the best in the mix include the first track, Mehiel by Canadian producer Tomac, the A&F remix of Ferry Corsten’s “Beautiful” and the Egyptian’s latest collaboration with one of the “voices of trance music” Audrey Gallagher on “A Million Voices.” With 34 exclusives over 2 hours, it’s an absolute behemoth of a mix and shows listeners where the genre is currently at. A link to the mix is below:
Trance has been waiting quite a while to return to the hallowed Essential Mix decks, and it’s only right that it finally returns after such a wait. This all comes after the genre has slowly began to return to the forefront of dance music. One such brand in America is really showing this at the moment, and that is known as Dreamstate. Dreamstate is a concept created by none other than festival kings insomniac. Determined to show just how popular trance is in America, the dance music mammoths booked a 2 day event scheduled for the end of November in Southern California. In doing this Pasquale Rotella and co. were taking a massive risk, especially in curating an event dedicated entirely to one genre and booking headliners who would normally only be seen on a festivals smaller stages. But they had a point to prove, and prove a point they surely did as the event sold out in 4 hours and was a monumental success. Dreamstate is now becoming a feature of many Insomniac events, there’ll be a Dreamstate arena at the upcoming EDC UK as well as many of the artists who’ve played at these events to feature at upcoming Insomniac festivals such as EDC LV.
And it’s not just Aly & Fila who are bringing Trance back to massive popularity, there are dozens of other names who bring us a harder kind of trance with tech and psy influences. The biggest of these names is a certain Irish producer and DJ called Bryan Kearney. Kearney is responsible for his label Kearnage recordings which brings out some of the latest and greatest tech and psy trance productions. Kearney also has releases on fellow Irish producer John O’Callaghan’s Subculture label, which is one of the biggest labels in trance today and is again responsible for the genre’s massive revival. Kearney’s cult following on Facebook (especially from those in Argentina, a place where massive trance events are often held) in particular shows just how much love people have for the genre worldwide.
The future is certainly bright for lovers of trance music, for a style which was often touted as dying, it’s followers have stayed loyal over the years and are finally starting to see the genre regain mainstream popularity. We’ll leave you with one of the greatest videos on the internet to show just how much trance still matter. Space Dimension Controller dropping a classic at Boiler Room in Belfast( an event known for house and techno). The fist pumping and enormous roars of the Belfast crowd remind us all that although sometimes cheesy, trance isn’t dead, never was dead and never will be dead. Enjoy.