Of all the electronic genres that have passed in an out of my conciousness over the years, the one that has probably made the least lasting impression on me – aside from Happy Hardcore – is probably Trance. There is something about it, something I just can’t get on-board with, that has led me to avoid it at almost all costs. Some of this dislike is entirely based in the sound: an over reliance on breakdowns, snare rolls and arpeggios, overdriven 303s going up instead of down, all tied together with a relentlessly oppressive chirpiness. It’s like rave music that’s taken a first year course in environmental philosophy as taught by a tie dyed t-shirt wearing professor who has never quite returned from a Disney-esque version of the 60s.
I am aware that most of this is probably ill-informed nonsense. Most prejudices usually are. Still, the fact remains that the last thing Trance does is put me in one. As psychedelic adventures go, Trance makes me feel like I’ve gone to a Grateful Dead concert dressed as the Main Cop. Without a gun.
And yet, there is a place in my heart for expansive, musical exploration that nods its head towards the psychedelic and open horizons. Clay Wilson’s music cannot be described as ‘Trance’ in the traditional genre-specific sense for the simple fact that it has nothing what so ever to do with it. But Trance it is, albeit a far older, far more alien breed, one that walks an ancient path carved out by forgotten tribalism and experience.
E4 is a Dreamtime march; simple and recurring motifs and textures weaved together into a hypnotic whole. A subtle but enormously powerful bass marshals the track superbly, a dub elemental that has travelled into a different world. It’s the drums that capture you, though. Each beat shifting its velocity, stepping with an alien precision into tribal rhythms and driving the track into becoming genuine body music rather than something only of interest to the head. It’s deepness articulated by the vast spaces between the various sounds and the way the whole thing seems to constantly morph without changing very much at all.
Oizumi takes it lead from E4 but while it owes a debt to the rhythmic tribal pulses of the opener, it is more urban – surprisingly so, in fact. It’s tribes here are those of the modern world, and it’s patterns the complex tapestries of life bleached by the glare of the sodium night. It’s less hypnotic, somehow more unsettling, and perhaps more functional.
Socorro is a departure, it’s rhythmic structure almost buried under some heavy, rumbling bass and kicks that scramble awkwardly in the same frequency field. It threatens darkness and yet light is provided by some gorgeous chords born of free jazz, which help to bond together the rambunctious squeal of muted trumpets, unquiet spirits that they are. Of the three it’s the most simplistic – for all it’s noise and grit – and it’s the most traditional Techno piece here. A finely downbeat ending to a psychedelic, twilight adventure. This is Trance as it should be.