Essential guide to Early Trance Music. Best releases of MFS, Eye Q, Harthouse, Platipus, Hook, Planet Rhythm, Lost Language

George Palladev 9.08.2023

Essential guide to Early Trance Music. Best releases of MFS, Eye Q, Harthouse, Platipus, Hook, Planet Rhythm, Lost Language

Recently, we have been hearing more and more about the revival of trance music. Its techniques can be spotted in trendy tracks. It seems that the period of trance music oblivion, which lasted for the last 15 years, is over. The dust was brushed off from the half-dead style and its components were disassembled for other genres. However, it doesn’t hurt to know where it all started.

Let’s hear from Mark Reeder, who was in Berlin at the end of the 1980s and created the world’s first trance music label MFS Records: “It was also around this time that I realised that most of my British friends were having difficulty in connecting with this new sound of [German] techno. There were all still listening to rave band such as Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets of Stone Roses and had no real idea about the musical revolution that was happening in Germany. I thought about what it was that was missing for them. What could I give them to help them to connect to this new electronic dance sound? It was a hookline. They needed some form of a melody or hook to go along with the pounding beats.

Mark Reeder

Being a regular clubber myself, I also knew that emotional feeling of euphoria everyone got to absorb as it rippled trough a club while everyone was dancing to the same tune on E. How would it be possible to harness the emotion and combine it with music? I wanted to take the emotional upheaval caused by the fall of the wall (and Germany’s consequent reunification), the elation of winning the world cup and mix it all with the emotional ups and downs induced by ecstasy, combining it with hypnotic, trance-inducing sequencers, like a mixture of Tangerine Dream and Mahler or Wagner-like chord changes, all held together by a driving drum machine. This music I initially called hypno-trance.

Very quickly hypno-trance became just trance music. In 1990—1991, it was still an experimental offshoot of techno, of which many techno musicians were proud. By the mid-nineties, trance music became more melodic than monotonous and experimentation gave way to templates, so trance music ended up being branded commercial and shallow for many years. Today, thanks to the efforts of Johan Leсander, who carefully selected the best releases of the leading trance labels of that time (MFS, Eye Q, Harthouse, Platipus, Lost Language, Hook Recordings and Planet Rhythm), we can trace how the sound of the genre changed.