On this week’s Unsung Heroes, we look towards the esteemed careers of two former Trance producers as we rewind the clocks to 2011. With the recent surge of American EDM exploding into a full fledged cultural phenomenon, it was only natural for hungry producers to adapt and/or change their sound to fit this new, successful business model. This process is nothing new to Trance fans, as artists such as W&W, Estiva and Tritonal all have radically changed their sound to cater to the American festival market. But it was surprising to see many high quality Trance DJ’s migrate to a sound that was more explosive and ‘maximal’, considering many of their pieces had an incredible layer of depth and subtlety that was rare to find in other genres. While I am personally on the side of Trance, I do understand why some artists needed to do so. In an environment where you are expected to produce the same thing over and over again, it gets noticeably harder and harder to produce the same magic over and over again. There comes a point where an artist needs to try something completely different in order to refuel those creative juices and produce magic once again. Regardless of the reasoning why, it was clear that many DJ’s were abandoning Trance for the glitz and glamor of Progressive House.
While we cannot force them to revert back to Trance, we can always look in the past and remind ourselves of truly astonishing productions that were made during their prime. Our focus today is on Gareth Emery and Ashley Wallbridge, two legendary producers that have swiftly reestablished their sound to Prog House. Wallbridge is most often remembered as a true Trance technician who favored the deeper and darker side of Trance, with his singles of Vision and Bang The Drum receiving heavy praise from Armin van Buuren, Andy Moor and Ben Gold. His debut album of The Inner Me was the last Trance release he would create before signing onto Avicii‘s LE7ELS imprint with singles like Crush and Afrika. Emery, on the other hand, is a masterful legend in his own right, as his massive Garuda imprint has become a key staple within the stability of the entire Trance movement and his brilliant, chart topping singles of Concrete Angel, Tokyo and Sanctuary have earned their hard won legacies. The release of 2012’s The Saga began his change into Progressive House and while he still mainly plays ‘bangers‘, (as he would call it), he is slowly reincorporating Trance into his sets for a unique hybrid of colors and styles.
Gareth‘s debut album of Northern Lights was released in 2010 and hit the No. 1 spot on iTunes within hours of its release; and featured such tracks as Stars, Into The Light and Arrival. During the release of the ‘Re-Lit‘ remix pack in 2011, the legendary Wallbridge remixed Arrival to such an astounding degree that we are inclined to call it a pure Trance masterpiece. The level of detail and craftsmanship that was carefully integrated into Arrival is way beyond what many remixers do nowadays and is a worthy testament to the wonder of Trance in 2011. The usage of beautiful, flowing strings, various jungle sound effects, singing birds, pan flutes, tribal drums and wind chimes effectively transform this mechanized creation into a mass hybrid of electronic and organic, perfectly fusing together both worlds into a mesmerizing journey of aural awakening. Every single beat and melody is tuned to perfection and within every phrase, there is something strikingly new that occurs that’s specific to that phrase and that phrase only. While it’s just a repeating melodic ostinato on the surface, it’s the minute intricacies that clearly makes it stand out above the rest. It’s exciting, exhilarating, refreshing and invigorating, and is honestly one of the best remixes that I have personally heard in all of Trance. If more artists strives to create quality such as this, Trance could enter a new realm of subversive possibility and maybe even a second golden age for the scene to blossom.
Ashley Wallbridge‘s masterful remix to Gareth Emery‘s Arrival is now available on Garuda via Beatport, so make sure you purchase a copy and support real talent!
Keep the music alive. -Q