What is post-Trance?
Literally meaning “after trance” and not in the spiritual enlightenment kind of way, but rather referring to the style of music called Trance. It was a phrase coined by Techno artist Voiski back in January 2017 when The French artist used it to describe a Resident Advisor live set he’d recorded. The blog described it as “bright, unfurling synth arpeggios and a complete absence of drums” and “(e)qual parts Berlin School synth exploration and endless techno breakdown”. Voiski’s sound had been moving around those elements through releases on Dekmantel and Demented at that time, with a more determined rhythmic focus.
So it has nothing to do with Paul Van Dyk?
No, post-Trance is in fact a misnomer. Trance the genre popularised by the likes of Van Dyk in the nineties is the direct descendent of the balearic sound, transposed to machines. Post-Trance is no way directly tied to this genre or scene in any way. With about twenty years between them and with no musical correlation other than a melodic approach post-Trance is in fact a direct descendant of Techno more than anything else. It’s European Techno sound that expounded on the possibilities of early Detroit and evolved with the genre’s minimal phase in this century. It’s closer to the music made by artists like Extrawelt and Stephan Bodzin than Paul Van Dyk or Sasha, but there are obvious, albeit tenuous threads tying them together, like anything through the history of dance music.
What does it sound like?
It’s a melodically rich adaptation of Techno, in which the genre remains trapped in a purgatory of incessant build-ups. It’s like somebody pressed the loop button on a particularly high-point during a nineties rave and asked Shed to add a 4/4 beat. Pacing at very high speeds through 909 kicks, bright arpeggios cascade down from piercingly sharp synthesisers. It’s a unique interpretation of Techno, stripped back and constantly building to some hedonistic uncertainty, and borders quite close to cheesy at times (see that Joey Beltram remix of Breaking Bricks). There’s no rigid formula to the tracks other than it appears in forms similar to House and Techno, but it’s set apart from the modern constructs of those genres as something far more upbeat and engaging than the somber, industrial interpretation of Techno and the functionalism of modern House and Deep House genres.
Is there a post-trance scene?
No and the internet has taken care of that just like it’s done with anything else vying for some sub-cultural status. It’s certainly produced by artists with a penchant for a tune, but these are isolated instances and in many cases it might make up merely one track of a paint-by-numbers Techno release like Echoplex’s “This is My Techno Melody” on 2017’s ARTS release of the same name. Consisting of artists that continue to associate with Techno in its broadest sense, these are independent and isolated pieces of music coming largely out of Europe, through artists that are not really connected to each other. It seems that it’s more of a revolt against the stoic, very minimal, atmospheric interpretation of Techno that is so popular at the moment in places like Berlin and cellars all over Europe.
Who are the artists and labels working within it?
Besides those artists already mentioned, and it seems that Voiski is the only one that really did over more than one release, Konstantin Sibold and Peter Van Hoesen should also be added and have all had releases out in this style of Techno. Konstantin Sibold’s Mutter is probably the best example of it. The 2016 release was way ahead of the pack, and established the genre before Voiski coined the name and assumed ownership. It’s rumoured that Sibold might have been somewhat tentative about releasing the music, but I’m sure he is assuaged in its incredible reception.
Although Sibold, Voiski and Echoplex have all dabbled in this style of music we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the artists that have always favoured the melodic interpretation of Techno through the thick and thin of the genre. Artists like Mono-Junk, Extrawelt and, through his darker days, Legowelt.
Is there a future for post-Trance?
While Voiski is definitely bearing the torch for the genre of his own invention, it seems that other producers and artists have only had fleeting encounters with it. There will no-doubt always be some upbeat melodic interpretation to Techno and whether it’s called post-Trance or not, it will remain a major part of the genre for generations to come and will almost certainly go in and out of vogue as the Techno and House music continually evolve.