Review Summary: What is trance?
Electronic music has always been difficult to accurately describe and define, in part due to the sheer amount of endless subgenres that are outweighed only by the infinite realm of heavy metal. Amongst the ocean of subgenres littered about inside of the electronic music scene, trance music has risen to become one of the most popular styles in the genre. But this raises the question: What is trance? Is it meant to be a style that popular DJs would play in huge nightclubs to numerous drunken partygoers? Or is it a more thought-provoking genre? Is it meant to live up to its namesake of putting the listener into a “trance”? Then, along came the now-defunct Swedish duo, Vibrasphere, to push trance music to the limit by combining it with traditional psychedelic elements. And in their magnum opus,Exploring the Tributaries
, Vibrasphere was able to truly showcase what trance should be.
The first thing that becomes apparent simply by looking at the track lengths is that this is not your run-of-the-mill EDM album. In fact, it would probably be a lie to even classify this as EDM, because although one could dance to it if so desired, the overall tone of the album doesn’t quite reflect that feeling. The songs are substantially long, ranging from five and a half minutes to well over eight minutes, and the compositions throw in both Vibrasphere’s well-known psychedelic touch alongside some prog elements to create an incredibly immersive experience. Songs such as “Heading North” and “Erosion” display a more mellow, calm, and almost atmospheric side of the group, while “Isolation” and “Vertical” show off more upbeat rhythms and melodies.
One of the key components of the music that works in the album’s favor is the production value. None of the instruments ever seem to overtake one another or get too jumbled up in the mix, allowing for each and every part of the songs to shine through. Whether it be the more ambient, atmospheric elements or the chunky bass riffs and synthesizers, Vibrasphere never fail to keep the music interesting and thought-provoking. The psych and prog elements blend in seamlessly with the electronic elements, allowing for a true “trance” sound that embraces the stranger side of music without ever coming off as ridiculously dark or threatening like most underground electronic artists from more recent years.
I can say with confidence that this is, without a doubt, a fantastic release from a well-established trance outfit, and a must-buy for anyone getting into trance, or even electronic music in general. This truly is one of those albums that’s meant to be listened to in a comfortable, relaxed environment, where the music can slowly lull your mind into a new state of serenity.