Jesper and Johnny’s neoclassical meme journey through ’90s trance
Prologue: Boyfriends & Dolphins
Once upon a time there was a cat called JesperL and a porpoise called JohnnyoftheWell. It was springtime and anything was possible. Johnny introduced Jesper to Guangzhou’s finest emo indie biscuiteers yourboyfriendsucks! (Qiii Snacks Records) and all was well because they could both dig that band and look very earnestly dapper for it.
But it was not enough. All things must end, and then begin once more. New digs must be found.
In this case, the dig was the Japanese ‘90s acid trance/techno act Dream Dolphin, who boasts many great qualities including the best artist name of all time and the recently resurfaced cult classic Tsuki no Iyashi, Umi no Mahou (1998). Subsequent discourse went as follows:
Johnny: Let’s dig Dream Dolphin!
Jesper: It has been dug. will maybe listen to it
Johnny: it is um believe it or not better than yourboyfriendsucks
Jesper: split ep when
Johnny: are we ready for emotrance to be a thing
Jesper: tbh that actually sounds very tiktok ready. get some la dispute ass lines before a sick vibedrop
Johnny: omg you hexed it – the moment you said tiktok this came on
Jesper: okok fine i will listen
Johnny: king park nightcore mashup with this when
Jesper: lmao kinda slaps
Johnny: around 1:30 onwards is fire
Jesper: ok yes banger will jam rest of the record later lol
Johnny: jesper and johnny’s neoclassical meme journey through 90s trance
that should so be an actual blog feature
Jesper: lmao let’s plz
And so, inspired by Dream Dolphin’s ultrabop rendition of Pachelbel’s canon, cat Jesper and porpoise Johnny decided to get through as many trance records from the ‘90s as they could, primarily of meme and/or neoclassical dispositions. Come with us on an epic journey through time (‘90s) and space (DMTrealm).
Chapter 1: Lee Jung Hyun – Let’s Go to My Star
Lee Jung Hyun is a ‘90s/’00s K-pop icon (aka neoclassical) and her first album Let’s Go To My Star (1999) has the whiff of trance and memes all over it. Political parties pestered Lee Jung Hyun to let them use the hits in their campaigns (she declined) and PSY (of “Gangham Style” fame) features on the worst track. How could we say no? The track titles are in Korean and we don’t listen to BTS, so they will be left here as numbers. It is a track-by-track.
Jesper: Mid intro track but this is promising because i see that one track is titled ‘Trance’ so it must be epic.
Johnny: Wow this is the sassiest Korean child I have ever heard. Gonna pretend they’re demanding I make them breakfast. Intrigue piqued
Jesper: ‘Gx 339-4’ is also a cool name for a song and this fucks pretty hard. Love the disconnect between the vox and the instrumentals for the first verse and then it kinda starts making sense
Johnny: This is a genre kersmashing mix of breaks, trance and 90s kpop and she’s somehow making it sound like Lacuna Coil. respect. Oh snap, that kpop chanting yes
Jesper: Oo this one’s kinda spicy. One major issue: the vocals are way too high in the mix. Funky rhythm though. Less remarkable than gx 3369420 or whatever the previous song was called.
Johnny: Lee Jung Hyun is actually pretty badass. she is COMMANDING that breakbeat and this otherwise very waiting-room-instrumental actually sounds a little tense. I don’t love it but I like her now
Jesper: Hahaha okay yes let’s go lmaoo, this one has infinite meme potential. This is sick.
Johnny: Oh yes yes yes trance me entrance me entrance my entrance. is this european? idc it bops and is adorable fuck all genres I love trance
Jesper: Woooo yes lfg, i feel like this is what i imagined trance to be when i had only heard of like the vengaboys. Really cool ‘ah ah ah’s. Would absolutely fingerpoint to this. Holy shit yes it gets.. scremmy? What a beautiful stretch this already is.
Johnny: What the fuck this album is awesome. Parts of this one sound like eurotrash, parts of it are hymnal. it GOES
Jesper: Tasty textures.. Oh is this like an interlude? Cool lil vibe this one yes.
Johnny: Reinventing the filler bop as a chonk interlude, love to see it
Jesper: Okay so this is where the album slows down a little. This is kinda nice, although it would be better with a metric ton of reverb on top of it. But that goes for most things. Digging the vocal fx. Tad overlong.
Johnny: Woo I like trip-hop, does Lee Jung Hyun love it too? Maybe she doesn’t. She sounds bored…which why she stopped singing and we’re punking out to some choice breaks nicWOA this is filthy the bass is huge is this a breakdown I like it
Jesper: Party time has returned. Maybe it hasn’t. Is this the time to mention that my introduction to trance was U2’s masterpiece POP? Anyway yeah this song is ok, kinda flaccid, idk.
Johnny: Oh yes fucking please this is excellent. art pop as a term should be restricted to full on smooth diva antics over poppin acid basslines, and fuck me up that beat is tight for this. Perfect
Jesper: Ooooooo it’s building up to something. Don’t let me down. Fuck yeah lmao it didn’t let me down. God i love how organic and out of place that piano sounds. Very straightforward banger.
Johnny: Haven’t devoted enough attention so far to how well this album navigates cheese. It does it extremely well. Another slammer
Track 10 (“Trance”)
Jesper: HERE IT IS: ‘TRANCE’. Oh yep it’s already delivering. Lmao fuck yeah. Holy shit what a chorus. This rules. Yeah this song could represent the entirety of trance and that would be ok.
Johnny: This is everything good about the best bops on this album apart from now it is less good. This proves how good the good bits were. This is TRANCE.
Jesper: Oh hey this is a lil bit of a curveball. Nice n dark n groovy. Uhm yes nice song.
Johnny: I want her sitar to lick me all over. Midtempo cheese with an EDGE yes please. I feel this is the karaoke pleb cut, but it kinda owns that vibe
Jesper: Another excellent song title cuz i also love x. Not the drug. Woah hey a featured vocalist? Maybe? Cool? Yeah ok this is significantly more dated than the rest of this album and in a less good way than the other dated bits. Idk it’s ok ig.
Johnny: Who the fuck is this coming at me? Fuck the ecstasy police.
Jesper: Intriguing outro. I wish i understood the lyrics.
Johnny: The kid is back. This album is fantastic.
3 minute album review:
Jesper: Let’s Go to My Star is an album by Lee Jung Hyun. It marries trance and kpop and some other stuff and it’s pretty great. Its best songs are hype af, such as the epic tracks 4 and 5. While the album makes a lot of strange choices such as incorporating the incredibly out-of-place piano on track 9, it does enough cool shiz with most of these weird choices to make everything ok. Some songs (tracks 7 and 12) could have been cut and the record would’ve been better for it. To reiterate: tracks 4 and 5 are amazing and would litten up any place regardless of time and or space.
Album quality score: 7.32/10
Album meme score: 8/10
Songs that could compete with Canon A 3: track 4 (also maybe 5 and 10)
Johnny: Honestly, I threw this on the party pile for the novelty of having a certified K-pop record, but this is exactly what we needed for this quest. I enjoy the diversity of styles, but not as much as I enjoy the fact that the majority of this is one enduring cheesy glory bop, which I enjoy almost as much as the hardness with which the very-much-trance tracks (4, 5, 10) absolutely go. Maybe it’s longer than it needs to be, maybe track 12 is very much not the one, maybe the kid never needed to be there. Who knows. The piano on track 9 is perfect. This is for the humans and dancers among us.
Album quality score: 8.01/10
Album meme score: K-bird / ecstasy
Songs that could compete with Canon A 3: track 5 (also 4 and 9)
Chapter 2: Sonic – The Hedgehog
This is the album The Hedgehog by Sonic [the Hedgehog]. We shall be using KILL or KEEP rules, with special rule if we can forget that this is a Sonic album for any given song we will give it one mushroom. How many mushrooms will there be at the end!!!???
(1) They Call Me Sonic ¨Air Rave¨
Johnny: Oh gosh I am immediately reminded why I have never played a Sonic game. Is that actually how he talks?
Jesper: I could imagine sonic like screaming ‘sonic’ every once in a while like an audio watermark, that’d be cool
Johnny: For the benefit of the everyone reading who has no idea what voiceshit we are referring to, it is a squeaky thing in a Sonic voice that says Blue hedgehog Sonic and other Lyrics at points, it is not good. KILL.
Jesper: sonic and the chipmunks. oh fuck song has ended, probably an unnecessary opener so KILL
(2) Sonic Metropolis Trance Zone
Jesper: the zone we all need
Johnny: Wow I like this synth tone more than anything on that last song already. It is the zone. If only the words Sonic, Metropolis and (maybe) Zone were deleted from the title.
Jesper: that synth tone is weirdly pretty? i might have to award this a mushroom
Johnny: I will accept this as “trance” OH YES there we go, hit me with those epilepsy synths
Jesper: there’s a hedgehog living in my garden atm it’s cute. Imma KEEP this, it’s a nice vibe and deffo mushroom-worthy
Johnny: That is cute and I am jel. I also award this one mushroom and will KEEP it, with the caveat that it would have been a marginal KEEP on every other album we’ve heard for this so far.
(3) Sonic Electronic
Jesper: …ah yea shit, sonic ‘nanananana’s is not what this needed
Johnny: This is worse than Crazy Frog and I hate it
Jesper: imagine playing flappy bird to this tune
Johnny: I feel arthritic already
Jesper: god imma KILL this, this is pure trash but vaguely memey. Just like not annoying enough but annoying enough to be really annoying u know
Johnny: Hard KILL.
(4) Sonic’s Brain Scrap House
Jesper: vibing with these first quips but why is someone hitting a pan with a whisk
Johnny: That is what all drum machines sounded like in 1996
Jesper: how am i supposed to know that i wasn’t alive back then
Johnny: I am slain, bury me in 20k Hz
Jesper: no thoughts head empty also hard KEEP this is mindless vibe
Johnny: Genuinely do have no thoughts on whether to KILL or KEEP. I will say KEEP! No shrooms.
(5) King of the Ring
Johnny: I wonder if this album exists in the Sput database hmm
Jesper: who cares as long as it’s in the metaverse it’s ok. Also hell yeah happy hardcore let’s go
Johnny: cmon barbie let’s go party
Jesper: hello kitty you’re so pretty?
Johnny: they call me sonic blue hedgehog sonic. This song is over 5minutes long jfc
Jesper: oh fuck me it is, great
Johnny: Is that synth hook a Dua Lipa line???
Jesper: is this what she meant with future nostalgia? This is from the past but it’s also in the future for anyone reading thus nostalgia yea idfk. Just want this song to be over
Johnny: future nostalgia is actually French for retro trance. Every time sonic says king of the ring, time passes 0.8x as quickly
Jesper: no words just KILL
Johnny: sorry just distracted reading a godawful 00s review of Homogenic on sput. fucking KILL.
(6) Rave Sonic “Wing Fortress Rave”
Johnny: 6.5 mins are you dropping i’m dropping
Jesper: this better be good
Johnny: they did a dynamic
Jesper: this kinda fucks, it’s mushroom worthy
Johnny: I would have guessed shit video game character from the xylophone, but idk if I’d have guessed Sonic?? That gets a mushroom hm.
Jesper: this is more like generic arcade game vibes which ig is kinda the point of this album but whatever. also KEEP, this was a faster 6.5 minutes than most 6.5 minutes
Johnny: i am not having fun this rave sucks I will KILL, but it was much faster than King of the Ring’s 5mins
(7) Entering Death Egg Zone
Johnny: I think this might be the meme song we’ve been waiting for
Jesper: it is awful in all the right ways
Johnny: quick what’s the best song with “egg” in the title
Jesper: eh fuck i can only think of the garden rn
Johnny: what is that is it a tiktok reference
Jesper: no it’s just mildly bad music lol. Cannot think of a single good egg song. Oh shit eh KEEP because it’s too funny
Johnny: I really hate this album beyond the level of irony and so it is a KILL
(8) Sonic and Tails
Jesper: oh god no, the VOCALS
Johnny: has sonic always been german
Jesper: Sonic the Hedgehog is a Japanese video game series and media franchise created and owned by Sega. The franchise follows Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue
Johnny: okay that does explain why he sounds german.
Jesper: KILL not enough meme vibes to make up for the awfulness
Johnny: yeah this would have been a hard KEEP if it were 1min long, but alas. KILL, but one mushroom because German sonic.
(9) They Call Me Sonic (Extended)
Jesper: ah fuck no
Johnny: delete this immediately
Jesper: so many songs could do with extensions and this was not one of them. Tho this beat kinda trances hard
Johnny: i will never listen to a trance song or album again – unfortunate that we’re also only halfway through this blogpiece RIP
Jesper: we can only go uphill from here tbf. KILL this shit
Johnny: imagine if we’d done Lee Jung Hyun after this. KILL this extremely hard.
Jesper: would’ve insta-5’d lee fs. o no johnny the next song.. Just read the title…
(10) King of the Ring (Radio Zone)
Johnny: oh FUCK
Jesper: god mf dammit
Johnny: expire me. at least this one’s shorter
Jesper: again tho does this bit go harder than the previous version or am i deathying
Johnny: this is the dua lipa one and she is always best in short doses, so I guess so
Jesper: would kill to jam a dua lipa song rn
Johnny: same and i hate myself and sonic for this a lot
Jesper: KILL of the ring jfc
Johnny: KILL and stay KILLed this time plz
(11) Final Zone
Jesper: the final boss of this fucking album lfg
Johnny: i feel hideously underlevelled still
Jesper: Sonic the Hog (ft. Brian Eno)
Johnny: it could just loop these wavy dorky pads forever and be my fav on the album ngl
Jesper: at this point: agreed
Johnny: my youtube just buffered but i agree
Jesper: i also agree
Jesper: does this deserve a mushroom? This could’ve been on any other game soundtrack
Johnny: it deserves a sputnikmusic page and a mushroom! Appreciating! https://www.sputnikmusic.com/bands/Sonic-the-Hedgehog/148056/
Jesper: KEEP and never jam again.
Johnny: ahrd .
3 minute album review:
Johnny: fuck no.
Jesper: i hate that i listened to this but i love that i heard it. Or the other way around idk imma drown out my demons with some vapid nugaze i think
Johnny: Hearing this should have been a good meme, but we or it or I or someone tried too hard and took too long and it was not worth it. Gonna 1 this shit and never play a Sonic game, sorry nerds.
Chapter 3: Lucky People Center – Interspecies Communication
This record is not on Spotify, but its best track is (^^)! It unexpectedly stalled our great journey for almost a whole moon. The reasons for this are unnecessary (condensed transcript):
Johnny: Oh yeah hahaha are you gonna vote in the SputStaff Taylor Swift ballot?
Jesper: Fuck idk i like could put together top 5s for most of the artists we’re going to do but i also kinda don’t care enough. Ig you can spice taylor by only including reputation picks or smth
Johnny: Yeah fair but help me rep we are never getting back together. and if you wanna be chaotic evil you can also join me/wines/granite in voting 22
Jesper: Yea sure lol i do not give enough of a fuck about taylor no offense.
- never getring bacc
- ehh what’s the good one from lover
Johnny: this actually makes me queasy good job. wow i still need to jam the new Say Sue Me
Jesper: o yes!
Johnny: oh btw i listened to the first 3 songs of the [Lucky People Center] album we were meant to jam last night, and then questioned whether it was goa trance, and then questioned whether i knew what goa trance was, googled it, and then looked at 5 albums, listened to none of them, and jammed half of neek’s 3 yr old sput podcast with bloon. it was wild
Jesper: hahaha definitely include that in the trance blog post
…and so you have it.
One month’s gradual consumption of Goa Trance, Psytrance and Psybient later:
Johnny: Okay, so this album does dip into Goa Trance and many other things! It’s probably the comprehensive trance experience we’ve had so far. Bit of ambient, bit of techno – all solid enough, but it takes until the sample fuckage and creepy twang-twungs on “Death Machine” to catch my ear.
The album kinda opens up from there – many things happen! “Woman Is Like A Fruit” is the best hilariously unnecessary misogyny song I’ve heard since whenever pheromone last nagged me into relistening to Brand New. “Sundance” is awesome, lovely warm tone nice upbeat pulse, solid reminder of most of the best Goa stuff I heard. “Liquid Fire” is also a pretty fierce banger. Definite playlist material there. Overall, I quite like this as an off/on grab bag, but it’s never going to be my first pick for the repetitive trance/techno stuff that dominates the first half. Onwards!!
Jesper: I have kind of mostly listened to this album three times in three different settings now (from covid couch to overnight bus somewhere in Germany to sleep deprivation location) and I think it is safe to say that this album is the most good good and maybe also the most boring of the bunch. ‘It’s Good For You’ is the semi standout track for me because it vibes slightly harder than the other vibes but tbf this is just a fine record with disappointing meme potential. Album cover rules. Sorry not sorry for taking very very long to write this one incredible paragraph. Onwards?
Chapter 4: CoLD SToRAGE – Wipeout
Jesper: Some albums are harder to find than others. CoLD SToRAGE’s Wipeout isn’t exactly hard to find, but it is hard to pin down the exact properties of the record. Allow me to break down its track list:
- RYM: eight songs, 42 minutes
- Archive.org: eleven songs, 59 minutes
- Google: ten songs, 60 minutes
- YouTube album playlist: eighteen songs, 121 minutes
- Spotify: no
According to a RYM reviewer it is “a shame that CoLD SToRAGE never got the respected they deserved”. The album is a soundtrack for a PlayStation game, probably. The game is called Wipeout 3, maybe. The artist behind CoLD SToRAGE is also known as Tim Wright, definitely.
Let’s… go? Johnny, I know you love long things, do you want to take the eighteen-track version? I’ll gladly do the eight-track version
Johnny: Sure, I’ll take the Discogs version! Oh wait:
“This is a PlayStation game that when inserted into a regular CD player acts as an audio CD with a blank first track. This is the original 1995 release, not the 1997 “Greatest Hits” reissue. The two releases have different cover art, but have the same tracks.”
Guess we’re both on the eight-track. Keep it real!
Johnny: Okay, I am trying to think of something more incisive to say, but this really does sound exactly like what you’d imagine a PS1 game double-printed as a trance record would be. There’s always something happeningl, and it’s never bad and never particularly interesting. Glad we checked this, but I don’t think I’ll likely revisit it any time soon.
Jesper: My parents never allowed me to play video games as a kid. They thought it would make me aggressive. Instead, they let me play with fireworks and set fire to toys. But hey, what do I know about parenting! Anyway, this album doesn’t make me feel like I missed out on a whole lot. It’s fun! It’s bouncy! It’s all that and nothing more. Glad we checked this, but I don’t think I’ll likely revisit it any time soon.
Chapter 5: DJ Close Your Eyes To Find Me – Angel Trance Edits Volume One
Jesper: Allow me to let you in on a little secret. CoLD SToRAGE’s Wipeout was supposed to be the final record of this piece. However, one faithful evening, Johnny sent me a link to DJ Close Your Eyes To Find Me’s alleged masterpiece, deeming it “maybe the most jespercore trance we have heard so far. Can we / possibly / add this as a #5”. I like the sound of my own name, so I agreed.
Now, you might take issue with the fact that this particular record was released [on my birthday] in 2020 while this post is clearly titled Jesper and Johnny’s neoclassical meme journey through 90s trance. Time is a social construct, or whatever. Stop complaining. This is good music.
Angel Trance Edits Volume One is a delightful 20-something minutes of spacedgazed-out vibey-af trance. Besides not being from the 90s, it’s also explicitly non-meme-y in its excellence that it is this very quality affording the record its position here, in spite of not conforming to… you know, any of the original intentions. Yet, perhaps it’s not all that far removed from emotrance – for all of Angel Trance’s summery, deep-house drenched melodies tying together its constant pulse, there is a wistfulness to the record. What’s the age old saying again? When man goes looking for memes in 90s trance, man will find excellent 2020s dreamtrance? If the dream dolphin belongs to the waves and Lee Jung Hyun is going to their star above the ocean, DJ Close Your Eyes To Find Me floats somewhere in between, perfectly at peace.
Johnny: I am so tired, so very very tired (not of trance lol) and so ready to not be awake right now at this moment (which just so happens to be about three weeks after I recommended this record to Jesper and told him I would finish my write-up within a couple of days). “Dream trance” (thanx rym) be damned, Angel Trance is not the same as being asleep, but it is absolutely splendid and serene and immaterial but definitely wavy-dance–able (thank you, breakbeats), and all things considered, there is probably no better record to persuade you it’s somehow worth staying awake precisely when your body is on the verge of dropping off to deadbeat oblivion. I recommend it to music fans.
I also recommended it in front of a crowd of interminable crusties in the Loveless thread and had it pasta’d immediately back at me, which I guess is cause for a reminder that Jesper and I are the only shoegaze fans on Sputnik you should take seriously on anything ever. The reason you can trust this is that we listen to trance and don’t write soundoffs about the top of a tree of influence (not how trees work!) or sounds lyk female orgasm, for this is not the spirit of trance. Stay true.
It is over, it is done, we are entranced five times over and more. What have we learned?
Jesper: bullet points bullet points bullet points
- I never want to hear that fucking Sonic album again and yet I have played the worst song of all time ‘King of the Ring’ several times in different settings for different people (it definitely serves a purpose when you have to pull an all-nighter but are on the brink of sleep)
- Angel Trance rules
- This was either the best dumb idea or the dumbest good idea
Johnny: I think our roadmap into the very real niche of meme neoclassical definitely ’90s trance is unique and neither will nor should be replicated in its specifics by anyone ever. Well done us. HOWEVER, trance is wonderful and some of the records on our journey have been magical, and if anything we have written at any point has convinced you or us to engage with more trance, then I suppose it was worth it thank you!!!!!!
Full list of vaguely trance-adjacent works consumed or consulted at any point in support of this thicc post:
Blue Planet Corporation – Blue Planet
BT – Ima
Cold Storage – Wipeout
DJ Close Your Eyes to Find Me – Angel Trance Edits Volume One; Angel Trance Edits Volume Two
Doss – Doss
Dream Dolphin - 月の癒し、海の魔法; Love Eating Alien; Atmospheric Healing
Hallucinogen – Twisted
James Ferraro – Live At Primavera Sound 2012
Lee Jung Hyun – Let’s Go to My Star
Lucky People Center – Interspecies Communication
Shpongle – Are You Shpongled?; Tales of the Inexpressible
Sonic – The Hedgehog
System F – Out of the Blue
Thank you for reading! Trance is wonderful and more of you should listen to it. Go.