’Technotrance’ phenomenon

Probably, many of you already noticed that modern techno often sounds not like the canonical techno, characterized by the monotony, absence of the long breakdowns and any melodies. In many cases techno resembles trance now. Not that commercial Armada style trance and the like. But the real old-school hard/tech/acid trance from the 90s, which was released on the legendary Bonzai Records, Harthouse (Eye-Q Records), Tracid Traxxx, Platipus labels. Hypnotic, trancey, but driving and rather hard.
For sure you have seen these memes in any techno community:

So, what is this ’technotrance’ thing?

Such a sound can be heard almost at all the major festivals. That’s why true techno experts disdainfully call it ’festival/bigroom techno’ or trendy ’business techno’.

However, the term ’technotrance’ has been increasingly used lately, which most accurately characterizes this musical style: typical techno hard kick drum, progressive trance lead and long melodic breakdowns, often flavoured with the good old acid line.

The techno producers often tag it #melodictechno and #progressivetechno though, which also seems to be true.

While the trance musicians respond sarcastically:

The difference between trance and melodic techno explained

You can find technotrance in the Techno (Peak Time / Driving) section of Beatport music web-shop. Remarkably, there is hardly any techno-trance releases in the ’Melodic House & Techno’ category.

Key suppliers of these tracks are the following record labels: Drumcode, Terminal M Records, We Are The Brave, Filth On Acid, Autektone Records, Respekt Recordings, Throne Room Records, Tronic Music, 1605, Codex Recordings, Ballroom Records.

The most prominent ’technotrance’ DJs are Adam Beyer, Enrico Sangiuliano, Alan Fitzpatrick, Reinier Zonneveld, Charlotte de Witte, Monika Kruse, Bart Skils, ANNA, Thomas Schumacher, Spektre, Victor Ruiz, Wehbba, Joyhauser, UMEK, T78. Techno divas Nina Kraviz, Amelie Lens, Ellen Allien, SPFDJ don’t mind to drop some technotrance too, as well as the ambassadors of industrial techno I Hate Models, Dax J, SHDW & Obscure Shape. Well-known underground musicians Voiski, KAS:ST, Boston 168 produce something in between techno and trance.

The most famous festival with this sound is undoubtedly dutch Awakenings. Besides, technotrance can be found at the special stages of Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival, EDC, etc. Though technotrance DJs started performing at the mainstages these days as well.

Here is the official Awakenings aftermovie soundtracked with probably the most played technotrance track of the last year ’Cherrymoon Trax — The House Of House (Thomas Schumacher Remix)’

*to watch the video click on the image

How did the techno DJs ’get into trance’?

According to the iconic British electronic music magazine Mixmag, the first interest in trance emerged on the techno scene in 2015 due to a viral Boiler Room video, where Space Dimension Controller is ripping the Irish ravers up with the famous trance anthem Ayla — Alya (DJ Taucher Remix).

Space Dimension Controller dropping Ayla — Alya (DJ Taucher Remix) at Boiler Room (2015)
Official Boiler Room video capturing this historical moment

However, there is no doubt that the real trendsetter is Nina Kraviz, who regularly drops oldschool trance at the biggest techno festivals. Only at Exit Festival alone in 2016 she managed to play 4 bright examples of the genre classics: Yves deruyter — Back To Earth, Cherrymoon Trax — The House Of House, Emmanuel Top — Acid Phase and Binary Finary — 1998 (those videos went viral too).

Nina dropping ’Yves deruyter — Back To Earth’ (Exit Festival, 2016)
Nina dropping ’Cherrymoon Trax — The House Of House, Emmanuel Top — Acid Phase’ (Exit Festival, 2016)
Nina dropping ’Cherrymoon Trax — The House Of House’ (Kappa Futur Festival, 2017)
Nina dropping ’Energy 52 — Cafe Del Mar’ (DJ Kid Paul Mix)
Nina dropping ’Da Hool — Meet Her at the Love Parade’ (Time Warp, 2017)

And it was quite a surprise to hear the famous uplifting trance remix of Madonna by Above & Beyond from Kraviz:

Nina dropping ’Madonna ‎— What It Feels Like For A Girl (Above & Beyond Remix)’, Hot Steel stream @ Cavo Paradiso (Mykonos)

However, Nina herself doesn’t even hide her love for trance:

The other top techno DJs jumped on this bandwagon without hesitation.

Charlotte de Witte playing ’Push — Universal Nation’ (2017)
Charlotte de Witte playing ’Kai Tracid — Voyager’ (KNTXT, 2018)
Adam Beyer playing ’Kai Tracid — Trance & Acid’ (Awakenings Festival 2020 | Online weekender, 2020)

Soon Beatport techno chart was flooded with the wave of remixes of timeless trance hits. As a matter of fact, it clearly shows what the techno producers are currently inspired by.

Charlotte de Witte — The Age Of Love (Charlotte de Witte & Enrico Sangiuliano Remix)

The Thrillseekers — Synaesthesia (UMEK Remix)

Union Jack — Red Herring (UMEK Remix)

Quench ‎— Dreams (UMEK Version)

PPK — ResuRection (Reinier Zonneveld 2020 Remix)

CJ Bolland & The Advent ‎— Camargue 2019 (Enrico Sangiuliano Remix)

CJ Bolland & The Advent — Camargue 2019 (Maceo Plex Remix)

Cherrymoon Trax — The House Of House (Thomas Schumacher Remix)

Push ‎— Universal Nation (Bart Skils Remix)

Push — Strange World (Joyhauser Remix)

Jam & Spoon — Follow Me (Thomas Schumacher Remix)

Jones & Stephenson — The First Rebirth (Reinier Zonneveld Remix)

Jones & Stephenson — The First Rebirth (Charlotte de Witte Rework)

Pete Lazonby ‎— Sacred Cycles (Adam Beyer, Bart Skils & Layton Giordani Renaissance Remix)

The Future Sound Of London — Papua New Guinea (Bart Skils Remix)

Niels Van Gogh — Pulverturm (Denise Schneider Remix)

Scot Project — U (I Got A Feeling) (Eats Everything Extended Reebeef)

It got to the point that trance labels started asking techno producers to remix the classics:

Flashover Recordings (Ferry Corsten):
Gouryella — Gouryella (Alan Fitzpatrick Tribute To ’99 Extended Remix)

Armada Electronic Elements (Armin van Buuren):
Jerome Isma-Ae — Hold That Sucker Down (Charlotte de Witte Trance Remix)

What happens next?

Seeing the success of their old tracks, the pioneers of trance scene dust off synthesizers and drum machines and start storming techno charts with the new releases, which are immediately picked up by the techno scene stars. That’s how the popular in 90’s Kai Tracid and A*S*Y*S came back to production, with their new tracks sitting on the top of Beatport techno chart.

Charlotte de Witte spinning ’MOGUAI vs. Kai Tracid — DT64’ (CRSSD Festival Spring 2020, 2020)
Amelie Lens spinning ’A*S*Y*S — Bassface’ (Cercle, Atomium, Belgium, 2019)

Meanwhile, Yves Deruyter from Cherrymoon Trax spins the decks in full blast at the techno festivals:

Cherry Moon Trax (Tomorrowland, 2018)
Yves De Ruyter (Boiler Room, Ampere Open Air, 2019)

In their turn, trance DJs noticed the trend and started switching to techno in their mixes and live sets (in fact — true trance, which they are supposed to play):

Markus Schulz — Global DJ Broadcast World Tour: Montreal 2019 Part 2

Indecent Noise — 12 Hours Open To Close (Part 2 — Techno Stimulation)

Bryan Kearney Extended — LIVE @ Sound Bar, Chicago, August 2019

Mark Sherry — The Techburst Podcast 012

T78 guest mix — The Techburst Podcast 013

Jam El Mar — Techno Trance Vibes July

And some DJs aren’t ashamed to drop techno at the trance festivals even:

Kai Tracid — Luminosity Beach Festival 2020

Lostly — Luminosity Beach Festival 2020

Trance legend Armin van Buuren himself was no exception, all of a sudden having played very techno-ish warm-up set instead of traditional deep progressive house at his ’A State of Trance 950’ festival.

Armin van Buuren dropping Push — Universal Nation (Bart Skils Remix), Jones & Stephenson — The First Rebirth (Charlotte de Witte Rework), Quench — Dreams (UMEK Bootleg), Jerome Isma-Ae — Hold That Sucker Down (Charlotte de Witte Rave Mix), UMEK — Vibrancy (ASOT 950, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2020)

As can be seen from the comments to the sets and mixes, trance fans enthusiastically accept such a ’techno’. Some of them even attend techno raves and festivals: many visitors of trance Luminosity Beach Festival successfully combine it with the neighboring Awakenings.

So, what so called ’technotrance’ actually is?

The second coming of trance under the guise of techno? Natural development of techno as a genre? Or a completely new genre of electronic music, which has not been given a proper name yet?

As we know, history is cyclical. It is very likely that the revival of trance, which was cried out back in 2017, actually happened. Just not on the trance scene, believed to be in a state of decay by many, but in techno.

Is it good or bad? There is no clear answer. While the techno heads are furious their favorite genre went mainstream, oldschool trance lovers are happy that the music of their youth has got new lease on life. Meantime, the DJs and ravers rock the dancefloors all over the world to the hypnotically energetic rhythms of technotrance.