Trance has such a stereotype. The look on the face of the unsuspecting person who asks me that timelessly confining question of “so what music are you into?”, when I reply “hard trance” is priceless - a glance of concern mixed with a hint of confusion. This is no lie either, I really do love hard-trance, slow-trance, euphoric trance, any trance, TRANCE, TRANCE, TRANCE. Nina Kraviz has been known to drop some hedonistic gems in her time but still the genre is lost on some. There’s some who say trance is placed “in the zeitgeist, rarely referenced outside of parody”, and to them I say “Have you heard of Lorenzo Senni?” This is the sound of new age trance which is beautiful, melodic and destructive to those paradigms you would suggest when we talk of the genre.
His newest album Persona, released on Warp Records, could be one of the best things to have happened this year. When listening to trance you expect to hear a rise which builds and builds until an inevitable pay off; it’s why so many of the genres forefathers have now divulged into the realm of wife-beater vest parties, or as others call them EDM raves. Lorenzo Senni avoids all that. He provides a completeness in his sound as a full piece, and it’s somewhat a curveball to the genre considering you are hit with the build of the song very early on.
Abandoning any percussion, his stripped-back approach layers synths and warps to create an altogether individual sonic form. Senni creates melodies within his foray of trance which could be found in pop songs; this is not to say that old school trance songs don’t have melodies, an obvious example being PPK's Resurrection, yet, the iconic analogue stabs which solidify this tune as a nuclear warhead of dancefloor bangers work in contrast to Senni’s melodies. His creativity in using similar sounds in a much more convoluted way to trance’s normal order is impeccable. But here, I have just done an injustice to my dear sweet trance. Nothing excites me as much as its conventional creativity does.
I always have the same daydream about it every time I hear its iconic builds and drops. We’ll set this scene to another stone cold gem, Diving Faces by Liquid Child. As it starts, an airy vocal skims over its typical pounding bass. Now imagine a calm blue light rising and it twinkling as you calmly bop from side to side. As the bass evaporates you’re left with the muffled bleeps which serenade to create an infectious hook and this is when the twinkling blue stars alternate between a calming darkness and a cold white flame. In other words the blue lights fade to nothing before white lights fade back in; a calm stroboscopic effect. The burning euphoria in you is waiting to explode, clawing itself up, preparing for the inevitable, the undeniable, the beautiful drop that categorises late 90s/early 2000s trance. As the song reaches this point, a rattle shakes, the stabs become more intense, and the drums crescendo until… the pay off. Flickering lights reach fever pitch; everyone around you is jumping because you can’t help but not. It’s no fault of your own that you find it so infectious; thats just the quality and panache of trance.
Though modern trance isn’t made in the same vain as it was at the turn of the century, Senni’s incarnation succeeds in capturing my attention just like the old stuff. Win in the Flat World has a lovely dramatic, jolting, scratchy synth whilst Rave Voyeur lacerates over the eardrums with pelting rhythms, and the spine tingling Angel sounds something like if Tibetan monks made trance (maybe). The undeniable beauty in what Senni does is seen in emotiva1234, where the digression of his standard format is most evident. Substitute any other instruments with the ones he uses and you have a genuine pop banger here - at moments you can almost visualise the beat as lyrics themselves. One Life, Once Chance has 8-bit nuances seen in Super Mario games and Forever Tune closes the album with warping serenity.
With Senni’s latest outing I have hope for the future of trance. It's hay-day may have been and gone, but there’s hope for a newly modeled resurgence with Lorenzo Senni’s style.
Words: Tai Kolade