The History of Dance Music - Part 2

InternetDJ member Nelo continues his lesson on the History of Dance Music. Check it out only on internetdj.

Posted by Nelo on Fri Nov 1, 2002

Music News

Named after the favoured head-state of those frequenting the Indian beaches of Goa, trance music has its roots in the early experiments in electronic music as well as the parties at Anjuna beach.

Playing to throngs of fluro painted party goers, DJs would add drum loops to eighties electronic music. Taking root in both the Goa party scene as well as on the continent trance appeared to evolve along two distinct paths. The late eighties and in particular the early nineties saw various European labels such as Rising High issue compilations stuffed with mathematical, uptempo tunes whilst the Goa sound developed in to a much more organic, furious psychedelic experience; a sound favoured by labels such as Dragonfly and Flying Rhino.

Widely regarded as the trance scene's most established stalwart it was the ageing, dreadlocked Goa Gill who pioneered the Goa party sound that he has in recent months taken to Mexico. Whilst Gill fuelled the underground, it might be argued that the trance had its' baptism into the over ground, certainly in the UK, when Radio 1 broadcast Paul Oakenfold's Goa Mix. Fusing elements from both the European and Goa sound with tracks by Sysygy, Man With No Name and Vangelis , this mix became the most widely requested ever broadcast by Radio 1 and brought the sound to a whole new audience. In a somewhat reactionary stance, labels such as Dragonfly and Flying Rhino steered clear of the 'goa' tag and persevered with the 'psychedelic trance' moniker.


1991: In response to the booming dance music scene in the UK music writer Dom Phillips conceived the term 'progressive house' to distinguish a sound being pushed by British producers (such as Andrew Weatherall and Justin Robertson) and record labels (Boys Own and Gorilla).

This was a rougher, more leftfield music that drew on European influences as well as extended the Balearic house sound that DJ Paul Oakenfold had brought back from Ibiza a few years before. It was when Paul Daley and Neil Barnes aka Leftfield released the pioneering "Not Forgotten" in advance of their seminal Leftism album that the term 'progressive' found it's very own space in music's car park of nomenclature.

Nowadays, the term seems to be used to describe often lengthy (some of the build ups in Sasha's sets used to takes several days to kick in), ambitious compositions that use many layers of instrumentation and take themselves quite seriously. Spacious, funky and often not quite fast enough the progressive sound seems to be the preserve of the highest paid DJs. Prime exponents of this sound are Sasha, John Digweed, Sander Kleinenberg, Nick Warren (Way Out West), Brian Transeau as well as labels such as Hooj Choons.

Ambient/Chill Out

Sparked by the electronic experiments of Brian Eno in the seventies the ambient movement and the dance music scene were destined to be cosy bedfellows. Providing a sonic sanctuary away from the relentless thump of the kick drum, party protagonists often enjoyed subdued 'mongizontal' sounds (often featuring bird tweets and whale song).

Eno aside, dance music's first ambient hero was Alex Patterson who with his band The Orb released The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, an album of incredible detail and beauty which spawned several classics tunes and even today is held in the highest regard. Other prime exponents in the field of ambient music such Aphex Twin (Selected Ambient Works 1) and Mixmaster Morris aka The Irresistible force both made forays into electronic mood music with vary degrees of success and notoriety.

In more recent years the 'chill out' scene has been influenced by the likes of Jose Padilla and the Balearic sounds of Ibiza's Café Del Mar and the neighbouring Café Mambo. Now, so marketable is our desire to chill out that the compilations market has seen a glut of various 'mood' CDs advertised with lumps of ice, waterfalls and a plethora of edgeless white spaces. Glaringly obvious commercialism aside, the downtempo side of things has created space for some fine offerings from the likes of Air, Groove Armada, Zero 7 and Lemon Jelly to name but a few.

Other Links
ˇ The History of Dance Music Part 1

Recommended For You

Article Comments