Trance grew ever stronger in 2012, with Armin van Buuren’s return to the #1 spot on the DJ Mag poll, dedicated trance stages at most major festivals, and continued support from DJs both inside and outside of the trance genre. LessThan3 has the fifteen best uplifting, tech, and vocal tracks that defined every trance lover’s year. Step inside and take a look.
Pulse & Sphere – The Lost Stars (Original Mix)
Pulse & Sphere - The Lost Stars (Original Mix) [Future Focus]
Russian duo Pulse & Sphere may be newcomers, but after immense support this year from the likes of Markus Schulz for their track The Lost Stars, they are sure to shoot to the stars and beyond at lightning speed. The Lost Stars features a brilliant, percolating melody line that rides atop a mean bass undercurrent, straddling the fence between hard and uplifting with expertise well beyond their years.
Jaytech feat Steve Smith – Stranger (Kyau & Albert Remix)
Jaytech feat Steve Smith - Stranger (Kyau & Albert Remix) [Anjunabeats]
Featured on Armin van Buuren’s Universal Religion Chapter 6, Kyau & Albert’s reimagining of Jaytech and Steve Smith’s Stranger leaves the listener in a somewhat dual emotional state. The solemn lyrics and vocals are accented by a drop that leaves you light as a feather, with a sound that is unquestionably Kyau & Albert.
Nhato feat Hiroyuki ODA – Moonquake (Original Mix)
Nhato feat Hiroyuki ODA - Moonquake (Original Mix) [LessThan3]
What more can we say about Japanese prodigy Nhato that hasn’t already been said here on LessThan3? The man’s sheer musical brilliance shines in every track that he touches, and he somehow always knows how to remain musical while still giving you something to bang your head on. Moonquake gained support from Armin van Buuren after he dropped it on his A State Of Trance radio show, leaving the listening masses scratching their heads wondering, “who is this Nhato?" This is “Classic Trance 2.0" at its finest.
Ummet Ozcan – The Box (Original Mix)
Ummet Ozcan - The Box (Original Mix) [Reset]
Make no doubt about it, Ummet Ozcan likes it rough, and nowhere can you hear that better that in his massive tune The Box. A ripping synth shows up for only a second before plummeting the crowd into a deep, dark oblivion. This one is an absolute festival destroyer, so much show that even artists like Avicii have been using it to obliterate their fans.
Arnej – The Second Coming (Original Mix)
Arnej - The Second Coming (Original Mix) [Coldharbour]
Canadian producer Arnej is known for naming his tracks in a very apocalyptic manner (anyone remember Beginning Of The End?), and that trend continues with The Second Coming, a dramatic track full of far-off echoes, a breakdown that sounds like it came out of the score of a Lord Of The Rings movie, and a supremely melodic drop.
Gareth Emery – The Saga (Original Mix)
Gareth Emery - The Saga (Original Mix) [Garuda]
Whoever said breakbeats don’t belong in a trance track? Gareth Emery proves that bucking the four-to-the-floor trance tendencies is more than achievable in his massive hit The Saga. An instantly recognizable melody line in the breakdown leads the listener into a false sense of security before a breaksy drop comes out of nowhere and leaves no one unharmed. It’s no wonder he chose to open his epic set at Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas with this track.
Heatbeat – Extra Bacon (Original Mix)
Heatbeat - Extra Bacon (Original Mix) [Captivating Sounds]
It would seem that Heatbeat has an anger management problem based on the ferocious sounds that the duo puts out of their Argentinian studio, but we at LessThan3 hope they don’t visit the therapist any time soon. Extra Bacon takes the complextro sound that’s been flying around the electro scene for the last couple of years and seamlessly integrates it into a track with perfect trance sensibilities. Just wait for the final drop–it’s an absolute monster.
Markus Schulz vs Ferry Corsten – Loops & Tings (Original Mix)
Markus Schulz vs Ferry Corsten - Loops & Tings (Original Mix) [Coldharbour]
It isn’t often that two titans of the industry go head-to-head on a track, but Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten (pictured) decided to do just that with Loops & Tings, and what came of it was a frenetic, techy track that was dropped far and wide across 2012’s festival season. The breakdown is very “classic trance," but the drop is anything but standard, with a distant piano, rapidfire percussion, and a rising synth that elevates the mood to a level of sheer madness.
W&W – Shotgun (Original Mix)
W&W - Shotgun (Original Mix) [Mainstage]
W&W keeps getting bigger year after year, and we are by no means surprised. Their high-octane, electro-tinged trance sound is just what the doctor ordered for fans of EDM these days, and Willem & Ward’s ship has certainly risen with the tide. Shotgun is pure energy embodied in a song, with a drop laden with stabbing synths, a deep tribal thud, and an uncontrollable addictive quality that helped propel them to #25 on this year’s DJ Mag poll.
Mat Zo feat Linnea Schossow – The Sky (Club Mix)
Mat Zo feat Linnea Schossow - The Sky (Club Mix) [Anjunabeats]
The club mix of The Sky may be the most unique track on this chart, but this isn’t very surprising. Mat Zo isn’t known for playing it safe, having produced everything from trance to techno and house, and birthing a variety of subsets of EDM during his cross-genre travels. The Sky is part trance, part big room house, and part electro, and still manages to fit in an ethereal vocal from Linnea Schossow, sister of acclaimed trance producer Marcus Schossow.
Emma Hewitt – Rewind (Mikkas Remix)
Emma Hewitt - Rewind (Mikkas Remix) [Armada]
This track is a bit of a latecomer to the 2012 airwaves, but that didn’t prevent it from cracking the Top 5. We all know Emma Hewitt is possibly the most “remixable" vocalist out there, but what we didn’t know is that up-and-coming Danish producer Mikkas would put every other remixer to shame when he dropped his earth-shaking remix of Rewind. Haunting, Amy Lee-esque vocals, an unforgiving electro bassline, and a breakdown that manages to be both beautiful and rough at the same time managed to shoot this track straight to #1 on the Beatport trance chart in only five days.
Arty, Nadia Ali & BT – Must Be The Love (Original Mix)
Arty, Nadia Ali & BT - Must Be The Love (Original Mix) [Armind]
You can pretty much never go wrong with any of the names on this track as a solo act, so combining the talents of Nadia Ali, Arty, and BT was sure to lead to one helluva track. Nadia’s vocals sit perfectly atop a syncopated production with a gorgeous, piano-driven breakdown from Arty and BT, also landing this track at #1 on the Beatport trance chart.
Andrew Rayel feat Jano – How Do I Know (Club Mix)
Andrew Rayel feat Jano - How Do I Know (Club Mix) [Armind]
Named the “Breakthrough Producer Of The Year" by Armin van Buuren, Andrew Rayel seems to be on the express train to success, and his vocal hit How Do I Know is helping propel him to the next level. The breakdown in the middle of the track is perhaps the most beautiful of the year, with vocals provided by the elusive Jano.
Above & Beyond feat Richard Bedford – On My Way To Heaven (Above & Beyond Club Mix)
Above & Beyond feat Richard Bedford - On My Way To Heaven (Above & Beyond Club Mix) [Anjunabeats]
No trance chart would be complete without trance masters Above & Beyond, and this year our favorite track out of the massive crop they released has to be their club mix of On My Way To Heaven. Richard Bedford’s smoky vocals are always a crowd favorite, and the drop induces the listener to “drop it down low"–a feat that is hard to pull off in the genre of trance.
Omnia & IRA – The Fusion (Original Mix)
Omnia & IRA - The Fusion (Original Mix) [Coldharbour]
It is impossible to speak too highly of Omnia (pictured) & IRA’s massive track The Fusion. It literally has everything you could want: an unbelievable electro-breakbeat intro drop, beautifully chopped vocals, and a high-flying, melodic main drop. It’s almost inconceivable how well-produced this track is, and this is exactly why The Fusion lands at #1 on our Top Trance Tracks Of 2012. We aren’t the only ones who think it’s is the best of the year, either–so does Armin van Buuren. Congratulations to Omnia & IRA on a well-deserved #1 spot!