Magnus was a mainstay on Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto Fluoro label in 2012, but his track Radiant Dawn finally got a release on Solarstone’s Touchstone imprint at the start of the year. Subtle yet atmospheric, there’s something special about the little hooks and vocal samples that litter Radiant Dawn, the track being a prime example of the juxtaposition of simple ideas and huge sound that exemplifies the guy’s work. Magnus remains something of an enigma, but he has earned himself a reputation as a key player in the resurgence of psytrance.
Deer Friends is a rare occurrence in trance nowadays. There’s something simple at play, yet it has a massive appeal that made it one of the finest feel-good trance tracks of the early summer. It’s progressive and driving trance at its best, making Shato & Paul Rockseek a fine addition to Paul Van Dyk’s Vandit label.
If a track could be accused of having "too many remixes," Binary Finary’s (pictured) seminal trance classic 1998 would be in with a shout. For many it’s such an important piece of trance that it should be immortalized in solid diamond somewhere, so good remixes are always welcome. James Dymond’s take certainly fits the bill and is one of the best versions of the track since Ferry & Tiesto gave it the Gouryella treatment. As uplifting as they come, this blew the roof off many a venue over the summer.
Omnia’s collab with IRA on The Fusion was rightly lauded as one of the biggest trance tracks of 2012, hitting #1 on our 2012 trance chart, but the young Ukrainian blasted into 2013 fully intending to make it his own. Immersion achieved this spectacularly, with its big synths, bold melodies, and powerful production. It set Omnia firmly on the radar of many in the scene, and proved a big favorite for many a DJ. If you’re looking for big hooks and a proggy production style, Omnia is your man.
Released on Coldharbour right at the beginning of the year, Fisherman & Hawkins came up with a track that started a trend in 2013. Apache was steady, driving, but featured a melody a crowd could sing along to easily. The Dutch duo achieved a rarity in modern dance music, with a track that was on heavy rotation right through the summer, with high praise from the big names that played it and the clubbers who loved it.
One of the few vocal tracks on our chart, Forever Is Ours is a strong effort from Armin’s Intense album. Emma Hewitt’s stunning voice soars over some powerful but understated synth work. Treading the unusual line between club banger and chilled-out album track, Forever Is Ours was one of Intense’s best examples of how Armin isn’t just a producer, but also a talented songwriter.
Andrew Bayer’s 2013 was highlighted by one of the albums of the year, but while If It Were You We’d Never Leave was utter genius, it wasn’t exactly trance. Bayer did however cater to the club-goer with the club mix of Need Your Love, which features all of the stunning musicality of the original in the build, but has a big room drop that has destroyed many a venue throughout the latter half of the year and solidified his reputation as one of the most diverse and talented producers currently on the scene.
First used as part of a Dutch beer advert, this track became one of the biggest tracks in Armin’s sets this summer, spending months as a mystery "ID" track. Revealed as the work of Mark Sixma on Universal Religion Chapter 7, Character is trance designed for a massive club, regularly blowing the roof off events such as ASOT Ibiza. With its astoundingly massive lead and stunning production value, it’s one of the clearest signs this year that euphoria is still very much the aim of our finest trance producers.
Big, dirty, pounding and with spoken word samples, Cosmic Gate’s 2013 opus urges us to "forget the past," but it still reminds us of what the German duo have done flawlessly for years. While their surging popularity continues, they’ve brought their much-loved style right up to date, with So Get Up bringing the harder edge of big room trance to the masses while also giving newcomers a taste of the old-school.
Orjan Nilsen is the perfect marriage of electro and trance sensibilities, and his musical prowess was displayed to the tee with the release of XIING off his No Saint Out Of Me album. An epic synth line in the drop is the distinguishing feature of this festival monster that has been thrilling crowds since its release in July.
2013 trance with a hint of old-school about the production, Wayfarer almost sums up the evolution of trance. From the lush and moving build to the beautiful single piano chord which concludes the break, concluding with massive synth stabs, Audien’s Wayfarer takes us on a journey through every emotion trance has to offer. One of the rising stars of 2013, Audien shows that trance can have big, moody ambient sections, while still evolving into a track that sends a club mental, something Wayfarer achieved over and over again.
No one in the industry has seen a faster rise to fame this year than Andrew Rayel, who has been hailed by many as “the next Armin van Buuren" for his brilliant melodic compositions. With the release of Dark Warrior, Andrew displayed that he not only can write beautiful music, he can also tear the house down with booming big room trance. In an interview with Andrew at Armada’s 10 Year Anniversary party at Escape Amsterdam, he told us that many people were convinced Dark Warrior was a collaboration between Andrew, Armin, and W&W when they first heard it, but then were shocked when they found out it was just him. If that isn’t a testament to the power of this track, we don’t know what is.
D# Fat is the track on this chart that was arguably dropped by the widest variety of DJs, from Porter Robinson to Knife Party and back again. It comes as little surprise, too–there’s something for everyone; from the trance breakdown to the big room electro drop, D# Fat’s versatility is what shot this track straight to the top. 1.5 million views on YouTube ain’t bad, either.
Summing up Above & Beyond’s recent style perfectly was their Breaking Bad-inspired single Walter White. With stunning instrumentation in the build, breaking into some massive synth stabs and a deep and driving drop, it was perhaps analogous to the London trio’s year of acoustic shows followed by massive arena-style gigs.
Trance music is ultimately about a melody, something you remember forever. This is exactly what Brian Transeau provided with Skylarking. Much like BT’s seminal track Flaming June, it’s a simple hook that made the track a modern classic. Beautifully adapted by Ilan Bluestone for the uplifting fans, and made into a monster by Maor Levi for the prog house fans, Skylarking transcended all discussions about genre and is thoroughly deserving of our #1 slot.