Trance, like any musical genre, is an evolving art form. Born out of the acid house movement of the late ’80s and early ’90s, trance is now one of the most dominant forms of electronic music in the country. Production company +8 helped lead the movement, and continues to release quality albums.
Started by John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin, two popular and respected disc jockeys, +8 gets its name from Acquaviva’s preferred record speed in old DJ sets.
The newest release from +8 comes in the form of a three CD set that chronicles the evolution of the company and the music from 1990 to 1997. The set is more of a showcase of the label’s artists rather than a focus on the label as a whole.
Unlike most dance or electronic CDs, the tracks are not mixed together to create a consistent flow. Instead, the set creates an eclectic and invigorating compilation of 10 artists doing what they do best. The +8 anthology offers an in-depth look at the evolution of trance music, and it functions well as either an introduction to the genre or a history lesson for new fans.
The first CD, the danciest of the set, is a perfect introduction to the music of the early ’90s underground scene, when beats were big and sounds were rough. The first CD offers an old-school feel, taking listeners back to the time when analog synthesizers were the norm. Unlike the more polished sounds associated with today’s dance music, these cuts are rougher – but not because of poor production. Squelchy sounds that give the CD an authentic feel and represent the early days of trance.
The second CD brings back many +8 hits from 1993 to 1994. The CD helps chart the progression of trance from its early rough feel to the polished and complex sounds that are now prevalent. It employs the same dance feel as the first, but also delves into more experimental areas.
The tracks feature a range of sounds, from the large, swooping sounds of traditional trance to the airy, melodic sounds of ambient music. The mixture is striking, especially for those who have been around the music for a while.
The last CD is certainly the best, featuring tracks from 1995 to 1997. This is the trance that one would expect to hear out on the dance floor today. The CD’s professional feel makes it the best out of the three. During this period the label as a whole as well as the trance scene found a niche, each artist excelling at his own style of music. Although the artists are all technically trance artists, they are as different as junglists and candy-kids, each employing his own distinct mixing styles.
The +8 collection is great for fans of all levels. People who have been around the music and the scene for a while will love it for its mix of old school and new. Those who are new to trance will love the collection because of provides a brief, but very good, timeline of the evolution of trance music. +8 has always been a sound label for good trance, and this CD showcases the talent of both the label and the individual performers.