Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Mateusz Wojtowicz has a YouTube channel where he provides his own mixes of hard trance, hardstyle, early hardstyle, and other mixes on occasion (like hardcore, rawstyle, or subground, etc.) His numbering system is a little odd; this is Hard Trance vol. 10, but that doesn't mean it's the 10th hard trance mix; it means that it's his 10th mix of any style, and that it's hard trance. (Vol. 9 is Early Hardstyle, and vol. 11 is Hardstyle, for instance.) He does occasionally have mixes out of order too, as copyright considerations make him have to take a mix down, correct it and then repost it (eventually).
Anyway, this is the kind of stuff that I'm listening to a lot right now; this one in particular has an early Qlimax vibe to it (some of the exact tracks on this mix, I heard on one or more of the Qlimax setlists first). I want to work my way through his list one mix at a time until I've heard them all, which is a fairly big task, as he's got nearly 70 of them done now, and they range from just under an hour to the better part of two hours long.
Anyway, I'm a big fan of listening to these prerecorded mixes. Naturally, it's not the same as actually being at Qlimax back in 2001, or whatever, but I think that EDM and the vinyl obsession don't make a lot of sense. Digital is where it's at, when the music is digital music to begin with.
One of the things I've always liked about listening to hard trance is that you can really hear it bridge the gap between acid trance and hardstyle quite often. It's not often that you can have a track with a squelchy 303 bassline right next to one with a pulsing reverse bass bassline and yet they sound like they fit next to each other, but in this mix in particular, hearing "Welcome to Your Nightmare" followed by "Enemies of Earth" shows that it can be done pretty easily. That's why my favorite EDM is the confluence in the very late 90s and early 00s of those three styles—as they diverged more and more into more crystallized, defined, separate genres, I kind of started liking them a little less.
Not to say that I don't love loads of later, euphoric or whatever hardstyle songs, because I do. I still get really jazzed when I hear a good Ed E.T. & DTR song, or some of the best of Headhunterz, TNT and Project One—but my favorite stuff is the hardstyle that really sounds like hard trance and hard trance that sounds like hardstyle, and a willingness of both to use plenty of acid.
The sound, not the drug.
That said; not all of this stuff really is that old. Hard trance kept going too, even though its general popularity has waned since it's peak of the early 00s. "The Rotten Egg" in that mix, by Dark By Design and Dr. Willis, is from 2008, for instance—well after the peak. Although ten years ago now, too. I don't know how much you will find from 2017 or other very recent dates, unless its a rerelease or something like that. I know A*S*Y*S just put out a new kind of retro acid album called Grand Theft Acid, but that's the exception. Along with that, they released a few new mixes of their classic "Acid Nightmare" while at it. I have to admit that much of what I'm exploring is already older territory here.
One of the side effects of liking that label confluence is that the comments sections are often filled with arguments about whether or not such and such a track "fits" the mix, or if it belongs to a different label than the mix is supposed to be. The Activator track listed here is one that Activator himself has called subground, for instance, in his attempt to revive a scene that he thought was tired. It just sounds like a slightly more relaxed hardstyle track to me, though. Then again, that's all subground really is. But neither is really hard trance exactly, is it?