It’s happened to you plenty. The soaring, circular melodies of a throbbing song suddenly cause a warm feeling to rush over you. You smile involuntarily. Cynical, you try and shrug it off. Maybe you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with a stranger in a crowded place, wondering whether they’re getting this feeling too. The strains of the song have a way of uplifting your mood, making you mellow out and look around you.
That there – it’s the influence of ambient trance, slowly bringing peace to the tortured masses of humanity.
Ambient music is a confluence of the possibilities of external sound and humanity’s call to emotional introspection. Very detectable traces of spiritualism flow through chilled-out styles, most particularly in trance. The uplifting new-age quality offers much to soothe the tensions of regular folks engaged in the hustle and bustle of consumeristic daily life. Positive chord patterns prevail in repetitive abundance, a soma to be ingested by people stressed out by the mundane strife of the world.
With its focus on building dreamy, inspiring anthems that lead the listener on an emotional journey, trance is the perfect catalyzer for world peace. Why fight with your neighbour over land, money, resources, territory or nationality when you’re busy soothing yourself with waves of good music-induced feeling?
They don’t call it “intelligent dance music” for nothing! Everyone knows that waging long, costly, energy-consuming and ultimately deadly wars is stupid. But how do you actually steep the consciousness of the world in the proper logic? Only through ambient trance.
Trance has successfully carried over from being a musical subculture in the 1990s to an attitude that now informs consumerism, family values and social stability. Why do you think ambient electronic music is what you hear in elevators and airports? It helps everyone get along!
Some would say it has been co-opted by corporate thugs for commercial use . . . but who co-opted whom? Maybe it’s the slow, ubiquitous crawl of ambient trance that is taking over the world, infusing human relations with its atmosphere of happy, cooperative introspection.
North American baby boomers, witnesses to the consciousness-expanding era of the sixties and seventies, have always harboured a secret longing to remain part of the cultural movement toward freedom of peaceful self-expression. They’re aware of themselves as the folks who ushered in the magical effects of the synthesizer, showcasing its amazing versatility and potential contribution to music. In their formative years, they were hot for the wild digitalized experiments of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Tangerine Dream and other psychedelic rock groups.
Sure, they eventually got normal jobs and supposedly settled down. On the surface, they appeared to adopt a semblance of traditionalism, even coming to support some of the politics they once railed against as students. But still they craved the experimental nuances of the music of their youth – nuances that have evolved to encompass a vast range of ambient and psychedelic sound.
Because of their roots in “hippie” culture, aging boomers flock to the feel-good vibes of ambient trance like bees to honey. It offers the inflection of happiness, the mood of glory days, and the emotive value of new spirituality with which they’ve become increasingly comfortable (however cynical they act towards Enya).
My dad is a case in point. He went from being a hippie to a born-again Christian in the late seventies, but never lost the hankering for experimental feel-good music. Whenever I’m playing Aphex Twin or Moby, he’s the first guy to start bopping along – even in the car. “Who’s this band? They’re good!”
Turns out, he’s actually one of the first people who introduced me to electronic music, although I didn’t know it. As part of his search for ambient music whose lyrical elements didn’t travel outside his religion, he found instrumental digital soundtracks immensely pleasing. He showed some of them to me and I laughed him out of town, thinking I was so cool because I had purple hair and a Walkman playing The Stone Roses into my ears.
But listening to that stuff now . . . it was avant-garde, intelligent, ambient trance. And yes, it has chilled him right out.
So bring it on. If ambient trance can calm down my dad, it has the power to influence world leaders and soothe the many armies currently wreaking havoc on each other’s nations. Instead of tear gas, just release a cloud of soft, wondrous music that changes the hearts of men.