Trance [ ] Control

Beyond 2001

by Ben Varkentine


Before incorporating more conventional methods of distribution (such as this CD), Trance [] Control were apparently one of the most downloaded unsigned bands on the Internet. I can only think this is because this music is worth getting for free or cheap. I’m not sure it’d be worth paying new CD prices for. Which brings up the question of how little music is worth that price, and how ridiculous that price is compared to what they cost to manufacture, and how that has to be taken into consideration in any moral stance against Napster and the like. None of which, however, makes this music any better.

This is perfectly decent but rather generic modern dance, “club-style” music. That means it’s keyboard driven, has a heavy rhythm, the pieces (I can’t call them songs) are in extended form and mixed together so that you only know where one ends and the other begins if you use your CD remote.

Doonesbury cartoonist GB Trudeau’s fictional rock musician, Jimmy Thudpucker, said it in an “interview” published in Rolling Stone in the ‘70s: “You can only take so much boing with your bop”.

Even if you like listening to electronic music, as I do, there comes a time when the similar nature of much of “techno”—the rigid rhythm patterns, looped samples of obscure disco divas, and jagged shards of burbling and buzzing synthesizer—begins to meld it all together into a characterless blob. This, it seems to me, is what prevented the much media-hyped “techno wave” from really crashing down across the mainstream. Granted, there are the occasional astonishing exceptions. But they’re exceptions because they have something solid that remains after the style of the moment has been stripped away. Sometimes that something is called songwriting (Pet Shop Boys). Sometimes it’s sparkle, melody and variety (808 State). Sometimes it’s both (Moby at his best) But whatever it is, Trance [] Control don’t have it.

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