Narrowing down just 10 albums over the past few decades is no small feat. We asked our fellow #TranceFamily for some of their all-time favorites from the archives. From artist albums to mix compilations, take a walk down memory lane with some of those who shaped the sound we know and love today. As you recover from your Thanksgiving turkey comas and prepare for Dreamstate, download these albums for your drive to the festival and get in touch with the roots of trance.
Robert Miles – Dreamland (Deconstruction Records, 1996)
Digging back into the trance archives, the debut album from Italian producer Robert Miles made a splash with the chart-topping single “Children.” The track “Fable” nabbed the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Charts as well. Additionally later on, the US version of the album, One on One, featuring vocals from Maria Nayler, earned Miles a third spot on the same chart.
Sasha & Digweed – Northern Exposure (Ministry of Sound, 1996)
Many DJs and producers talk about wanting to take the listener on a journey. With this concept album, the first disc is dubbed 0° North and the second 0° South. Love for the album found it rising to the #7 spot on the UK Compilation Chart. Rolling Stone ranked it at #25 on its list of the greatest EDM albums of all time, while In the Mix placed it at #5 on their list of the 30 best mix albums of all time. Underworld, Rabbit in the Moon, and William Orbit all feature on the compilation.
Paul Oakenfold – Tranceport (Kinetic, 1998)
Named by Rolling Stone as one of the 30 greatest EDM albums ever, Tranceport constructs a trip into the heart of trance on this mix compilation. Highlights include a few Paul van Dyk tracks, such as “Words (for Love),” his mix of “1998” by Binary Finary, and “Rendezvous” (Quadraphonic Mix) with Tilt, while other classics abound. You’ll find the Three n’ One mix of Café Del Mar’s “Energy 52,” as well as Matt Darey’s 12″ mix of Agnelli & Nelson’s “El Niño,” plus the classic Lost Tribe track, “Gamemaster.”
BT – Movement in Still Life (Black Hole Recordings, 1999)
Though BT masterfully blends everything from hip-hop and breaks to electronica, trance fans repeatedly mentioned their love for his third studio album, Movement in Still Life. From collaborations with Paul van Dyk and DJ Rap to chart-toppers “Dreaming,” “Godspeed” and “Never Gonna Come Back Down,” the album even sampled Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to round out the multidimensional offering.
Paul van Dyk – The Politics of Dancing (Ministry of Sound, 2001)
As the first mix compilation from Germany’s Paul van Dyk, The Politics of Dancing packs plenty of PvD in the 33 tracks. His remixes of iiO’s “Rapture,” U2’s “Elevation” and Second Sun’s “Empire” are all there, plus originals like “Autumn” and “Out There.” PvD also highlights offerings from Way out West, 4 Strings and Nu NRG to round out the double album.
Armin van Buuren – Shivers (Armada, 2005)
Before he earned the #1 spot atop the DJ Mag Top 100 poll, Dutch superstar Armin van Buuren collaborated with a host of notable acts on his second studio album, Shivers. He teamed up with Gabriel & Dresden on “Zocalo,” plus singers Justine Suissa on “Wall of Sound” and Nadia Ali for “Who is Watching.”
Above & Beyond – Tri-State (Anjunabeats, 2006)
British trio Above & Beyond changed the #TranceFamily forever when they emerged with their debut album. All the feels are found within the 13 tracks on Tri-State. Songs like “Can’t Sleep” with Ashley Tomberlin, “Good for Me” featuring Zoë Johnston, and “Alone Tonight” featuring Richard Belford are all modern classics that evoke a range of emotions through the compositions.
Tiësto – Elements of Life (Magik Muzik, 2007)
A nominee for the Best Electronic/Dance Album at the 50th Grammy Awards, Elements of Life, the third studio album from Tiësto, is a progressive trance fan favorite, going gold in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary and Romania. Singer Jes makes an appearance on “Everything,” plus BT teams up on three tracks, including the popular “Break My Fall.” Depending on the version of the album, there’s either “He’s a Pirate” with noted composer Hans Zimmer or “No More Heroes” with Blue Man Group.
Ferry Corsten – Twice in a Blue Moon (Flashover, 2008)
Fans flocked to Dutch producer Ferry Corsten’s sixth studio album, propelled by the first single “Brain Box,” released a year earlier, and inspired by the birth of Corsten’s daughter, after whom the track “Gabriella’s Sky” is named. Working with singer Betsie Larkin, Corsten offered up 12 tracks of original material, including the resonating tracks “Made of Love” and “Feel You.”
OceanLab – Sirens of the Sea (Anjunabeats, 2008)
It’s not technically the first album from Above & Beyond, but it’s the first full-length offering via their OceanLab project featuring vocalist Justine Suissa. Even though the foursome had been releasing tracks since 2001, Sirens of the Sea gave us a more downtempo approach to trance and plenty of beautiful melodies, found on such favorites as “On a Good Day” and “Lonely Girl.”
Deanna Rilling is a die-hard trance-head. Follow her on Twitter.