Breaking out of the German techno and hardcore scene of the early '90s, Trance emphasized brief synthesizer lines repeated endlessly throughout tracks, with only the addition of minimal rhythmic changes and occasional synthesizer atmospherics to distinguish them -- in effect putting listeners into a trance that approached those of religious origin. Despite waning interest in the sound during the mid-'90s, trance made a big comeback later in the decade, even supplanting house as the most popular dance music of choice around the globe.
Inspired by acid house and Detroit techno, trance coalesced with the opening of R&S Records in Ghent, Belgium and Harthouse/Eye Q Records in Frankfurt, Germany. R&S defined the sound early on with singles like "Energy Flash" by Joey Beltram, "The Ravesignal" by CJ Bolland, and others by Robert Leiner, Sun Electric, and Aphex Twin. Harthouse, begun in 1992 by Sven Všth with Heinz Roth & Matthias Hoffman, made the most impact on the sound of trance with Hardfloor's minimal epic "Hardtrance Acperience" and Všth's own "L'Esperanza," plus releases by Arpeggiators, Spicelab, and Barbarella. Artists like Všth, Bolland, Leiner, and many others made the transition to the full-length realm, though without much of an impact on the wider music world.
Despite a long nascent period when it appeared trance had disappeared, replaced by breakbeat dance (trip-hop and jungle), the style's increasing impact on Britain's dance scene finally crested in the late '90s. The classic German sound had changed somewhat though, and the term "progressive" trance gained favor to describe influences from the smoother end of house and Euro dance. By 1998, most of the country's best-known DJs -- Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, Tony De Vit, Danny Rampling, Sasha, Judge Jules -- were playing trance in Britain's superclubs. Even America turned on to the sound (eventually), led by its own cast of excellent DJs, including Christopher Lawrence and Kimball Collins.
Top Trance Artists