When people lament the passing of the weird, old San Francisco, Trance Mission isn't necessarily what they have in mind, but the singular ensemble represents everything that made the city's pre-Internet music scene such a creative hotbed. The first half of the 1990s was a wide-open era when artists of all stripes could find a $300 room in a rambling Mission District house, while Oakland and even Berkeley offered similarly bohemian-friendly digs. It's not a coincidence that the profusion of clubs and venues brimmed with a disparate roster of wildly inventive bands like Mr. Bungle, Broun Fellinis, Deerhoof, New Klezmer Trio, Idiot Flesh, and Alphabet Soup.
Amongst this heady and hybrid menagerie, Trance Mission stood out as the most unlikely of combos, with a sound built on the starkly contrasting cadences of Beth Custer's sinuous clarinet and Stephen Kent's buzzing didjeridu. Performing with several different lineups, the group released four albums in the 1990s, took a multi-year hiatus, and then returned as an instrumental trio in the mid-Aughts with Los Angeles drummer Peter Valsamis. The relentlessly grooving combo completes its reboot at Yoshi's on Monday, celebrating the release of Le Pendu, its first new album in two decades.
Over the years, the band's mission has evolved and the trance-inducing sound has grown more potent, with an earthy new palette of rhythms and textures. The music still feels like it emanates from Kent's guttural grooves, but where past Trance Mission albums captured the band's roiling excursions, Le Pendu distills the tunes. "It has similarities, with sweeping, epic melodies over driving grooves," Custer said. "I don't really 'write' the music; we jam, and I come up with melodies. Weshape pieces by improvising and experimenting."
While Kent is best known for his pioneering work on didjeridu, the long, droning cylindrical horn created by the aboriginal people of Northern Australia, he's also skilled on percussionist and cello-sintir. Custer contributes on percussion and an array of reeds, particularly B flat, alto, bass clarinets.
Valsamis also doubles on percussion and provides subtle sonic elements on electronics. The results are often giddily intoxicating, as Custer's clarinet lines dart and weave over the subterranean churn. The title track sets the agenda with a blast of ominous whimsy as Custer joyously soars around a disquieting thrum punctuated by the barking rasp of Kent's didjeridu. On other tracks the addition of Anastasi Mavrides's guitar work "launches Le Pendu into more of a jazz/funk realm," Custer said.
The seeds for Trance Mission were planted in 1991, when Custer was on the road with Connie Champagne and her Tiny Bubbles. The tour manager Ron Gompertz, who went on to display his knack for combining the seemingly irreconcilable by codifying the portmanteau holiday Chrismukkah, kept playing a cassette of Lights in aFat City because Kent's pioneering fourth world ambient band was on an upcoming double bill with Champagne at a SOMA nightspot. Fat City's unusual sound caught Custer's ear.
"I took my demo tape to the gig andintroduced myself to Stephen, gave him my cassette," she recalls. "He called me thenext day and we jammed in the Headlands Center for the Arts where I wasartist in residence."
They quickly forged a friendship and started performing at Radio Valencia as a duo. Trance Mission coalesced with the addition of Fat City percussionist Kenneth Newby and multi-instrumentalist John Loose, who added an international array of percussion and string instruments, including tar, bodhrn, tabla, kalimba, kanjira, and riq. The eponymous 1992 debut album introduced the band's giddy grooves and puckish sense of humor (the opening track is "Bo Didgeley"). By the time Trance Mission released its fourth album, 1999's live recording of its farewell concert at St. John's in Berkeley A Day Out of Time (Schott Music), the lineup featured Eda Maxym on vocals and keyboards and Valsamis on drums, electronic percussion, dumbek, gongs, and djembe.
When Custer and Kent started performing as Trance Mission again they mostly worked as a duo, adding Valsamis into the mix whenever he could make it up from L.A. Annual gigs at the beloved Garden of Memory event at Chapel of the Chimes Oakland and InterMusic's SF Music Day has kept the group in the Bay Area mix, but they intend the release of Le Pendu to put the band back on the road. One reason the group hasn't worked more is that Kent and Custer aren't lacking in other commitments.
A revolving roster of assignments has made Custer a major force in Bay Area arts. Drawing on a vivid palette of influences from jazz, folk, blues, Afro-Caribbean, and contemporary classical, she's honed a style that has enhanced a tremendous array of creative endeavors, from the dance theater of the Joe Goode Performance Group to various productions by Intersection For the Arts' Campo Santo to the classic 1929 Soviet silent film My Grandmother. She's also founded and led numerous bands, like the all-star quartet Clarinet Thing. If Trance Mission sounds like the unrestrained id of the scene, Clarinet Thing is the cosmopolitan super ego, uniting Custer with fellow reed maestros Ben Goldberg, Harvey Wainapel, and Sheldon Brown. The group performs Jan. 19, kicking off St. Alban's Episcopal Church's Third Sunday Series.
Like Trance Mission, Clarinet Thing came together in the early 1990s, inspired by the ROVA Saxophone Quartet. But instead of extended improvisations, Clarinet Thing traffics in exquisite chamber jazz, captured on the acclaimed albums Cry, Want, and Agony Pipes and Misery Sticks. The repertoire reflects the musicians' far-flung passions, from Brazilian choro and klezmer tunes to South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, Duke Ellington, Herbie Nichols, Thelonious Monk, Carla Bley, and clarinet greats John Carter and Benny Goodman. Oakland reed specialist Sheldon Brown, who can be found most Sundays playing in the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, said he was drawn to Clarinet Thing by the "openness and willingness to experiment and take chances, and high level of musicianship all around."
Trance Mission, Jan. 13, 8 p.m., $21-49, Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-238-9200, Yoshis.com
Clarinet Thing, Jan. 19, 4 p.m., $20-25 (children under 12 free), St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave., Albany, 510-525-1716, StAlbansAlbany.org.
Read the rest here:
- Trance Definition and Meaning - Bible Dictionary - May 24th, 2020
- Paatal Lok actor Ishwak Singh: Its a trance when you get a part like Imran Ansari - The Indian Express - May 24th, 2020
- Gareth Emery Announces First-Ever UNPLUGGED Digital Concert Featuring the Greatest Vocalists in Trance Music - EDM Sauce - May 24th, 2020
- Trichotillomania, Isolation and Anxiety: What to Do? - The New York Times - May 24th, 2020
- Review | Clowns by Trance Effect - A Humming Heart - May 24th, 2020
- Letter: Let's change how we are responding to COVID-19 - Northwest Herald - May 24th, 2020
- Push your musical abilities with online classes from these city-based artistes - Telegraph India - May 24th, 2020
- Celebrate 20 Years of Above & Beyond and Anjunabeats With New Compilation + Club Mix Collection - EDMTunes - May 24th, 2020
- The virtual dance music festival is officially a thing - Las Vegas Weekly - May 24th, 2020
- Currents | The Western Ghats, Trance Effect, Osho Jain and more - A Humming Heart - May 24th, 2020
- FM Announces Second Trance Of Economic Package, Aims At Farmers, Migrant Workers, Street Vendors And Affordable Housing - Business Standard - May 17th, 2020
- Lady Gaga has given$ 52, mi-for a project, and it is in a trance - Matzav Review - May 17th, 2020
- The Trout Were Socially Distant, but Not the Family Memories - The New York Times - May 17th, 2020
- Exclusive Interview with Top EDM Singer... - One EDM - May 17th, 2020
- Tune to hold tight - The New Indian Express - May 17th, 2020
- Fahadh Faasil and Nazriya Nazim's Love Story: From proposal on the sets of Bangalore Days to their marriage - PINKVILLA - May 17th, 2020
- COVID-19 survivor and DJ John Acquaviva joins other London DJs at benefit for mental health - St. Thomas Times-Journal - May 17th, 2020
- My self-control has gone. I'll take anything that's delivered to my door - The Guardian - May 17th, 2020
- Trance (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes - May 4th, 2020
- Tomorrowland takes on another week with its unique live broadcast United Through Music - Rave Jungle - May 4th, 2020
- Here's where the climax scene of 'Trance' was shot - The News Minute - April 24th, 2020
- 20 Questions With Paul van Dyk: The Trance Icon on Growing Up in East Berlin & Why Social Distancing 'Is Incor - Billboard - April 24th, 2020
- Charlotte de Witte Showcases Two Sides of Her Production Abilities With 'Hold That Sucker Down' Remixes - CULTR - April 24th, 2020
- Above & Beyond's Tony McGuiness re-creates the first episode of 'Trance Around The World' - We Rave You - April 24th, 2020
- Glide Into the Weekend With Steny and Replay M's Pulsating Deep House Single "Nightshift" - EDM.com - April 24th, 2020
- This Weeks VR Game Roundup: BoxVR DLC, Baby Shark, and Meditation - VR Fitness Insider - April 24th, 2020
- Novak Djokovic: 'I think that the tennis industry needs to keep evolving' - Tennis World USA - April 24th, 2020
- PREMIERE: Hugo Costin shares plaintive and poignant new album - Happy Mag - April 24th, 2020
- Zerohs BLQLYTE is a choose-your-own-adventure journey into the psyche - The FADER - April 24th, 2020
- Murder House Flip: The Quibi series' showrunner on why he wanted to flip murder houses. - Slate - April 7th, 2020
- Darlene Snell and Wyatt Langmore Relationship on Ozark, Explained - menshealth.com - April 7th, 2020
- Trance (2020) - IMDb - March 24th, 2020
- Amazon.com: Watch Trance | Prime Video - March 24th, 2020
- How to Wake Up From the Trance of Unworthiness - Good News Network - March 24th, 2020
- Every concert you can livestream on March 23 during the coronavirus outbreak - CNET - March 24th, 2020
- Best Uplifting Trance Mix - All Time Favourites #1 - February 27th, 2020
- The most requested title track composed by Vinayakan from 'Trance' is here! - Times of India - February 27th, 2020
- Witness The Essence of Trance [25 Years of RAM] - EDMTunes - February 27th, 2020
- 'Trance' review: Fails to impress overall despite its bold theme - THE WEEK - February 27th, 2020
- Fahad Faasil's 'Trance' takes on the business of religion - Gulf News - February 27th, 2020
- Manju Warrier joining Padavettu to Trance release, here are the weekly highlights of Mollywood - Times of India - February 27th, 2020
- Mike Zaloxx explores the realm of trance with new banger 'Saving Night' - We Rave You - February 27th, 2020
- Best EDM Nightclubs Where You Can Rave in Chicago - UrbanMatter - February 27th, 2020
- Leander Paes reminisces about being in the zone that night in Atlanta - Olympic Channel - February 27th, 2020
- Mickey Hart's Ghosts of Congo Square - Relix - February 27th, 2020
- Armin van Buuren announces all ages 'This is Blah Blah Blah' show - We Rave You - February 27th, 2020
- Paul van Dyk and Dermot Kennedy lead strong live music weekend at The Ritz in Ybor City - Creative Loafing Tampa - February 27th, 2020
- Trance (2020 film) - Wikipedia - February 15th, 2020
- Bryan Kearney Holds No Restraints With His Varied Trance Projects [Interview] - EDM.com - February 15th, 2020
- Paul Van Dyk's 'Duality' Is a Thumping Trance Mood Made For the Club: Exclusive - Billboard - February 15th, 2020
- Fahadh, Nazriya open up about acting together before and after marriage - Onmanorama - February 15th, 2020
- This tactical RPG mixes real-time combat and rewinding to make you a time traveling mage - PC Gamer - February 15th, 2020
- South Movies Releasing This Friday: Vijay Deverakonda's World Famous Lover to Fahadh Faasil's Trance - PINKVILLA - February 15th, 2020
- Trance: Explore Trance Music at Beatport - January 18th, 2020
- Cosmic Gate Reflect on 20 Years of Trance [In-Depth Interview] - EDM Identity - January 18th, 2020
- FahadhNazriya starrer Trance to hit theatres on Feb 14 - Mathrubhumi English - January 18th, 2020
- This 1975 "Sweet Dreams" of Emmylou Harris Will Surely Put You in A Trance - Country Thang Daily - January 18th, 2020
- The science of hypnosis: What is it and how does it work? - Firstpost - January 18th, 2020
- Review: KAS:ST - Hold Me To The Light (Tale Of Us Remix) - Resident Advisor - January 18th, 2020
- Song Lyrics of 'Black Swan' by BTS - Glamsham - January 18th, 2020
- AGF crowns top green events of 2019 - IQ Magazine - January 18th, 2020
- Most awaited Malayalam films of 2020, from One and Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham to Thuramukham and Kurup - Firstpost - January 18th, 2020
- Whethan Returns with New Single "Stay Forever" and Fantasy Tour - EDM Identity - January 12th, 2020
- Eyes Everywhere Gets Us Ready for the Club with 'Coupla Blues' [Exclusive Premiere] - EDM Identity - January 12th, 2020
- Most awaited Malayalam films of 2020, from One and Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham to Thuramukham and Kurup | MOOSE GAZETTE - Moose Gazette - January 12th, 2020
- Tame Impala Try To Save You From Sinking Into The Past On Lost In Yesterday - MTV.com - January 12th, 2020
- BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at Portland Center Stage - Broadway World - January 12th, 2020
- The resurgence of Trance Music - Dispatch Weekly - December 29th, 2019
- 9 Dance Music Concerts For Celebrating New Years Eve In New York City - Forbes - December 29th, 2019
- Above & Beyond's Anjunadeep wraps up the decade with 'Best of 2019' mix - We Rave You - December 29th, 2019
- Gigs To Go To This Weekend - Pune Mirror - December 29th, 2019
- Irish band among NPRs top 25 albums of 2019 - IrishCentral - December 29th, 2019
- What's happening this weekend in Lincoln - 1011now - December 29th, 2019
- The Best Trance Of 2019 - A Year In Review - EDM Sauce - December 18th, 2019
- The Space Brothers Discuss The Past, Present, and Future of Trance - EDM Identity - December 18th, 2019
- Johan Gielen Talks Trance History and Gives Insight on Forthcoming Album - EDM Identity - December 18th, 2019
- Menno de Jong to Hang Up the Headphones After 20 Years - EDM Identity - December 18th, 2019
- Kevin & Perry's 20th Anniversary Tribute Will Take Place At Amnesia - Broadway World - December 18th, 2019
- Year By Year: Five Essential Albums of 1994 - JAZZIZ Magazine - December 18th, 2019
- When is 'Riverdale' coming back after the midseason's daunting cliffhanger? - MEAWW - December 18th, 2019