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Various "Plug In & Turn On"
- Tamara Palmer

In URB, Issue No. 36, June 1994.


(Instinct) In a world where technology is increasingly commanding our lives, music is the main outlet where this advancement may still bear the human touch. Trance and ambient music are the genres in which the ideal song manipulates your mind, much as a machine performs the task at hand. Instinct's double-disc set features 19 works of trance and ambient music performed by both new and established musicians within the genres. Each artist on the compilation has a song on both the trance and the ambient discs. This allows for an examination into the variations within the styles and allows the listener to hear how much the two genres overlap and the boundaries blur. The overall result is a worth effort, yet not a mindbending classic.

Disc 1 is the trance section of the compilation, and each song seems to favor the softer, slower sort of trance, with most tunes staying well under 130 beats per minute. The Drum Club presents "Sound System," which alternates between nearly beatless ambient and progressive house, the sure commercial hit of the compilation if there is one. The prolific Dominic Woosey, who is behind several projects including the label United Frequencies of Trance, uses a hauntingly ethereal background atop piano riffs in "Softly Sing The Angels," by Mysteries of Science. "Again In Dust" marks the debut of Mothering Noise and is an interesting mix of tripomatic noises. The other debut is from Terre Thaemlitz with the electro-trance that is "Freakazoids and Robots."

Disc 2 is labeled ambient. Four of the nine tracks begin with bird noises, a bit disappointing that fowl play is still the old standby (but seriously, folks...). Mothering Noise proves its versatility with "Blosson Tranq'd," a headtrip with psychedelic ambient guitar feedback resonating in the background. Mysteries of Science evokes a nature documentary in its tranquil tribal beats that comprise "Diffusion." "Human 2," by Human Mesh Dance remains in its signature spacey style. The most unique track is "Low Cool" by seasoned electronic pioneers Cabaret Voltaire, off of their earlier release Plasticity. This is a track that can only be described as "gansta industrial ambient" with its sample of two guys defining street slang over some dark, industrial Nitzer Ebb-type noise and reverb.

Instinct presents a good exploration into the realms of trance and ambient with Plug In + Turn On, and a chance to hear new artists alongside established ones. It also shows the near uselessness of these classifications, as trance and ambient are unmistakably intertwined.