You've got a vinyl record containing trance in one hand, and another containing acid music in the other. What would happen if you melted the two together? Well, besides some toxic fumes and an odour that would make a skunk flee in terror, you might achieve an amalgamation that would be suitable for this album! Of course, this is familiar territory for the now legendary acid music guru Kai Tracid, as "Trance & Acid" is his sophomore album, following "Skywalker 1999" in 1999 (surprised?). While the first album was a little more straight-to-the-point, this album is a bit more commercial and set to appeal to a larger crowd. So...is it any good? Come with me and find out! Let's follow the trance trail until it crosses the path of acid!
There's no better place to start than at the beginning. The album commences with the Tracid Theme; if this were my theme, I'd be a bit disappointed. We are welcomed to "the world of trance and acid" by a voice which I assume is that of the almighty creator, Kai Tracid. Don't hold me to that though, because I'm not sure. After delving into some more nifty phrases which, although pretentious sounding, do actually add to the atmosphere. I look forward to hearing "angels' trumpets and devils' trombones". But we are then promptly dropped into Tiefenrausch (The Deep Blue), one of the many singles from the album (there were five total -- wow). Starting out with a nice opera-style introduction and...could that be a clarinet? Not sure. After this very brief dive into classical instruments, a liquid beat guides us to our piano-driven destination (which, at a later point, is accompanied by strings, triangles, the works!). A voice speaks: "Follow me... deeper and deeper... follow me..." The tune here is fairly simple, but it is amazingly both relaxing and energizing at the same time! At first, it is played on piano, and later with the help of a standard smooth synth. Squelchy acid lines flow like syrup on a pancake as well. This is actually what I like to call the "classy" tune on this one because it encompasses the classical music genre as well as the "trance & acid".
Next up is Bad Shape. After a thumping beat and a pretty dull bass going on for about 1 minute and 50 seconds, we're finally treated to the meat of the track: an acid synth that delivers a very attractive arpeggiation. While this, too, is simple, it's made to sound much more complex with the use of an arpeggio. Suupaa. In the middle, things calm down, and there's a narration telling us about all sorts of drugs and the crazy effects they have on him (how do you think he got in bad shape?)! "Give me glue, give me ecstacy, acid and mushrooms..." Hey, trippy. Then another scoot through the arpeggiation leads to a nice conclusion. Overall, this is a track that got me hooked upon the first listen... and it never fails to amuse me at any time. It's also a great way to showcase the successful amalgamation of trance and acid styles of music. Word.
But like all the sexy parties in the world, good things must come to an end. Destiny plays a cruel mistress in Destiny's Path, which I will openly admit that I hate. It wouldn't be so bad except that whomever Kai Tracid hired to perform the vocals in this song should have been fired. She tries to be emotional, but ends up sounding more like a whining vagabond. Every time I hear her say "It's destiny's paaaaath," I just want to cringe and then smash something with a hammer. Where did he find this woman? It turns out she goes under the guise of Jade4U -- I have a picture of her if you'll notice. The rest of the track is average trance & acid fare, boasting a mix of acid synth and piano (which seems to be a staple on this album) but still, the entire song is ruined by the irritation vocal stylings of Jade4U.
Moving on, we have Message Without Words (which should have been applied to "Destiny's Path"). This isn't exactly the most exciting track either, but it's a breath of fresh air after the previous tune. I actually don't have much to say about this song; pads and a steel drum-style synth blend together to form...well, a message without words. If you're looking for words though, look no further than the next offering, the beloved Too Many Times. Again struggling with the drudging effects of gulping down too many pills, a somber voice tells us about all the stupid stuff we've done "too many times", like waking up depressed and putting your life to the test (yes, that rhymes). And in between the downer tales: trance & acid, as expected. The instrumental portions are very funky, continuing to boast Kai Tracid's love affair with the arpeggio machine and with his piano. We are treated yet again to the acid sensation, and you can't help but love it. It's simple, but it works. Plus the song itself is like an anti-drug campaign wrapped in a comforting warm groove. Excellent.
Drugs aren't the only thing discussed on this album, though. That's right: it's time for some Suicide! There are female vocals here too, but they're a bit more tolerable (and they're his "usual" female vocals -- no more Jade4U 4 us). The song itself isn't telling anyone to commit suicide, thankfully -- it just puts suicide into a general perspective with simplistic lyrics that guide us into a rough bass synth that grinds its way into focus. The Tracid acid synth eventually plays its role yet again during this track. It's standard Kai Tracid fare -- so that means it's probably pretty good. But after a track about suicide, we need some moral reinforcement, and that's what Life Is Too Short is here for. And it's true: life really IS too short. So a deep male voice tells us about how life is too short and how we should live for the moment, over a set of faux string melody that is actually quite noble and majestic-sounding (I hear it's the theme to "Never Ending Story" -- is that really true?). It's not overly complex, but its simplicity is a reflection of life: it needn't be so complicated. (Tell that to Avril Lavigne.) This is one of the best tunes on the album, so give this one a spin. It also serves as an excellent starter tune for those unfamiliar with this general style of music.
I've never known quite what to say about Peyote Song. Starting off immediately with some sort of quick native shout and then working into a trance number as a subtle tribal rhythm plays on, this song has a bit of a dark feeling to it. And was that a seagull call I heard? Heh heh... Later on, the spiritual incantation of the chief is heard. What is he saying? Darned if I know. "Peyote Song" is a decent track and can hold its own against the rest of the album, holding a shadowed presence among songs of drug abuse and suicidal tendencies. Well, there's only one cure for such depression: a good healthy dose of trance & acid. And there's no better song to bring that to the foreground than Trance & Acid, the title track! I just can't bring myself to NOT like this song -- it's just as addictive as the various REAL acid that one might take. But you need no drugs to enjoy this. I've used the term "acid synth" a fair bit so far, but this is the REAL acid synth (thus making previous notes of acid synths questionable at best). Add a pounding kick and you've got yourself one real ride of crazy fun. If you get the chance, seek out the music video for this song too -- it will blow your freakin' miiiind. Thankfully, the full-length version is available on the album.
Following this great Tracid track is Voyager, which showcases Kai Tracid's interest in overusing the snare drum button on his drum machine. Now this is among the most simple of songs on the entire album, but I enjoy it. It might be very annoying to the average mainstream listener due to its high repetitive content (the main melody is just four notes in repeated succession) and squelchy sounds, but this is acid as it was meant to be heard (and not taken internally). Good hard stuff is found here. Following this is Destiny's Path (Warmduscher Remix). Well, I thought that any remix would bring natural improvement to the original, and Warmduscher sporting a musically creative mind similar to that of Kai Tracid, the remix should fit in beautifully on this album. Perhaps it does, but it's still utter nonsense. You'd never be able to tell that it was a remix of anything until the crappy TB-303 synth stuff takes a break shortly after the four-minute mark just to use a bit of the original. But then it just cuts off abruptly and returns to Warmduscher's love affair with the snare and cheesy old-school synthesizer. Not great. And then final track is The Worst Pain Of All. The title does not speak true, as that award goes to the vocals in "Destiny's Path". Ambient by nature with effective use of as many organ-type pads as Kai Tracid could layer, gentle but powerful poetry is orated over the song (which is neither trance nor acid, really...) and then the album is over. Tears roll from the eyes of the lovers of trance and acid.
By the way, there's also a version of this album with a bonus DVD featuring the music videos of four of the five singles, but I can't recommend that because it's like buying "Destiny's Path" twice. Anyway, "Trance & Acid" was one of my first forays into the "acid" genre, and it allowed me to ease into it with trance padding. Eventually, I came to love acid on its own. This album can serve as both a gateway, as well as a limit for those who just can't handle the beauty and raw ecstacy one can achieve from acid music (or flat out don't like it). Yet aside from a couple of stinkers, this album gets a definite thumbs-up from me, although I know for sure it's not for everybody. Yet a few years ago, I did get a friend of mine who wouldn't dream of listening to this to enjoy a few tracks from it. Perhaps mixing trance and acid can give you a great formula.