Pharmacy Music is the brainchild of American and trance legend, Christopher Lawrence. For those unfamiliar with the name, Christopher Lawrence built a loyal fan base during the progressive trance movement in the late 90’s. He has a good 17 years of experience in music and lately he’s focusing this experience and knowledge to delivery the best he can out of trance, this channeled via his record label, Pharmacy Music.
While the website boasts that the label is strictly focused on the underground movement, I a statement true to its word (for now at least). See trance music hit its peak in the mid 2000’s, flooded by wannabe’s, one-hit wonders and a diluted, commercial sounding appeal. At the height of the progressive trance gravy train, I truly struggled to tell two tracks apart. Everyone was utilising the same formula and applying a copy/paste mentality. This is true for most of the sub-categories of trance music, be it psychedelic, progressive or straight up trance. Today, this same fate can be seen in dubstep which like trance was quickly adopted, exploited, was over-used, led to a host of sub-categories (drumstep, brostep, chillstep, psystep etc). Some call it evolution, I prefer to call it dilution. It is this overexposure that has led some talent to sit in the sidelines, away from the centre stage. The real question is, how long can this type of movement sustain itself without venturing into the limelight. More importantly, what happens when it does?
Platipus Records were the pinnacle of trance music at one point. Simon Berry’s unique sound transcended and captured the hearts and mind of a loyal fan-base. But as the label grew, I feel they also lost their way and with it, sight of what they were trying to achieve. Sadly this lead to the closure of the label in 2010. Thankfully however they are now back and trading as Platipus Music, doing what they do best, old school trance.
Academics (and personal opinions) aside, Pharmacy Music are a welcomed breath of fresh air. Gone is the cheese, sappy vocals and the super ego’s of the DJ, Pharmacy is all about the music. Back in is the old school trance appeal, a good mix of straight up trance, psychedelic with a strong emphasis on technique. These are well produced, well crafted songs. It’s not original, nor is it groundbreaking, but for lovers of trance like myself it’s great to hear a trance album that you can listen to beginning to end and not feel like you’ve heard it all before. Sure, there’s moments where those deja-vu techniques sound familiar but it’s more akin to receiving a visit from a welcomed friend as opposed to a door-to-door salesman.
If you’re looking for an introduction to the label I can thoroughly recommend the ‘Phase’
series currently in it’s third instalment. Having only just been released on March 4th, Phase 3 sees the label head to South America where, according to Christopher Lawrence, there’s a thriving trance scene. He recruited Buenos Aires artists Fergie (Fernando Picciano), Sadrian (Adrian Sartore) and studio partner Emiliano Ayub) to take the helm on this mix compilation. The compilation features 14 full-length songs and a near 80 minute non-stop mix courtesy of Fergie and Sadrian.
Here’s one of my personal favourites from this compilation as a taster, Fergie and Sadrian with ‘Mind Control (Original Mix)’.