A global range of influences and instrumentation are incorporated into the works of San Francisco-based quartet Trance Mission. Formed by clarinet player and composer extraordinaire Beth Custer and world-renowned didgeridoo player and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Kent, with digital wizard and multi-instrumentalist Kenneth Newby and multi-ethnic drummer/percussionist John Loose. The group's sound is enhanced with the addition of vocalist Eda Maxym. The Village Voice described the band's music as "atmospherically lucid and challenging without over-intellectualizing the present day plane of experimentalism." The Twin Cities Reader took a similar view, writing, "Custer exploits the under-appreciated clarinet's scope from winsome alto to wistful bass and musters a rare compositional clarity, swaying with a Mingus-like emotionalism."
Trance Mission has continued to build a wider following. Their 1993 self-titled debut album became a staple of college radio world music shows, while their second effort, Meanwhile, released the following year, preceded a tour of the Pacific Northwest, Montreal, and Detroit. Following the release of their third album, Head Light, in 1996, Trance Mission embarked on a European tour that included concerts in Germany and Austria. The band released a live album, A Day Out of Time, two years later.
Trance Mission's eponymous first CD was hailed by critics internationally:
"...the digital aura remarkably marries the indigenous instrumentation with a rare naturalness, resonating with the full flame of world-derived trance power." Sam Prestianni - BAM
"...a unique Aboriginal, Native American, African and European fusion. Their rhythmic, trance-inducing music for didgeridoo, drums and synthesizer makes a perfect soundtrack for inner journeys." j. poet - Tower Pulse!