The Nu-NRG disc
from the Reactivate box set is interesting. I don't know what I'd previously assumed Nu-NRG was (perhaps some cross between acid techno, trance and hard house?) but this doesn't seem to be quite it. I don't know how to define it actually, but for lengths of maybe three or four tracks at a time, I'm really liking it, as its very indistinctiveness and overt hybridism has had the side-effect of eliminating the more annoying aspects of the styles it co-opts.
How to describe it then? The problem is that there's a definite lack of stylistic consistancy between tracks, and often within them as well; the first track alone ("Shinny (Harmony Mix)" by Elevator aka Blu Peter) switches from a long housey intro to an anthemic trance peak and then takes a burbling psytrance detour. Jones & Stephensons' "First Rebirth (Red Jerry Remix)" could be a harder form of prog house, with its almost dubby bassline, but the acid workout of DJ Misjah and DJ Tim's "Access" is psychedelic trance straight out of Goa. And that's just the first three tracks.
After a while you begin to notice some similarities between the tracks: the repetition of the burbling bass lines, which really do dominate the songs more than in either earlier or current trance; the longer, more abstract, even dreamy melodies stolen straight out of progressive house; and there's the frequent snatches of helium divas, which probably explains why it was apparently a hit with the gay scene.
Other than that though, I can't really see what makes this a separate genre in its own right? It seems to be more of a composite of already similar styles than anything particularly new. Or was it simply that this stuff, which according to the liner notes came to the fore in '94, represented a second wave of trance, paving the way for the stranglehold on clubs it holds today?