Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
A global range of influences and instrumentation are incorporated into the songs and improvisations of San Francisco-based quartet Trance Mission. Formed by clarinet and trumpet player, vocalist, and composer Beth Custer and didgeridoo, cello, sintir, and percussion player Stephen Kent during informal jam sessions, the group's sound is enhanced with the addition of vocalist Eda Maxyam and drummer, percussionist, and electronics player Peter Valsamis. The Village Voice described the band's improvisations 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 underappreciated 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. Custer, who has composed numerous tunes for film, dance, and theater productions, released a solo album, Dona Luz, in July 2000.