This tune - first released in 1993 - was most successful when re-released in 1997 with a swathe of new remixes. Its sound and construction very much defined what was trance music at the time. In fact, the synth arpeggios went on to become what could be considered the ultimate cliché of the genre.
Interestingly, this riff has its origins in Belgian minimalism. The melodic hook is based on a piece by Wim Mertens (originally written in 1983). The distinctive elements of the sound are the plucked, almost harp-like attack, backed with a more traditional analogue-sounding body. The growth in the numbers of affordable digital synths in the 1990s, increased polyphony and multi-timbrality meant that layering of sounds was easy and very common.
Listen: Energy 52 - Cafe del Mar
How to get the sound
To achieve this sound we have taken Steinberg’s Monologue and mixed square wave and sawtooth oscillators running into a low-pass filter with cutoff down. The filter envelope has a fast attack and medium-fast decay in order achieve a synth ‘twang’.
This sound is then layered with a HALionOne artificial pizzicato sound. Combining the two and mixing with some generous reverb should result in a suitable and usable sound-alike.