|Derivative forms||Psychedelic trance|
Psychedelic trance music and culture (psyculture) is explored as a culture of exodus rooted in the seasonal dance party culture evolving in Goa, India, over the 1970s/1980s, and revealing a heterogeneous exile sensibility shaping Goa trance and psyculture from the 1990s/2000s. That is, diverse transgressive and transcendent expatriations would shape the music and aesthetics of Goa/psytrance. Thus, resisting circumscription under singular heuristic formulas, Goa trance and its progeny are shown to be internally diverse. This freak mosaic was seasoned by expatriates and bohemians in exile from many countries, experienced in world cosmopolitan conurbations, with the seasonal DJ-led trance dance culture of Goa absorbing innovations in EDM productions, performance and aesthetics throughout the 1980s before the Goa sound and subsequent festival culture emerged in the mid-1990s. Rooted in an experimental freak community host to the conscious realisation and ecstatic abandonment of the self, psyculture is heir to this diverse exile experience.
The music has its roots in the popularity of Goa in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a hippie capital, and although musical developments were incorporating elements of industrial music and EBM (electronic body music) with the spiritual culture in India throughout the 1980s, the actual Goa trance style did not appear until the early 1990s.
The music played was a blend of styles loosely defined as techno and various genres of computer music (e.g., high energy disco without vocals, acid house, electro, industrial gothic, various styles of house, electronic rock hybrids). The music arrived on tape cassettes by fanatic traveler collectors and DJs. It was shared (copied) tape to tape among Goa DJs, which was an underground scene, not driven by labels or music industry.
The artists producing this 'special Goa music' had no idea that their music was being played on the beaches of Goa by "cyber hippies". The first techno that was played in Goa was Kraftwerk in the late 1970s on the tape of a visiting DJ. At the time the music played at the parties was live bands. Tapes were played in between sets. In the early 1980s, sampling synth and MIDI music appeared globally and DJs became the preferred format in Goa, with two tape decks driving a party without a break, facilitating continuous music and continuous dancing. There had been resistance from the old-school acid heads who insisted that only acid rock should be played at parties, but they soon relented and converted to the revolutionary wave of technodelia that took hold in the 1980s.
Cassette tapes were used by DJs until the 1990s when DAT tapes were used. DJs playing in Goa during the 1980s included Fred Disko, Dr Bobby, Stephano, Paulino, Mackie, Babu, Laurent, Ray, Fred, Antaro, Lui, Rolf, Tilo, Pauli, Rudi, and Goa Gil. The music was eclectic in style but nuanced around instrument/dub spacey versions of tracks that evoked mystical, cosmic, psychedelic, political, existential themes. Special mixes were made by DJs in Goa which were the editing of various versions of a track to make it longer. This was taking the stretch mix concept to another level, trip music for journeying to outdoors.
Goa Trance as a music industry and collective party fashion tag did not gain global traction until 1994 when Paul Oakenfold began to champion the genre via his own Perfecto label and in the media, most notably with the release of his 1994 Essential Mix, or more commonly known as the Goa Mix.
By 1990–91 Goa had become a hot destination for partying and was no longer under the radar: the scene grew bigger. Goa-style parties spread like a diaspora all over the world from 1993 and a multitude of labels in various countries (UK, Australia, Japan, Germany) dedicated themselves to promoting psychedelic electronic music that reflected the ethos of Goa parties, Goa music and Goa-specific artists and producers and DJs. Mark Maurice's 'Panjaea's focal point' parties brought it to London in 1992 and it's programming at London club megatripolis gave a great boost to the small international scene that was then growing (October 21, 1993 onwards). The golden age and first wave of Goa Trance was generally agreed upon aesthetic between 1994 and 1997.
The original goal of the music was to assist the dancers in experiencing a collective state of bodily transcendence, similar to that of ancient shamanic dancing rituals, through hypnotic, pulsing melodies and rhythms. As such, it has an energetic beat, often in a standard 4/4 dance rhythm. A typical track will generally build up to a much more energetic movement in the second half then taper off fairly quickly toward the end. The tempo typically lies in the 130–150 BPM range, although some tracks may have a tempo as low as 110 or as high as 160 BPM. Generally 8–12 minutes long, Goa Trance tracks tend to focus on steadily building energy throughout, using changes in percussion patterns and more intricate and layered synth parts as the music progresses in order to build a hypnotic and intense feel.
The kick drum often is a low, thick sound with prominent sub-bass frequencies. The music very often incorporates many audio effects that are often created through experimentation with synthesisers. A well-known sound that originated with Goa trance and became much more prevalent through its successor, which evolved Goa Trance into a music genre known as Psytrance, has the organic "squelchy" sound (usually a sawtooth-wave which is run through a resonant band-pass or high-pass filter).
Other music technology used in Goa trance includes popular analogue synthesizers such as the Roland TB-303, Roland Juno-60/106, Novation Bass-Station, Korg MS-10, and notably the Roland SH-101. Hardware samplers manufactured by Akai, Yamaha and Ensoniq were also popular for sample storage and manipulation.
A popular element of Goa trance is the use of samples, often from science fiction movies. Those samples mostly contain references to drugs, parapsychology, extraterrestrial life, existentialism, OBEs, dreams, science, time travel, spirituality and similar mysterious and unconventional topics.
Old School Goa Trance:
New School Goa Trance:
- Afgin – Astral Experiences
- Antares – Exodus
- E-mantra – Arcana
- Ethereal – Anima Mundi
- Filteria – Daze Of Our Lives
- Filteria – Sky Input
- Goasia – Dancing With the Blue Spirit
- Goasia – From Other Spaces
- Khetzal – Corolle
- M-Run – Some Run Just For Fun
- Mindsphere – Inner Cyclone
- New Born – The Trip Of The Luna King EP
- Ra – 9th
- Radical Distorsion – Psychedelic Dreams
- Ypsilon 5 – Binary Sky
The first parties were those held at Bamboo Forest at South Anjuna beach., Disco Valley at Vagator beach and Arambol beach(c. 1991-1993) and attempt's initially were made to turn them into commercial events, which met with much resistance and the need to pay the local Goan police baksheesh they were generally staged around a bar, even though this may only be a temporary fixture in the forest or beach.. The parties talking place around the New Year tend to be the most chaotic with bus loads of people coming in from all places such as Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and the world over. Travelers and sadhus from all over India pass by to join in.
megatripolis in London was a great influence in popularising the sound. Running from June 1993 though really programming the music from October 1993 when it moved to Heaven nightclub it made all the national UK press, running until October 1996.
In 1993 a party organization called Return to the Source also brought the sound to London, UK. Starting life at the Rocket in North London with a few hundred followers, the Source went on to a long residency at Brixton's 2,000 capacity Fridge and to host several larger 6,000 capacity parties in Brixton Academy, their New Year's Eve parties gaining reputations for being very special. The club toured across the UK, Europe and Israel throughout the 1990s and went as far as two memorable parties on the slopes of Mount Fuji in Japan and New York's Liberty Science Center. By 2001 the partners Chris Deckker, Mark Allen, Phil Ross and Janice Duncan were worn out and all but gone their separate ways. The last Return to the Source party was at Brixton Academy in 2002.
Goa parties have a definitive visual aspect - the use of "fluoro" (fluorescent paint) is common on clothing and on decorations such as tapestries. The graphics on these decorations are usually associated with topics such as aliens, Hinduism, other religious (especially eastern) images, mushrooms (and other psychedelic art), shamanism and technology. Shrines in front of the DJ stands featuring religious items are also common decorations.
In popular culture
For a short period in the mid-1990s, Goa trance enjoyed significant commercial success with support from DJs, who later went on to assist in developing a much more mainstream style of trance outside Goa. Only a few artists came close to being Goa trance "stars", enjoying worldwide fame.
Several artists initially started producing Goa trance music and went on to produce psytrance instead.
- Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music (4th ed.). Backbeat Books. pp. xi. ISBN 978-0879306281.
- "Psytrance & Progressive Trance Music".
- Graham St John (2010). The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance. ISBN 1136944346.
- St. John, Graham (2012). Seasoned Exodus: The Exile Mosaic of Psyculture. College Park: Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture.
- "Goa Trance". moodbook.com. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- "ALTERNATIVE GOA LIFESTYLE GUIDE Alternative Goa Lifestyle Guide". Joomag. 21 November 2014.
- "25 Most Influential Parties". Mixmag.
- "Paul Oakenfold 1994". BBC Essential Mix.
- Saldhana, Arund. "Article: Music tourism and factions of bodies in Goa" (PDF). http://www.tc.umn.edu. Open University/University of Minnesota, Sage Publications, UK 2002. Retrieved 22 February 2016. External link in
- vijendra kudnekar. & Hollands, R., Beyond Subculture and Post-subculture? The Case of Virtual Psytrance, Journal of Youth Studies, Volume 9, Number 4, September 2006, pp. 393–418(26), Routledge.
- St. John, G. 2004 (ed.), Rave Culture and Religion, Routledge. (ISBN 978-0-415-31449-7).
- St. John, G. 2001 (ed.), 'FreeNRG: Notes From the Edge of the Dance Floor' free ebook download, Common Ground, Melbourne, 2001 (ISBN 978-1-86335-084-6).
- St. John, G. 2010. (ed.), The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance. New York: Routledge. (ISBN 978-0415876964).
- St. John, G. 2011. DJ Goa Gil: Kalifornian Exile, Dark Yogi and Dreaded Anomaly. Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture 3(1): 97-128.
- St. John, G. 2012. Seasoned Exodus: The Exile Mosaic of Psyculture. Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture 4(1): 4–37.
- Taylor, T., 2001. Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture, Routledge. (ISBN 978-0-415-93684-2).
- Psymedia - Large Psytrance site based in South Africa
- psytrancefestivals.com - listing the world's most popular psytrance festivals!
- Psychedelic Trance at DMOZ