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Psychedelic trance

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Psychedelic trance

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Psychedelic trance
Stylistic origins: Goa, Psychedelic rock, Industrial, Acid house
Cultural origins: Mid-1990s, Europe, Russia, Israel, Goa, South Africa
Typical instruments: Various software synthesizers, Roland SH-101 , Roland TB-303 ,Roland TR-909, Roland JP-8000, Sequencer, Sampler
Mainstream popularity: Europe, Israel, Japan, South Africa since the mid-1990s
Minimalist and progressive psychedelic trance, Suomisaundi ("Finnish")
Fusion genres
Psychill, Psybient

Psychedelic trance, often referred to as psytrance, is a form of electronic music that developed from Goa trance in the early 1990s when it first began hitting the mainstream. In some psychedelic trance circles and online communities, 'Psychedelic' is the preferred name for the genre as it provides an umbrella term for the many divergent styles including Goa, full on, dark, prog and suomi. Referring to it as "psychedelic" also distinguishes the style from the clubbier type of trance music and reinforces the roots of Goa trance in the psychedelic community. Psychedelic trance generally has a fast tempo, in the range 135 to 150 BPM but has developed into numerous different styles within the genre all with their own range of tempos. The emphasis in psychedelic trance is placed strongly on purely synthesized timbres in terms of programming and lead melodies. The original Goa trance was often made with popular Modular synthesizers and hardware samplers, but the preference in Psychedelic trance has moved to sample manipulation and storage in VST and AU software sampler applications. The use of analog synthesizers for sound synthesis has given way to digital "virtual analog" instruments like the Nord Lead, Access Virus, Korg MS-2000, Roland JP-8000 and computer VST and AU plugins like Native Instruments Reaktor. These are usually controlled by MIDI sequencers within Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) applications.

Psytrance is most popular in the UK, Israel, Portugal, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Serbia, Macedonia, Netherlands, the Nordic countries and India. The genre is not as well known outside its scene as uplifting or progressive is.


Psychedelic trance vs Goa trance

The term "psychedelic trance" is used almost synonymously with "Goa trance". Goa trance is a precursor to the late 1990s psychedelic trance, which utilizes more sophisticated melodic devices and distinctive basslines. Goa trance is an almost completely defunct genre of music, based on the fact that few if any contemporary artists would describe the music they create as being of this genre. The term "Psychedelic trance" is used to distinguish the newer material made by many artists, who were formerly known to have produced Goa trance. Full On is a sub-genre characterized by "solidly driven" basslines, melodies, and frequent use of DSP Effects. Notable artists include, Spain's (Ibiza) Growling Mad Scientists G.M.S. and Israel's Astrix in comparison to the more "clubbier" minimalist and less melodic genres, such as progressive trance with more of a psychedelic influence, exemplified by many Scandinavian and German artists, including Sweden's Son Kite. Many use the term Goa trance to simply distinguish those pieces which seem to incorporate eastern, Indian, or "organic" melodies (see raga), derived from sources, like Indian classical music. This makes it easier to identify those which don't incorporate such elements, which listeners would call Psychedelic trance. These pieces tend to be more experimental and futuristic (in the case of Full on), usually using programmed melodies juxtapositionally derived from minor arpeggios Cm7, Dm7, Em7, etc and other exotic or unusual harmonic combinations (see transposition), with the intent of being multi-timbral (see glissando). Both genres, however, continue to use samples taken from sources, like sci-fi films, documentaries, etc.


Raja Ram has been experimenting with psychedelic trance as early as the 1980s. He has been part of numerous projects including the well-known ambient group Shpongle, The Infinity Project and 1200 Micrograms. He is also the owner of the TIP World record label. Raja Ram has been experimenting with psychedelic trance as early as the 1980s. He has been part of numerous projects including the well-known ambient group Shpongle, The Infinity Project and 1200 Micrograms. He is also the owner of the TIP World record label.

Psychedelic trance developed out of the early 1990s Goa Trance scene through the influence of artists such as Timeshard and Eat Static, both on the Planet Dog record label.

The first pure Psychedelic trance label was Dragonfly Records, formed by the artist and trance producer Martin "Youth" Glover (a former bassist for the band Killing Joke) in Brixton, London. For this he took advantage of the organization and the studio of his already existing label, Butterfly Records. It quickly became the center of the London Psychedelic trance scene. Raja Ram and Graham Wood first produced here as The Infinity Project. Simon Posford, who worked as a sound engineer at Butterfly, later released his legendary album, Twisted as Hallucinogen on Dragonfly. This album featured the classic track "LSD" featuring a voice sample from acid guru Ken Kesey. The first compilation from Dragonfly was released as a trance sampler and was soon followed by another compilation titled Project II Trance in August of 1993. These included work from such well-known artists as the French project Total Eclipse and Mandra Gora. In 1994 it released singles from Man With No Name, Prana, Ayahuasca, Slinky Wizard and Doof. The signature Order Odonata compilation was released the same year.

At this point the scene was growing rapidly and many new labels were created. Return To The Source, a party collective first appeared. Raja Ram and Graham Wood went on to found their own label, called TIP Records (now TIP World). Tsuyoshi Suzuki worked with John Perloff to create the Matsuri Productions label. Flying Rhino Records was established by James Monro, Dominic Lamb and George Barker (Slinky Wizard), who hired Sally Welch as manager. Simon Berry founded Platipus Records, who among other things, released the first vinyl by Technossomy. It also out licensed the famous Robert Miles' "Children". Simon's own project, Union Jack released their morning trance album There will be no Armageddon in 1996, featuring well-known tracks such as "Red Herring", "Cactus" and "Two Full Moons and a Trout".

Around this time a new label emerged in UK. Some consider Blue Room Released to be of the most important, and unusual, labels in the Psychedelic trance genre. It was led by Simon Ghahary and had solid financial backing from a British loudspeaker company. Allegedly, Ghahary had free reign to spend the money as he saw fit, regardless of sales figures. This allowed Blue Room to move away from "classic" Goa trance into new, more experimental directions. Some of the most well-known artists today were signed and had their work distributed on the Blue Room Released label. Their first compilation was titled "Outside The Reactor" was released in April of 1995 and featured work from artists such as Total Eclipse, Har-El Prussky, and Voodoo People. Three of the most well known projects - Juno Reactor, Total Eclipse and The Infinity Project also released their debut albums that year. Soon the German project X-Dream started working with Blue Room as well, releasing their "The Frog" single and the highly influential Radio album. At its height, the label went on to release such works as Violent Relaxation by Total Eclipse, Juno Reactor's Bible of Dreams, Saafi Brothers' Mystic Cigarettes and Dragon Tales by Koxbox.

Despite being the center of production for Psychedelic trance in the mid 1990s, England had a very limited party scene. This mostly due to the Criminal Justice Bill and requirements for early closing hours in nightclubs. On the other hand, Germany had much more liberal laws, which in addition to the recent unification contributed to the development of the scene there. The German label Spirit Zone Records opened up in 1994, and ended up signing on many foreign artists such as The Infinity Project (UK), K.U.R.O. (Japan), Etnica (Italy), and Har-El Prussky (Israel). It was also the home label of many German artists such as Electric Universe, Star Sounds Orchestra and S.U.N. Project. France was also becoming an increasingly important location, with not only Total Eclipse, but the now famous projects like Talamasca and Transwave emerging.

Project II Trance, the first Psychedelic Trance compilation. Project II Trance, the first Psychedelic Trance compilation.

Around 1997, the original Goa trance scene was undergoing hard times, especially in the UK. Sales dropped and many big labels such as Flying Rhino went bankrupt, while others had to reinvent themselves and emerge under a new name as did TIP World. The death of Goa trance was "officially" declared by Tsuyoshi Suzuki on his Let it RIP album, where the liner notes read "RIP: Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, William Burroughs, Goa trance."

The new sound of what would become the Psychedelic trance of today emerged at this time. It included elements of minimalist and progressive trance, house, and techno, while focusing less on the original Goa melodies. Germany became the center of this movement in 1997 and 1998. Many Swedish artists also emerged playing a more progressive sound. The most successful and well known is Tomasz Balicki (Atmos). His track "Klein Aber Doctor" was the most successful release for Flying Rhino yet, which was in the process of restructuring. Even the Dragonfly label stated to switch to this new progressive sound, and Psychedelic trance was once again becoming popular. Debut releases from Atmos, Noma, S-Range and Son Kite only cemented this fact and made Sweden an important producer of psychedelic trance.

Soon Psychedelic trance was expanding rapidly once again, and for the first time differences became apparent in the music being produced in different countries. Parallel scenes also developed in countries like Israel, Germany, South Africa and Japan. There are also smaller, but active scenes in India, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, Denmark, Poland, Canada and even the United States.

Development in Israel

In 1988 due to a change of laws and the political situation in Israel, many Israelis were allowed to get Indian travel visas for the first time. Many of them had just completed military service and were looking for a vacation. The beaches of Goa were a natural destination. Many of them returned from the trips bringing back recordings on the new style of music. Developing mostly separately from the scenes elsewhere, Israeli DJs emerged playing their own variations on the sound. Some of them were Avi Nissim and Lior Perlmutter (SFX and later Astral Projection), Har-El Prussky and Miko (California Sunshine), Guy Sebbag, Avi Algranati (Phreaky, Space Cat) and Ofer Dikovsky (Oforia). Naturally, Israeli labels formed, including Melodia Records, Trust In Trance Records, Phonokol and Krembo Records. With the emergence of new innovative artists such as Infected Mushroom, psychedelic trance became a big part of the culture in Israel, more so than in any other country in the world.

Commercial success

In recent years, sales of psychedelic trance have been falling. The decline was : -2,8% in 2001, and -8,8% in 2002. A typical album usually sells around 2,000 copies, and selling more than 5,000 copies would be considered a success. There are only a handful of artists who sold more than 20,000 copies, including Hallucinogen, G.M.S., Infected Mushroom, Transwave, and Astral Projection. Hallucinogen's Twisted has had the most commercial success to date, selling around 85,000 copies.

The reasons for this decline in public interest include overproduction, copyright infringement, and lack of publicity. In fact, the market has not grown much, however the number of new labels and artists has increased exponentially. Much of psychedelic trance is also channeled through illegal copying by sharing of music, particularly among students and streaming audio on the internet. Although this has opened up the market to newcomers, most of these fans do not have the ability to purchase music since it is not normally distributed in mainstream record stores (mostly internet shops).

Psychedelic trance scene

Psychedelic trance is often played at outdoor festivals. The festivals often take place over a few days with music being played through the night and well into the next day. These big events usually offer a lot parallel activities, not just music. The Psy Trance scene is very concerned about ecology and nature, and hence it's very usual to find a lot of workshops with educational activities against racism, and promoting love and care for Our Mother Nature.

The big trance festivals often form a small independent city, where some 10,000 people from different places of the world meet to celebrate music and life. During winter many parties take place in clubs in modern suburbia or on the many beaches in foreign climes frequented by travellers.

Some people at these festivals frequently consume psychedelic drugs like LSD and psychedelic mushrooms. The smoking of Cannabis is widespread within the global psy-trance scene. Drugs such as Ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamine are also used to some extent. There is also a large portion of the psytrance community - including many successful artists, dj's, party organizers and party goers - who do not use drugs, or no longer use drugs. Many of these people believe experiencing the music in the intended spirit of the festivals is the high in and of itself.

Whilst psychedelic trance music is a global phenomenon it is particularly popular in Brazil, Japan, Israel, Germany, Mexico, Russia, the UK, South Africa and Australia.

Psychedelic trance artists and projects

Psychedelic trance is often produced in a collaboration between two or more artists, called a "project". Somewhat different from other genres of music is the fact that one artist could be part of as much as ten or more projects, often simulteneously. Each different combination of artists almost always has a unique name. For example X-Dream (Jan Muller and Marcus Maichel) and Planet B.E.N. (Ben Wierzoch) are two well known projects from Germany. The collaboration between Jan and Ben is called Organic Noise and the collaboration between Marcus and Ben is called Fools and Tools. This partly accounts for the large number of psychedelic trance projects.

As shown above the names of projects made up of the same artists can often be unrelated, although this is not always the case. For example, many projects involving Infected Mushroom are often prefixed with the word "Infected" or postfixed with the word "Mushroom" (Examples: Domestic Mushroom, Infected Astrix).

Making things even more confusing is the fact that the same exact artist(s) or group(s) of artists will sometimes produce music under different project names to showcase different variations of their music. Quasar also known as "Pulsar"(Dance oriented variations) as well as "Trancention" (Lighter trance music),but are really the same artists Quasar and Pulsar VanderHousen.

Very few psychedelic trance artists release albums under their own name (Tim Schuldt & Shanti Matkin are two exceptions). Instead, the name of the project is sometimes chosen to describe the theme of the music being produced. Not surprisingly, Crop Circles and Pleiadians releases are focused on the topic of space travel.

See also

External links

General information

  • [1] - The crem de la crem of UK psytrance (halluncinogen, younger brother, ott, shpongle, prometheus)
  • Isratrance International psytrance forum.
  • Psynews International psytrance forum
  • [2] Ace forum for psy-listeners based in the UK and in the rest of the globe!
  • [3] Bringing the party to you (live psy-trance feed)
  • [4] - large collection of psytrance party photos
  • Audiognomes Audiognomes - Midwest USA Psychedelic Trance.
  • TOUCH Samadhi Psychedelic Trance collective in Asheville, NC & Chicago, IL. Events, photos, music downloads, and more.
  • Sonic Beating Boston based Psy trance collective
  • Shiva Shakti Shiva Shakti & Friends - non-profit outdoor trance-dance gatherings in Texas USA.
  • Oztrance Australian Psytrance Forum.
  • 604 mailing list - a long running mailing list for Goa trance fans.
  • - a European Goatrance Resource
  • - a Dutch Psytrance Resource
  • - Australian Psytrance Resource
  • Isratrance - Archive with information about most of Israel's Psychadelic Trance/Goa Trance artists.
  • Psychedelic Mind Expander - extensive database of Goa and psychedelic trance artists, labels and releases.
  • - a long running Goa/Psytrance community website. Includes reviews of most albums.
  • Psytrance - South African psytrance news, music, gear and artist info.
  • - reviews and interviews from an independent source.
  • Progressive Psytrance List of artists, djs and record labels
  • Psytrance community site with reviews, party-info and more


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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