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Psychedelic Trance

Update 52

Psychedelic Trance

“Psychedelic Trance” (formerly called “Goa Trance”) is a style of electronic music belonging to the Trance music movement. It appeared in the early 1990s in Goa, India, hence the name “Goa” or “Goa Trance” originally given to this musical trend.
Nowadays, the term is only used to designate a particular trend of Psychedelic Trance.

It is music that appeal to the emotions, imagination and dreams, that does not hesitate to create unexpected, and even startling, impossible and immaterial sounds, seeking to plunge into a trance and to alter the emotional state of the listener.

This type of Trance music is a global phenomenon although it is especially popular in Europe, Israel, Japan and, of course, in Goa.

It is typically characterized by a tempo in the range of 125-160 beats per minute (bpm), although some pieces can have as little as 110, or amount to 190, and even more than 200 ; making it faster than “classic” Trance.

Its basslines are strong, uninterrupted except for breaks, and covered by many other rhythms, often produced using the famous Roland TB-303 synthesizer known for its peculiar “acid” sounds.

The artist can use sounds recorded with a microphone, which he then reworks to create “kicks” (rhythmic beats), often mistakenly called “bass”. These sounds are often passed by an echo chamber to give rise to lingering synthetic shade and highlight the rhythm. Thus, the Psychedelic Trance will highlight not the melody but the synthetic rhythm pushed to the extreme of systemic repetition.

The Psychedelic music is essentially a type of dance music (it was designated as “trance dance” in its formative years). It has an energetic rhythm, almost always in the 4/4 meter and often going into the 16th or 32nd notes, especially for pumping basslines. One can also note a change in the beat to 12/8 with the same tempo during some parts of certain compositions. Most of the time, a typical piece will often build up to a stronger movement in the second half, and then decrease quite rapidly in the end. Generally having a length of 8 to 12 minutes, the Psychedelic Trance tracks usually have significantly more prominent basslines and kick compared to other types of Trance (except for Hard Trance).

However, as you could have guessed, it is composed of several styles.

I. Proto-Goa

“Proto-Goa”, born in the late 80s/early 90s, is the style that was at the origin of Psychedelic Trance.

The fact that rules and standards were not yet established, it is characterized by a certain experimental attitude, not hesitating to borrow from various genres and styles of electronic music, such as Acid Trance, Techno, House, New Beat, EBM and many others.

It is recognizable by its sonorities trying to get closer to the “organic” aspect that we know Goa Trance for and its psychedelic research across genres other than Trance.

I. Proto-Goa

Examples:

II. Goa Trance

“Goa Trance” is the original style of Psychedelic Trance. This one was soon followed by the appearance of Psytrance, proper in the second half of the 1990s, but the difference between the two styles is largely a matter of sonorities. Goa Trance is considered as “organic”, that is to say, it does not have the typical “metallic” sounds of electronic music and often presents an oriental aesthetics in its melodies, mostly with Indian consonance, as well as various tribal elements from the Indian culture such as references to the Buddhist or Hinduist mythology and mysticism.

It is also characterized by a melody often much more present, by a kick less marked than in Psytrance, and by the use of filters rather than effects. Occasionally, it also happens that some artists blend it with “classic” Trance or Industrial Music. Generally, Goa consequently has a very melodic and complex nature, making it one of the most melodic Psychedelic Trance sub-styles together with Nitzhonot, Suomi and Psybient.

Most of the time, Goa and its derivatives are characterized by the use of thematic elements related to fantastic, fantasy, occultism and some science fiction styles (mysticism, divine transcendence, shamanism, extraterrestrial life, supernatural,...etc), whereas Psytrance and its derivatives will instead include other science fiction and alternative science styles (such as cyberpunk, transhumanism, space opera, hard science fiction or post-apocalyptic fiction).

The presence of two Goa trends can also be noted :

I. “Old School”, namely the original Goa, born in the mid 90’s.
II. “New School”, emerging style since 2003 and greatly inspired by the original Goa while modernizing it.

“New School” (also called “Neo Goa”) is recognizable by a higher complexity than the “Old School”, and by its more detailed kicks and synthesizer layers. Sometimes, “New School” tracks incorporates some Full-On elements such as the rolling bassline.

Moreover, unlike Psytrance and its derivatives, Goa Trance is a sub-style that is not encumbered by the throes of creating more derivatives to present different ambiences. Thus, we can find within it several atmospheres and structures: joyful, dark, exalting, progressive,...etc.

Representative labels:

II. Goa Trance

Examples:

“Old School Goa”:

“New School Goa”:

III. Nitzhonot

“Nitzhonot” (meaning “victories” in Hebrew) is a style derived from Goa Trance born in the late 90s in Israel and Greece.

This one is characterized by a mixture of hard and pulsating kicks (sometimes called “Laserkicks”) and typical mid-oriental melodies of Goa of the years 96/97. Its rhythm is usually between 145 and 155 BPM.

It is recognizable by its long melodic breaks pushing ever further in the middle-eastern side and a more uplifting nature than Goa, thus seeking to push up at the highest the emotional and sentimental state of the listener, leaving a part of its psychedelism by this way.

“Uplifting Trance” is a term used to describe a form of Nitzhonot from Greece which continues to pursue the middle-eastern side of the melodies and the use of “Laserkicks”. Should not be confused with mainstream Uplifting Trance, which is very different from this latter.

There is also another form of Nitzhonot called “Nitzhogoa”. While Nitzhonot tends to move away from Goa, Nitzhogoa is characterized by its return to its Goa influences. Thus, one may note its more psychedelic side and legacy Goa sounds while keeping the high BPM and the “Laserkicks”, peculiar to Nitzhonot.

Representative labels:

III. Nitzhonot

Examples:

“Nitzhonot” / “Uplifting Trance”:

“Nitzhogoa”:

IV. Psytrance

Originating in the late 90s, “Psytrance” has a darker , minimalist sound, with “metallic” sonorities and less melodic that works more by layers of effects than by filters and mainly focusing on rhythm or groove.

In addition, it has often faster and more pronounced rhythms than Goa Trance whose kicks are more powerful but more withdrawn bass.

IV. Psytrance

Examples:

V. Full-On

“Full-On” is a more dynamic and engaging Psytrance style appeared in early 2000. This one is sometimes influenced by Uplifting Trance (as Trance style) and Electro-House and greater emphasis on the melody as it was the case with the Goa Trance advent before.

Technical speaking, Full-On is characterized by a bassline so-called “rolling” (that is to say which crams two or three short basses notes in between each hit of the 4/4), by fast changes in music sequences (max 32 beats per sequence), and a more energetic melodic/uplifiting nature.

It is undoubtedly one of the most popular styles of Psychedelic Trance alongside Progressive Psytrance.

Representative labels: Kinematic / Vertigo / 3D Vision / HOM-Mega / TIP.World

V. Full-On

Examples:

VI. Dark Psytrance

“Dark Psytrance” is a style of Psytrance born shortly thereafter, but bringing a darker side, heavier and faster. This style was developed in the 2000s, mainly in Denmark, Russia and Germany. The speed may vary from 145 to 180 BPM.

Chants are very rare. They are usually replaced by science fiction samples or much more rarely by horror movies samples. Sometimes we find references to songs of different genres, but most often in order to discredit them.

This one is strongly influenced by genres and styles such as Dark Ambient, Darkcore, Industrial Music, Aggrotech and Black Metal. We find a willingness to create an heavy and disturbing/unhealthy atmosphere, based on the use of heavy rhythms, jerky and saturated melodies composed of futuristic sounds and these famous samples.

Beyond 180 BPM, it is more appropriate to talk about “Psycore” by its influences closer to Speedcore, even if it can be recovered in a slower tempo. Like Hi-Tech, it is recognizable by a certain saturation of the number of effects, but differs from this latter by its raw and/or somber aesthetic peculiar to Darkpsy. Note also that the horrific and unhealthy themes are often more common in Psycore than in Darkpsy.

Sometimes it also happens that Darkpsy and Psycore free themselves of any dark ambience or present an aesthetic leaving a form of black humor rather than really dark ambiences, but this remains relatively rare.

Representative labels:

VI. Dark Psytrance

Examples:

“Dark Psytrance”:

“Psycore”:

VII. Forest

“Forest” is a Psychedelic Trance style mainly born from Dark Psytrance, however this one can sometimes get rid of high BPMs and black ambiances from Darkpsy. The Schlabbaduerst Rekkords label is considered as the pioneer of this style.

Technically, the Forest is characterized by a more pronounced resonance as well as more organic sonorities than in Darkpsy (in order to accentuate the “deep forest” effect) and “swarming/teeming” effects reminding ambient noises of fauna and flora. Just as Darkpsy, chants are very rare, they are more willingly replaced by ambient noises.

There is two distinguishable trends of Forest: the first one, born in the late 90’s and then linked to Schlabbaduerst Rekkords in the early 2000s, mainly consists in a blend of Goa and Psytrance or Darkpsy with often heavy Industrial Music influences and a more chaotic or experimental aesthetic while the second one stemmed in 2003 almost exclusively from Darkpsy. Note that the first one is uncommon contrary to the second one.

This style has mainly emerged in Denmark and in a minority in other nordic countries such as Finland, Norway or Sweden.

Its ambiance can greatly vary from artist to another one, some turning toward dark ambiences (majority), others will prefer exalting and joyful ambiences (minority).

Another form of Forest named “Swamp” also exists, born from the merger of this latter and Downtempo. It is characterized by a more experimental side than “traditional” Forest and a slower tempo, similar to Downtempo. Like Natural Trance, this form of Forest remains rarely produced.

Representative labels: Parvati / Forestdelic / Sanaton / Chronicle Of Mystery

VII. Forest

Examples:

“Forest”:

“Schlabbaduerst Forest”:

VII. Forest

Examples:

“Swamp”:

VIII. Twilight

“Twilight” (also called “Night Full-On”) is a Psytrance style born in South Africa in the mid 2000s from the fusion of Dark Psytrance and Full-On. Like Forest, it deploys a certain complexity in the produced sonorities and has often a synthetic/metallic aesthetic pushed much further in the aim of creating an atmosphere at the cross of black science fiction (or even Cyberpunk) and cosmic extended.

Technically, Twilight is a kind of “Dark Full-On”: it is characterized by a more aggressive bassline, a certain abundance of sound effects inspired by Darkpsy, as well as a melodious nature inherited from Full-On with a dark atmosphere.

There is also another form of Twilight called “South Af” (meaning “South Africa”, in reference to its origins) more approaching to Full-On. This variant, which is actually the founder style of Twilight, stands out by an aesthetic usually more harmonious but more bellicose, and a closer kick to Techno one, harder than “classic” Twilight one, and often by a less dark and atmospheric ambience, but more frenetic.

Representative labels: Nexus Media / Timecode / MMD

VIII. Twilight

Examples:

“Twilight”:

“South Af Twilight”:

IX. Hi-Tech

“Hi-Tech” (also written “High-Tech” or “Hitek”) is a Psytrance style strongly influenced by Dark Psytrance, Psycore, Hardtek and Full-On. It is characterized by a synthetic aesthetic pushed to the extreme, a clear/uncluttered bassline and a fast rhythm (Darkpsy influences), or even very fast (Psycore and Hardtek influences), and often, by a very jerky/chopped melody (Full-On, Darkpsy and Hardtek influences).

In terms of tempo, Hi-Tech vary from 150 BPM to over 200 BPM, making it and Psycore the fastest Psychedelic Trance styles.

Unlike Psycore, Hi-Tech can present an absence of atmosphere in favor of a non-regular melodic structure and Brostep inspired transitions. It can therefore greatly vary from an artist to an another one. In addition, Hi-Tech is generally the least predictable and constant of all Psychedelic Trance styles.

Representative labels: Noise Poison / Osom Music / Kamino / Dark Prisma

IX. Hi-Tech

Examples:

X. Progressive Psytrance

“Progressive Psytrance” (also called “Minimal Psytrance”, “Psyprog” or “Psygressive”) is a style of Psytrance born from the fusion of this latter with Progressive Trance in the early 2000s.

This form of minimalist Trance, can be considered as progressive but is usually more involved and contains more complex sounds (from Psychedelic Trance) than Progressive Trance.

It is characterized by a House influence, usually an heavier and slower rythm, between 130 and 140 BPM, and a more progressive and atmospheric aesthetic than in new generation of 2000s Psychedelic Trance whose BPM starts from 140. Due to its lightness, Psyprog is often described as cheerful and appropriate to the beginnings or ends of evenings.

In many ways, Psyprog is an accumulation of various musical styles, however there are two major trends: one approaching Full-On (majority), the other adopting a more minimal style (hence the name “Minimal Psytrance”). For some, this style would be a Techno legacy. As said earlier, there also found a significant part from House.

It is undoubtedly one of the most popular styles of Psychedelic Trance alongside Full-On.

Representative labels: Iono Music / Ovnimoon / Iboga

X. Progressive Psytrance

Examples:

XI. Psy Tech

“Psy Tech” (also written “Psytech” or “Psytek”), born in Germany in the early 2000s, is a form of Tech Trance belonging to Psychedelic Trance for which would have replaced the “classic” Trance elements by more complex elements stemming from Psychedelic Trance.

The progressive nature as well as the kick and the bassline usually encountered in Psychedelic Trance have been replaced by a more repetitive nature accompanied by heavier kicks from Techno at a rhythm generally between 135 and 150 BPM.

This one is especially often characterized by a somber and very mechanical aesthetic as well as by inherited percussions from Hard House, claps and distorted and filtered hi-hats. Synthesizers are short and repetitive and blended with those from Psychedelic Trance.

The rest of the body of music, that is to say the effects, melody and atmosphere, come from the Psychedelic Trance style used by the artist.

XI. Psy Tech

Examples:

XII. Zenonesque

“Zenonesque”, originating in Australia, is a minimal style of Psyprog presenting an experimental tendency aesthetics, occasionally “funky” or “jazzy”, and related to Zenon Records. It is characterized by both dark and light elements, a playful ambience as well as a hybrid sound design between organic and synthetic and a willingness to create deep psychedelic atmospheres.

However, unlike Psyprog which presents a clearer/cleaner aesthetic, Zenonesque has harder and more mechanical sonorities, making it closer to Psy Tech. That can go so far as to integrate a Psy Tech kick and bassline for the productions most infused by this latter.

There is also an alternating current, preceding Zenonesque, named “Dark Progressive Psytrance” (abbreviated “Dark Psyprog”). Unlike Zenonesque, it overcomes most of the characteristics of this latter (contrasting elements, playful ambiance and tendency to organic design) in favor of a more regular structure, an aesthetic rather dark or subdued and science fiction atmospheres hovering between darkness, melancholy and fascination.

Representative labels: Zenon / Cosmic Conspiracy

XII. Zenonesque

Examples:

“Zenonesque”:

“Dark Psyprog”:

XIII. Natural (Psy)Trance

“Natural Trance” (also called “Tribal Trance” or “Ethno Trance”) is a Psychedelic Trance style whose sounds are entirely or partly derived from conventional instruments and not of electronic sounds. This variant puts forward the musical capacities of the interpreters, and gives rise to most impressive scenic performances by the presence of musicians in addition of DJs. The instruments generally used are djembe, didgeridoo or electric guitar.

It has no particular characteristics except the presence of non-electronic instruments. This form of Psychedelic Trance is rarely produced compared to other styles.

XIII. Natural (Psy)Trance

Examples:

XIV. Suomisaundi

“Suomisaundi” (abbreviated “Suomi”, also known as “Suomisoundi”, “Suomistyge” or “Spugedelic Trance”) is a freestyle Psychedelic Trance style that originated in Finland around the mid-1990s. “Suomisaundi” literally means “Finnish sound” in Finnish.

It is characterized by an absence of rules established outside the basic elements of Trance such as kicks 4/4 that defined most genres and styles of Electronic Dance Music to date. Suomisaundi tracks are usually very melodic, including heavy influences from early Goa, tribal beats and Acid Trance tracks, as well as funky guitar/keyboard loops and sounds from or reminiscent of 80’s.

Suomi songs frequently include distorted sampling, layers and combinations of effects, tricky drum fills and breaks, as well as speech samples in Finnish or in English.

Moreover, on many occasions, there are forms of strange and whacky humor and/or self-irony in the music or in the track titles. Some even describe the Suomi style as anarchistic and almost punk, because the songs are usually very different and progressive compared to mainstream European Psychedelic Trance tracks.

Representative labels: 6-Dimension Sound / Antiscarp / Faerie Dragon / Exogenic

XIV. Suomisaundi

Examples:

XV. Psybreaks

“Psybreaks” is a Psychedelic Trance style born during the second half of 1990 from the fusion of different Psychedelic Trance styles (as Psytrance, Full-On, Darkpsy, Twilight,...etc) or Downtempo with psychedelic orientation, and one of the four styles/genres from the family of breaks and drums, namely Breakbeat, Drum & Bass, Neurofunk and Breakcore.

It is characterized by an absence of kicks and simple 4/4 rhythms in favor of polyrhythms and irregular breaks with a 4/4 structure of drums “patterns” (Breakbeat characteristics) which may add more industrial sonorities (Breakcore characteristics) or regular polyrhythms with a structure in 2-step of drums “patterns” accompanied by heavy bass lines (Drum & Bass characteristics) or even multi-layered drums and audio re-sampling (Neurofunk characteristics). The rest of the body of music, that is to say the effects, melody and atmosphere are from the Psychedelic Trance style used by the artist.

Sometimes, it also happens that some artists add Glitch elements in their music.

One can also find under the name of “Psystep” any blend comprising Dubstep instead.

Representative label: Broken Robot

XV. Psybreaks

Examples:

XVI. Psybient

“Psybient” is an Ambient style that can be attached to Psychedelic Trance and which contains various elements from Ambient, Downtempo, Dub, Ethnic Music, New Age and Psychedelic Trance sub-styles.

Where other Psychedelic Trance sub-styles are rather boosting (with the exception of some Proto-Goa, Psyprog, Zenonesque and Experimental productions), it often seeks to reach a state of deep relaxation, close to meditation and lucid dreaming.

Psybient is 2-3 times slower than global Psychedelic Trance styles, it rarely exceeds 110 BPM (or be totally beatless) and generally has a less defined rhythm. Often, we find it as a rhythmic base that can be covered by Ambient elements, filtered and reworked with many effects, with the aim to obtain a particular psychedelic sound.

It can also include electronic tracks (Glitch, Acid,...etc), traditional instruments, archaic vocal techniques and meditative chants elements. The electronic elements are often combined with ethnic and modern instruments, cosmic sounds of keyboards and harmonic music.

One can also find other terms:

  • “Deep Trance”, more Downtempo oriented, usually between 90 and 120 BPM, with a more steady beat and strong Psychedelic Trance or even “classic” Trance influences.
  • “Goa Ambient”, for productions involving blends between Ambient and Goa Trance.
  • “Psy Dub”, for psychedelic crosses with Dub and not including Ambient.
  • “Psychill”, a general term used to designate all psychedelic Chill-out styles (Psybient, psychedelic Downtempo, Goa Ambient, Psy Dub, Deep Trance...).


Representative labels: Ultimae / Altar / Aleph Zero / Celestial Dragon / Interchill / Liquid Sound Design

XVI. Psybient

Examples:

“Psybient”:

“Deep Trance”:

XVI. Psybient

Examples:

“Goa Ambient”:

“Psy Dub”:

XVII. Experimental

“Experimental” is a freestyle Psychedelic Trance style whose origins and birth remain undetermined.

Like Suomi, it is characterized by an absence of established rules except the presence of a certain research of psychedelism in the music to be considered as part of this style. However, unlike this latter, the Experimental may be entirely free of Trance elements or, on the contrary, simply consist in a mixture of various Psychedelic Trance styles.

Its influences, musical blends and ambiences are highly variable and often unique to each artist, or even each music on each album of one and single artist.

Although IDM, Abstract Music, Downtempo and Glitch are often used with this one, because very appreciated for their experimental and sought side, Experimental can be merged with genres fairly, or totally, opposed to this latter by their musical structure and/or ambience, such as Jazz, Industrial Music, Trip-Hop, Folk Music or Classical Music.

Representative labels: Psy-Harmonics / Demon Tea / Gi’iwa / Devic Craft

XVII. Experimental

Personal note:

Young traveler or seasoned adventurer,

You are now arrived at the end of this mystical grimoire of energies forming part of Psychedelic Trance. They made you browse thousand and one places. Thousand and one atmospheres and philosophies. From the darkest forests and oceans to the most distant and luminous space confines, from the most profound and intimate psyche to the coldest and chaotic world, from the most ancient times to the most futuristic dimensions, from the most harmonious paradise to the most tortured underworlds.

Know that Psychedelic Trance is a gathering of a huge amount of influences of genres and styles, mentalities, universes and all different people that are water and fire. And it is from this diversity that draws its wealth because it is his philosophy.

Whatever the style or genre that suits you best, close yourself to a musical environment (or other medium) will only bring you the narrowness of mind and snap judgment. An artist can be bad but never a genre. So do not hesitate to open yourself up to other musical genres. Forge your own musical identity and do not let others dictate it to you, because that's what makes the diversity of a culture.

I have given you enough momentum and enough have guided you so that you can now fly on your own. Now it's up to you to explore the world through music.

So remember one thing: keep an open mind, and good trip in Wonderland ;)

Lightforce

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