Psychedelic trance, often called Psytrance or Psy, is a trance style characterized by rhythmic arrangements and layered fast riff melodies. The genre offers variety in terms of mood, tempo, and style.

Origin of Psychedelic Trance

For various reasons, Goa, India (a former Portuguese colony) attracted the first hippies in the mid-1960s. The attractions included the beaches, the affordable cost of living, and the welcoming locals. Also, people loved the religious and spiritual practices and the readily available cannabis, which became illegal by the mid-1970s.

Early Goa DJs played mostly psychedelic rock acts from the 1970s, including Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and The Doors. Occasionally in 1979, one could hear tracks by artists like Kraftwerk in Goa. Still, it wasn’t until 1983 that DJs Laurent, Fred Disko, and Goa Gil started changing the Goa style. They started drifting towards the electro-industrial/EBM that was now pouring out of Europe. Artists like Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, and Eurobeat also influenced them.

Before DJs eventually offered these tunes to the audience as unique Goa-style mixes, they remixed the tracks. Generally, they removed the lyrics, looped the melodies and beats, and altered the sounds in various ways.

The Goa trance scene had its pulse by 1992. However, the word “Goa trance” did not come to define the genre until sometime around 1994. At outdoor parties and festivals, the Goa trance sound, which became Psychedelic trance in 1990, continued to be popular. However, permanent psytrance nightclubs like Munich’s Natraj Temple also started to appear. The first Goa trance events debuted in these years. These include Gaia Festival in France and the still-running VooV festival in Germany. Also, new musicians from all over the world started to emerge.

Notable Releases

Project II Trance from 1993 is the first 100% Goa trance album. It featured artists like Man With No Name and Hallucinogen. Between 1996 and 1997, this style reached its commercial zenith thanks to media attention and the involvement of some well-known DJs. This euphoria did not last long, and as the media attention subsided, so did music sales. As a result, record companies, advertising agencies, and some musicians failed. With the publication of the collection Let it RIP in 1997, Matsuri Productions musically commemorated the “commercial death of Goa trance.”

Psychedelic trance has a distinct, intense sound that is typically quicker than other trance or techno music genres. It employs a characteristic bass beat that pounds throughout the song and is layered with varied rhythms borrowed from funk, techno, dance, acid house, and euro-dance, employing drums and other instruments. Generally, Psytrance songs have tempos ranging from 135 to 150 BPM, but some can reach 190 BPM and up to 200 BPM.

Characteristics

Every eight bars, the distinct leads, rhythms, and beats change. In Psychedelic trance, layering is employed to produce impact, with new musical ideas introduced at regular intervals, often every four to eight bars. New layers will be added until the music reaches a peak. Then, it breaks down and begins a new rhythmic pattern over a steady baseline. Psychedelic trance tracks often last six to ten minutes. It also usually features a developed and atmospheric opening and a 30-second to 1-minute break in the middle of the music.

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