Psy-Trance: Taking a Trip Down the Rabbit Hole
Trance is a huge genre of electronic music. Constantly evolving, several sub-genres have emerged since its beginnings in the 1990s. Psychedelic trance (“psy-trance” or “Goa” for short) is one such genre, and a beloved one of mine at that. Characterized by high-tempoed riffs, complex background sounds, dark melodies, and its use of a variety of styles, I call psy-trance the “underworld” of trance. Psy-trance has its title for a good reason; on a good sound system or headphones, the mellow-yet-energetic nature of this music definitely puts you in an entranced, trippy mood.
Lately, a wonderful thing has been happening: prolific uplifiting trance artists such as Simon Patterson, Sneijder, Bryan Kearney, and John O’Callaghan have begun to feature this awesome genre more and more frequently within their sets, even venturing into the underworld themselves by creating their own psychedelic productions. So out of happiness and desire to spread around the wonders of psy-trance, I thought I’d put together a little list of some of my favorite old and new tunes.
Navras – Juno Reactor & Don Davis
My first taste of psy-trance happened at a young age during my obsession with the Matrix trilogy. While seeing The Matrix Revolutions in theaters, I fell in love with the soundtrack. A few years later when I began to know the difference between types of electronic music, I found out my favorite track from the movie (during an epic fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith) and many others on it by Juno Reactor happened to be psy-trance. What are the odds? I’ll always love the mixture of tribal, middle-eastern sounds and psy-trance used in this track.
Vicious Delicious – Infected Mushroom
Infected Mushroom have gained so much success in the Goa scene that they have also become well-known in the mainstream electronic world. Their success is greatly deserved; as a band and a DJ group, these guys continue to break musical boundaries with their innovative creations. Not to mention, Infected Mushroom were among the very first big-time DJs I ever saw (during my first massive in 2007), so they are held very dear to me. ‘Vicious Delicious’ is a song I distinctly remember being performed that night, and I continue to listen to this classic all the time and appreciate its many complex and intense layers. Yum!
Astrix on Mushrooms – Infected Mushrooms feat. Astrix
Fast-forward to today, Infected Mushroom are still making some bangin’ beats. This collaboration that they released with Astrix, one of my all-time favorite producers in the genre, combines elements of both the artists’ styles of psy-trance into one amazing track. ‘Astrix on Mushrooms’ takes the listener on a journey through multiple soundscapes and showcases the huge talent of both acts.
Antiwar – Astrix
Speaking of Astrix, I’d like to introduce you this high-adrenaline track called ‘Antiwar.’ Clocking in at 144 bpm, ‘Antiwar’ is not one for the delicate listener. Any time it comes on my shuffle I can’t help but move my head to it! If there is any tune that proves just how fantastic Astrix is, then it’s this one.
Perfect Hook – Captain Hook & Perfect Stranger
Captain Hook is another fabulous psy-trance producer – you can’t really go wrong if your name is as cool as Captain Hook anyway, am I right?
“Perfect Stranger” starts off with a quiet, yet powerful intro that gets the heart racing, using really trippy samples in a breakdown that lead into the epic reintroduction of a smooth psy-trance sound. If I ever get the chance to hear this at a rave or festival, I would go bonkers.
Flashback – Easy Riders feat. Symbolic
“Flashback” is easily one of my favorite psy-trance songs of all time. Beginning with a robotic female voice describing LSD and using futuristic sounds throughout, this track puts a progressive edge on an otherwise classic psy-trance riff. Like others on this list, “Flashback” is a song that I listen to over and over again.
Leading Rabbits – Roger Rabbit
A good friend of mine introduced me to this track, and it was love at first listen. The title is fitting; I was definitely heading down the rabbit hole thanks to Roger Rabbit and this song. I have many fond memories of walking through Paris and blasting it in my ears, as well as fond memories of exploring hidden parts of the beach at night with it playing in the background. Ever since being introduced to ‘Leading Rabbits,’ I have developed an immense fondness for Roger Rabbit and his music.
Tension – Crank & Scotty Lee
“Tension” is another track that brings back fun memories. I remember hearing it when it came out over the summer and loving the slow buildup and energetic drop into psychedelic madness. Then the unthinkable happened; while at a rave in the desert with my friends, I heard the beginnings of this song as the DJ slowly transitioned into it. Man, was I stoked! Such craziness…sigh…
Have You Ever – Liquid Soul
Time to skip to a couple of my favorite tracks that are hot off the mixers. Liquid Soul’s newest single called ‘Have You Ever’ is incredibly catchy. I first heard it while seeing Simon Patterson and loved bouncing around after a voice in the song asked “Have you ever fucked on cocaine?” A couple months later Jordan Suckley played it in his ASOT set, I finally found the title of it, and the rest was history. Who can resist loving this track?
Shadows – Astrix feat. Simon Patterson
Over the years, Simon Patterson has gone from techno, to heavy-hitting tech-trance, and has now become known as ‘Psymon’ for his new found love of psy-trance. His first try at a production within the genre, aided by genius Astrix, was a clear hit! All I have to say on this track can be seen here, but I had to mention it again in this article because ‘Shadows’ is quickly becoming a favorite.
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