||This article possibly contains original research. (September 2007)|
|Stylistic origins||Trance, EBM, psychedelic rock, acid house|
|Cultural origins||Late 1980s Goa, India|
|Typical instruments||Drum machine, PC, Sequencer, Sampler|
|Derivative forms||Psychedelic trance|
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 officially appear until the early 1990s. As the hippie tourist influx tapered off in the 1970s and 1980s, a core group remained in Goa, concentrating on developments in music along with other pursuits such as yoga and recreational drug use. The music that would eventually be known as Goa trance did not evolve from one single genre, but was inspired mainly by EBM-groups like Front Line Assembly, Meat Beat Manifesto, Front 242 and A Split-Second, acid house (The KLF's "What Time Is Love?" in particular), techno, Orbital, and psychedelic rock like Ozric Tentacles, Steve Hillage and Ash Ra Tempel. In addition to those, oriental tribal music/ethnic music also became a source of inspiration. A very early example (1974) of the relation between psychedelic rock and the music that would eventually be known as Goa trance is The Cosmic Jokers' (a collaboration between Ash Ra Tempel and Klaus Schulze) highly experimental and psychedelic album "Galactic Supermarket", which features occasional 4/4 rhythms intertwined with elements from psychedelic rock, analog synthesizers and occasionally tribal-esque drum patterns.
The music played was a blend of styles loosely defined as techno and various genres of computer music e.g.: high energy gay 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 amongst 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 70s on the tape of a visiting DJ. At the time, late 70s, the music played at the parties was live bands. Tapes were played in between sets. In the early 80s, sampling synth and midi music appeared globally and DJs became the preferred format in Goa. Two tape decks driving a party without a break, continuous music, continuous dancing. There had been resistance from the old school acid heads who were devout 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 80s.
Cassette tapes were used by DJs until the 90s when DAT tapes were used. DJs playing in Goa during the 80s were Fred Disko, Dr Bobby, Stephano, Paulino, Mackie, Babu, Laurent, Ray, Fred, Antaro, Lui, Rolf, Tilo, Pauli, Rudi, 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.
Trance dancing to mind expanding dance music on hallucinogens was the mantle of the Goa mantra. It was not a night club furnaced on alcohol. Hash and acid were the principal heightens. DIY in psychedelic exploration with mind expanding future rhythm machine music. Goa Trance as a music industry and collective party fashion tag did not gain global traction until '94. By '90 '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 '93 and a multitude of labels in various countries (U.K. Australia, Japan, Germany) dedicated themselves to promoting psychedelic electronic music that reflected ethos of Goa parties and Goa music and Goa specific artists and producers and DJs. The golden age of the first wave of Goa Psy Trance as a generally agreed upon aesthetic was between '94-'97.
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, psytrance, is 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:
- Antares - Exodus
- Goasia - From Other Spaces
- Filteria - Daze of our Lives
- Goasia - Dancing With the Blue Spirit
- Filteria - Sky Input
- New Born - The Trip Of The Luna King EP
- Afgin - Astral Experiences
- Mindsphere - Inner Cyclone
- Khetzal - Corolle
- Ethereal - Anima Mundi
- Ra - 9th
- Ypsilon 5 - Binary Sky
- E-mantra - Arcana
- Agneton - Horizon In Your Head
- The Distant Civilization - Y
- M-Run - Some Run Just For Fun
There have been attempts to formalize parties, such as those held at Bamboo Forest, into commercial events, which was initially met with much resistance. The need to pay the local police baksheesh means that they're now generally staged around a bar, even though this may only be a temporary fixture in the forest or beach.
The parties 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.
Maybe the first "Goa party" in London was an underground TIP party in December 1990. TIP parties are legendary underground events. TIP, standing for the band name The Infinity Project, consists of Raja Ram and Graham Wood. They went on to do special, one off events and set up Tip Records in 1994 which became one of the pioneering labels of the Goa Trance genre. 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.
With the proliferation of Goa trance music across the globe, parties are now being held at locations all over the world. Among the most notable of these parties are Boom Festival in Portugal, O.Z.O.R.A. in Hungary, Full Moon Party held monthly at Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand and several events held in Australia as well as Israel, Japan, South Africa, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil and British Columbia, Canada.
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.
- 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).