||This article possibly contains original research. (September 2007)|
|Stylistic origins||Trance, EBM, psychedelic rock, acid house, Proto Goa|
|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 appear until the early 1990s.
The music played was a blend of styles loosely defined as techno and various genres of computer music (e.g., high energy 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 among 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 1970s on the tape of a visiting DJ. At the time the music played at the parties was live bands. Tapes were played in between sets. In the early 1980s, sampling synth and MIDI music appeared globally and DJs became the preferred format in Goa, with two tape decks driving a party without a break, facilitating continuous music and continuous dancing. There had been resistance from the old-school acid heads who insisted 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 1980s.
Cassette tapes were used by DJs until the 1990s when DAT tapes were used. DJs playing in Goa during the 1980s included Fred Disko, Dr Bobby, Stephano, Paulino, Mackie, Babu, Laurent, Ray, Fred, Antaro, Lui, Rolf, Tilo, Pauli, Rudi, and 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.
Goa Trance as a music industry and collective party fashion tag did not gain global traction until 1994. By 1990/91 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 1993 and a multitude of labels in various countries (UK, Australia, Japan, Germany) dedicated themselves to promoting psychedelic electronic music that reflected the ethos of Goa parties, Goa music and Goa-specific artists and producers and DJs. The golden age and first wave of Goa Trance was generally agreed upon aesthetic between 1994 and 1997.
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, which evolved Goa Trance into a music genre known as Psytrance, has 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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- 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).
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