About Psychedelic Trance Music|
What is Psychedelic Trance ?
Commonly known as psytrance- especially to those in the know- the nomenclature
derives from the ancient Greek word `ψυχή`, pronounced
`psyche`, which means `soul` and also from the word `trance`, which stands for
`ecstasy` or `rapture`.
Psytrance is more than just a genre of music; it
is a state of mind. Call it catalepsy of the spirit, if you will. This
category of trance is a form of electronic music characterized by industrial
leads, hypnotic arrangements, groovy rhythms and complex layered melodies,
stemming from high tempo riffs. To put it simply, psytrance
History Of Psychedelic Trance
Hippies taking respite in Goa, India during the mid-1960s were drawn to the land
for many reasons: the beaches, low cost of living, friendly locals, religious
beliefs and spirituality. Not to forget, the readily available Indian hashish
was quite a draw as well. Hashish was widely known as a legal option up until
During the 1970s, the first Goa DJs were generally spinning well-known
psychedelic rock bands such as Pink Floyd and The Doors.
In 1979, the beginnings of electronic dance music would occasionally be heard
around Goa, in the form of tracks, passed from DJ to DJ- Did you hear this new
beat! Check this out! Much like today, when you think about it! The popular
tracks were remixed - removing the lyrics, looping the melodies, adding trancy
basslines and generally manipulating the sounds in speedy way with a hard clubby
approach. These tracks were finally presented to the public and became known as
Development of Psychedelic Trance
The trend of Goa trance style
tracks, was first appeared in the region of Goa, India around the year 1991 and
rapidly the Goa trance scene
had picked up a pulse of its own. Seeking a following, newer artists were
appearing all over the world in clubs and at parties- sharing their passion for
trance. Like-minded individuals getting together to explore their options and
interests, together like never before. Even celebrity DJs would join the
movement and propel psychedelic trance further mainstream.
By 1996, the genre had changed so much from its Goa beginnings that the term Goa
trance no longer seemed suitable. The new term of `psychedelic trance`, or
`psytrance` for short, was coined to refer to this new style of music. Psytrance
became more mainstream in the mid to late 1990s, owing its roots to the trend
of Goa trance that originated in the 1970s.
Description of Psychedelic Trance Music
Psychedelic trance has a distinctive, speed up sound. It generally sits between
125 & 175 BPM, which tends to be faster than other forms of trance music.
Psytrance uses a very distinctive, resonating bass beat that pounds constantly
throughout the song keeping the pace. The DJ will then overlay the bass with
varying rhythms drawn from funk, techno, dance, acid house, euro dance and/or
trance using drums, synthesizer, and other instruments. The different leads,
rhythms, and beats generally change every 8 bars.
Layering is a technique used to achieve a great effect in psychedelic trance.
With new musical ideas integrated at regular intervals (every 4 to 8 measures or
so) psytrance will keep you on your toes. New layers are added until a climax is
reached, and then the song will break down by starting a new rhythmic pattern
over the rolling, consistent bass line.
Psytrance tracks are typically 610 minutes long and make heavy use of the
cutoff frequency control of the modulating filter on the synthesizer. Reverb and
delay are used frequently with large, open sounding reverberation present on the
lead synthesizers in the track.
The Roland TB-303 (acid) sequencer, Juno 106 & Roland SH-101 are used in
majority and are sampled in psychedelic trance.
Sub-Genres of Psychedelic Trance
The genre offers listeners a variety in terms of mood, tempo and style. Some
current examples of psytrance include:
Dark / Forrest / Neuro / Hi-tech
Minimal / Morning
Uplifting / Nitzch O Not
Psybreaks / Off-Beat
Chill-Out / Down-Tempo / Psybient
The initial genre, developed by the so called dinosaurs of psytrance scene, such
as "Goa Gil" & "Raja Ram" amongst others back in the 90s, when psychedelic
contemporary rhythm took form through the computers and electronic equipment for
the first time in history of human kind.
Goa Trance was characterized by its use of a driving 4/4 beat, trance-inducing
melodies that is performed usually by a roland TB-303 synth, various uplifting
sounds, heavy drum-sets and finally strings ment to create a mystical atmosphere
to the listener.
This was the original cause of psychedelic trance.
Full-on is a form of psychedelic trance that originated in Israel during the
late 1990s. The expression full-on is derived from a phrase widely used to
describe particularly high-energy music and continues rhythm.
Full-on is one of the most well known forms of psytrance. The speedy basslines,
catchy hook-lines and commercial elements bring together a style that has the
most mass market appeal.
The most easily recognizable elements of full-on psytrance are the "rolling
basslines", the fast changes in music sequences --max 32 beat for sequence-- and
the more melodic, uplifting nature of the subgenre.
The style was incredibly popular in Israel, Greece and other European countries
with a progressive group of followers.
Dark / Forrest / Hi-tech
Dark psytrance (such as neuro, dark psy, or forest trance) is a darker, moodier
and faster form of trance music, with hypnotic arrangements and tempo ranging
from 145 to 180 BPM.
Originating in Denmark and Russia, the style has developed a loyal, yet
sometimes borderline fanatical following over the years.
Dark psytrance is a popular variation of the genre that can include extremely
filtered acid arpegiators taken from Goa trance. These tend to be more tripping
& haunting than uplifting, though.
`Forest Trance` is a style with in the dark sub-genre that inspires and creates
a forest like - spooky mood.
The `dark psy` style is more abstract and experimental with less reliance on
typical trance musical aspects and formulas. The high speed of tracks, the
experimental nature of the style and its underground philosophy make it more
appealing to a younger, drug addicted crowd.
Progressive Psy Trance
Progressive Psytrance has a heavier, crystal-cleaner sound than other sub-genres
and a slower beat range around 125 to 139 bpm.
The most easily recognizable elements of progressive are the "rolling basslines"
or else "triplets", which cram two or three short bass notes in between each hit
of the 4/4 drum. Mainly consists of atmoshperic pads and abstract sounds that
evolve or else progress during the track. All kind of vocals and hook-up lines
are present combined in a club-like groovy rhythm.
Progressive is the most popular genre of psy trance nowadays by far.
Minimal / Morning
It is better known for the well-constructed percussion rolling under a
complicated evolution of musically rooted melodies. It progressively builds up
to a climax before it comes back down.
It was primarily used primarily in the mornings at festivals and during
energetic dance parties but it tends to win ground on the international dance
scene as time goes by.
Progressive in the way it was shaped but with less bpm, suitable for the ending
of the parties when the feelings take over, as also suitable for the morning
hours of a usual relaxing day.
Uplifting / Nitzch O Not
Uplifting trance music was first termed by Mike Verros, a long-standing
supporter and DJ of the psytrance scene. This style is described perfectly by
this name, as it is used to enhance moods and enlighten the atmosphere of the
Uplifting trance consists of `wooded` kicks and hard industrial leads that
create a happy atmosphere. Through cutoff-filtered melodies that come and go
during the tracks, dancers, and listeners are taken on a happy joyride through
their mind with every beat.
The style became a real trend in Greece around the turn of the millennium. The
scene was heavily supported by the local record labels and media, but started to
collapse after the most well-known names in the industry disappeared (Cyan,
The title `Nitzch o not` was coined a decade later and was inspired by the
Holymen`s successful homonymous track, which was produced 15 years earlier. Way
to keep up with the times!
Psybreaks / Off-Beat
One of the most modern genres shapped in Nothern Germany around the year 2005.
The range and the rhythm are progressive but a lot of basses do their presence
in an out-of-sequence pace. A lot of Brazilian but also Isreali live acts took
over and are currently producing heaven vibes out of this new rhythm that makes
the crowd explode. One of the most popular subgenres of psytrance nowadays.
Chill-Out / Down-Tempo
Chill-out music is a term for low tempo psychedelic trance music characterized
by their mellow style and low-tempo beats the term being derived from a slang
injunction `to relax.`
Chill-out music emerged in the early and mid-1990s in chill rooms at dance
clubs, where relaxing music was played in order to give dancers a chance to
breath and calm down from the more upbeat and fast-tempo music out on the main
Genres associated with the chill-out style are mostly ambient, down-tempo
psytrance, minimal psy, and morning psytrance. Sometimes the easy listening
subgenre `lounge` is considered to belong to the chill-out collection as well.
The subgenre goes all the way back to 90s with schemes like "Source Code" and
"Wizzy Noise" but also nowdays many live acts are still working on it. It
basically consists of less melodies and more techno elements, industrial leads,
hard loops and heavy drum assets. A fantastic mixture of psychedelic trance &
Article written by Aggelos Mavros & Jennifer Earls.
All rights reserved by Ghost Label records.