Psychedelic trance, psytrance or psy is a subgenre of trance music characterized by arrangements of rhythms and layered melodies created by high tempo riffs.
It has a distinctive, energetic sound that tends to be faster than other forms of trance or techno music with tempos generally ranging from 135 to 150 BPM.
The genre offers also variety in terms of mood and style. Some examples include full on, darkpsy, forest, minimal (Zenonesque), hitech psy, progressive, suomi, psy-chill, psycore (fusion of psychedelic trance and
hardcore), psybient (fusion of psychedelic trance and ambient), psybreaks, or “adapted” tracks from other music genres.
Psytrance was born out of the Goa trance scene and general aesthetic. Goa is a Western state in India, much of it running along a beautiful beach coastline, and the eponymous “Goa” tag is thrown around for the sort of alien trance music that became popular in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Psytrance evolved out of Goa in the 2000s as a particularly trippy spin on the original.
The first hippies who arrived in Goa, India (a former Portuguese colony) in the mid-1960s were drawn there for many reasons, including the beaches, the low cost of living, the friendly locals, the Indian religious and spiritual practices and the readily available Indian cannabis, which until the mid-1970s was legal.
During the 1970s the first Goa DJs were generally playing psychedelic rock bands such as the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and The Doors. In 1979 the beginnings of electronic dance music could occasionally be heard in Goa in the form of tracks by artists such as Kraftwerk but it was not until 1983 that DJs Laurent and Fred Disko, closely followed by Goa Gil, began switching the Goa style over to electro-industrial/EBM which was now flooding out of Europe from artists such as Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb as well as Eurobeat.
The first pure Psychedelic trance label was Dragonfly Records, formed by the artist and trance producer Martin “Youth” Glover (a former bassist for the band Killing Joke) in Brixton, London. For this he took advantage of the organization and the studio of his already existing label, Butterfly Records. It quickly became the center of the London Psychedelic trance scene.
Although psychedelic trance is not a commercial music style and parties are often small scale, some festivals have developed into full-fledged international events with attendance numbers in excess of 15,000. In Europe, the Vuuv-Experience, which has taken place at the provincial town of Putlitz in Germany since the early 1990s, is one of the largest. The Boom Festival is organized every two years in Portugal. Every two years about 25,000 people gather here for a five-day Psytrance Festival.
Psy-Trance celebrations are not only based on music and dance. It is more the sensational and cultural feeling present at each location which is given to following generations through celebrations composed by decorations, lights, Dj´s, music and so on. Further onPsy-Trance is creating an education based on tolerance and acceptance. Therefore organizing such an event can be understood as a ceremony or ritual where the primary element represents the harmony between the people involved. This way the positive energy will be transmitted to all participants and as a consequence higher levels of collective conscience are reached, making the festivity to a living and intelligent beeing in complete harmony with nature.
The decoration of these parties appeal to the idols of totem cult, ancient Egypt, prehispanic cultures, Hinduism, psychedelic and cosmic understanding, being the mystical and proverbial sense this way. The places where these parties are celebrated generally are spiritual energetic locations like ruins or in nature at forests, beaches or others. These energetic fields are never present in common parties taking place in clubs or discos which makes natural locations the best option for goa and trance parties.
Psychedelic trance is closely associated with the Psychedelic Chillout movement. No festival or party is complete without a second ‘music-area’ where downtempo and mostly ethnically oriented styles are extensively represented. Masters in the psychedelic chillout genre include Shpongle, Ott, Entheogenic, Aes Dana, Abakus of Cell, and there are numerous audio compilations with titles such as Global Psychedelic Chillout, Fahrenheit Project, and Backroom Beats. Nearly all psychedelic trance productions are released on CD. Seasoned psytrance DJs rarely, if ever, play vinyl turntables.