Psychedelic Trance is a complex collective genre with a multitude of sub-genres and I’m going to attempt to unravel the web of crossovers and point out the distinct attributes for some of these.
Let’s start from the beginning:
It all started with Trance that originated from House and Techno. Trance is characterized as being epic, emotional, tension creating, euphoric, crescendoing climaxes, and anthemic. The genre was built around the idea to create seamless mixes that could put the audience into a transcendent state of mind, a type of escapism. The structure and sound of the songs was aimed at having build-ups and breakdowns, rifts and rolls, synthesisers playing long pad-like sounds, majestic chord progression, more melodic than its predecessors, the melodies are arpeggiated and repetitive, last for an extended duration, and most importantly, having a 4/4 beat with an on-beat kick drum and off-beat bassline.
With the influence of Acid-House the sub-genre Acid-Trance was born in the early 1990’s, frankly just called Acid as Trance was not yet fully established as a genre. Rather than being completely uplifting Acid possessed a trippy, slightly more psychedelic and hypnotic melodies, and of course, distinctly made use of the classic Roland TB-303.
The Roland TB-303 and SH101 are both iconic Monophonic Bass Synthesisers that had a massive impact on the development of most electronic genres present at that time, Dance, House, Acid, Trance, Techno, which eventually evolved into Goa Trance. They both have a single oscillator that’s monotimbral and make use of analog synthesis but differ somewhat from here on.
- Square or Saw wave
- No LFO
- 1x 18dB low-pass resonant filter
- No aftertouch
- No velocity
- Storage capabilities of 64x patterns, 7x songs, 1x track
- No effects
- VCO oscillator with mixable waveforms, Saw, Sub, Pulse, Square
- LFO with triangle, square, noise, and random
- 1x resonant Voltage Controlled Filter that can be modulated by envelope, LFO, bend control, and keyboard tracking
- No aftertouch
- No velocity
- 100 step sequencer storage
- Arpeggiator effects
The Novation Bass Station is a synthesiser that also uses analog synthesis, two monophonic oscillators with Square or Saw waves. A 12/24 dB low-pass filter, envelopes, and LFO modulation with pulse.
During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the style that came to be known as Goa Trance was truly birthed. It was a product of remnants from the Goa tourist influx that started to fall off during the 1980’s and this group got deeply in to the use of recreational drugs, yoga, meditation, and of course, the creation of transducing music. It is influenced by Trance, Electronic Body Music, and much more. The purpose of Goa Trance was to support the audience and dancers in their journey to reach transcendent states of mind and body, very much like that of indigenous tribes. What makes Goa Trance distinctly different from the other Trance genres was the heavily influenced melodic patterns, sounds, sampled chanting, and instruments originating from the Middle-East, India, and Ibiza. The use of samples, often from sci-fi movies, as well as the Roland TB-303, Roland SH-101 and Novation Bass-Station. The style kept solidly to the ‘Four to the Floor’ and repetitive 16th/32nd note percussive and synth patterns.
A almost identical genre that’s more of a sister genre than a sub-genre was founded during the late 1990’s called Psychedelic Trance. The term Psychedelic Trance has become an umbrella genre for a multitude of sub-genres. However, here’s a couple of examples of the old school style:
Full-on originated out of Israel when ex-military came home from Goa inspired by the transducing music and started to experiment and develop the style. It is signified by the variation every 4-8 bar, heavy use of layering, new elements added every 4-16 bar, crispy, clicky, and consistent basslines, high energy sounds, and a higher BPM (usually ranging from 132-148).
The sub-genre itself yet again, has sub-genres beneath it, such as Twilight and Night Full-On which contains creepier synths and lower octave basslines. Morning Full-On has majestic melodies, and uplifting is another name, which frankly is just the same as Morning Full-On, defined by containing uplifting melodies.
Twilight and Night Full-On:
Morning and Uplifting Full-On:
Progressive Psychedelic Trance:
This sub-genre has been prominently popular in the main-stream culture and is defined by the slower (124-140 BPM), more atmospheric, carefully arranged structure, minimalistic, and slow building melodies. Its heritage lies rather in minimalistic house and techno, tech, and of course, Trance. Progressive also has sub-genres; Dark Progressive and Uplifting Progressive. Jaïa can be classified as Uplifting, Vibrasphere as just Progressive, and N o m a as Dark. Uplifting very similarly to Morning Full-On is defined by the majestic melodies meanwhile Dark is similar to Twilight by the use of more creepy and scary sounding FX and atmosphere.
N o m a:
Dark Psychedelic Trance:
Darkpsy for short, is a faster paced style of Trance that generally lies around 142+ BPM. It is defined by the fast-paced, highly energetic beat, gritty rolling basslines, and scary FX. The basslines in Dark tend to have more movement in comparison to both Full-On and Prog. Sub-genres within Dark are Psycore, Hi-Tech, Forest, and Terror/Horror psy.
The focus for Forest psy lies in the organic, bubbly, earthy, and murky sound with eerie atmosphere, imagine the forest having a beat. It’s not easily distinguished from Dark but there’s certainly a difference. The BPM mostly lies around 148-160 and it distinctly lacks a point of climax to maintain the trance-state of the audience.
Psycore is extremely hard to figure out exactly what truly defines it, some claim that the style lies in 180+ BPM and is an extension of Dark, meanwhile others claim that it has no set BPM.
Déjà vu Fabrique – Slow Psycore:
Noizhartt – Fast Psycore:
What defines Hi-Teck is the use of glitchy sounds, bouncy high-paced and polished beats (160+ BPM), highly technical melodies.
Durious and Gorump Peyya and Vovan:
These are the major sub-genres under Psychedelic Trance. Most of the videos are older as the genre differences were more distinct at that time. Modern Psytrance tends to be painstakingly hard to differentiate and place properly as the genre itself is quite experimental and all sub-genres are making use of all stylistic features. Artists often produce tracks that could fit in to more than one sub-genre and it’s usually the tracks themselves that fit in to the genres rather than the artist. Another issue with putting the tracks in specific genres is that the definitions are quite subjective. The easiest located difference lies in BPM and between light or dark. There’s a few more sub-genres that I have not yet mentioned and these are, New School Goa, Progressive Goa, Dark Progressive Goa, Minimal Psytrance, UK, Doof, South African Psytrance, and Nitzhonot. Then we have another few sub-genres that are not as big but certainly deserve to be named as well.
Suomisaundi is a Finnish style of Psytrance that is heavily experimental with no set rules at all, they tend to be humourus and organic sounding however.
Combination between Psychedelic and Mechanical Techno and requires a specific tone to not end up in neither Techno nor Progressive.
Psytrance influenced by Jazz and Funk, generally characterized by organic sound design, psychedelic atmospheres, and a giddy vibe.
The following four sub-genres are the same with minor defining differences.
This style of Psychedelic is defined by ambient soundscapes, broken beats, chilled-out feel.
Directly related to Downtempo but has a heavy emphasis on dubby basslines.
Psytrance and Breakbeat mixed.
Blend of Ambient, Glitch, and Psychedelic Trance which is mostly beatless.
That should cover most, if not all, the sub-genres within Psychedelic Trance. It’s been quite the head scramble to find and separate the difference genres but it finally got done. Until next time!