Urban Psychedelia: Has Techno assimilated Goa Trance

There’s a great big honk as a saw tooth synthesiser stabs a chord and dissipates into the veil of the surrounding ether. The atmosphere is dense enough to sustain life and melodies echo through the entire arrangement like moths to a flame, landing on something familiar before fluttering off into distant resonances. There’s mystery, intrigue and a solemn wonder contained in each phrase, unfolding like a David Lynch narrative with a little more purpose. 

I’ve heard this sound before. It’s slower and it’s missing a semi-quaver bass-line running through the whole arrangement like a freight train, but the similarities are striking and there’s no doubt that whatever we’re listening to today lends as much from the psychedelic offshoots of Goa Trance as it does from Techno. I’ve been hearing these sounds echoing through Jaeger’s dance floor, as the city descended on our enclave this summer. It’s evocative of a sound usually found in the forests around Oslo or the beaches in India, propelling tie-dyed writhe figures to ecstatic heights as devil sticks and ribbons dance an improvised ballet in the air. 

It’s always feigned the urban for the natural, but in its new hybrid form it has found a rhythm in the city propelled forward by the more dominating foundations of Techno. It’s been propelled into the mainstream, by a new generation of DJs with the predisposition for the hippie lifestyle, growing up in the harsh urban landscape of a metropolis city, and like its predecessor, born in Goa, it borrows indiscriminately from a vast array of musical genres in pure escapist hedonism. 

Melodies touch the firmament, echoing at times space disco’s sonorous voice, while rhythms thump in militant measures to the wide-gated stomp of its audience. It’s unsure how or when these sounds started infiltrating Techno or if in fact it’s not the other way around, but as the week rolls by at Jaeger it’s a sound currently dominating the speakers through various, unrelated club nights and residencies. 

From the first moment man put stick to skin, music has always been about touching those hedonistic heights, and nowhere else is this better elucidated in Goa Trance’s origins; A style of electronic music, associated with a specific destination in pure pursuit of relinquishing the shackles of conformity for a pure spiritual pursuit. DJs and party goers alike have completely disappeared into the music and the aura of Goa Trance, with tales and legends born from fleeting characters that have immortalised the spirit, rather than a single individual. Figures like Laurent and Dr Bobby, armed with little more than a pair of walkmans were the pioneers, and while few have heard these names, everybody today exactly knows what Goa Trance is and what it stands for. 

It’s never really been about a specific style of music. Trance as in the German version of Techno, had been there before, and Goa’s earliest soundtracks have ties to the industrial synth pop sounds of Europe in the eighties, but combine this arching melodic sounds with a group of people imbued by sixties hippy romanticism in one of the nature’s most idyllic locations and you have something that extends way beyond any music. It’s a spirit and that spirit lives on today in a youth culture on their way to an enlightened trip. 

It could well have started in Berlin… don’t all things? German Techno and what we call Trance today, has always enjoyed a fluid relationship, but I believe spurred on by cheap bargain bin records, and an enthusiastic desire for something new, it’s now found a footing on an international stage. It’s moved out from inconspicuous shadows for niche audiences, to places like Jaeger, with DJs like Safira and Lente and their extended network of DJ cohorts perpetuating  the sound while new institutions like UTEKLUB continues to burr with the spirit around Oslo’s forests. 

This summer it’s started making further ground in Oslo too as weather and nature merge in the perfect backdrop for this music and this spirit to live on. Through this spirit individualism makes way for the unifying tether of music with spotlight-seeking identifiers disappearing in the wake of sardonic titles looking for an open platform. It’s an un-choreographed dance between a piece of music, a DJ and an audience, grown from something organic into a unified entity, where no-one thing subverts or dominates the others. 

Now, it lives beyond the forests and beaches of its natural habitat and has found a new place in the city, a true hybrid of some of electronic music’s most important chapters and looking well on its way  to writing a new chapter of its own.