1.1 KhetzaL - Garden of Nyagrodha Trees
1.2 Cosmic Dimension - Deviant Behaviour
1.3 Triquetra - Electronomic
1.4 Sykespico - Visit Earth
1.5 Hada - Emaginary
1.6 Crossing Mind - Over Time Frame
1.7 Clementz - Trilafon
1.8 Median Project - Life Line
2.1 Battle Of the Future Buddhas - Faster Than Light
2.2 Cosmic Serpent - Fractal Colors
2.3 Everything Turns - Darkness Falls
2.4 Proxeeus - ...But the Joke's On Mankind
2.5 Triquetra - Torturing The Machine
2.6 Morphic Resonance - Wonderland
2.7 Ka-Sol - Hysterical Mass
2.8 Hada - Magic Of Nature
NOTE: Each track review is being updated as I hear this more over winter break.
The 50th Parallel is a 2 CD compilation that celebrates Suntrip's 15th year as a Goa-Trance label. The first CD is dedicated to the sun, and is more melodic. The second CD is dedicated to the moon, and features darker Goa-Trance.
1.1 KhetzaL - Garden of Nyagrodha Trees has such a clean, organic sound. The song includes almost everything you'd expect from one of Suntrip's most beloved artists, e.g., crisp melodies, sounds, and harmonies in healthy, warm atmosphere. The song is very homogenous, developing gradually. A part of me feels that the first half could have been punchier and more memorable despite the elegant Eastern-Indian influence and attention to detail. There is a beautiful interlude in the forth minute. The energy increases at 5:48 and is accented at 6:18, and this is where I felt most immersed, thanks to the exciting, psychedelic development. At 6:44, the artist alters the arrangement, adds fresh sounds, and key notes. It's beautiful. Before the journey's end, the listener is rewarded with a beautiful, climactic finale that's almost too good for words. All in all, the first two acts were solid; they could have stood out more. Thankfully, the world grew into something more enchanting and enjoyable as we progressed. Great track. B+ / A-
1.2 Cosmic Dimension - Deviant Behaviour begins with a beautiful, ambient-influenced opening. It sounds like it should be in a Castlevania film and deserves its own [non Goa] song. Act 1 is more psytrance oriented (to some degree) until an attractive synth enters at 2:47. It's very nice! After a beat-free transition, Act 2 begins. It starts out similar to Act 1. Actually, 3:42 to 4:35 could have developed more; it got fairly repetitive, but the second part of Act 2 (forth minute) is curious, more exploratory. Here the acidic synths fade for a more traveling, unexpected, and atmospheric offering, and although my girlfriend felt that the middle act was less memorable, I liked the non-acidic shift in sound. Variety is good, and this middle act, though lacking in a star sound or element to punch it up more, made the song more interesting to me. The last act is solid too. I enjoyed the climactic, dance-friendly synth at 7:17 that elevates the energy in its final minutes. Good track! B+
1.3 Triquetra - Electronomic -- I just reviewed Triquetra's Ecstatic Planet (2018) album that included some of my favourite songs of the year. The first two minutes alone are great. An intense synth arrives at 2:31. It's too in-my-face loud, but ignites the music. The supporting synths is creative. The music is varied, and the 2:31 lead thankfully disappears at 3:38. A brief transition takes us to Act 2, a trippy segment with an edgy synth at 3:57. It's smart and punchy. The brief accents and nuances are delectable, strengthening the second act. After a brief drumroll via 5:25, I feel like the artists' missed an opportunity to elevate the final act. It's catchy, but the last few minutes (I feel) did little to improve the whole, as if the artists' ran out of ideas or ingredients early. Musically I like the complex, punchy sound/melody work and mixing. This is a tight track that ends with a tight continuation in development rather than a bang. That said, the song takes risks, sounds distinct. It's engaging and stands out. Strong track! B+
1.4 Sykespico - Visit Earth has one of the best dramatic opening tunes (like a symphony) I've ever heard in a Goa song. It's so simple and captivating. It adds FEELS (!!!). As the beat kicks in, so does the empowering tune that grounds the music emotionally. The first act is excellent, simply in that it merges the dramatic (epic/backdrop) tune with strong sound/melody work and atmosphere. After the 3:11 transition, I would have loved if the middle act maintained the feels, taking us to new, dramatic highs. The artist(s) remove the emotive theme however, opting for a punchier, higher octane approach and it works! The Hallucinogen-esque synths at 3:37 are excellent, maintaining an infectious sound across the forth minute that knows when to end via 4:30. The second part of Act 2 (4:51) involves new synths and sounds. It's catchy, though it feels like it could have been in a different song. The Eastern-Indian melody from 5:58 to 6:25 I could have done without. Some of these elements are underwhelming to the wonderful, dramatic opening that seemed so storytelling perfect. Fortunately, the signature tune returns for Act 3 at 6:25, anchoring us with the hook and feels before the terrific synth at 7:19. The song took longer to fade out than necessary, but that's a nitpick. Although the middle act (at times) could have been a little more congruent and complimentary to the opening/closing acts, this is one of my favorite tracks on the compilation. Well done. A-
1.5 Hada - Emaginary reminds me of Ka-Sol. No intro. Hard beat and accompanied sound. The first 2-3 times I heard this song, I didn't like it. I can't deny that the core sound though is pretty hypnotic, psychedelic. Around it, creepy FX echo across the soundscapes. There are some catchy synths in the first act, but the music gets repetitive and less interesting by (somewhere in) the third minute. A much needed and improved change takes place at 4:32 where the music feels more confident, congruent, and satisfying. We soon return to less memorable sound/melody work (by comparison), but the creepy atmosphere is very nice! The seventh minute on grew increasingly more interesting and warped. Weirder doesn't always mean better, and by the eighth minute, the song becomes a little too dependent and repetitive on the distorted effect, before switching gears to something more solid that avoids repetition from being shorter. I'm back and forth with how good I think this song is. It has some very good/great elements, but it's one of the less interesting and engaging songs on the album for me. That said, this is a pumping dark number for the less conventional crowd. B-
1.6 Crossing Mind - Over Time Frame begins with an enchanting opening. It's like something out of a romantic sci-fi film or fantasy fable. Is it possible for the artist to develop a track with the more enchanting sound developing throughout (I wonder)? I'm thinking Chi.A-D. for inspiration but taking it further. Occasionally I hear an intro by Crossing Mind, and it's so sublime that I wish the song was mid or down-tempo to increase its chances of retaining the warm sound throughout. I've been following CM ever since the release of their album, The Inner Shift in 2012. hoping that one day they'd return to the futuristic and super funky candy land of sounds that made their Inner Shift album so memorable and endearing. The first act was decent. It could have been more interesting and varied with ideas, as it became fairly monotonous until a tune arrives at 3:00. The transition at 3:25 led to more gripping development at 3:40, and the song hooked me from there. I enjoyed the synths at 4:38, the trippy transition, and how the psychedelic infected the last act. That said, the last act seemed so short-lived. It could have done more and in that sense, felt underwhelming to me. The final cloud-walking segment was nice. B+
1.7 Clementz - Trilafon begins with a wave of dark and atmospheric ambient. It's interesting. The first act builds a psychedelic rhythm with distinct sounds. It's pretty good, but grows repetitive. The artist(s) disengage a floating hymn, but we need something to vary up the sound, to keep us hooked. At 4:26 we get our answer. This next part is radically different, lower in tone, deeper in sound, and incorporates some experimental (?), almost funky electronic work to the mix. I like that the music broke free and opted to do something different and catchy. The last act via 6:11 incorporates fresh energy, development, and synths. The music here felt more flexible and realized. The artist even reprises a synth and accent from Act 2 that enhances the music, bringing the best elements together. The song is less memorable, elaborate, and felt a little minor compared to some of the other tracks IMO, but I liked it. B
1.8 Median Project - Life Line a refreshingly sleek and dualistic journey track. The song has feels (!), determination, and optimism. Act 1 is interesting and engaging, thanks to strong sound/melody work and atmosphere. The melodies are tight, psychedelic, and tastefully layered without sounding too acidy. My only complaint with the first act is that it could have used a little more variety, nuance, and development as it progressed. Act 2 lets its bouncy (very nice) tunes breathe, introducing harmony to the storytelling development. The end of the 5th minute involving a band of melodies moving together is elegant, gripping, and beautiful. Act 3 adds fresh ingredients and ingenuity, maintaining the inspirational sound I often miss in Goa. The track is traveling and easy to digest. It develops and evolves, and is easily one of my favorite songs on both CD's. Great work!!!! A-
NOTE: I googled Median Project to learn that his main album released in 2018. It's in the Psynews review thread, In the Depth of Space (and it's good).
2.1 Battle Of the Future Buddhas - Faster Than Light begins with an interesting sample and synth. The synth at 1:14 is good, though the minor tune (segment) at 1:44 was less engaging. A brief transition takes us into the more psychedelic second act thanks to stronger synths from 2:45 to 3:29. The synths exit without something catchier from 3:30 to 4:16, and I feel that something more interesting could have replaced it. Another solid part is at 5:13 where the song rebounds. But I really liked when the 1:14 synth returned at 6:14 mixing in with the remaining music. This synth is so simple and catchy. Why not build on that catchy sound rather than have it infrequently come and go? Why not build stronger segments around it? I suppose I'm nit picking since the song does have a pretty catchy sound to it. The last two minutes were good. I just expected more as a whole coming from the legendary BotFB. B
2.2 Cosmic Serpent - Fractal Colors is very psychedelic and atmospheric. We get an icy synth at 1:38 and at 2:11, it sounds like a pianist playing an ice cube piano (catchy)! Once that leaves, the music felt less focused. The psychedelic backdrop remained, and the icy (ascending/descending) effect at 2:32 was good. Unfortunately, without more emphasis on sound/melody work, the song becomes almost too abstract for its own good. An attractive synth enters at 4:14, though minimal in development, short-lived. Could this part not have led to something more exciting and fun? The last act builds on the artistry. But I feel that the sound/melody work is triumphed by the imaginative world of textures and atmosphere. Missing for me are tunes, melodies, leads, buildup, climax, feels! Have fun with it, but being mindful of your crowd. Hallucinogen's Twisted and The Lone Deranger albums for instance were both fun while being wildly inventive. I admire the ambition. This is trippy track with some great elements, plenty of experimentation, and some clever sound usage, mixing, and editing. Just make it more fun the next time around! B
2.3 Everything Turns - Darkness Falls has a solid introduction that develops nicely. The atmosphere is good. The synths are lively, characteristic, and fun. The song continuously sculptures (improves on) itself. It flows well. There's no big event or climax, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'd like to hear a main album by this artist showcasing the variety of greatness (in dark Goa) that he can do. Each act is focused, punchy, and beautifully mixed, with soundscapes, accents-- enough to keep me hooked. A nitpick is the sound at 4:02. It's not bad, but it stands out so much that the song feels a little less creative, and more repetitive from 4:01 to 5:22. The sound continues, altered like a supporting synth, and I don't feel like it enhanced the song in any way, although it's not bad (there's plenty of great sound mixing around it). That said, Act 2 met rather than exceeded my expectations. Darkness Falls is a strong track, and the first one I'm calling a favourite on CD 2. A-
2.4 Proxeeus - ...But the Joke's On Mankind begins dark and mysterious. The main melody enters at 1:21-- a bouncy, ebullient synth. It's good and the supporting sounds add to the dance friendly number. Around unique accents, e.g., 2:25, the artist continuously switches out ingredients, no matter how subtle, to support the main melody. The latter could have grown repetitive, bland, but it doesn't, and I think I'd enjoy this song most on the dance floor. We get our first break from the main melody at 4:48. The segment adds variety and the few drum accents are nice, though a bit brief. The last act seemed more refined, with new variation, note changes, and minor details. I liked the atmospheric interlude because of the chilling sound, like the stirring of a Tibetan bowl at 7:50, and that it continued beyond the interlude, into the main music's return. Little things like that are unexpected, creative, and catchy, a duding to the fun. Although the song has a similar sound from the lead, I feel that the approach works, especially for dancing. This is a trancey fun song! B+
2.5 Triquetra - Torturing The Machine continues the unconventional approach. The first several minutes are a fairly experimental and feature little more than buildup to the best parts. I wasn't hooked until 2:27 thanks to the synths. But the song's first half has issues. It seems indecisive in development. The interlude from 3:20 to 4:26 was too long considering its purpose (basically) was to get us to 4:24 where things take off. Everything past 4:24 was so much more enjoyable thanks to the beautiful sound/melody development. Also, the mechanized atmospheric effect (whatever sounds excellent. It's frustrating that the first or second act by these artists is often so underwhelming compared to the rest of the song. Compared to Electronomic, I'll take a superior second half over a less memorable third act almost any day of the week. I hope this positively influences the artists because they're very talented and have endless potential. I love that this song kept improving throughout the second half. In short, the music started at 4:24 for me. Everything else was forgettable. Once the song grew confident, decisive, and a set of balls halfway through, it was [still is] a pleasure to listen to. B+
2.6 Morphic Resonance - Wonderland is like JAWS on a bad trip. The song has a few short-lived murky spots before rebounding to stronger waters. The core sound (baseline and synth) is solid, stands out. The first few minutes are electric, fully charged and captivating. The synths grow to be magnetic at 1:38, again at 1:50, and crossing into the third minute. I love the supporting synths and atmosphere around the leads. The first act is exciting, punchy, and intense. The arrangement (being so short) in the third minute grew slightly repetitive, but i'm nitpicking. The middle (4th minute) act started out great, but from 4:22 to 4:49 the music sounded too muddled (over-stuffed with layers), producing an unpleasant (less punchy, focused) on the ears. This took away from an otherwise stellar song (thus far). Having something less maximal and refreshing in place of 4:22 to 4:49 would have better better, and I hope this feedback helps to improve things. The music rebounded soon after, but something about the sixth minute was less punchy (dynamic?) and did little to hook me. The energy of the music is strong, sure, but it's missing something that made the song's first half so tight. Fortunately, the seventh minute onward grew increasingly magnetic, and the finale is fantastic! That's what I'm talking about! My issue here is the same recurrent one I had on the artist's 2018 album, Perplexity. Around its few less captivating moments, this is a great track that showcases some amazing work by one of Suntrip's best artists since Filteria! A-
2.7 Ka-Sol - Hysterical Mass remind's me of Hada's Emaginary to some degree. No intro (well okay, a brief one), and a hard beat and sound at 0:24. The distorted effect to the music is unique, hypnotic. It's also repetitive and went on for too long. Act 2's soundscapes were nice, adding something different. But the synths sound more like effects then actual sound/melody development. I imagine that was the intention. I find this song so hard (literally, the beat), repetitive, and chaotic though, due in part to the relentless core 0:24 sound that I lose interest. It's too much. I'm looking for a focus, a lead to hook onto, something to enjoy. Act 2 breaks the beat in place of a trippy segment, followed by a catchy bopping accent. Both are nice, and some synths (initially) seemed catchy. But the music ultimately grew too muddled and repetitive for me, despite the end even having some pleasant (less jarring) work. This song is a relentless dark stomper that's sure to appeal to some. Give the song a listen and decide. Different perspectives is what adds to the whole anyway, but I digress. I'm sure some will connect with the music and enjoy this more than I did. Hysterical Mass is just not my cup of tea. C+
2.8 Hada - Magic Of Nature is a bit of a mixed bag. Parts are rich and engaging, while other parts are repetitive and bland. The first act starts okay before devolving into monotony from 1:32 to 2:35. Repeating the same short arrangement, primarily when it's not very good, over and over again is one way to lose your audience. After a quick fade out, the music returns at 3:31 with more creativity and development. Act 2 is a huge improvement that's topped with a strong lead at 3:54 that adds variety. Why couldn't the first act have been better considering this is the same artist who did the second act? Unfortunately, the synths (general sound) from 4:23 to 5:41 grew repetitive. The music soon rebounded, thanks to an infectious, bouncy synth at 5:47. This is a terrific part, but after a short while it became less satisfying as the music crossed the sixth minute, offering little to further develop, enhance, or reboot the climax after the lead's disappearance. This resulted in a less memorable last 1-2 minutes. The last act could have been great, but it's good intermittently. Magic Of Nature is boring one minute, and exciting the next, and that's the issue. You have to ride your winning horses, stick to (and develop) your best work. I feel like this song along with Ka-Sol's would have been better on a different compilation. It makes sense that Suntrip wanted to offer different styles of dark Goa-Trance. They succeeded. I'm simply less a fan of these last two songs. B-
For a double CD, The 50th Parallel showcases music that is sometimes marvelous, often times great, and few times disappointing. Both albums are very good, but far from perfect. I heard impressive work by many artists including: Median Project, Sykespico, Everything Turns, Triquetra, Morphic Resonance, Proxeeus, Khetzal, and Crossing Mind, and was surprised by the unconventional approaches that some of the artists took. It's fun to see artist's taking risks (at times), and Goa music continue to expand, to some degree. I feel like Suntrip was mindful to avoid generic Goa. But a few of the songs I didn't like. Maybe the inclusion of BotFB, two Hada songs along, and KaSol's was to attract fans who may be less inclined to buy Suntrip albums unless they see a familiar artist. I don't know and am merely speculating. I wish the few weaker songs were replaced with stronger ones obviously, but at least most of the songs were good. A nitpick is that there are a couple songs on CD 1 that sounded dark to me, and I thought CD 1 was supposed to showcase the light?
I'm not sure where I'd rank The 50th Parallel compared to Suntrip's previous compilations. Time will tell. It's very good overall and worth checking out, especially for those who are fans of quality light (more melodic) and dark styles of Goa-Trance.
Very nice artwork and cover btw!
CD 1 ... 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8
CD 2 ... 3, 4, 5, 6
Sample / Order