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DoktorG

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  1. DoktorG

    Khetzal - Etamines

    The Melodic Genius returns. So 17 years later, Khetzal, who scored a hit with the melodic Goa trance album "Corolle", returns with a new record! That's a long time by anyone's reckoning for a second album. Matthieu Chamoux is a melodic genius. He has a dynamic sense of melody, meaning that his melodies really move. He is able to make melodies sway, sweep, waltz, bounce, zoom off and develop. The development of these melodies is important: there is real storytelling structure in the songs, which speed up and slow down and change moods at points - this is derived from traditional symphonic structure or argument. "Corolle" was a hit, cited by a number as the best neo-Goa album, partly because of this melodic brilliance. It seemed to me that it stood directly in the line of classic 90s Goa from Astral Projection, TIP, Etnica et al. This was not only because it was not afraid to make big melodies, often with Oriental scales and motifs. In my estimation, it was also so good because it had a degree of simplicity: "Corolle" was just a bit less layeristic than most of the other neo-Goa from Filteria, Artifact 303, E-Mantra, et al. (Haha, I had to laugh when Morphic Resonance released "Perplexity" in 2018 - that can indeed be the response that excessive layerism can result in). "Corolle" was also not afraid to slow things down; quite a few of the tracks have modest bpms and are not shooting for high speed take off. To my way of thinking, this relative, I repeat relative, simplicity and slowness, along with the melodic genius, were the reasons for the success of "Corolle". Restraint, or at least some degree of restraint, is necessary for art: drama requires it. Hell for leather from bar 1 is a recipe for exhaustion, not for drama and intrigue. Restraint is often the mark of a master. So what about this 17 years later second album? Well, it is definitely Khetzal. A similar melodic sensibility is on display, similar Oriental motifs, similar restraint. Similar, but not the same. This album does not have as much of a consistent Oriental vibe as "Corolle" did. It is not as restrained and goes a little faster and more layeristic generally. Is it as good? Hard to say. I wouldn't say it is as memorable or as outstanding as the first album, but that does not mean it is not as good. "Admonition" is a strange title for the first track of an album, suggesting that things did not start off so well for the composer. Whatever, it has an atmospheric start, and soon becomes quite mystic and wondrous due to background choirs and drones - a building beginning. "Ziggurat" is percussive and grows into a psychedelic monster with spinning melodies with oriental drones in the background - nice! I must make mention of the background drones that set off the main melody so well in "Grey Kitty in the Box" (weird title - Matthieu got a present of a kitten?). "Gather Your Herds" is a real head-nodder of a track with a highly memorable whistling main theme. The melody in the next track "Acide Formique" is quite similar - a kind of continuity. "Pavane" as the title suggests is a real bouncy dancey track with an addictive bassline and some cool percussive breaks - this track sounds a lot like Filteria in that the melodies seem to multiply and fly off or fizzle out in a drizzle of wiggles. Really an extraordinarily psychedelic track which even has sounds like lasers in a Star Wars movie and what sounds a lot like a violin or viola gypsy-style main theme - very, very, very nice! Khetzal outdoes himself in this track which is a masterwork and arguably the best track he has thus far composed. "A World of Outmoded Ideas" is quite fast and busy - lots of fractal pixillations here and babbling long melodic lines. The main melodic theme which works with stabs does not work so well for me - it is just a little too chintzy and bright sounding for this listener. This track is sort of like a sped up Astral Projection. "Didge Voices" slows things down a little and offers a haunting Arabic melody with a flute sound from the get go. This main melody owes a lot to music and film - it could easily be from "Lawrence of Arabia" or any number of other classic films with its combination of yearning and minor key gloom. What a great track. "Ealitas Ex Nihilo" is a nice closer going a bit slower than most of the other tracks on the album. Nothing too special or outstanding on offer here, though it does have an epic sensibility. So Khetzal has created another fine album, albeit not as restrained as the first record. I'm not sure that this works better for the album as a whole, but it has helped him create some of his best melodies thus far, particularly on "Pavane" and "Didge Voices". This album was not as immediately memorable as the first album for me. Nevertheless, it is a superb work that may just have more staying power; only time will tell. Seeing as "Corolle" got a vinyl release (at last!), Suntrip are obligated to give this a vinyl release too. C'mon Suntrip: you can do it. ~*~
  2. Another fine Goa album from Artifact 303. When I first got "Back to Space" back in 2011, I was initially underwhelmed. It seemed not to be the best of both worlds, but to fall between two stools. On the one hand, it had the manic, sometimes indigestible, layerism of nu skool Goa that throws everything including the kitchen sink at the listener. On the other hand, it seemed to be a fairly straightforward copy of Astral Projection that wasn't original enough to justify its existence. So ran my initial thoughts. But over time, "Back to Space" sank into my consciousness and I started to enjoy it. It does have the weakness of a certain breathless quality that would benefit from pruning the endless pretty layers and more attention to spacing and pacing, but there are some great melodies on that album. 10 years later and Peter Zsolt brings us another Goa artifact: "From the Stars". One thing is for sure, his basic template has not changed at all: this is still highly layeristic nu skool with a strong Astral Projection melodic flavour. This brings both the joy in some fantastic melodies, and the limitation of a certain relentless breathlessness and prettiness, at least to this listener. I'm not going to comment on individual tracks, because most tracks are kinda similar, and I'm not sure that is the point of this album. What then is the point? I think it is to take the listener on an epic journey into hyperspace with galaxies flying past at such phenomenal speed that they create ceaselessly morphing fractal hallucinations of spiderwebby beauty. You might say that that is the aim of all Goa, but even if so, on this basis Artifact 303 must be judged more successful than most. One of the things that I most like about this artist is his ability to balance melodic delicacy with good propulsive energy. To sum up: another recommendable album from Artifact 303.
  3. Gamma Draconis? The third star in the Draco constellation? The third dragon? The third coming? I'm not sure. Whatever the title means, the sound is good on this vinyl compilation of classic Goa artists. What a great pleasure it is to have Goa on vinyl again; Suntrip Records are to be commended - let us hope they produce more vinyl editions. It must be admitted, however, that their postage and packing leave much to be desired. Mine arrived bent and buckled due to the inadequate flimsy box and took its sweet time too. When I wrote informing them of this there was no reply. Tsk tsk Suntrip - up your game. I understand you have been out of the vinyl game for some time, but there is no excuse for a lack of professionalism. Amongst other things, this means proper lp mailers with double boxes and taking care of your loyal fans, including replying to emails. On to the tunes. It must first be noted that the back cover is the same as the CD, with Roy Sasson initiating proceedings, when in fact he is the second last track on the vinyl. A charming error that was also apparent a few times in the 90s, suggesting that the vinyl issue is an afterthought. This is a pity because lp cover art has a lot more potential for detail, colour saturation, scale etc, not to mention vinyl sound. Here vinyl exposes some digititis in some of the recordings: I don't know how much plug-ins were used, but at times I think I detect some rather grey and washed out sound that is lacking in bass dynamics. The tracks themselves? Is it too bold to say that this comp would have been rated back in the day? I don't think so. I can't rave about the Astral Projection track which seems a bit on autopilot to me (well, at least until the breakdown and gorgeous conclusion), but there aren't any weak tracks. For me Xenomorph, Battle of the Future Buddhas, Oforia, and RA bring the killer tunes. Surprisingly the final track, RA's "Eikon", is the most up-tempo full on track on the album. Did Suntrip do this to suggest where Goa went? What I really like most about this compilation is that each artist sounds recognisably themselves; there's no confusing Shakta with AP, for instance. That really cool individuality of each artist that was characteristic of 90s Goa seems pretty intact: Great! I've been listening to some neo-Goa on cd and streaming recently on my digital system - cool. Hehe, but when I put on this vinyl in my analogue system a portal opens up into a transdimensional world of tonal velvet and unlimited space. Superior? No contest! This is the way that Goa was originally supposed to sound and boy does it deliver sensual bliss. The first vinyl edition of Khetzal's classic "Corolle" album is apparently on the way, so that is further cause for Goa fans to celebrate. Just don't forget to post it in an lp mailer. Go Suntrip! ~*~
  4. A fine debut album here, demonstrating an impressive level of maturity and diligence: it is immediately apparent that a lot of thought and practice has gone into each track as they are all well-structured and feature harmonious sounds that have been carefully pruned and edited to fit together well and hence create a floaty atmosphere and effect. If the artist's intention (always problematic to ascertain) is indeed to create an aural space voyage, then the album succeeds triumphantly. On the down side, the artist is fairly obviously a big Astral Projection fan, and at times I found myself wondering who put on the AP track I had never heard before. At one level, this is high praise. At another level, the album is for sure derivative, and more could have been done to sculpt a more unique sound and identity. Nevertheless, this is a minor caveat, because this is undoubtedly a good album and significantly better than many nu Goa efforts. Indeed, I'm hoping to hear more from this talented artist and take another trip back to space. ~*~
  5. I'm enjoying this album. Victor Solsona has his own Goa style that could be described as deeper, slower, funky. This gives this album its own identity, something lacking today. He often goes deep and a little slower and less manic than some other contemporary Goa acts. He prefers bigger leads that are not too cluttered with layerism. This is a good thing in my book as it creates more space for the listener and dancer. On the down side, at times the sounds on this album are a bit cliched, and it sure likes its panned swooshes and ripping noises. Worth a listen I think. ~*~
  6. DoktorG

    Merr0w - Odysseus

    I must put a special shout out for the track "Their Own Light", which has an innovative kick drum sound and beat. What a storming track! Overall a good neo-Goa album, though at times it feels a bit manic for its own good and can sound a touch formulaic. Occasionally I find the leads a bit plasticky/strident sounding, though the production as a whole is good. MerrOw's characteristic theme is quite original, however, as most Goa has been more about the beach and bamboo forest and stars above than it was in the Indian ocean. I guess the artist is an Aquaman, Mera, Nemo and Fathom fan, as well as a surfer or swimmer? It is quite impressive that he does get a kind of "wet" and immersive sound. This raises the question of whether Goa is landscape (or waterscape, or spacescape) music? I think the polyrhythms and storytelling aspect are like flying through a landscape. "Travelling without moving" as Astral Projection had it. Pretty cool to be swimming for a change. ~*~ PS - Trainspotter alert: the beginning of "Fractal Octopus" sounds a lot like the intro to Astral Projection's "Kabalah". Is it supposed to be a cover, or a homage to this famous opening track of Trust in Trance? PPS - I'm split about the cover art. The colors are appealing, but it is toony.
  7. One of the few genuine Goa albums of 2019. What makes this album stand out for me is its elegant simplicity. It reminds me of Electric Universe's "One Love", for just one example, in its refusal of manic layering, the weakness in my view of much nu Goa, and goes for a relatively simple sound with plenty of space and time for each sound and idea to evolve. This encourages true trance and spaciness, inner and outer. Buddhas keep some of their signature darkness and roughness, evident here in some melancholic and sinister feelings, but this is a slower and more melodic album than much of their previous output. To put this same point another way, some of the melodies are of the Scando forest troll gonzo style, jaunty little pixilated motifs full of cheeky and playful Loki spirit; but the album as a whole is far from their heavier or rougher psytrance albums. The recording is also worth a mention I think: there's a deliciously velvety black background to the colourful sounds that are used which adds to the spacey effect. Finally, there are some really slick beats and percussion on this album, with nary a full on beat or bassline in sight. Recommended! ~*~
  8. DoktorG

    V/A - Assassi-Nations

    You can read what I wrote above in 2003. It is now 15 years later, and my opinion is not the same. I still like the Alien Project and Logic Bomb tracks, but the rest is disposable dance floor filler. It is a compilation which is in my reject pile, to be sold. Significantly, very little of the Goa trance that I have from 95-96-97 makes it onto the reject pile. 'Nuff said.
  9. Ahhhh... how sweet it is to get some proper acid Goa in 2018. By proper, I mean kicking, intense, varied and otherworldly. Further, this album is blissfully free of the generic "16th note" bassline and rhythm section that, imo, spoils so much contemporary full on and Goa. If you listen to 90s Goa, you do not find the same beat hegemony that, along with other generic factors, makes today's trance so often cookie cutter in its formulaic similarity. These guys vary their basslines and drums/percussion, to my immense delight! The whole album is rip-roaring, and it sounds like they had a good time making it - a highly infectious quality that again is quite rare today. There are no bad tracks, but special mention must be made of the didgeridoo track "Gargantuan Tribes" - my feeling is that if Triquetra want to evolve to the next level, they could introduce more analogue noises, tribal sounds, real instruments etc. What a blast of a record. Recommended! ~*~
  10. Yes, I have to agree with the other reviewers here: "Goaway" is the best track of Power Source. Typical of Matsuri to pick that track to put on a 12". "Gargamel" which is on the other side of the 12" is only ok; the piano sound that comes in a couple of times rather ruins the spell of the track. But "Goaway" is a fantastic track, one of the greats of Goa trance. Really scathing sawtooth leads that scythe and slice and would devastate on the dancefloor accompanied by a hypnotic beat that could go on forever. "Cosmic Waves" isn't quite up to this level. Like the 12", it is a bit of a mixed bag. "Vorlan", "Memory Bubbles" and "Hyperspace" are all good tracks, but some of the others are lemons. Nevertheless, the good tracks on it make it worthwhile. ~*~
  11. Btw, off-topic I know, but I really enjoyed the youtube clip of "Kapala". A good psychedelic tune with lovely melancholic intro Happy Horse. ~*~
  12. Happy Horse, I really want to support what you've written above. Unfortunately, most psytrance played at parties and festivals today sounds very plastic and kitsch to me. Maybe I am an old fart, but let me make a few points. Firstly, the "full on" 16th note bassline is utterly repetitive, boring and mind-numbing in the worst sense. Uniformity? You betcha! Goa circa 95, 96, 97 did not have a generic bassline. Just listen to Etnica's records - practically every single song has a different bassline. Secondly, the "telephone line" series of valleys and peaks (obviously made to give a little drug frisson) in this music is not entrancing - I find it trance destroying. Infected Mushroom's more recent music is an example of this: music with neat little compartments with predictable build ups and come downs. I think of it as music for the short attention span generation. There is very little trance, groove, flow or gradation in this music: it tends to be about neat demarcation and segmentation. Everything is chopped into neat little byte sized portions for easy, safe, comfortable consumption. Thirdly, digital sound can be a problem. There is such a thing as too clear, particularly when accompanied by hardness. Original Goa trance was mostly made on analogue synths which tend to have a warmer, fuller sound with more body than plug ins on a laptop. Moreover, each synth or track had a unique tone, texture and sonic signature - plug ins cannot convincingly give this variety of tones; rather there is a flattening effect. There are also issues to do with timing and error, but let me not go on too much. When clear but hard laptop tracks (sometimes in low res mp3 format) are played back on a giant pa, which often has quite hard sounding digital and solid state amps, the result is not only a clear, metallic or plastic sound, but also ear drilling. Goa trance, especially when pressed to vinyl and played back on a decent rig did not sound like this - it was plenty clear but warm, soft, colourful, inviting you to get lost in its fractal matrix. It sucked you in by not being in your face so much. Fourthly, your point above, namely that "Goa trance is a blend of. 80&90's music styles and 70's stretchy psy rock and Indian orientated melodies" is excellent. If you listen carefully to Goa you will notice that the psychedelic effect is created by: a hypnotic beats and rhythms b atmosphere (backing sounds, ambience, samples etc) c "brain bubbles" - shimmering cascades of tremolo arpeggiated sounds as in traditional Indian ragas, harp music, etc - a fractal effect mostly created on the Roland 303 d melodies, often stretched with a droning, drawn out quality, often a combination of major and minor keys There is a surprising amount of drone in Goa. Combine it with sharp percussion and presto! a different state of mind that is alert to both the moment and the "longue duree" is created. For me personally, this state of mind is the epitome of psychedelic. Nothing new here - the San knew this as they droned their healing mantras whilst they danced, Ravi Shankar knew it as the tabla clicked and bounced on top of the drone in the background as his sitar melodies poured forth. I could go on about other problems with contemporary parties: the high prices, the lack of psychedelics, the way that people march (er, sorry, dance) all facing the dj, and so on, but lest I sound intolerably snobby and stuck in the past, my point is not that we should return to the past, which is impossible anyway. My point is that we should learn from the past, a highly psychedelic undertaking. As legendary British science fiction author John Brunner put it: There are two kinds of fool in this world. One says "this is old and therefore good". The other says "this is new and therefore better".
  13. I'm listening to this as I type, and I have to say I just don't get the hype. Sure it is a little bit better than generic full on, which is to say that it is just slightly less crap than a steaming pile. The only tracks with any individuality are the opening, the Hallucinogen track (which is not so special imho) and the Prometheus track which at least has an actual melody. The rest have moments here and there but are otherwise dominated by that maddeningly samey full on bass line and extra cheesy "psychedelic" samples. Meh. Moving on. ~*~
  14. DoktorG

    Cwithe - Illegal

    Hey Goa heads, why no love for this album? I admit, firstly, that I'm a bit of a fan of the short-lived "psybreaks" or "breaktrance" movement, enjoying the excellent 21-3 compilations, Deviant Electronics, Germinating Seeds of Doda and so on. I also love drums and complex rhythms; full-on with its super-repetitive generic bass line (I can't say bass lines, cos there's only one), simple drums and non-entrancing stop-start buildups just can't do it for me. Those biases on the table, I enjoy this album, though it took me a number of listens to like it. The mix of drum n bass, breaks and Goa melodies and warbles is interesting to me because it tends to rid the music of any "Euro" tendencies (please understand that this is comment on cheesy, commercial "Euro" club "trance", not a political/social comment), replacing it with complex, entrancing polyrhythms and more of a tribal, even "third world" kind of feel. There are excellent examples of this on Illegal such as "I don't wanna Shrink" with its jungle sounds, "Tellus D", "Memory Foam" and "Injection" which is probably my favourite. Admittedly not all tracks are so great and "160 Madness" is an instance of that. However, there is a strong spirit of experimentation on this album which I have to salute. This album is far from being great as it is simply too fragmented, but if anyone out there likes psybreaks, then this is worth a listen or two. ~*~
  15. Thanks Draeke. I guess in some ways the more interesting question is not how Trip to the Stars relates to IFO, but how Trip to the Stars relates to The City of Moons, Cristian's previous album? To be flippant for a moment: Pleiadians vs UX? I need to listen more to say something substantial about this, but it is clear just from memory that Trip to the Stars is more obviously melodic and spacey than City of Moons. City of Moons is visceral, darker, harder, has more of an industrial edge and rusted metal feeling to it. My gut-level experience of the two albums is summed up by their titles. Trip to the Stars sounds to me like an interstellar trip to the Pleiades and beyond - the listener is zooming in a space ship across uncountable aeons of space and time with awesome vistas like those relayed from the Cassini spacecraft unfolding before their boggling eyes. City of Moons feels as if the listener has physically landed on one of the planets which features ancient ruined cities and dangerous species, like one of the recent Alien movies (Ridley Scott really should use some Goa in his movies!). I like the sense of doom that pervades City of Moons, but the melodies inspired by IFO in Trip to the Stars are unrivalled. Both albums are amongst the few recent nu skool Goa albums that are not embarrassed by the classics. One of the things I really like about Cristian's work is that his bass lines do not always stick to the generic, cookie cutter 16th note of so-called "full on"; 90s Goa artists did not all use the same bass line! ~*~
  16. I have tried to like this record because Bilbo Bagginz' debut with Jeremy van Kampen, the widely-praised "Cosmology", was so great. However, despite my best efforts and many spins, I can't rate this album as highly as the previous two. As Jikkenteki suggests, the production values are superlative. The sonics are really something; every sound has its place, the tonality is superb, bass growls, treble stings and soars. Those smoking sessions with Gandalf really paid off, and Bilbo successfully refines his studio technique here. But I find the conception is lacking: there is little coherence or flow to the ideas here which span the gamut from aliens to flatlining in a hospital. This is particularly apparent in some despicable samples that rival the later 1200 Mics albums for inanity ("just say no" - would Bilbo really say this?). The cheesiness injected into the album by these asides is exacerbated by the overall vibe which is very funky. Funk grooves, jazz elements bop, but there just isn't enough food for the head whilst the feet and hips are moving. There is barely a minor key in the whole thing. This light tone, a "we are having it" attitude, is something I theoretically love, but just not in this way. Flippant may be a harsh word to use, but... There isn't any pepper with the salt, and that depth of feeling so apparent on "Cosmology" is absent. I've even wondered if Bilbo is best as a collaborator: most of his co-productions are really great. ~*~
  17. Mount Kailash meditation guaranteed. Totally hypnotic music which will give you an out of body experience if you allow it to bathe your neural matrix. No psychedelics are required because this is aural acid of the purest quality. If you don't lift at least a little off-planet listening to this, may I humbly recommend that you join the queue for Getafix's magic potion, get thee to a nunnery, do fifteen years of pranayama or otherwise reprogram your horizons. Even the slightest openness to this trip will allow you to view our galaxy, let alone our planet, from an impossibly remote distance and contemplate our irrelevance in the multiverse. It seems almost churlish, given this level of psychological profundity, to mention the significance of this album for culture generally, for music, for psychedelic music in particular. I'm not joking when I state that in my opinion this constitutes possibly the most important album in the second wave of psychedelia to sweep through popular culture; in other words, it is up there with "Are You Experienced?", "Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" or the best of early Tangerine Dream. Pretentious I know, but that is what I think. Moreover, it inaugurates the genre of psychill, psybient, call it what you will. All tracks are simply mind bending genius, but "The Answer" has one of the all time classic samples that I feel compelled to reproduce: "No one saw its approach A small point of light lost in the glare of the morning sun it had been drifting for centuries through the inner solar system like an iceberg in the ocean of interplanetary space." This track is THE ANSWER to the question you didn't know to ask. ~*~
  18. E-Mantra's "Arcana" is the best album of new school Goa trance so far in my opinion. "Arcana" is one of very few current releases that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the great works of Goa trance from the 90s. So it was with some anticipation that I got the new album "Nemesis". The title and dark cover promised something even more darkly alluring than the brilliant "Arcana". Having had it on constant rotation I am slightly disappointed to report that I'm not as wowed by this as I was by the previous great recording. The first five tracks are really good, culminating in the storming "Xibalba" which features an entrancing stomping beat, moody deep bass and plenty of space between the sounds when the acid kicks in. An addictive track with just the right amount of restraint to draw the listener in. However, for the next couple of tracks E-Mantra indulges in some high-pitched melodies that remind me of the hysterical sounds to be found in old school "hard trance" and "hard house" - not to my taste. Was Emmanuel trying a bit too hard on these tracks? I don't know. Somehow this album doesn't reach the heights of "Arcana" which was quite a bit more dark, mysterious and transporting than "Nemesis", for me at least. Don't get me wrong, this is still an excellent album which absolutely deserves to be in your collection if you're a fan of Goa trance, but I don't find it quite as atmospheric and otherworldly as "Arcana". ~*~
  19. There is a high potential for hubris in this album, seeing as it attempts an updating of Pleiadians' IFO, one of the all time classics of electronic music and the Kailash of Goa trance. Indeed, one wonders why Cristian Fernandez, one of the best of the current crop of Goa musicians, attempted this. Whatever his motivations, that this remix album is far from a lemon is a minor miracle of sorts. It is tempting to compare it to the original album, which it by no means replaces or renders redundant. One could say that the sound is better, though IFO has perfectly good sound on the original Dragonfly vinyl. One might argue that the remix is worse than the original on this track or that track. One may point out that the haunting space and flow of the original is not as apparent here. It would be plausible to argue that the more hysterical and hyper sound of contemporary trance is no match for the more organic and slightly mellower sound of old school analogue synths. However, it seems almost pointless to compare this to the original album, which stands on its own anyway, but rather to critically appreciate it in its own right. Assessed in this way, one could simply say that this is one of the best albums of late Goa trance. ~*~
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