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An analysis of why Hallucinogen - "Twisted" is so great


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I've been trying to figure out why exactly this album is so great - and there are many reasons - but here's what stand out to me after many listens.

 

In tracks like "LSD", "Alpha Centauri", "Fluoro Neuro Sponge," and "Solstice," Simon doesn't use a ton of layers, or whole swarms of melodies and sounds - but every layer he chooses is really distinct and memorable. Even though I don't like some of them (in each of those tracks except "LSD" there I find a certain melodic layer that is too harsh for my ears), they are all so distinct - they have so much character, and contrast/compliment each other so well.. The tracks have a very simple, elegant quality to them. At the same time, though, it's totally edgy, dark, and psychedelic - there's lots of mainstream trance releases that just use a few layers and they mostly all suck..

 

The problem with many of the psytrance releases that followed - especially a lot of the "full-on" and "goa/neo-goa" and "darkpsy" style releases - is that they use lots of layers and sound effects, but so many of them are easily forgettable - it's like they're going for quantity over quality.. Lots of forgettable sounds and melodies with an occasional really good melody that makes the track worth listening to.. And frequently, especially with neo-goa I find this, the melodies are all in the same key or tone range - usually high-pitched, and usually at the same pace - it all just sort of runs together.. It's like the artist has tunnel vision or something..

 

With Hallucinogen "Twisted", every layer is so distinct and stands out from itself so well - it's like he used 2X less layers than much of other goa trance, but like he spent 2X as long on each layer to make sure each one was memorable..

 

There is something too about the way Simon ties it together with repeating melodic structures - "Alpha Centauri" and "Solstice" are good examples of this - they have these repeating thematic melodies that connect everything together - so much of the full-on and neo-goa just sort of goes from one thing to the next, there's no main thematic element that unites the track and makes it stand out in the listener's mind..

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I love neo goa a lot, but you make a good point that there is sometimes a bit too much stuff going on at the same time. Cosmic Dimension are sort of guilty for this (sorry to pick on you guys). When I first tried out their album, it was a bit hard to listen to because there was just so much going on, I couldn't figure out what to listen to (though after several listens it got much better).

 

The fact that some artist in the past didn't use lots of layers and effects I really love. Like Etnica's first album, it is very simple and doesn't really have lots of layers but man do I love every song.

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There is something too about the way Simon ties it together with repeating melodic structures - "Alpha Centauri" and "Solstice" are good examples of this - they have these repeating thematic melodies that connect everything together - so much of the full-on and neo-goa just sort of goes from one thing to the next, there's no main thematic element that unites the track and makes it stand out in the listener's mind..

 

Totally my thought. It's like LSD without taking LSD!

But there's very good so-called NeoGoa albums too.

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Yah I'm a big fan now of a lot of the neo-goa - Artifact303 particularly, then Mindsphere, and some of Filteria's tracks..

 

A lot of the older goa had the same issue though, it all just sort of runs together for me - I know this is heresy, but I find a good bit of the Pleiadians/Etnica/Crop Circles tracks to be like this - lots of sounds in the same tone, all running together on top of each other.. That being said "Alcyone" is one of my favorite tracks ever :)

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I've been trying to figure out why exactly this album is so great - and there are many reasons - but here's what stand out to me after many listens.

 

In tracks like "LSD", "Alpha Centauri", "Fluoro Neuro Sponge," and "Solstice," Simon doesn't use a ton of layers, or whole swarms of melodies and sounds - but every layer he chooses is really distinct and memorable. Even though I don't like some of them (in each of those tracks except "LSD" there I find a certain melodic layer that is too harsh for my ears), they are all so distinct - they have so much character, and contrast/compliment each other so well.. The tracks have a very simple, elegant quality to them. At the same time, though, it's totally edgy, dark, and psychedelic - there's lots of mainstream trance releases that just use a few layers and they mostly all suck..

 

The problem with many of the psytrance releases that followed - especially a lot of the "full-on" and "goa/neo-goa" and "darkpsy" style releases - is that they use lots of layers and sound effects, but so many of them are easily forgettable - it's like they're going for quantity over quality.. Lots of forgettable sounds and melodies with an occasional really good melody that makes the track worth listening to.. And frequently, especially with neo-goa I find this, the melodies are all in the same key or tone range - usually high-pitched, and usually at the same pace - it all just sort of runs together.. It's like the artist has tunnel vision or something..

 

With Hallucinogen "Twisted", every layer is so distinct and stands out from itself so well - it's like he used 2X less layers than much of other goa trance, but like he spent 2X as long on each layer to make sure each one was memorable..

 

There is something too about the way Simon ties it together with repeating melodic structures - "Alpha Centauri" and "Solstice" are good examples of this - they have these repeating thematic melodies that connect everything together - so much of the full-on and neo-goa just sort of goes from one thing to the next, there's no main thematic element that unites the track and makes it stand out in the listener's mind..

 

That's definitely several good reasons as to why Twisted is so good, but fewer layers is not one of them. The quality of trance is the transition from simple layers to more complex ones, most preferrably at points to engage the listener and keep the energy going. Also, there's a lot you can do with just one synth. The kinds of tones you can derive from placing effects can make it sound a lot more complex. The idea is to make sure that every effect and every layer serve a purpose towards the mix.

 

The most interesting and subtle things come from the harmonics that occur when tones start colliding. For instance, a frequency cutoff sweep is compelling because the altered wave interacts with various other elements within the mix from the top to the bottom. Phasers likewise play with the volumes of various frequencies, emphasizing different aspects of the mix as the tonal focus shifts.

 

The visual association with the manipulation of sounds take on various forms, some chaotic, some divinely pure, some internalized, others externalized. The complexity of the layers has very little importance compared to the craft of perfecting inspired soundforms. Some people are Picassos at drawing beautiful sounds through a lot of practice and patience, some are not.

 

Finally, I just wanted to comment on the last thing you said about melodic structures. What you are referring to is song structure, something that I too agree many artists lack. I can't stand full on, prog, techno, etc because there is no song writing. One of the few artists I can think of that has written really great compositions is RA. The musical structures are so well thought out and it's often not just one thing and then another. To Sirius and 9th and I'll throw Second Phaze in there, are full of subtle musical progressions that perfectly and logically lead from one to the next, providing the kind of focus that a lot of artists don't seem to care about. I mean, sure this is goa trance and not a Beethoven Sonata, but all the same, one of the most rewarding things as a listener for me is to hear where a song goes, how it develops, where it wants to take me. Melodies, harmonies, chord progressions all captivate me far more than big fills, long breakdowns, explosive climaxes, etc.

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in plain words... twisted had more depth, more feeling and more essence than any of neogoa's productions.

 

is it our minds and perception? is it that the years have passed and we don't feel the same with new goa music? is it the modern production techniques?

 

who gives a fuck, since the mental impact that this music/sonic waves creates through the hearing process, is not the same?? :)

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Interesting comments - I agree Johnb820 with some of what you said - I'm not a musician so I can't speak about technicalities - by simple layers I mean, like take "Solstice" and "Alpha Centauri" - both tracks have just a few main melodies, that he just interchanges with each other and repeats - but each melody is so distinct and has so much emotion, psy, and catchiness to it that it comes off as such an excellent composition.. The whole track is epic - whereas with a lot of neo-goa, I feel like I'm just sort of waiting through a bunch of mediocre melodies that all run on top of each other to get to "that part" of the track where the melody I really like is - that's fine too, but Hallucinogen has such a knack for making every layer really stand out..

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Genuinely memorable melodic hooks are the biggest lacking aspect of Neogoa, and for sure Simon was a master of those. His use of acid was also absolutely revolutionary, massive acid leads in tracks like Shamanix and Alpha Centauri have phenomenal impact, another lacking aspect of comparative, modern neogoa trance.

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Crude? While not over-polished like a lot of generic music that values production over ideas, I would hardly call it crude.

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I just gave it a whirl. Sorry but I didn't like it, its just too "crude" sounding.

Banned.

 

:P joking joking.. But that is odd. Do you like older goa in general?

 

For me the reason lies in a "perfect storm" of a few things. Namely, Simons intricate understanding, and at that time no doubt, absorption of the psychedelic mindset. He really captures and creates psychedelic sounds like no others.

 

Of course along with doing a lot of them, he had to have the incredible synth and production mastery that he had, which came from his dedication at the time, and the fact he was working in a studio throughout his beginnings.

 

The third part is his musical knowledge. Phrasing, point and counterpoint, understanding of tonalities and basically just knowing solid musical theory as a base. He knew the rules and then was able to go ahead and creatively break them. Something all musicians should strive for.

 

So yeah, the perfect storm, at the perfect time.

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Banned.

 

:P joking joking.. But that is odd. Do you like older goa in general?

 

For me the reason lies in a "perfect storm" of a few things. Namely, Simons intricate understanding, and at that time no doubt, absorption of the psychedelic mindset. He really captures and creates psychedelic sounds like no others.

 

Of course along with doing a lot of them, he had to have the incredible synth and production mastery that he had, which came from his dedication at the time, and the fact he was working in a studio throughout his beginnings.

 

The third part is his musical knowledge. Phrasing, point and counterpoint, understanding of tonalities and basically just knowing solid musical theory as a base. He knew the rules and then was able to go ahead and creatively break them. Something all musicians should strive for.

 

So yeah, the perfect storm, at the perfect time.

I started my Goa journey when I stumbled on Astral Projection on YouTube, enjoyed it and then got into the Neo Goa from there. I might give Hallucinogen another chance but it sounded too much like a Megadrive game.

I do really like that Alien Pets from Prana though.

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Its great because its the essence of Goa trance in one album. To me it goes beyond the bounds of nature and grabs your head and dissolves it into liquid energy. Each powerful synth session morphs from the previous, and there is a fractal nature to everything that you hear.

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Finally, I just wanted to comment on the last thing you said about melodic structures. What you are referring to is song structure, something that I too agree many artists lack. I can't stand full on, prog, techno, etc because there is no song writing. One of the few artists I can think of that has written really great compositions is RA. The musical structures are so well thought out and it's often not just one thing and then another. To Sirius and 9th and I'll throw Second Phaze in there, are full of subtle musical progressions that perfectly and logically lead from one to the next, providing the kind of focus that a lot of artists don't seem to care about. I mean, sure this is goa trance and not a Beethoven Sonata, but all the same, one of the most rewarding things as a listener for me is to hear where a song goes, how it develops, where it wants to take me. Melodies, harmonies, chord progressions all captivate me far more than big fills, long breakdowns, explosive climaxes, etc.

I absolutely agree on that. A song needs a concept. This is what seperates good psy from muzak, but it´s a difficult thing to implement and takes a lot of time. You have put your heart and soul into your music, not just scribble down track after track.

I´m also a musician and it took me about 10 years til i was able to work that way.

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Each powerful synth session morphs from the previous, and there is a fractal nature to everything that you hear.

That's what does it for me on Simon Posford's tracks - there are barely two bars the same. Almost as soon as a new idea is introduced it's being tweaked and altered, which adds a melting, liquid, trippy nature to the music.

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Absolutely true. No other artist I heard alters the synthsouds so extensively. He is fammous for chopping the melodies, adding bullbe filters, tweaking the attack filter, and much more. He is really an incredible artist.

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Great review. Although I think Ra is also a master when it comes to tying very few layers together to make a great song. There isn't very much going on but everything fits together perfectly. Every layer is complementary to the others and they're all memorable.

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In my words:

 

He took the concept of 'psychedelic' and put a musical spin to it, as opposed to taking the concept of 'music' and putting a psychedelic spin to it.

 

That means the music served the psychedelia, instead of the other way around. Also, even though I'm not as much into Shpongle as a lot of others on this forum are, they come across the same way to me.

 

While I'm almost always on the side of the music over any message it's a medium for, some great music has been made as a vehicle for a message. To me, Twisted is kind of like that. Although it's not so much a message like the politics of 60's anti-war stuff or some punk rock, it's kind of a message in a primal, visceral way.

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I just gave it a whirl. Sorry but I didn't like it, its just too "crude" sounding.

 

You know, Manxcat, when I first heard "Twisted" I didn't like it either - and for pretty much that reason - sounded harsh and almost like a video-game. But now I love it, at least the tracks I listed..

 

I totally agree with what Vercohr said above - the music serves the psychedelia, not the other way around - it's just primal, unfiltered, psychedelic brilliance.. Specifically, "Twisted" is the LSD sound, the sound of the minds of the acid-tripping goa culture - it captures the semi-synthetic, alternately beautiful, alternately dark, wild wild ride that acid is - when I listen to "Twisted"it really takes me somewhere emotionally, and takes me into Simon's mind as a young psychedelic musician..

 

Hux Flux - "Cryptic Crunch" is similar for me - very raw, very brilliant, totally inspired by psychedelia - and didn't like that one the first time I heard it either..

 

"Inspired" - maybe that's the word for it - some albums just sound way more inspired thn others - like the artist just absolutely had to get out what was inside of them..

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