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VA - Carpe Noctem (Suntrip)

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80 minutes of melodic forest and dark goa trance! There's so much detail and variety here, it took me so long to finally write the review. I always feel like I have to listen to every track carefully many times before even sitting down to write, and I guess that's true of every reviewer here, so it's no wonder that it took so long to appear on the review forums.

Anyway, this style of tripped-out madness and focus on darker timbres is exactly what I like. So I appreciate Suntrip releasing many darker albums recently.

1. Spindrift - Deeper Reality
A new age sample from an Australian yogi kicks us off into a thick and squelchy bassline. At 1:40 a secondary melody appears and complements the bassline well together with all the liquid background noises. The texture of this track is great! At 3:00 there's a mini breakdown then finally the main melody, very catchy and big Indian vibes even for goa. I love the moment at 3:45 where the bassline suddenly comes more to the foreground, together with the reverbing percussive element. A breakdown section leads us eventually to another yogi sample at 5:00. Unfortunately the track starts to lose my interest around this point, there are some additional effects applied to some sounds and Shponglisation of the yogi's voice but overall nothing new in the last few minutes - it could have used another melody or a modulation in the second half.

2. Smuds - Betarave
Wonderful mysterious intro leading into a classic "backwards" sounding bassline around the 1 minute mark. At 1:50 things are suddenly switched up with the atmospheric pads getting replaced by hi-hats and flanged shroomy effects. A really weird melody leads us into a bizarre reversed transition at 2:42. Super psychedelic creativity in this track, the whole middle section justs bombards us with novel trippy sound effects, with a mixture of sections sounding wide, echoey, and tripped out, and other sections sounding very tangible and present. 6:25 for instance withdraws a lot of elements that had built up and staggers the lead elements over the bassline in an infectious way. It takes all the way until after 8:30 when first hints of a developed melody are introduced and it's gorgeous, only lasting a small amount of time before the bassline simplifies and brings the track to a strong end.

3. Dragon Twins - Eating Crow
Starts off a lot scarier than the previous few tracks, with tense high-pitched leads and a spooky sci-fi atmosphere, plus a punchy kick and deep dark bassline rather than the bouncy foresty ones. Around 1:05 the psy lead sounds a bit more upbeat... a hint of light maybe? But it's just an illusion, the track continues being unsettling. And although it's not very danceable, I'm still excited about what it's building up to. But then at 2:10 the synth sound that comes in is just annoying, and it gets even messier with screaming voices being added. Don't like that at all. The acid in the section starting around 3:35 is really nice, and the new couple minutes would be good if not for the screaming in the background. The track ends with an extremely chaotic climax with several of the previous elements being brought back. Maybe I'm just a wimp but I found this track offputting, with most layers sounding completely wrong, a bad trip (and not the good kind). Perhaps it will appeal to more hardcore listeners.

4. Omnium - Omnipresence
"Back to the dark ages". The intro of this track sounds like a ray of light compared to the last, with a really fun bassline cropping up within the first minute and tantalising goa melodies. But at 1:30 it switches to a different bassline altogether that's less interesting than the first one, with tearing sound effects and a lack of anything much going on in the foreground. Finally at 2:45 a melody that reminds me of Mindsphere's early stuff takes centre stage with the tearing and crashing continuing in the background. 4:00 sees the bassline simplify even further and 4:30 is a nice transition, but the track still isn't capturing my attention much. The last minute and a half are the best part since the beginning. Overall I feel this was an awkward attempt to graft forest effects onto melodic goa, and Omnium's Neural Geometry album had several better tracks with a lot more energy than this.

5. Proxeeus - Breaking Down The Barrier
Absolutely galloping bassline that reminds me of Hallucinogen Horses, with echoey drums and vague foresty noises. At 1:30 the shroom gnomes start dancing their melody. Around 3:00 there's a breakdown and a nicely-tuned 303 gives us something to grasp on to, and at 4:10 enters a dissonant scratchy loop which opens up into a beautiful wide psy synth 4:45. From 5:45 there's an extended break down, starting off with some nice percussion and some quieter melodies. This part of the track is unexpected and just outstanding, giving space for an absolute belter of a psychedelic crescendo to start mounting at 7:40. What a journey, the highlight of the album for me and it's hard to imagine many other tracks released in 2021 can match the energy and pacing of this one. It has momentum, focus, and structure which none of the previous tracks so far can touch.

6. Xenomorph - Lost In An Old Junkyard
Xenomorph is one of my favourite artists and almost the only one still producing 10/10 work today, so I eagerly anticipate any new tracks released by him. Dying Sun was the best composition on the Gamma Draconis release but unfortunately poorly mastered for some reason, so thankfully there is not the same issue here. After a typical creepy start with whispering voices, we get a haunting melody, dripping sounds and a chugging bass. Around 2:20 the melody is super rhythmic, and transitions into deeper and deeper psychedelica, until around 4:10 suddenly rolls back to the melancholic beginning sounds again. At 5:00 there's a high-tech chorus building up into a nice change into a new melody at 5:45 and bouncy alien voices. It again goes deeper and deeper before slowly rolling down. Overall while this track was very psychedelic, it wasn't as coherent as Dying Sun and lacked some truly standout elements. Still solid work though.

7. Ka-Sol - Dance Of The Locusts
Weird UFO-like noises kick this off and after 1:00 it slowly builds up into a crunchy in your-face multi-layered muddy bassline that Ka-Sol likes to use. I really don't have much to say about this track, it's too repetitive and runs out of ideas quickly, and is far from Ka-Sol's best.

8. Battle of the Future Buddhas - Pitchbend
Title of this one doesn't lie as it immediately starts with a dramatic sounds that gets pitch bent up and down. Very squelchy acid low-end is slowly introduced and takes the fore after 1:30 and remains throughout most of the track. Spooky synth wails at 2:00! A trademark BOFB melody kicks in, and at moments I'm reminded of the classic first album Twin Sharkfins. At 3:50 there's a Blade Runner sample, which is a bit unexpected since that movie (especially that character) is a cliche as far as samples go. Anyway, around 4:25 there's a slight switch as the bassline suddenly starts walking downwards heavily at the end of each 4 bars. From 5:00-6:00 the track loses my interest a bit due to a lack of tonal variation / standout lead elements, so it's good that at 6:00 we get a melody that really emphasises the thumping bassline. The climax starts building with a beautiful colourful arpeggio, soon joined by the original pitch bent sound. Suddenly the low end drops away, replaced by a resonant synth. What a spine-tingling ending!

9. L.A.B. - Spellbound (Hada Remix)
I don't remember hearing any tracks from this artist before, checking Discogs I may have heard him on Schlabbaduerst 005. Then I realised that this is actually Hada's reinterpretation of L.A.B.'s classic track. Starts off with an explosive burp and then a melody that's reminiscent of Israeli upbeat goa but with scary high-pitch sound effects in the background. At 1:00 the melody tone suddenly changes from a lead to some silly wailing sound, how funny! At 1:30 it changes once again to a more flowing foresty synth that really complements the tight bassline. Around 2:00 there's an even more upbeat sounding melody that to be honest is nice to hear after so many tracks without such a thing. Around 3:00 the buildup has just been sublime and I am dancing and grinning like a madman! 3:20 has another cheeky breakdown with laughter. It's playful and great up until 5:10 where there's a key change that's not executed super well imo, but it recovers when the brilliant Power Source-like melody kicks back in at 6:00. The last minute and a half break-down is well done. This track was a fantastic blend of more goa like melodies with forest with many twists and turns. I just listened to the original track and much prefer this interpretation.

10. JaraLuca - Flashbacks
Really strong intro here with a resonant bassline and off-beat kick. Quite refreshing to hear some different kick patterns after so much four-to-the-floor. From the start until 2:20 it grows into an absolutely savage brain-melting acid climax. Then transitions into a more developed 303 melody, with a big atmosphere that keeps the tension building as the frequency knob on the 303 is slowly released. At 3:50 the next changeup comes, sadly the melody here is a little lame. The wide rhythmic synths at 4:55 are wonderful. Soon after 5:20 the killer acid lines are back. They don't match the intensity of the initial buildup, and it feels like some potential was wasted in this track for the second climax. Never mind, the intensity of the first few minutes made up for it. Overall this track appears slightly out of place on this album, being heavy and industrial rather than more subtle/deep and forest-like, but it pulls it off nicely.


Favourites: 2, 5(!), 6, 8, 9(!), 10

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  • 1 month later...

"Turns out this thing goes deeper than I imagined!"

Does it though?

I haven't done one of these for a while so...here goes!

Suntrip has been the gold standard for goa trance since 2004 and with this compilation they are merging the very compatible styles of goa trance and forest psytrance. Two projects that should immediately come to mind are Ka-Sol and Battle of the Future Buddhas and they are indeed represented here. First thing to take note of is the very nice cover art. On that front Suntrip rarely disappoints.

Deeper Reality opens things up with a rather benign and timid entry that is easily forgettable.

Smuds's marriage of their bassline and kick instantly make for a groovy situation, but aside from some juicy sound effects there really isn't much to grapple with. Another long effort without much direction.

While the first two tracks barely scratched the goa surface Eating Crow is a more detailed affair. It builds, screams with a very Buddha-esqe lead, and had plenty of bubbling sound effects. The eerie night time forest walk vibe is maintained. While not perfect it's head and shoulders above the first two tracks.

Omnium's Omnipresence does a good job of hitting hard with a lot of juicy, and bubbly effects along with some nice goa melodies. Liked it.

Proxeeus has been busy lately with compilations, his own albums, and even his own offerings of downtempo and ambient. This track wastes no time hitting the ground running. There's swirling effects, gurgling goa leads, and layers of madness. Another thing in this track's favor is it allows itself to re-emerge with a different focus even though the kick never stops. It's darker and heavier than his usual fare, but it's super good.

Xenomorph had THE track of the previous Suntrip compilation Gamma Draconis with Dying Sun, but this is different. It's spooky and dark with lots of sound effects. Decent.

Never liked Ka-Sol. Sorry if that offends, but I just never did. Hey I don't like kale or lentils either, but that doesn't make me a bad person. However, Dance of the Locusts is hands down my favorite track by this project. It's intricate layers encapsulate what a dark, Nordic forest would be and just hit me right. That deep groovy bass? I'm telling you. Even though there aren't a lot of surprises it's length makes it more appealing.

No goa/forest hybrid would be complete without the Buddhas. This style is what they do. I've always been on the fence with them. Some tracks I've loved and some...I haven't. Pitchbend is a thumping track meant to wear down your defenses until you succumb to their forest wishes. Unfortunately it's rather boring without a lot of evolution, but the difference here is that it goes on for over 9 minutes.

Hada made some waves with his Once Upon A Time Release last year which was a sublime mixture of forest and goa trance. Seems like he would fit right in here and it does, sounding spooky and playful at the same time. He does a good job of combining the two genres and while I preferred his album this was a decent track.

Flashbacks is a storming and eerie industrial sounding goa trance track!  DId he use the well known sound by Prodigy in FIrestarter? Bravo! This sounds like something Tim Schuldt or Syb Unity Nettwerk would have dreamed.


Bottom line? Perhaps the mixing of the two genres isn't as easy or compatible as I thought. This is a decent compilation with mixed results. The good tracks are really good, but the weaker ones all follow the same pattern. Too long without any direction. I think combining these genres can be explosive and descriptive when done well. Suntrip did a decent job putting this together, but I have to believe there are better tracks out there that can take this genre mix to higher levels.

P.S. I just read the review above mine and it's amazing how points of view can differ. And I love it.

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On 3/18/2021 at 3:25 PM, Trance2MoveU said:

P.S. I just read the review above mine and it's amazing how points of view can differ. And I love it.

Yes it's interesting indeed to see how we have almost the opposite opinion on several of the tracks. I'm guessing with the number of hearts that more people share your opinion. Or they just like your more-to-the-point review style better.

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13 hours ago, acid-brain said:

Yes it's interesting indeed to see how we have almost the opposite opinion on several of the tracks. I'm guessing with the number of hearts that more people share your opinion. Or they just like your more-to-the-point review style better.

Who knows? After a few more listens perhaps I'll be closer to your POV. People's taste can be all over the place and for that we should be thankful. Bottom line the album is still worth picking up and it leaves me hopeful for the next release.

And the next...

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On 2/2/2021 at 4:25 AM, acid-brain said:

most layers sounding completely wrong,

Maybe i am the Dragon-Twins-Fanboy of the forum ;-) , because i like all tracks of this project - its experimental, brave, sounds fresh and also oldschoolish raw. And its no surprise, for me this track is the best of the compilation. What do you mean, "most of the layers sounding completely wrong?" Harmonically? For me its sounds right, all works fine. No wrong notes. :-)

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I can imagine for hardcore goa fans these tracks are a bit out of the "usual" and not their taste. But... I always was a fan of more foresty realms as well.
Where in pure goa-trance the progression is mostly done by change of melodies, in foresty tracks its more about atmosphere, percussions and extra sounds here and there of course. I saw this compilation is a hit or miss. Some love it, some hate it. Very weird but ok... With Suntrip our goal is to release all facets of goa-trance :) 
But I appreciate every feedback! :) With Khetzal & Median project we are back into melodies!  

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On 3/26/2021 at 5:53 PM, GhostOnAcid said:

Maybe i am the Dragon-Twins-Fanboy of the forum ;-) , because i like all tracks of this project - its experimental, brave, sounds fresh and also oldschoolish raw. And its no surprise, for me this track is the best of the compilation. What do you mean, "most of the layers sounding completely wrong?" Harmonically? For me its sounds right, all works fine. No wrong notes. :-)

That's really interesting especially as Trance2MoveU also liked the track. The best way I can describe it is that the choice of sounds send me spiralling straight into a "bad trip". I can't appreciate it psychedelically at all because I feel it's going to send me into a dark place. That's caused by the timbre and composition of different sounds rather than the harmonies. And this is coming from a big fan of Xenomorph and other dark goa. Strange.

I'm more of a forest-head and I thought this was overall a strong release. I can understand why from one perspective a track like "Betarave" would be seen as lacking direction, or "Pitchbend" would be seen as not developing enough, but the focus in these genres is on different areas (as Anoebis said) and for me they do a better job at bringing me into the trance state than most other stuff out there. And these differences in opinion probably just point to fundamental differences in taste, and as was said above, it's a great thing that Suntrip is putting out different releases to cater to all of us.

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