From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Goa Trance (Goa, 604) is a form of electronic music that
originated during the late 1980s in Goa, India.
The music has its roots in the popularity of the Goa state
in India in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a hippie capital,
and although musical developments were incorporating elements
of industrial music and EBM with the spiritual culture in India
throughout the 1980s,
the actual Goa Trance style did not officially appear until
the early 1990s. As the hippie tourist influx tapered off in
the 1970s and 1980s, a core group remained in Goa, concentrating
on developments in music along with other pursuits such as
yoga and recreational drug use.
The music that would eventually be known as Goa Trance did not
evolve from one single genre, but was inspired mainly by EBM
like Front Line Assembly and A Split-Second, acid house, techno
(The KLF's "What time is love?" in particular), and psychedelic
rock like Ozric Tentacles, Steve Hillage and Ash Ra Tempel.
In addition to those, oriental tribal/ethnic music also became
a source of inspiration. A very early example (1974) of the
relation between psy-rock and the music that would eventually
be known as Goa Trance is The Cosmic Jokers (a collaboration
between Ash Ra Tempel and Klaus Schulze) highly experimental and
psychedelic album "Galactic Supermarket", which features
occasional 4/4 rhythms intertwined with elements from psy-rock,
analog synthesizers and occasionally tribal-esque drum patterns.
The introduction of techno and its techniques to Goa led to what
eventually became the Goa Trance style; early pioneers included
DJs Fred Disko, Laurent, Goa Gil, and Amsterdam Joey.
Many "parties" (generally similar to raves but with a more mystic
flavour, at least in early 1990s) in Goa revolve entirely around
this genre of music. In other countries, Goa is also often played
at raves, festivals and parties in conjunction with other styles
of trance and techno.
Today, Goa Trance has a significant following in Israel,
brought to that country by former soldiers returning from
recreational "post-army trips" to Goa in the early 1990s.
A great deal of Goa Trance (or now, more accurately, psytrance)
is now produced in Israel, but its production and consumption is
a global phenomenon. New "hot-spots" today include Brazil, Japan,
Serbia and South Africa. One particular underground genre that
branched off from Psy Trance is called suomisaundi (Finnish sound),
which originated in Finland. One of its trademark features is
reference to early\mid-1990s classic Goa Trance music,
and this genre is often exhibited in Finland's forest party scene.
At these parties, mostly Goa Trance and Suomi-style psytrance
can be heard.
Goa Trance is essentially "dance-trance" music (it was referred
to as "Trance Dance" in its formative years), the original goal
being to assist the dancers in experiencing a collective state
of bodily transcendence, similar to that of ancient shamanic
dancing rituals, through hypnotic, pulsing melodies and rhythms.
As such it has an energetic beat, almost always in common time
(4/4) meaning 4 quarter note pulses per bar.
Time is marked with kicks (bass drum beats) on each quarter-note
pulse, a snare or clap on the second and fourth pulse of the bar,
with an open hi-hat sound every second eighth note. A typical
track will generally build up to a much more energetic movement
in the second half then taper off fairly quickly toward the end.
The BPM typically lies in the 130 - 150 range, although some tracks
may have BPMs as low as 110 or as high as 160. Generally 8-12
minutes long, Goa Trance tracks tend to focus on steadily building
energy throughout, using changes in percussion patterns and more
intricate and layered synth parts as the music progresses in order
to build a hypnotic and intense feel.
The kick drum often is a low, thick sound with prominent sub-bass
frequencies. The music very often incorporates many audio effects
that are often created through experimentation with synthesisers.
A well-known sound that originated with Goa Trance and became much
more prevalent through its successor, psytrance, is the organic
"squelchy" sound (usually a saw-wave which is run through a resonant
band-pass or high-pass filter).
Other music technology used in Goa Trance includes popular analogue
synthesizers such as the Roland TB-303, Roland Juno-60/106,
Novation Bass-Station, Korg MS-10, and notably the Roland SH-101.
Hardware samplers manufactured by Akai, Yamaha and Ensoniq were
also popular for sample storage and manipulation.
A popular element of Goa Trance is the use of samples, often from
sci-fi movies. Those samples mostly contain references to drugs,
parapsychology, extraterrestrials, existentialism, OBEs, dreams,
science, spirituality and other things that could be deemed as
"mysterious" and "unconventional".
Goa Trance parties began in the late 1980s in the state of Goa,
India and they can take place in locations such as on a beach or
in the middle of the forest, although it is not uncommon for them
to be held in clubs. There have been attempts to formalize parties,
such as those held at Bamboo Forest, into commercial events,
which was initially met with much resistance.
The need to pay the local police baksheesh means that they're now
generally staged around a bar, even though this may only be a
temporary fixture in the forest or beach.
The parties around the New Year tend to be the most chaotic with
bus loads of people coming in from all places such as Mumbai, Delhi,
Bangalore, Hyderabad and the world over. Travelers, beggars and
sadhus from all over India pass by to join in.
However, with the proliferation of Goa Trance music across the
globe, parties are now being held at locations all over the world.
Among the most notable of these parties are the Full Moon Party
held monthly at Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand and several events held in
Byron Bay, Australia as well as Israel, Japan, South Africa and
Goa parties have a definitive visual aspect - the use of "fluoro"
(fluorescent paint) is common on clothing and on decorations such as
tapestries. The graphics on these decorations are usually associated
with topics such as aliens, Hinduism, other religious
(especially eastern) images, mushrooms (and other psychedelic art),
shamanism and technology. Shrines in front of the DJ stands
featuring religious items are also common decorations.
In popular culture
For a short period in the mid-1990s Goa Trance enjoyed significant
commercial success with support from DJs such as Paul Oakenfold,
who later went on to assist in developing a much more mainstream
style of trance outside Goa. Only a few artists came close to
being Goa Trance "stars", enjoying worldwide fame.
Among the most notable are Astral Projection, Etnica, Dimension 5,
Doof, Hallucinogen, Man With No Name and Transwave.
Several artists initially started producing goa trance music and
went on to produce psytrance instead, perhaps most notably
Electric Universe who pioneered goa trance with 2 albums in 1995.
Contrary to popular belief, Infected Mushroom had little
involvement in Goa trance. Only their first album qualifies as
Goa trance and it came in 1999 when the style of music was being
replaced by psytrance.
Experimental Goa and psytrance group Juno Reactor had their music
featured in many Hollywood movies like Mortal Kombat, The Matrix
and even Once Upon a Time in Mexico. However most of their music
featured is regarded as trance or psytrance and of a very
experimental nature. Koxbox from Denmark have Goa Trance tracks
on the sound track of the movie Pusher most notably the track
Fuel On. ESPN has featured ~30 second clips of Goa during the
scoring recaps for both college and professional games.