Today, we dive into the world of dance music once again. We will journey into a psychedelic trip. Driving beats, organic sounding leads and pulsing basses. Today’s journey will take you into the mind trip of psy-trance.
Psy-trance can be characterized by it’s arrangements of synthetic rhythms and complex layered melodies with a high tempo drive behind it. Slowly evolving through the track, psy-trance takes you on a ride through the senses (in short, a sonic acid trip).
Psy-trance was mainly recognized in the underground and hardcore scene. In recent years, it has branched out and became more popular in the dance scene. While it has become more popular, it is still on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of dance music diversity. The genre itself has spawned many sub-categories and genres of it’s own including, but not limited to the likes of “full on”, “dark psy-trance”, “progressive psy-trance”, “psy-breaks” and “psybient”.
In most cases, psy-trance and goa trance are included in the same lot due to their main concepts being essentially the same. (Specifically the origins being from a place called Goa and not necessarily due to it’s sound) However, after years of reshaping and reforming, the term “Goa Trance” didn’t seem to fit with the new style that emerged and thus, a new term was coined and psy-trance began spreading.
Psy-trance typically has an energetic sound and fast pace, around the 140 to 150 bpm mark. A sustained feature in the genre is a driving bassline (typically on the up beats) that layers various synth rhythms on top to add to the drive. Modulated and filtered synth work fills in the rest with, usually, haunting sounding pads in the background to help fill in the space. A typical psy-trance track can feature multiple lead sounds [main melody sounds], which can change frequently, even in as little as eight bars of music. Track length is normal for dance music, around 6 – 8 minutes in length but can run longer in some cases. As stated earlier, the main leads and melodies often feature heavy modulation on “cutoff/filter” frequencies, sometimes rapidly and other times slowly and evolving. In the case of vocals, there are usually none. However, in some cases, audio clips from the likes of news programs, movies and TV shows are inserted into the “breakdown” aspect of the track. Usually these clips have heavy effects on them such as reverb and delay. For the drums and percussion aspects of the genre, usually minimal is better. Your basic bass drum is on every down beat and high hats on the up beats. Percussion is used very lightly, if any, and is typically pushed into the background to help accent the rhythms on the main basslines and synth work.
Psy-trance offers a different and albeit, darker form of dance music. Gone from this genre are the highly melodic aspects of popular known dance music and in return, are given repeated sonic rhythms and driving modulated synth leads. The genre does as it should. It takes you on a trip. If music was a space odyssey, psy-trance would take you to the edge of the cosmos and then..push you further into the unknown. It’s all about the journey, not the destination nor the start.
Listed below are some examples of psy-trance.
Astral Projection – The Prophecy
Outside The Universe – Other Dimension
Killerwatts feat. Waio – Wake Up (Symbolic Remix)
Gaudium – Laws of Nature