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Exploring the Borderlands of Techno and Psytrance

Blog | August 17, 2009 | Updated: June 27, 2012 | Posted by Basilisk

Docking Bay 5

I have been very interested in the ongoing fusion of techno and psytrance in recent months. Cross-pollination between formerly segregated movements has become the norm since the rise of the Internet but whatever it is that we are hearing now really has me hooked. And it’s not just me–I’ve received many messages from visitors asking more about the style showcased in my recent sets at Eclipse 2009, a big psytrance festival in Quebec, and Dreamcatcher, a winter solstice party in Toronto.

So, what is going on here? There has been a huge increase in the amount of creative energy flowing between techno (including tech house/minimal/whatever you want to call it) and psytrance. Many psytrance producers have opened side projects dedicated to deeper and more rhythmic dance music–essentially techno with “full-on” production techniques, hypnotic atmospheres, and an edgy attitude. At the same time, modern techno has become more (dare I say it) musical in a lot of ways, incorporating real melodies and a greater degree of complexity–enough for an old psytrance fan like myself, anyway. The success of acts like Minilogue and Extrawelt might have something to do with it–it feels like they injected a healthy dose of psychedelic vibes back into conventional techno. Or it might have been going on all along and I simply didn’t notice until Soopertrack became a surprise hit back in 2005. Whatever the case, there is a lot of excellent music coming out these days!

The bulk of this post consists of a series of lists linking to projects and labels working in the murky borderlands of techno and psytrance today. I originally assembled this information for personal reference–mainly to have some names to search for on Beatport and Juno. Now it is yours to make use of however you see fit. Be warned: the majority of the links below will transport you to MySpace profiles (sorry about that). Several consistent favourites have been marked in bold. And, if it weren’t obvious, alternate projects are in brackets (just so you can get a sense of who is behind what name).

First, a few of the biggest names representing the bleeding edge techno/psytrance hybrid style:

AstroNivo, Brisker & Magitman, Daniel Marques (Vibra), D-Nox & Beckers, Extrawelt (Midi Miliz/Spirallianz), Fiord (Antix), Fuzzion, Gabe (Wrecked Machines), Ido Ophir (Domestic), La Baaz (Paste), Khainz (Freakulizer), Miki Litvak/Elegant Universe (Domestic), Minilogue (Son Kite), Perfect Stranger (BLT), Prime Time, Riktam & Bansi (GMS), Solead (Motion/Tetraktys & Triptych), SQL

This list features an assortment of projects that are either new, upcoming, recently rebooted, fading out, or just growing into the sound:

A. Balter, Aerodrömme, Audio Junkies, Dimitri Nakov, D-Sens (Luna Spice), Duca, Elad Emek (Vanghoul), Eitan Reiter (of Loud), Hidra, Indepth, Interpulse (Mantrix), James Monro, Jurek Przezdziecki (Praecox/Epi Centrum/Bigwigs), Krane (Psychaos/Joti Sidhu), Mantik, Marcello V.O.R. (one half of Velkro), Monoxcide (Earthling/Celli Fermi), NDSA (Ticon), Pion, Rodrigo Carreira (Oxyd), Shades Of Gray (DJ Schwa & Nick West), Shuma, Sleek (Liquid Soul), Solid Snake (Omar Chelly of Tegma), Synthetic (Deedrah), Tapwatr, Trevor McGregor (Kalumet), Velkro (Gabe & Marcello V.O.R.), Wombat (Sun Control Species), Yotopia

The following list focuses on projects more associated with progressive psytrance than the new techno hybrid style. Knowing how things work in electronic dance music it wouldn’t be surprising if some of these acts were to jump on the glitchy white noise techno bandwagon as well:

Ace Ventura/Schatsi, Atmos, Beauty & The Beat, Behind Blue Eyes, Even 11 (Jaia & Silicon Sound), Flowjob, Gaudium, Jean Borelli (Orion), Johnson & Haske (Mapusa Mapusa and Bitmonx), Human Traffic (Mapusa Mapusa and DJ Golkonda), Krueger & Coyle, Lish, Maelstrom (DJ Emok), MUTe, Nyquist (FREq), Parrket, Side-A, Tegma, Ticon, True Lies/Symphonix, Visua

Now for a list of projects I usually lump together with progressive house (whatever that means these days):

16 Bit Lolitas, 9west, AGS, Alter Breed, Cid Inc (Mashtronic), Criss Source, Dousk, Eelke Kleijn, Fitalic, Flow & Zeo, FM Radio Gods, FOG/Elastic/2Kings In Motion, Inkfish, Jerome Isma-Ae, John Deere, Kasey Taylor, Leif Hatfield, Lenny Ibizarre, Luke Porter, Manuel Duego, Ozgur Can, Paulina Cewe, Peter Juergens, Roman Rai, RPO, Shiloh, Snake Sedrick, Sonic Cube, Truati

Of course there is a great deal of awesome music coming out from some of the better known names in “mainstream” techno and related genres. Here is just a short list of projects with varying degrees of crossover potential:

Animaltek, Boris Brejcha, Deepchild, Dominik Eulberg, Dubfire, Dusty Kid, Erphun, Gregor Tresher, Gui Boratto, Guy J, Henry Saiz, Ito, James Harcourt, James Holden, Jamie Stevens, Johannes Heil, Lützenkirchen, Max Cooper, Moonbeam, MOS/Manuel Sofia, Oliver Huntemann, Perc, POPOF, Robert Babicz, Signore Dito, Spektre, Stephan Bodzin, System 7, Thomas P. Heckmann, Tony Rohr, Virgil Enzinger, Wehbba, Yapacc

A few from the more psychedelic side of techtrance:

Alic, Cold Project, Cujorius One, Dan Rotor, Ectima, Excizen, KaliFrogz, Kalumet, Kino Oko, Le Saboteur (Dopamin), Manibus (Prosper), Moso Molo, Nuclear Ramjet, October Rust, Opsy, The Rockitmen

Here is a list of everything else that doesn’t fit–primarily projects that are little more than rumours or projects I haven’t had time to properly investigate (maybe you can help–is this stuff good?):

20ft Stereo (Slug), Airbus Modular (The Higher Human Form), Azorsky (Penta), Beatkrush (CPU), Chris Llopis, Electric Arc (Vishnudata), Fine Taste, Float (PhaseTech), Glen C, Glocal, Hyzer (Vibrasphere), IMPS (Son Kite & Decoy), Jab (Hujaboy), Justin Space (Tommi Sirkia of Haltya/Highpersonic Whomen/PeLinPaLa), Logiztik Sounds, NOP, Oxia, Ran Shani, Sentrafuge, Soundexile, VX (Xavier Morel & Virgil Enzinger), Weekend Heroes (DJ Zombi & Felix Nagorsky of Time Lock)

Finally, a list of labels to watch:

Air Snare Records, Attitude Recordings, BEEF Records, Blue Tunes Records, BUS Records, Cocoon Recordings, Echoes Records, EchoPlast Recordings, eVapour8 Recordings, Flow Records/Flow Vinyl, Iboga Records, IBZ Recordings, KumQuat, Lo Kik Records, Nachtstrom Schallplatten, Open Records, Plastik Park, Pure Perception Records, Soundmute Recordings, Sprout Music, Traum Schallplatten, Tree Hand Music, Tribal Vision Records, Wolf Music

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to everything that is going on–there is simply too much music out there for one person to know. But this is the Internet–and we are a hive mind! You are invited to share links to interesting projects and labels in the comments. Corrections are also welcome.


25 Comments

  • Lexicon says:

    As someone who has pretty much delved straight into this genre and plays it pretty much exclusively it is nice to see it being given a big bump from formerly psytrance DJs, and actually it is amazing to see how receptive the tribe is to this music. Much of the “trance” that is played at parties these days is derivative and boring, neither psychadelic or interesting…I really hope people open their ears and get into the groove that all this amazing techno sound is creating on the dance floors

  • BenRama says:

    Best. Post. EVER! This style of music is what makes me tick these days. I am a complete convert from the full-on to the techno/crossover realm. Sundays afternoons at Eclipse are a testament to how much the psytribe digs the crossover genres. 3 years in a row I’ve been blown away by sets from James Monro, D-Nox and Pena (oh yea MOS was great too). I hope to see more DJs make the transition from purely full-on to a more balanced approach to the dancefloor.

  • Mo'Stuff.No.Yes.Ok. says:

    Wow, it’s causing quite a stir. I disagree with one thing, I don’t think it’s simply techno + psytrance.

    I got a hold of an old friend from Europe couple of years ago and it sounded amazingly similar. I was suprised to hear it and he said that it’s a growing thing in Europe and is now taking over the dancefloors. And he was talking about his style and I believe it consisted of a techno-house-psy-funk-minimal-trance type deal, with the beats leaning towards the tech-housey type. While mentioning that many styles he was still talking about innovattive ideas being incorporated into it like influences from rock music.

    Hearing your Eclipse and Dreamcatcher sets definetely gave me a minimal impression with all those clicks and little beat loops that sound like someone is taking a few steps forward in a half circle then turns and does the same thing in reverse. It’s quite hypnotic actually. But then again, old school minimal artists swayed away from such vast soundscapes and the drumbeat’s back and forth sequence was a signature for trip hop artists back in the days which found their way later into tech house.

    Maybe that’s the trick to understanding this music, is a certain degree of open mindness to other types of music?

    Perhaps the message behind 8 styles in one song is something else?

    Well, sir, here’s my token of appreciation. Maybe we can get more of an insight into “what’s really going on” from interviews or articles from you in the future.

    I found Dusty Kid’s track on your Eclipse mix and have heard that artist on other mixes. I guess it is one of those minimal techno-trancey stuff or that lump or progressive house or whatnot. Very good nonetheless. Or maybe more with Extrawelt or Minilogue type deal.

  • Dodd says:

    Awesome post! Gots me some diggin’ to do now…

    This sound is definitely starting to spearhead itself into the west coast scene as well. Heard tons of it at Shambhala this year.

  • Basilisk says:

    I use the term “techno” very loosely around here. All the boundaries are blurred these days :)

  • Shankar (Aerodrömme) says:

    Really good post! I totally agree about the way music is changing these days. But I’m also glad its heading towards that direction. All in all, the music is becoming more accepted due to its intelligence, groove and depth. Aren’t those qualities the main component of psy trance music? Seriously, how can you not call modern Techno music a true reincarnation of psy trance?

  • Jon G says:

    Thanks for sharing the goodness. Going to dig deeply now :)

  • Heysoma! says:

    Great post Basilisk! Thanks :)

  • DjrYanMills says:

    I must concur, I watched D-Nox play the main floor at Rainbow Serpent here in Australia in 2005 and I think I had an epiphany. Has shaped my sound ever since….perfect stranger is rocking my boat a lot also

  • Timetrance says:

    yeah, I think that all the genres mentionned here (including prog house, techno and even uplifted trance) are being held toward one single direction by a bunch of producers who think that techno can bend for melodies and vice versa.
    I’ve got a friend, a techno boy addicted to early Carl Cox stuff who told me that eclipse set is techno, pure classic techno, only with low tempo, (come on??)

  • Mark says:

    How do you have time to listen to all this stuff, let alone write about it? Make more mixes so you can distill it down for us!

  • Mo'Stuff.No.Yes.Ok.There. says:

    Classic? There is hardly anything classic these days, even drum and bass sounds like trance. I remember classic techno, in fact you can hear it live at any factory, the sound of machines and conveyor belts and heavy loaders and pressure valves. People used to get off on that stuff. Really edgy stuff.

  • Sabiani says:

    Nice post!
    I play this sound in my sets for a few years now, i think it started for me with the first D-nox and Beckers EP :-)
    Here is my latest set with Alter breed, Guy J, Soliquid, etc..
    http://www.wattaz.sk/component/content/article/1/169-sabiani-set-na-stiahnutie.html

  • Rekluce says:

    awwww…….ive put in alot of time and i have a alist put together thats quite similar to this….. i say awwww cause this would narrowed down the mass of tunes that i’ve gone thru lol. it is gratifying to see that im on the right trak tho!

  • Rekluce says:

    aaaaaannnnnd….. i refer to it as “psyhouse”! as it is a genre that doesnt exsist, i find it to be a good discription of the sound. that’s been the quickest combination of words for people to understand when they ask me what kind of music i spin lol

  • Crispy says:

    Great post! You’ve helped to put a few new artists on my musical radar. Thanks. :)

  • aGh0Ri says:

    Nice post Alex. Love the groovy list uve researched. Cheers 2 dat!!

    From a producers perspective, i think one of the driving forces for heavy fusion between techno/electro and psytrance is that a lot of sample and loop libraries are out there which contain techno, minimal and electro sounds. These are high quality products from companies like Sony selling them. Many psy producers couldn’t resist using this material and their new sounds were heavily sounding like techno and electro. And it keeps goin round in circles …

  • sLug says:

    great post, describes a lot of the excitement i’m feeling right now in discovering great new music (outside the boundaries of what ive gotten stuck into in the last 10 years) :)

  • d2kx says:

    Mmh not feeling it to be honest. It just isn’t “Psy” to me. I like other styles of electronic dance music, but I differ the “fun stuff” from the “Psy” stuff. This is neither one for me :(

  • Basilisk says:

    Post updated with a bunch of new finds!

  • DJ_Psykick says:

    Great post man.
    I personally like the merging of techno into psy.
    I love the “The Delta” style and likes (Midimiliz/Spirallianz/Extrawelt).

  • Volker says:

    This is nearly exactly what psychedelic crossover is. Great list, much work. I think there is nothing other inside internet which is able to beat this compressed information. Well done!

  • SomeoneNowSomewhere says:

    Dude,you just killed my brains. This post is -wow- GREAT!

    Basilisk,
    thank you so much,for your time,and sharing all this stuff with us. ( Never too late for thanks )

    Peace,
    Dialogue with the Speakers

    PS: Fan of : Vibrasphere ( Son Kite,and all theyr project),Extrawelt(Midimiliz,Spirallianz etc)!!,Atom Based and ofc KINO OKO!

  • Philippe says:

    maybe you can add those:

    Citizen aka Zen Mechanics
    Boris Blenn (The Berlin Files Vol 1)

  • jaja says:

    for me as i come from techno its great to see these fusions though there stands alot of seperations counterparts.
    i hope you know the brilliant musician OPSIS who catches all of the darkness of techno, psy and outerspace.