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Psychedelic Flashback: Tarsis – The Snake

Blog | October 2, 2007 | Updated: June 27, 2012 | Posted by Basilisk

Tarsis; photo from chaishop.com

Sebastian Krüger (SBK) and Linus Wessel began working together in the mid-nineties as part of the group Digital Sun. Their first substantial success came with the release of the tribal-influenced Goa trance album The Spiral Of Power on Polytox Records in 1997. That same year, Wessel and Krüger founded Tarsis to explore a “progressive” approach to trance music, emphasizing slow-building arrangements and cutting edge production techniques. After signing with DJ Antaro’s Spirit Zone Records in Germany, Tarsis debuted on the Tathata II compilation with the original version of Atomic Children. Instead of merely elaborating on the melodic exuberance of the Digital Sun project, Tarsis challenged listeners with sleek, stylized grooves and subtle hypnotic effects. This paved the way for Vacuum (1998), the first of several full-length albums from Tarsis.

Vacuum represents a pivotal moment in trance history. In many ways, this deeply progressive Goa trance album can be considered an important forerunner to the rise of the minimal movement that swept across Europe in 1999. Melodies are few and far between–instead, Tarsis focuses on intricate rhythmic programming, the mesmerizing interplay of atmospheric themes, and the evocation of a sublime cosmic feeling. Rather than assault the listener with a frantic barrage of screaming leads (as many contemporary Goa trance producers had been doing with ever-increasing complexity), Tarsis emphasizes the importance of the space between the notes.

Nowhere is this refined approach more clearly heard than on the hauntingly beautiful opening song, The Snake. Vividly capturing the emptiness of the starry void, The Snake substantiates the outer space motifs at the heart of Vacuum, providing form and substance to the deeper artistic aims of the Tarsis project. Underscoring its importance, The Snake was selected by Sebastian Krüger himself for Nova-Tekk’s Eternity Vol. 2, an all-time “best of” compilation. German producers are often overshadowed by X-Dream, one of the most consistently influential groups in trance history, but Tarsis should not go unrecognized for their contribution to the development of progressive and minimal psychedelic trance in the late nineties.

Listen to The Snake (Flash required):

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This is the first in a series of articles designed to profile the songs that shaped psychedelic trance history. More of the underlying structure of the project will be revealed in future postings. Please note that the streaming MP3 is provided with permission from the artist. Stay tuned for more!