Various Artists – “Selections 2021 V.2” (Zenon Records) [January 4, 2022]

A fresh take on the of-late high-fi psytrance trend, this EP distinguishes itself through meticulous sound design and a spin on this sometimes controversial genre hybrid that may appeal more to serious techno purists. The release is available for a free download in the link below.

Building up suspense with a drawn out, darkly cinematic and increasingly menacing ambient opener, “Together” drops suddenly into a wash of dark trance, beams of hi-fidelity synthesizer rising futuristically above the rolling bass. There’s a shared DNA of that distinct and always energizing rolling dark trance baseline, like a genetic mutant strain of psytrance, across the entire EP.

Hold the eyerolls, the sound design is meticulously plotted and the aforementioned trance roll has a real techno feel to it. Plus, this genre has been creeping into sets by major techno DJs more and more lately (consider the fact that probably over half of what Nina Kraviz plays right now is full on psytrance). There’s a feeling of traveling on some intergalactic train chugging along in a pressurized, oxygenated tunnel across the rings of Saturn towards a habitable moon. A surprisingly vast array of fresh sounds awaits you along the trip, as though drawn from a sample pack of asteroid-belt mining rigs and starships, with a few Andalusian guitar plucks and barely audible announcements from some kind of artificially intelligent train conductor thrown in for good measure.

The shear diversity of ear candy in each track is impressive. The start of ’Scamtation’ sounds like probing radar glancing off buried warheads and the groan of a galleon’s huull traveling through shallow water. “Heavy Mental” and “Fractal Joke” are the closest to full on psytrance, replete with the slightly flatulant baselines and brain-tingling zaps of high-octave synth. The psy trend is likely to stay for a while, so time to get out your Tripp pants and handmade neon Kandi and stop taking the boom boom music genre gatekeeping so seriously.

Fortunately, EPs like this may point to an upgrade to a more palatable sound within the gnre. Probably the best example of this new infusion of psytrance on this release is Engulfed, which sounds as if Anna made a track with trance somewhere in the back of her mind. The First Rainforest approaches this fusion from the other direction, infusing a trancey kick with some clever arrangements and minimal/melodic techno-esque sound profile.

-Winston Mann

Check out Dirty Epic music recommendations here.
Listen to our podcasts here.
Find out more about our Events here.

Stay up to date on the latest music from around the globe