How to skim through psytrance tracks as quickly as possible

Updated 1 year ago

Psytrance is fractal in nature. As the Hermetic Tradition postulates, “As above, so below.” You can generally grok the whole by focusing on a small part.

There is so much music today, and even psytrance has more tracks than you could possibly listen to in one lifetime. And with AI nipping at the edges, it will only get worse.
You need a plan, a ruleset, a standard, a sieve, a filter, a regimen if you have any hope to be able to keep up. And even then, you won’t. Even with all this, I myself have probably only scratched less than 5 % of the total Discography. Nevertheless, I am always sifting through new releases, mostly from people I know or producers or labels I am inclined to like, to decide what is worth saving.
I use 2 systems for gauging new tracks, active and passive.
First I make sure I have not taken any drugs (especially marijuana or LSD, because they will make everything sound good!) clear my mind, take a deep breath. Focus. Imagine myself at a party, tripping.

Active Gauging

TL: DR I play about 5-10 sec at the 1 min, ~3 min, and ~5 min mark, with the most value placed at the 3 min. mark.

The 1 minute mark is, usually, some time around the transition from the intro to the beat kicking in. You get an idea of the central motif of the track. If the 1st min mark is annoying, or what I would call “arbitrary” meaning that it doesn’t really have an apparent intent or appeal, I take note.
(If constrained for time, you can skip this first part and go straight to 3 min)

By minute 3 the beat is developing with extra tracks so you get a good idea what the bulk of the song should sound like. Here you get a good idea of everything running on most, but probably not all yet, full cylinders. Are all the sounds pleasing to you personally?
After checking this 3 min mark I usually end there. Has the producer turned something that may sound a bit rough, awkward and unfinished at first, and is redeeming it? Some fantastic artists, like Brazil’s Chassi, seem to revel in this. It is releasing its potential? I either like it, or not.

5 min is where the climax of the sound starts to develop. You can let that play through if you like. Very few tracks are redeemed by their climax, but they do exist. So if I decide to give this one more chance, if the 5 min mark is also sucky, I mark the track it as a dud (or, more usually, don’t mark it at all) and go to the next track.
Most tracks are going to be duds.

All told, you should spend about 15 seconds per track, and can zip through an EP or album in a minute or two.

This is all very subjective. Some sounds will be noises to some, some not.

This system takes advantage of the fact that music today is like water from a faucet. It needs to appeal to you immediately without being primed with previous listens. You shouldn’t be too demanding and force the listener to make an effort to get into its groove. That is self-indulgent, which may work for your friends, but not the general public. It should not be like, say, progressive rock, or like the Synchronicity album from the Police, impenetrable, where it sounds awkward and arbitrary on first listen, and demands multiple listens to germinate. Psytrance is immediate experience/drug music and should not throw you any roadblocks.

And this is how almost everyone will first encounter it on their headphones, or on a dancefloor.

The key is to find the diamonds in the rough.

A final shout-out to ye goode olde days of Goa, when things just weren’t as sandblasted into conformity, or as formulaic. Shit was amateur, screwy and unpredictable, like a mushroom trip. I love it.
Early Goa really challenges any attempt to speed read it, if not break it.

Passive Gauging

If you are of a more casual bent, just do what we all do normally. Play mixes from compilations, or great Youtube channels while you are working. Find labels you really like (I am currently into going through Zenon Records excellent body of work). Every once in a while it will pull your attention to the music, and you’re like Damn, that’s good. Shazam it if possible, or triangulate through the Youtube liner notes or Discogs. Done and dusted.

Recommended channels for this:
Tranceam’s Psytrance Playlist and its associated array of genres
Goa Dark – this guy is relentless and most of his mixes are very good
Mr Lemica1 – Festivals, Glidebros
Psychedelic Universe
Trancentral – Formerly Isratrance, Glidebros
Destination Goa

Napster 2023 40x40 Indigo Ico Bigger
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x