Third Eye’s Ancient Future is the debut release from Psy-Harmonics, an influential Australian trance label that became a major force during the early years of Goa trance. Behind this project is the legendary producer Ollie Olsen, also known from his work as Shaolin Wooden Men. Released in 1993, this album captures the embryonic movement in transition from ambient techno to something recognizably psychedelic. There are hints of ethnic vocals and hypnotic acid lines amidst the more calm and contemplative atmospheres that characterize this album. The title of the album fits perfectly—there is a visceral sense of both the primitive and the technological in this pioneering work of trance. Highlights: You Know, Morphic Resonance, Ancient Future, There is Nowhere to Go But There.
Morphic Resonance is an exercise in simplicity that nicely sets the mood. Only about half of the song features any sort of beat. It builds slowly, deploying a single crystalline tone that seems to shimmer in the air alongside a sparse arrangement of Indian vocals. This soft and seductive opening number makes a strong first impression.
There is Nowhere to Go But There melds a minimal tribal groove with gloomy atmospheric themes in a mind-numbingly monotonous manner. The results are haunting.
Think plods along with a bass-heavy groove and light hints of sparkling synth-work. It seems a little less developed than some of the others here.
Ancient Future resembles the sound of early releases on Dragonfly Records to some extent, perhaps due to a more prominent use of acid lines. The arrangement meanders through more than nine minutes of somewhat aimless dabbling, but it still sounds decent enough.
Sea of Tranquility is an eerie piece of pure ambient music. No beats or percussion intrude on this unnerving trip into the void.
Chemical Angels achieves a sense of profundity through the use of a rich canvas of deep, atmospheric sounds. The unchanging rhythm is drab, inhibiting some of the enjoyment of the otherwise captivating detail work in the higher frequencies, but this remains a worthy effort.
You Know is the most upbeat song on the latter half of the album. It is somewhat reminiscent of Orbital’s classic song Remind, released that same year. Arpeggiated melodies swirl throughout the introduction, boldly presaging the oncoming beat. An electronic delight.
Morphic Resonance (Slight Return) is an ambient revision of the opening track, bringing the album full circle.
Ancient Future is an important milestone in the development of a distinct psychedelic trance aesthetic. It sounds like few other releases of its day, with only a few exceptions (Transmissions by Juno Reactor comes to mind). It set the stage for the rise of a distinct Australian trance culture, nurtured through early releases on Psy-Harmonics, but doesn’t seem to have made waves in Europe. In any case, this is one of the most forward-thinking albums of 1993, and anyone with an interest in the earliest roots of the psytrance movement would do well to track it down.