Total Eclipse (Loïc Van Poucke, Serge Souque, and Stephan Holweck) were among the earliest pioneers of psychedelic trance. Along with artists like Man With No Name, Hallucinogen, Astral Projection, and Juno Reactor, they helped to define the scope of the burgeoning mid-nineties Goa trance movement. This vinyl record is perhaps their most overlooked early record; neither track received nearly as much exposure as hits like Aliens, Waiting For A New Life, and Can’t Do That. Is this due to the innate quality of the music, or is it just a matter of chance?
A tangible sense of mystery pervades the opening moments of Toxic Caterpillar. The call of a loon sets the scene: deep in the woods, under the cover of darkness, strange forms of life begin to emerge from the trees. Warbling organic bass stirs in the undergrowth, a light rhythm sets down a hypnotizing beat, and characteristic electric blips sparkle like fireflies. Building gradually, this song unwinds with a playful assortment of prominent leads. To draw a comparison, this sounds like a bridge between Delta Aquarids and the more stripped-down style of tracks like Area 51 or Pulsar Glitch, both from their second album, Violent Relaxation.
Far Beyond Speech compliments the flip-side in numerous ways. Distinctly insectile motifs can be heard throughout the song—clearly we aren’t out of the woods yet. With tension levels running high, the mood becomes much more serious. Sinister melodies lash out, harmonies intertwine, and the trip intensifies. There is something distinctly primeval about this song; it seems to allude to something buried deep within the human psyche. Of course, this is precisely what kind of territory the early Goa trance artists were interested in exploring.
As it turns out, this old Total Eclipse record is a really solid piece of work. The fact that each song compliments the other certainly adds something to the quality of the release. For CD buyers, Far Beyond Speech can be found on Distance To Goa 1 and the more obscure Cosmic Cubes 2, whereas Toxic Caterpillar is available on Phonokol’s Goa Vibes 1. If you enjoy Total Eclipse be sure to add this record to your collection!