Tribal Science

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Concept In Dance was a short-lived division of XL Recordings responsible for releasing Man With No Name’s debut album and two compilations essential for any old school Goa trance fan. Featured here is an all-star line-up of some of the biggest names in trance then and now, with stellar contributions from Simon Posford, The Infinity Project, Psychaos, and Cydonia. Tribal Science is a solid sequel to Digital Alchemy and should be considered essential for any fan of the more hard-hitting and acidic side of early UK Goa trance.

Concept In Dance benefited from the promotional power and business savvy of their parent label XL Recordings, and even managed to break into the North American market through a licensing deal made with Moonshine Music. As a result, Tribal Science became one of the most widely distributed of the “first wave” Goa trance releases alongside TIP Yellow, Order Odonata 1, Hallucinogen’s Twisted, and Astral Projection’s Trust In Trance. Each of these early hits had an impact on the development of the psychedelic trance subculture, defining the initial parameters and defining the “Goa trance” aesthetic.

Early reviews (pre-1997) attest to the quality of Tribal Science. Here is a comment from Astral Ben made on TRiP:

Certainly the GREATEST Goa/techno compilation of the year 1995! It always has a place on the “top 10” of my favourite albums.

Years later, Milton D. made a particularly strong recommendation, also sourced from TRiP:

I only just bought this album in 1999, and I simply love it to no end!! Though it is an older sound, the songs still hold up because they are actually good songs: melodies, harmonies, actual key modulations and progressions, very fun polyrhythms, and enough layering to keep your ears quite busy. Definitely way better than most ‘dance’ tracks. Even now, 4 years later after this album originally came out, I think it album is totally worth having. It is one of my most frequently recommended ‘goa’ CDs. This is LIGHT YEARS ahead of Vol I of this series (which I bought based on the strength of this CD). Not that volume I is bad, but it really doesn’t hold a candle to this CD. This is truly top notch music! Comparable to TIP ‘Orange’ (though not as hard) Everyone should make the effort to get this.

This sentiment is widely shared; Pit-UFO writes on Psynews in the year 2000:

This record is to blame for tuning me in and convincing me to drop out. Its The Dark Side Of The Moon for psytrance. A real jewel that even today gives me shakes.

Universal Sound begins the compilation with Asteroids, a playful song with a chunky groove predominantly populated with glassy sounds that shimmer, sparkle, and shatter. Nice one.

Silicon Trip is vintage Man With No Name: clean and crisp percussion, smooth layers of spiraling melodies, and a fat analog underside. Trippy, cosmic, and full of spirit—this is what the old style is all about.

The Infinity Project team up with Simon Posford on Squidgy Atomica, an epic masterpiece of early psychedelic trance. The name could not have been better—this track is loaded with strange wriggling noises that sound just like the emanations of some majestic otherworldly cephalopod. Brilliant!

Joti Sidhu’s early work as Psychaos is all about intensity. With this self-titled debut, Psychaos was defined with a powerful acid-drenched manifesto. The beats are raw and insistent, possessed with a mission to devastate the unsuspecting dance floors of 1995. The sound quality is somewhat rough on this one, but that is part of the charm. This is a storming tune for the dirty warehouse scene of the mid-nineties.

The second track from Universal Sound is an odd one. Charged is as chunky and playful as the opener, but the leads have become somewhat screwball. If anything, it sounds something like the very early productions of fellow UK trance artists OOOD and Quirk. Not as good as the rest.

Prana disappoints with Fiesta. Nick Taylor and Tsuyoshi Suzuki construct an appealing set of excellent tribal Goa beats, layer it all in spectral sound effects and acidic melodies, then lose the plot with a tacky instrument in the second half. It is enough to spoil the track.

Cydonia originally consisted of Dino Psaras and Steve Ronan; the same line-up as Ayahuasca without Joti Sidhu, essentially. They were later joined by Iain Rive of Universal Sound and signed to Blue Room Released. Martin Freeland has a hand in assisting Psaras and Ronan in making their first-ever release as Cydonia: Animals. The rhythm section sounds like any other Man With No Name creation of the day, but it is the wailing high-end melodies and massive atmospheres that make this one an enduring classic. Cydonia would later go on to rework this song as Animal People on their debut album In Fear of a Red Planet (1999).

TIP return for another round with Ego Shredder, another solid piece of old school psychedelia. Posford once again provides engineering duties. The sounds on this one are beautiful, terrifying, and completely expressive. The sound quality may seem primitive, but in terms of composition and arrangement, this is very advanced. It all begins right here. Fantastic stuff!

Man With No Name demonstrates his more energetic side on Adrenosphere. I find this song very clean and accessible, with a victorious sound that would have made it mighty compatible with the mainstream trance of the day. In other words, this is just the sort of thing that would have made Paul Oakenfold’s playlists back in the day.

Perception of Reality, mixed by Man With No Name, is the second offering from Psychaos. The Freeland touch is less evident on this one, but it isn’t impossible to discern. The hard acidic vibe of Joti’s eponymous debut is muted by swirling analog melodies and cryptic sample usage, making this piece particularly suited for inner travel. “There is nothing real outside our perception of reality.”

The haunting mystique of Space Tribe and Hallucinogen’s Flipout the Dolphin finishes the compilation on a high note. Posford’s synthetic wizardry is once again evident; the composition is complex, mysteriously, and utterly captivating. The eerie qualities of this finale seem to conjure visions of forgotten lore and ancient rituals. With this last offering the journey is complete.

Tribal Science deserves to be known as one of the all-time classics of Goa trance. While there are a few tracks that sound terribly dated by now, the bulk of this release remains very listenable more than a decade later. The high points include debut appearances from Cydonia and Psychaos, two classic TIP tunes, and the heavy involvement of Martin Freeland and Simon Posford. Anyone interested in the early sound of Goa trance would do well to investigate Tribal Science.

Styles

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