Ta-Dah! Its finally here, the article I’ve been bragging about. Last year’s 2012 list was psychill only, and all it was was a list with album art. Boring, right? It doesn’t entice anyone to check out the music in the least bit, unless you’re the type of person who looks for music based on album art (we are all guilty of this a few times in our life, right?). So here it is, from #10 to #1, the top psytrance and psychill albums of the year. Let me first say it was VERY difficult choosing. 2013 was a year of amazing music! I think the final list here though accentuates the best of the best. Enjoy.
10. Agent Kritsek – ‘Universe’
Agent Kritsek is Alexandros Maropoulos, who became in love with psytrance music at
12 and began manufacturing sounds around 15 years of age, with inspiration by various artists
around the scene. His music over the years has matured into this graceful eloquent style of progressive psytrance, which is highly evident in this year’s ‘Universe’, from Sawa Records. From start to finish, the album is polished, full of energy, and at times, deep and intriguing, with its many samples and hearty grooves. Some tunes on this album have you banging to the deep beats, and some tunes have you sitting in the dark dancing alone in the living room to a minimalistic progressive soundscape. It does not disappoint.
9. Elegy – ‘Imaginarium’
Elegy, otherwise known as Daniel, seeks to effortllessly perfect the phenomenon of
redefining the progressive psytrance genre with his heart felt and intense emotional music
that transforms the dancing audiences all over the world. With ‘Imaginarium’ then, it is no
wonder the album, from Ovnimoon records, rises to the top 10 list. Filled with pulsating rythms, melodies and emotional vibes, this album recognises the deepness within us all, and is able to touch the soul in all the right places.
8. Hypnocousics – ‘Into The Light’
Hypnocoustics is Joe Studt and Benjamin Wood, artists from London who have been
combining their creative efforts into developing a driving and deeply dynamic sound.
“Underpinned by chunky grooves and slamming drums, each arrangement delivers an
epic journey through a mesmeric tapestry of musical ideas and soundscapes” –
[http://www.last.fm/music/Hypnocoustics]. I could not have said it better myself. Into The Light focuses on the full-on melodic atmosphere of sound, bringing the listener into a developing story of light and energy. One could imagine dancing to this in the morning on a beach somewhere in a tropical locale.
7. Lyctum – ‘Vibrations of Life’
Lyctum is Dejan Jonanovic, and Vibrations of Life is his 2nd album, detailing the story of planets passing through our solar system. The album has a smooth presence, and presents a stunning example of the polished yet energetic atmosphere that today’s progressive psytrance provides. The tracks on this album are massive, with banging bass and stomping beats to keep you integrated into the sound.
6. Tropical Bleyage – ‘Melodic Perception’
After many EP releases, this Serbian duo have created a timeless example of melodic
full-on that goes beyond the mind’s eye with ‘Melodic Perception’. This shining album
reflects a brilliant light of sound, with sharp beats, smooth samples, and melodies that
would make your heart sing. Typical full-on can at times be over-the-top or downright
cheesy, but Tropical Bleyage fails to provide any such atmosphere in their work. Instead, this album provides the right amount of positive energy. Starting slow and beautiful the album winds itself into full power, made for a hot afternoon’s dance session on the beach, taking a moment to sip on a beverage that has a little pink umbrella in it. Yeah, its that kind of sound. It pulls you in.
5. Solar Spectrum – ‘Droplets From The Matrix’
As a co-founding member of Rastaliens and sole creator of Braincell, Ralph Freund has been around a while. He pushes the boundaries of everyday progressive psytrance music with his new release ‘Droplets from The Matrix’, on Ovnimoon Records. the album is time-tested, being played at festivals and live acts around the world. Never failing to provide deep enhanced beats and immersive textures, fans enjoy the magical experience of this album. When I first heard it, I was impressed by how deep it goes. Down the rabbit hole, you’ll never turn back.
4. E-Mov – ‘The Journey of Pan’
Coming up to #4 we have Dacru Records’ ‘Journey of Pan’ by E-Mov. According to psyshop.com, “E-Mov’s style can be described as deep, bordering progressive, melodic full on with beautiful ethnic touches throughout.” I wholeheartedly agree. The album picks up with progressive sounds where full-on leaves off, and it intermingles delightfully. E-Mov are Greeks Kostas Daikos And Vangelis Alexandris, who have put in plenty of time on the dancefloors, spinning their music that can be tuned to the full-on or twilight scene of night, or the morning playfulness of the daytime. This album brings tight subtle melodies to the deep richness of progressive psytrance, which makes for an interesting yet beautiful approach to their innovative sound.
3. Psilocybian- ‘Dreamtime’
‘Dreamtime’ is a deeply psychedelic journey that takes you deep into a lucid dream with
its ethereal aspects. Providing a lush adventure into vivid sounds and deep progressive
spaces, it is not an album to be messed with. Sasa Dukic is PsiloCybian, who began
getting into music at the early age of 13. After being introduced to psytrance, he
completed works under many different projects, but the one that stuck with him is
PsiloCybian. This particular release combines his entrancing structures with collaborations with other artists, such as Hotep and Braincell. The solo tracks provide for all the attention to be given to the unique aspects of this amazing driving forcefulness that gently plays with your mind in a child-like way.
2. Elegy – ‘Anima’ EP
I picked this as my 2nd favorite because of the title track, “Anima”. Slowly maturing underbeats eventually splash into one of the most beautiful melodies I’ve heard in progressive psytrance. The emotion the melody evokes is one of mystical wonder and could be used as a back-drop for ‘that part in the movie where the protaganist comes to an important realization’. As the melody descends, we are treated to pounding progressive beats that slice right through your brain in a soft and smooth sort of way. This leads back into the melody once again, to repeatedly steal away your breath and make you cry. Also melodic are the following tracks, “Northern Skies” and “Into Another Dimension”. If you want psytrance music that makes you FEEL emotional, this is a great one for you to check out.
And # 1 is…
1. Ascent – Secret Place
Ascent is Bojan Stojiljkovic, from Serbia, a super friendly and kind fellow, who came from a family with musical roots. He dabbled in rock bands, and then became a DJ spinning psytrance. He began producing progressive psytrance and psychill music in 2010. He has released several albums and EP’s as well as collaborations with other artists. After releasing what I assumed to be his 1 millionth track of the year, I asked him how the heck he was doing it. He replied that he has been in the studio non-stop – I
guess the music bug bit him! And it sure bit him well. His psychill collaboration with artist Argus
on “Beyond Sight” earns itself a beautiful honorable mention. But the main focus here is ‘Secret Place’, so named due to an actual secret place Bojan has that inspired him to create this masterpeice gem of an album. With insanely pounding percussive beats, this album takes you into a musical journey that none other can. When I first heard the album the track “Maya’s eyes” it just grabbed me, shook me, and made me dance in the kitchen. I couldn’t stop. Another throbbingly hard-hitting tune is “Jazbina”, a track where I noticed the typical progressive beat pounds you into complete submission and you surrender yourself into the music, letting it take you on a magical journey. I imagine meditating to this album would raise your consciousness and you’d be floating above the pyramids of Egypt eventually. This is the reason for the top spot of the year. If an album inspires you to randomly bust out doing kung-fu in your living room (especially when you do not know how to do kung-fu) then you know you’ve got something special on your hands. Kudos to Ascent, and congratulations for earning the #1 spot, of best Psytrance album of the year.
And now for the Psychill part of our top 10 2013:
10. Cosmic Replicant – ‘Future Memories’
At our #10 spot is Altar Records release ‘Future Memories’ by Cosmic Replicant,
otherwise known as Pavel, from Russia. The album opens with lush soundscapes to ease
you into a calm state of mind, then slowly builds into soothing melodies and
downtempo/ambient beats. My favorite track is “Opening Lotus” with sublime melody and other wordly beats. The fresh psychedelic chill vibrations of this album provoke a soothing
sense of well-being, quickly earning a spot in the top 10.
9. Bluetech – “Dreaming Into Being”
Bluetech is Evan Marc, a psychill/downtempo producer currently living in Hawaii, USA. His music focuses on the melodic side with a slightly mechanical aspect of electronic, which zaps electric chill vibes into your blood stream and sends it to your brain. In this particular album however, he changes his tune (no pun intended) to the more subtle, calming ambient atmospheres, giving way to subtle melody and rarely a beat. The album, its concept related to the meaning and formation of dreams personal to Bluetech, provokes an ethereal and mystical aspect to the album.
8. Koan – “When the Silence is…”
Koan are Daniel Roeth & Vladimir Sedov from Russia. ‘When the Silence is…” is a re-release from 2009, of the album ‘When The Silence is Speaking”, with added mixes, but it is so great I had to include it in the best of 2013. The album features some pretty heavy psychill beats with beautiful melody and psychedelic samples. Some of the tunes remind me of something you’d hear in an Ibiza chill club while others, pure psychedelica, make you feel like breathing in the fresh morning air on a mountain top.
7. Gomes of Kush – ‘California Kush’
Tony d’Oporto, The Gnome, is a Southern California, USA electronic dub downtempo musician currently living in Mexico, who began his foray into the scene in the early 1990’s. This downtempo album features subtle dub basslines with matching melodies and beats that provide the listener a glimpse of what it must be like to be living a chilled life out on the beaches of southern California and Mexico. The perfect soundtrack for a roadtrip to the ocean, ‘California Kush’ is pleasing to the ear, and the chilled grooves are pleasing to the psyche.
6. Slackbaba – ‘Ask’
Trying to describe Slackbaba’s sound was throwing me for a loop. It is edgy with some gritty beats, psychedelic basslines and mid-tempo grooves. But that leaves too much up to the imaginination, so according to his myspace music page at one time, I quote, “A melting pot of fluid grooves and swirling psychedelic melodies, blended with a healthy dose of dubby phatness and a touch of the ethnic.” That sounds more like it! ‘Ask’ is a detailed and finely tuned journey into the land of slightly ethnic dub basslines with a hint of acid psychedelic, and melodic piano. Good for a night time chill dancefloor, I can imagine these basslines making my heart skip a beat. Title track “Ask” and “Waterfall Serpent” are gems.
5. Ascent and Argus – ‘Four Oak Trees’
Ascent is once again back in the top 10, this time with a chillout compilatiion with Argus, also a producer from Serbia. Their sound on this album could be described as mystical and deep, making the listener attuned to nature with soft, gentle liquid pads and melody mixed with downtempo chilled out beats that enhance the completely entrancing ethereal sounds.
4. Tentura – ‘Aurora’ EP
Tentura is Alexander Pidgornyi and Stanislav Yastremsky from the Ukraine. After releasing many chill albums they signed onto Sentimony records to release ‘Aurora’, a truly remarkable psychill album. With some driving deep-trance beats and highly formative melodies, (my favorite track of ‘Melting’ is a good example of this), the album moves the listener from danceable vibe to psychill grooves fit for swaying back and forth to. It is worth a mention that this album is available for free download from ektoplazm.com.
3. Phobium – ‘Oort Cloud’
Phobium is Norweigan producer Henning Ottesen. The album ‘Oort cloud’ is a lush ambient work of space and deep trance music, that brings to mind outer space travel through the immense Oort Cloud that surrounds our solar system, where comets are born. Peaceful soundscapes underline this album, transitioning smoothly between space ambient and more mid-tempo deep grooves that soothe the soul. Look for the track ‘The cloud at a Distance’. This album is free on ektoplazm.com.
2. Tengri – ‘Shipibo’ EP
Tengri is Leo Golcev from Macedonia, also a founding member of Atriohm.
Tengri is a new downtempo project that masterfully creates rich psychedelic and tribal
soundscapes that leave the listener feeling like they are breathing fresh air from a
beautiful meadow. The Shipibo EP which was released November 14, (and artfully
mastered by Vincent Villius of Aes Dana) combines all the chilled elements one could
possibly need in 4 rich and beautiful tracks. The track “Chasing the Sun” is a favorite.
And that brings us to #1…
1. Astronaut Ape – ‘Ten Minutes Eternity’
Astronaut Ape is Oleg Belousoff from Russia. He began producing club music in 2005 and later discovered the blissful art of psychill and ambient music. He perfected his craft with the album ‘The Mirror’, from 2012. Coming full blast into 2013 he presents ‘Ten Minutes Eternity’, a lot more than 10 minutes of sheer psychedelic chill perfection. From the beginning, you are treated to a fully immersive and involving trip into an emotional and surreal brain melt of cosmic joy. A favorite of mine is the track “iWorld 2.0” with a sample at the beginning of a NOAA maritime weather announcement (from Washington State and Oregon, USA – my neck of the woods!) that bookends the track into a slowly evolving sentimental and touching dream. Oleg omits nothing in this album, combining finely tuned skill, deep feeling, and psychedelic wonder. The album includes a full mix as well, without the gaps in tracks so you can hear it as it was intended – one amazing journey. I will include a youtube of the full album for your listening pleasure – and to prove what I am saying is real.
Well that does it for the top 10 in Psytrance and Psychill. Feel free to support the artists. I will provide some general links where you may find these albums, but I recommend a more specific search as not all of these sites may have them.
An honorable mention goes out of Shpongle and their Museum of Consciousness album. It fell short of the mark with me, and it gets the “Thank you for trying” award. I listened to it so many times and nothing stood out for me. I cannot recall a single track from that album.
Please also feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts and opinions. I encourage you to listen to each youtube track and feel the music. I spent almost every single day in 2013 listening and analyzing music to provide what I felt would be an example of the best around. So I hope you enjoy.