Goa is trance, but not Goa trance. To understand this syntactical nuance, it must be known that the latter was a form of electronic dance music which originated in the Indian state of Goa in the ’90s, when ex-pat hippies moved from bongos to Roland synths.
It has since gone on to help sell an unfortunate amount of orange pants and alien paraphernalia.
The former is Goa, a Montreal band whose variety of trance is rooted more in the Krautrock sounds of Can and Hawkwind and the psychedelic cacophony of Boredoms and early Butthole Surfers.
More than just a re-hashed survey of experimental psych-rock of the past 30 years, Goa finds inspiration from a wide spectrum of sounds to achieve their sonic barrage of yelps, beats and electronic weirdness. They draw on everything from the ultra esoteric to the surprisingly poppy.
“My record collection is like a wall of weird primitive ethnic Folkway recordings,” explains Goa front man and founder Philippe Lambert. “This music always spoke more to me because it had this strange abstract feel, where you don’t understand the language or the scales. It was much more appealing than something completely familiar.”
But when tracing back to the origins of Lambert’s unique vocal style and his fascination with abstract musical arrangements, there is one man who started it all – Michael Jackson.
“I’d be in fourth grade in front of my class dancing and singing, just imitating Michael Jackson. He’d have these weird little sounds, like screams and yelps in his singing, and I kind of just removed the singing part and kept the noises.”
Having disappeared from the Montreal scene for two years, the band has returned with Goa 3, a new album of material recorded between 2002 and 2007.
“This is a weird record,” says Lambert. “It doesn’t sound like our past albums. It’s like Daft Punk doing psychedelic, with elements of Pigmey music, repetitive chants, and weird building rhythms that sound almost like minimal techno.”
Choosing to forgo the conventional approach of using real instruments Lambert and co. have developed their own method of making music, taking an array of electronics, microphone sampling and feedback, then arranging and structuring them into a song.
“Everything’s played by hand, there’s no looping in what we do, it’s just us playing, so there’s always shifts, but at the same time it has this really repetitive trance feel.” Transcendence without glow sticks, I didn’t know that was possible!
Goa 3 is now available.