After a self-imposed trance party hiatus for the past four months, I was really looking forward to Vortex Parallel Universe. Easter Vortex, as it’s affectionately known, has always had a special place in my heart; not only is it hosted at my all-time favourite venue but each year it promises a stellar line-up that can’t be missed.
Die-hard Vortexers may swear by the Circle of Dreams but in my humble opinion, Hillside Farm is an equally magical venue with its enchanted forest-like atmosphere and majestic canopies. This year, the dance-floor was moved ever so slightly – creating more space for stompers to get wild. And I loved how the arrangement of stalls made the party seem like a little gypsy village.
After arriving on Sunday morning, we were shocked to see how many people were leaving the party due to hectic weather conditions the night before. Nevertheless, we were prepared to weather the weather for this worthy cause! We arrived in time to catch the last bit of Deliriant (or rather the King of Psy) before Avalon came on, taking us on rhythmic journey which left me with goosebumps.
After hearing whispers about Altered States for a number of years, I finally vowed to experience the magic for myself at LUNAR 2015. After a very special weekend of fun in my all-time favourite venue, the Circle of Dreams, I decided that Altered States had lived up to its reputation as one of the smaller and more underground psychedelic gatherings, and that I would return – year after year. By the time that the next edition rolled around, I couldn’t have been more excited.
On the 11th of March 2016, I was on route to enjoy the festivities once more. We arrived just before the sound journey – an Altered States tradition which helps to set the tone for the event as well as encourage more intimacy and openness among party-goers.
Earthtone was first to deliver his beautiful beats to our hungry ears. I loved the fact that the Headspace venue was being utilised as opposed to the Circle which is routinely used as the main dance-floor at Vortex Open Source. This slight change in setting brought with it a special ambiance that is unique to the Altered States event.
When I made my way back to the dance-floor, ScamAntrix was behind the decks dishing out her psychedelicious sounds. I couldn’t help but marvel the scene before me; as the sun began to dip in the sky, shadows cast on the purple-infused dance-floor.
Hips swayed and arms swung loosely as people enjoyed the vast space available to them. Dala was next up to lead us through the sunset. After an ear-enthralling two-hour set, it was time for Bruce – the master of night-time psy – to take the stage.
It was such a pleasure dancing beneath the stars as I watched the trippy projections and light show inside the DJ box. Bruce’s driving beats pulsated from my core and spread throughout my body like electricity. Before I knew it, it was time for the legendary Moog of Mushroom Mafia to take over. To this moment, when I shut my eyes I can still feel the vibrations of Moog’s hard-hitting bass lines rattle the earth beneath my feet. The music went from strength to strength with System Theory, who led us to the witching hour, and then Talking Decks.
As an avid fan of dark psy, I can attest to the fact that Altered States never disappoints when it comes to piecing together a killer night-time line-up. Though I will admit that I was fast asleep in the comfort of my tent when the first droplets of rain came down and Drifter took to the decks.
I was roused from my sleep sometime during Kalahari Kris’s performance which was – as always – an absolute treat. I can agree with Kris when he says that high energy music makes for high energy people. That was indeed the case when the beats from Canadian guest, Nailik of Grasshopper Records, imploded through the speakers.
The party was heaving by the time that Absynth got up to play his set. During the course of the morning the dance-floor continued to fill out with freshly-faced troopers joining in for some Sunday fun. Silo followed shortly after to raise the energy with his signature sound. Regretfully, I was not able to catch his entire set but fortunately, it’s available for your listening pleasure below.
I am told that the music was concluded on the highest of high notes thanks to Prefix who is fast becoming one of Cape Town’s most loved DJs. I am sure I am not the only one who was still smiling by the time they arrived home after a spectacular weekend. Altered States prides itself in creating a space where party-goers can feel safe to express themselves, to meet new people and catch up with familiar faces.
When it comes to their events, it’s not only the music that can’t be faulted but the incredible vibe and sense of harmony that this event aims to promote. A huge thank you is due to the organisers for making us party-goers feel so completely at home, and for reminding us of the essence of true psychedelic trance music.
To the amazing beings I met and new friends that I made, I hope to see you at the next gathering – and the one after that. After all, LUNAR has become somewhat of a family reunion for our little psy scene – and it’s all thanks to your continued support. We are so lucky to reside inside the psytrance capital of Africa.
Vortex Trance Adventures has been going strong for the past 21 years and is still considered to be a special kind of gathering – one which leaves an imprint on the psyche and heart – by both the fans who attend it and the performing artists who return year after year. Located in the enchanted Circle of Dreams, a forest clearing at the “endless river” of Riviersonderend, Vortex invites party-goers to embark on a five-day-long psychedelic journey at Open Source 2015.
Skarab or rather Phill Waugh, one of the scene’s most prominent DJs and a founding member of The Village, recalls attending his first large scale Vortex event in the early 2000s at Theewaterskloof. “The goose bumps from the rumble of the rig warming up will stay with me forever,” he says. Although he’s always been inspired and excited by music, he had no intention of pursuing it until he got involved with his mates and started The Village in 2006. “Once that happened it became clear to me that a journey into sound was awaiting and so I began.”
As I arrived at my long-time favourite venue, the “Circle of Dreams,” I was struck by the beauty of Riversonderend once more. Home of Vortex Trance Adventures, this sacred clearing is nestled in a forest roughly 170km out of Cape Town. I was elated upon hearing that Altered States managed to secure this dream-space for LUNAR after a last-minute complication (or rather, a blessing in disguise).
I made my way to the dance-floor for the much-anticipated Sound Journey and was transfixed by the amalgamating rhythm. A few decorative details were strung from the branches of trees in the background, adding to the already vibrant display. Some milled about in conversion, others marvelled the gallery of artwork within the ‘The Psychedelic Dream Temple.’
I managed to capture a brief snippet of the Sound Journey on video, although I’ll confess that I was too engrossed by the magic to fumble about with technology; Altered States has a contagious aura of tranquillity about it. I sensed that even before Earthtone got behind the decks, and the beats began.
This level of intimacy and mutual understanding was more than refreshing. Creativity radiated from every carefully-painted piece of décor and party-goers were mindful of the environment around them. This was a special gathering, indeed. And I was mystified by the time Prefix guided us into the evening.
Kineticz followed, and then Killawatt, who delivered a set unlike anything I have heard before. The vibrations of his high-energy beats pulsated through the forest floor and then up, through my being. I admired the openness of the star-filled sky above, as well as the spaciousness of an un-crowded dance-floor (something that’s become exceedingly rare).
The party was heaving when Compact got into the DJ box. I stood at the centre of the floor, experiencing the energy mounting around me. Happy faces floated to and fro but all that existed was the music. Out of nowhere, large illuminated creatures emerged from the floor reaching higher and higher towards the heavens as part of an epic performance by The Psychedelic Theatre and I decided to watch in awe from the warmth of the bonfire.
DJ Drifter was up next, in place of Talking Decks. I found myself asking when the music would stop being so amazing so that I could get some rest. After much contemplation, I managed to pull myself away from the dance-floor, (though I still enjoyed the sensation of the music from the comfort of my tent).
The next day, I was woken by a friend, beckoning me to the dance-floor. Flexture was wrapping things up and I grabbed a cup of Marley coffee along the way. The tunes of the talented Bruce (a.k.a Solar Axis) started up in the distance. A woman who had been curled up in the chill area, stretched out from the oversized bean-bag she’d been sleeping on to reveal a dog cozied up beside her (“I don’t even know whose dog this is,” she told me).
The feeling of love and unity was ever-strong; I found myself being magnetised by Bruce’s early-morning set, reeling me in deeper and deeper. I closed my eyes, floating through the dance-floor once more, a grin on my face. If there’s one thing I love about Sundays, it’s a morning set from Bruce.
Feeling my enthusiasm build, I found my energy-levels replenish. Soon after, Absynth took the reins and the crowd began to fill out more and more. His banging beats echoed through the trees for two hours straight.
I could hardly contain my excitement when I noticed Flooting Grooves a.k.a Pearce van der Merwe preparing for his set (read our exclusive interview with him here). Every expectation I had was exceeded as he teleported us on a journey of sound, aided by a majestic flute.
Bernz seized the floor sometime after that and the party gained new momentum. His psychedelic sounds, composed of hard-driving basslines and uplifting undertones, once again, had me fixed to the spot. Then the sprinklers turned the ground to mud and I sunk my feet into the coolness of the earth, colours swirling around me and bubbles drifting across the scope.
It was a sad moment when I rallied my troops, knowing that it was time to head home. Unfortunately we were not able to stay for Satori’s closing set but I’ve been informed that she finished things off on a high note with some seriously killer tunes.
If there’s one thing I gleaned at this party, it’s that the principles of P.L.U.R and the original vision of psytrance is still present. These like-minded individuals who come together to celebrate the spirit of African psy are not just our friends, they’re our family.
Thank you to the Altered States crew and everyone who attended, this was the first of many! Until then, stay psyked…