Every year, Origin Festival promises a full weekend of music and revelry to party-goers who flock from all walks of life to join in on the celebration. Dance, comrade, freedom of expression—these are just a few of the threads which unite our psytrance community and make it one of the most unique scenes in the world. At Origin, it’s easy to get a sense of that.
As one of the largest outdoor psytrance festivals in South Africa, Origin is revered not only for its impressive line-ups but visionary art and psychedelic culture, too. Plus, it’s pretty cool that they’re striving to be a more conscious event by incorporating a strong ethos into everything they do, which includes protecting Mother Nature. Needless to say, Origin is definitely more than just a party—it’s an experience—and one of the most beautiful music events in Africa. Hosted at Elandskloof farm in Helderstroom, one cannot help but be marvel the world-class level of production that Origin aspires to (and achieves) year in and year out with the support of Good Time Events and the Nano Records crew.
As 2017 comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of the best outdoor music festivals of the year. Jungala Festival, hosted by PsynOpticz Records at the ever-popular Buffalo Drift venue on the Berg river, is one of the largest and most eagerly awaited outdoor festivals on the psytrance calendar. This year, PsynOpticz transported its party-goers to what felt like a slice of paradise and we’d like to take a moment to relive some of the memories.
Ridiculously awesome decor by ZARAZbrought the Isle of Jungala to life this year (with jungle totems and the circle designed by Christopher Dowding and decorated by Artescape) while entrancing lighting and mind-blowing sound from Magnetic Storm Cape Town provided a powerful visual and audio experience that won’t soon be forgotten. In fact, we feel like inserting a few heart-eyed emojis just thinking about it. If you weren’t there, fear not. We’re going to fill you in on what you missed.
“Can you see the colours? Everything is so trippy.”
If you love a good dance-floor banger, you’re probably familiar with this vocal – it comes from a track by Vini Vici, Tristan & Avalon called Colours, and it’s exactly what comes to mind when I think back to Origin Festival. This year Origin pulled the rabbit out of the hat, giving us a jaw-dropping “candy land” themed dance-floor and the same top-notch production we’ve come to know and love over the years.
So what were some of the highlights from Origin Festival 2017?
I usually dislike the practice of narrowing something down to a description of five words, but there is something comforting about the condensation when trying to review the experience of Freaky Forest. An experience that takes places annually over the last weekend of November in the Tsitsikamma woods, bringing all sorts of folks out of the woodworks for what is easily becoming South Africa’s best trance party – or at least that’s what the talk on the soft, jiving dance floor was.
So here are the five words I would use to describe Freaky, in some sort of an order – scent, dance, clarity, goodness and beauty. Well, maybe some more order than I think.
This year, it was my sense of smell that was particularly heightened at the party – whether from the incense wafting around the dance floor and camp sites as I gallivanted through the treacherous pine forest, the wholesome cooking aromas of the various food stalls and private kitchens and then those earthy, good, natural smells. The scent of pine needles in the air, the mud squelching between my toes on the most fun Sunday I’ve had in a while, or the sweaty reminder from my fellow party-goers that we were in the middle of a forest dancing rhythmically to sublime beats and hadn’t washed in days. Come Sunday morning I think we were mostly all smelling more sweaty than sweet after the particularly mind-buzzing and gloriously lengthy set delivered by High Style, having followed the feet moving magic of both Ben and Jack Source the previous night. For the hi-tech fans, Ben delivered a sneaky track that had many of us grinning from ear to ear! Earlier, we were treated to the grooviness that Cripz and Floating Grooves emulated which got the bums moving until Phillipa came on – bringing the girl power to the floor and easing us into the night time slots. Continue reading Review: Freaky Forest 2016→
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.
It’s crazy to think that Earthdance Cape Town was born sixteen years ago – I was only six at the time. What’s more impressive is the fact that Earthdance International has been going since 1996. Having grown up in Cape Town, I regularly heard whispers about the event and consequently, decided that it would be the outdoor festival I’d attend upon turning eighteen. Since then, celebrating my Birthday at Earthdance has become a tradition (one that I hope will continue far into future) and this year was no different. On the 19th of September 2015, we were on the road to Nekkies Resort in Worcester once again. We arrived just after lunch and right in time for a good helping of Dan Scot’s progilicious beats.
By the time we set up camp, K Fox had taken over. The sun was out – a true reminder that outdoor season had begun. We explored the venue a little and I allowed my bass-loving friends to steer me into the DnB tent. When we finally made our way towards the psy stage, my eyes were greeted by something from a fairytale. Fanciful colours cascaded down from the imaginative Sky Temple – created by the talented Carin Dickson of Artescape. (Another notable display of incredible arts and culture could be found in the Psychedelic Dream Temple with its entrancing array of visionary artwork). Continue reading Review: Earthdance Cape Town 2015→
“It’s winter,” they said. “It’ll be cold,” they said. “We’ll wait for summer,” they said. But they were wrong. If you were at the Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire, you’ll know I mean it when I say that it’s a gathering unlike any other. So intimate and entrancing that it’s almost impossible to forget. That’s why on Saturday the 27th of June, I was on route to Riversonderend once again, ready to kick up the dust and brush off those winter blues.
I arrived as the sun was setting; waves of tranquillity passed through me upon entering the sacred space – the Circle of Dreams, my favourite venue of all time. I watched as the scene shifted from day to night. The lights slowly set aglow. I thought about the Shaman’s ceremony which had happened the night before and regretted missing it. Unfortunately, the nine to five can’t always be avoided. But none of that mattered right then.
I entered the Parallel Universe just before noon on Sunday – a little later than planned, but nevertheless I was there. When we got to the dance-floor Lucas was closing up shop. Beside him, Raja Ram’s fluorescent-orange peak cap bobbed up and down to the music.
Excitement moved through me as I dissolved into the crowd. Revelry was in full swing, and it wasn’t hard to tell who had been there from the start. Whether brightly clean or slightly bruised and battered, everyone had come to witness the Godfather of Psytrance in action. Suddenly the floor was packed. Continue reading Review: Vortex Parallel Universe 2015→
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…