The Technofreak Legacy of Golden Goa
last updated July 23rd,
and is permanently morphing...
(8 Chuen (Monkey)/8 Batz (Monkey) - 151/260 - 22.214.171.124.11)
DJs are the maestros of the information
age, and not just because the discs they spin are basically digital
creations. Freed from the gravity
of faces and fixed names, underground dance
music finds its essence in constant mutation and total overproduction.
Sifting through hundreds of records a week, DJs define themselves in part
by what they comb out of the data overload. That's why many act like spies,
taping over record labels, or buying all available copies of a favorite
record and destroying all but one. DJs are made of information. But in Goa,
where the inability to mix makes selection particularly important, they
drop their guard and swap tapes.
I had already heard about
Gil from Genesis P. Orridge, who had filled me in earlier on the technofreak
legacy of late-60s London clubs like Middle Earth (xref J.R.R. Tolkien's
Lord Of The Rings series) and UFO.
"The basic premise was smoke and light
shows, large quantities of ecstatic
chemicals, and dancing
like a dervish
to accentuate your artificially-induced mental state to a point that was
equal to and integrated with an ecstatic religious state." When the scene
decayed, the heaviest psychedelic
warriors split, taking their musical alchemy
with them. Some went to the Spanish island of Ibiza, while the more esoteric
heads went east. Though Gil was from San Francisco, he had trod a similar
path. "You have to find him", Genesis told me. "He's one of the links."
According to Gil, these parties are the direct ancestors of raves. Techno historians already know that English working-class kids brought raves back from Ibiza, the cheap vacation island off of Spain whose weather, slack and lack of extradition treaties made it a Goa-style hippy colony decades ago. While many DJs shuttled between Ibizan summers and Goan winters, some claim that the more authentic lineage of electronic ecstasy belonged to the East. As Genesis P. Orridge put it, "The music from Ibiza was more horny disco, while Goa was more psychedelic and tribal. In Goa, the music was the facilitator of devotional experience. It was just functional, just to make that other state happen."
And Goa went totally electronic in 1983, when two
French DJs named Fred and Laurent got sick of rock music and reggae. At
the same time Derrick May and Juan Atkins created the futuristic disco-funk
called "techno", Fred and Laurent used far more primitive tech—two cassette
decks—to create a schizo's brew out of New Wave, electronic rock, gay Eurodisco
and experimental industrial bands like Cabaret
Voltaire and the Residents. They slipped electro-pop like New Order
and Blanc Mange into the mix, but only after cutting out all the vocals.
It was heady shit, and soon hipsters started slipping them underground
tapes from the West.
And that's the paradox of the techno-freak. As we hurtle into the 21st century, these transient refugees from the First World have poached the info tech that's speeding up the march of progress and made an abrupt about-face towards the archaic. Technology is mobile, so they drag it to the rocks and jungles. Technology loves connection, so they sync it with the ancient wheel of the heavens. Technology simulates, so they make it mimic the fear and splendor of shamanic trance. The Goan beaches that spawned this ecstatic digital primitivism may be lost to media hype and packaged tours, but the hardcore technofreaks will just lose themselves in the porous Third World landscape.
After all, the full moon follows you everywhere you go.