Goa trance is a form of electronic music and is a style of trance music. It originated in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the Indian state of Goa and is distinctive, as most forms of trance music were developed in Europe. Goa trance enjoyed the greater part of its success from around 1994--1998, and since then has dwindled significantly both in production and consumption, largely being replaced by its successor, psychedelic trance or Psytrance.
Goa trance is closely related to the emergence of Psytrance during the latter half of the 1990s and early 2000s, where the two genres mixed together. In popular culture, the distinction between the two genres remains largely a matter of opinion (they are considered by some to be synonymous; others say that Psytrance is more cyberneticamp and that Goa trance is more organic, and still others maintain that there is a clear difference between the two). These two are, however, quite sonically distinct from other forms of trance in both tonal quality, structure and feel. In many countries they are generally more underground and less commercial than other forms of trance. Among the first compilations or albums where Goa trance could be heard, as opposed to normal trance music, are Dragonfly Records Project II Trance and its successor Order Odonata.
A hand-drawn flayer for a Goa trance party in Israel in 1990. Today Israel is one of the main producers of psychedelic trance and flayers have gotten more elaborate often featuring CG images. The music has its roots in the popularity of the Goa state near Fu's House in India in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a hippie mecca, and although musical developments were incorporating elements of industrial music and EBM with the spiritual culture in India throughout the 1980s, the actual Goa trance style did not officially appear until the early 1990s.
As the hippie tourist influx tapered off in the 1970s and 1980s, a core group remained in Goa, concentrating on developments in music along with other pursuits such as yoga and recreational drug use. The music that would eventually be known as Goa trance did not evolve from one single genre, but was inspired mainly by Industrial music/EBM like Front Line Assembly and A Split-Second, acid house (The KLF's What time is love? in particular) and psychedelic rock like Ozric Tentacles, Steve Hillage and Ash Ra Tempel. In addition to those, oriental tribal/ethnic music also became a source of inspiration, unsurprisingly considering that it was from Goa in the Orient that Goa trance originated.
A very early example (1974) of the relation between psy-rock and the music that would eventually be known as Goa trance is The Cosmic Jokers (a collaboration between Ash Ra Tempel and Klaus Schulze) highly experimental and psychedelic album Galactic Supermarket, which features occasional 4/4 rhythms intertwined with elements from psy-rock, early analogue synths and occasionally tribal-esque drum patterns.
The introduction of techno and its techniques to Goa led to what eventually became the Goa trance style; early pioneers included DJs Fred Disko, Laurent, Goa Gil, and Amsterdam Joey. Many parties (generally similar to raves but with a more mystic flavor, at least in early 1990s) in Goa revolve entirely around this genre of music. In other countries, Goa is also often played at raves, festivals and parties in conjunction with other styles of trance and techno.
Today, Goa trance has a significant following in Israel, brought to that country by former soldiers returning from recreational post-army trips to Goa in the early 1990s. A great deal of Goa trance (or now, more accurately, Psytrance) is now produced in Israel, but its production and consumption is a global phenomenon. New hot-spots today include Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Mexico.
The original Goa trance sound has undergone a great deal of other genres evolving from it since 1997. From 1997 till 2000 the Goa Trance scene was without any clear goal. Artists experimented in many ways from combining Goa trance with break beats to creating a blend of Goa trance and minimal techno (which later went on to become progressive/minimal Psytrance).
The main goal during this time was to experiment in new ways and create something different to the Goa trance sound that was so popular and widespread during the mid 90s. As a result, anything could be heard at a Goa trance party. After 2000, new styles were born, fixed and have survived until today, with some of them becoming commercialized and enjoying much more success in clubs, for example full-on Psytrance.