Essential albums: Entheogenic

Entheogenic is a psychedelic downtempo act with an impressive ear for melody, harmonies and dynamics. If exotic ambient trance with dubby grooves is your sound, you'll find yourself returning to these albums again and again.


country of origin:

Psychedelic chill, dub, ethno-ambient, ambient trance, world beat

decades active:
00's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Entheogenic (2001, Universal Symbiosis)
  • Dialogue Of The Speakers (2005, Chillcode)
  • Golden Cap (2006, Chillcode)
  • Flight Of The Urubus (2008, Universal Symbiosis)
  • Enthymesis (2014, Universal Symbiosis)

Reviewed by Mike G

By the end of the 1990's dancefloor trance - a mutant off-shoot of techno which originated in Europe - had unquestionably become a mainstream phenomenon. But a more psychedelic strain known as psytrance or Goa trance - a multi-coloured world of ethnic sounds, fast beats and overtly trippy grooves - has remained resolutely underground. Because this sub-genre has clearer melodic and harmonic roots in old-school German ambient like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Ashra, it's only natural that some artists from this scene have put the fast tempos aside and tapped into this older, downtempo psychedelic stream. Some perfectly formed examples of the style come from the Austrian-English duo Entheogenic (Helmut Glavar and Piers Oak-Rhind).

Their magnificent self-titled debut release Entheogenic (2001) is an inspired blend of dub grooves, trancey arpeggios, drum 'n' bass madness and Eastern and Arabic sounds, all fused together with immaculate production. Its a bit like Shpongle without the jokes. The album so rich in texture that on first listen you might find yourself turning away, in the same way that you avert your eyes from overwhelmingly bright, colourful lights. But repeat listens soon reveal depths, and some dark corners, too.

The duo's third album Dialogue Of The Speakers (2005) contains only a few new compositions, instead focusing on remixes of tracks new and old by a stellar cast of scene producers. It's a successful move. The previous album, the non-essential Spontaneous Illumination (2003), exposes a tendency to overcook arrangements, packing in so many layers on several of the longer tracks to the point where they nearly collapsed under their own weight. In contrast, most of the remixes on Dialogue strip back the layers and focus on a smaller number of elements, resulting in re-inventions that are simpler and ultimately make for a much better album. Swedish duo Vibrasphere adds a short acoustic guitar loop and rolling bassline to "Pagan Dream Machine" to striking effect. Best of all, UK exotic dub maestro Ott takes two simple vocal ideas from the older Entheogenic track "Ground Luminosity" and proves that less is more. His remix is a heady, euphoric masterpiece that surges and sighs in exactly the right places, and which boasts his unmistakable trademark with its enormous, punchy bottom end.

The follow-up Golden Cap (2006) is also superb, suggesting that handing over existing tracks to remixers for the previous album gave the duo breathing space to rethink their direction and work some fresh angles. Golden Cap is more obviously percussive, less layered and a little more informed by the language of the dancefloor. The title track is a song, a folk tune in fact, based around a sweet Anglo-Irish love song and its unlike anything they've done before. "Kashmir Day Trip" benefits from its organic drum sound; this and several other tracks suggest the use of more live instrumentation in the mix alongside the usual samples. The lovely Afro and Arabic vocal wailing remains, but this time the samples of late psychedelic guru Terrence McKenna are rare, his voice bytes by this stage having become an awful cliche on the psytrance scene.

There are two more essential release in the Entheogenic canon. Flight Of The Uruibus (2008) offers further evidence of the duo's continuing creative development, this time introducing some jazzy elements and dropping the sampled Indian wailing in favour of adding Oak-Rhind's own filtered vocals on several tracks. Enthymesis (2014) is a very satisfying 8th album by what is now a one-man project; Glavar has departed and only multi-instrumentalist Oak-Rhind remains. Entheogenic's sound hasn't changed that much, however, and the ethno techno of Enthymesis ticks all the boxes: composition, musicianship, textural depth and general trippiness. This one also has some lovely folksy touches with its blendings of acoustic guitar and Oak-Rhind's filtered vocals.

All up, Entheogenic is a psychedelic downtempo act with an impressive ear for melody, harmonies and dynamics. If exotic ambient trance with dubby grooves is your sound, you'll find yourself returning to these albums again and again.

Share this: