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by Don Crispy

The Archaic Revival 2004

The rock festival season may be over, but the trance party season is reaching its climax

Wrecked Machines
Ethica

Japan can make a pretty good case for having the world's busiest psychedelic trance scene. Many countries seem to have long since regulated almost out of existence the kind of huge psy-trance raves that go off here almost uninhibited by legal oversight most summer weekends. Until two years ago, in fact, even the psychoactive mushrooms favored by ravers were legal in Japan.

And if Japan is the world center for the trance faith, then Solstice Music is one of its strongest churches. The promoter stages some of the country's most ambitious events, with its Solstice Music Festival and New Year's countdown parties drawing crowds into the five figures.

This year's end-of-the-summer bash in the countryside north of Tokyo brings together veterans from the inception of trance over a decade ago with recent innovators, representing a broad spectrum of the highly internationalized trance scene.

Topping the Archaic Revival bill is GMS (Growling Mad Scientists), the live incarnation of DJs Bansi and Riktam. The pair have kept partygoers across the world spellbound for most of the past decade with their polished take on trance. Also performing live will be Etnica, another production unit who also perform under their DJ names Max and Maurizio. From Italy, Etnica offer a rather mellow, accessible interpretation of what can sometimes be a very aggressive form of music.

Rounding out the live acts will be sets by Wrecked Machines, a young one-man act from Brazil currently making waves in trance circles, and Bio-Tonic, a French trio known for their tribal grooves.

The DJ lineup starts with an international cast including veteran hands Dimitri D.K.N., scheduled for a marathon three-hour set, before moving on to encompass some of the live acts in their DJ incarnations.

The party will also, as is tradition, showcase some of Japan's strongest psychedelic DJs. Kay Nakayama has brought together the syrupy textures of chill out sounds with the musicianship of jazz and world music, including his Intelligent Jazz unit formed with renowned fusion drummer Akira Jimbo. Solstice resident and label manager Ryo as well as Solstice Music's European representative and resident DJ Igor, meanwhile also know a thing or two about whipping up a crowd.

For a taste of what to expect, Solstice has recently released a number of CDs by artists on the Archaic Revival bill, including new discs by GMS, Etnica, Wrecked Machines, Bio-Tonic and Dimitri D.K.N.

Despite its name, the venue for the party in the Nasu highland region north of Tokyo is not the site of a hot spring as one might think in Japan, but of a cool, spring-fed pond.

Solstice's Chigusa Kondo says that this year the promoter decided to do something more focused, but that Solstice intends to return next year with a new and expanded Solstice Music Festival at a brand-new venue.

And for those of you wondering about the other big end-of-the-summer trance event, Vision Quest's The Gathering is slated for September 18-20 at Palcall Tsumagoi ski resort in Gunma Prefecture with a full caste of regulars on the bill. See Vision Quest's website for details.

Sep 4 & 5, open 9am, start noon, ¥8,500 (adv), ¥10,000 (door). Kurobane Springs, Tochigi Prefecture. Tel: D&N 03-5352-7666. Info: solstice23.com. Tour bus leaves from Shinjuku and Yokohama. Info: JTB 03-5796-5446 or email ARCHAIC@itd.jtb.co.jp.

credits: Solstice Music