Various Artists - The Goa Mix 2011: Paul Oakenfold

Image For Various Artists - The Goa Mix 2011: Paul Oakenfold

The year was 1994. Millions mourned as Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home in Washington. At the bowser, petrol was going for 70 cents a litre, and a thirteen year old richierich5381 spent a lot of the year behind locked bathroom doors.

A young Paul Oakenfold puts together a psytrance mix for the BBC, unaware that it will define a genre and inspire universally. Fast-forward to today, petrol prices have doubled, Courtney Love is still freaking mental, and a thirty-year-old richierich5381 still spends a lot of time behind locked bathroom doors. Oh, and some guy named Paul Oakenfold re-releases his legendary Goa Mix.

For the first time, Oakenfold’s set is available as a legalised commercial release. Essentially (ahem) the mix stays true to its biological ancestry, with about 90-percent of the original set-list present. Oakenfold throws in a few curveballs to update the mix with tracks that, had they existed in 1994, would have been included. The whole thing has been mixed properly this time, and one of my favourite things is that you can hear the handiwork in the mix. It does not sound like it has been mixed by a computer. The transitions, while tight, are punchy and genuine which compliments the nature and history of this selection of tunes.

The first CD opens with the angelic chant of Mr V’s Give Me Life before dumping into the acid trip that is Grace’s Skin on Skin with its scything organ and pumping bassline. The Disco Evangelists get heavy before the listener is massaged down into a Vangelis score from Blade Runner. Although a common conceit these days, one of the things that set the Goa Mix apart was its use of samples and cinematic interludes to break up the trippy darkness of its neighbours.

The mix was an education in pace, programming and flow – and it still is. Hallucinogen’s LSD does exactly what is says on the tin, and takes us into the first big surprise of the disc, PPK’s Ressurection. The gorgeous melancholic track came out in 2001, but it fits nicely into the mix, arguably better than the tracks which chase it. The first half of the original mix is extended by five tracks, and it is, at worst, passable. Adagio just sounds obvious, frustratingly so, as it is one of the most beautiful pieces of music on Earth. The disc ends comfortably on Infected Mushroom’s Becoming Insane – one of the better tracks from the Israeli outfit, and a fitting inclusion due to their fidelity to the psytrance sound over the years.

The second half begins with the vocal from Goldie’s Inner City Life before ramping up into a fullpaced psytrance session as The Infinity Project stimulate us towards Marmion’s golden Schöneberg via Perfecto AllStarz’s Reach Up!, with its heavy nod to the Bucketheads’ legacy track. Oakenfold heads back to the Blade Runner soundrack for the third time with Vangelis’ Rachel’s Song, a haunting Irish heroic score, which is still pretty despite the crow’s feet around the eyes.

Melbourne’s Lisa Gerrard lends her contralto tones to Sanvean before the beats return with Man With No Name’s joyous Sugar Rush. The mix ends with the Carmen Rizzo acoustic mix of Oakenfold’s Southern Sun from 2002’s million selling Bunkka album, which is sure to leave the masses divided. Personally, I’m okay with it – not only are the lyrics appropriate, it represents a major crossroads in Oakenfold’s journey , when he farewelled the world of trance for a new, more lucrative career.

The reason the Goa Mix has eluded the spindly fingers of time better than Courtney Love is that the track selection is effing marvellous. There are so many amazing tunes here, and, to be honest my only gripe is that the new additions stand out a little too prominently. I love Resurrection and Adagio, but they are so distinctive that they take the listener out of the flow. They come in like attention-seeking toddlers – you love them to bits, but you were kinda enjoying some adult time. These tracks were released in a different time, when dance music was becoming increasingly commercial, when the CD ruled and even my Nan knew who Paul Oakenfold was.

At the end of the day, this mix is Oakie’s baby, and his legacy to the dance music public, so I can forgive the new tracks. You need this mix in your life – whether you have heard it before or not, whether you think Oakenfold is a huge sell-out these days, this mix is superb.Get onto it.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe: Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time; like tears in rain. Time to die.”

The Goa Mix 2011 is out now on Balance Music through EMI.