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Study Album Of The Week: Shpongle – “Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland”

A lot of people tell me they like techno and dance music. When I hear this, I usually ask them what they’re into – “You heard of Delerium, right? What about Sub Focus, Hirshee, Mike Foyle?” I usually get blank looks at this point, and the answer that follows is something like “No, but I like the song Sandstorm!”. While Darude is a pretty good group, I think we can do better. For this week’s featured study album, I’m going to take you on a dive into the wild world of psytrance.

Psytrance is a sub-genre of trance, which in turn is a sub-genre of techno and dance music. Trance is characterized by a more melodic sound than regular techno, but usually has harder beats than house music. A lot of synthesizers are used to make trance music. Some notable artists in the trance field are Mike Foyle and Delerium.

Trance is great, but for those looking for something a little more… interesting, there’s psytrance. Psytrance is essentially what is created when a trance artists says, “Screw limits.” It is a genre of music that has electronic roots, but dips and dives through multiple genres and creates soundscapes that you really won’t hear anywhere else. Not surprisingly, psytrance is a genre that is more intimate with things like drugs and hallucinogens than, say, gentile cocktail parties.

But that’s beside the point. Even people like us, who don’t regularly take trips through Nirvana that leave the user passed out in a bathtub with an angry raccoon, can enjoy the diverse offerings of psytrance.

With that as an preface, I’d like to introduce you to Shpongle. The two dudes behind Shpongle really are the best artists in psytrance – in fact, we even featured their album “Nothing Lasts… But Nothing is Lost” in one of our big study album features. That album was definitely their greatest – it spanned a ton of genres and utilized so many acoustic instruments in its compositions that it could almost be part of its own genre.

“Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland”, this week’s featured album, is the follow-up to that album. Many people were worried that this album would be a huge¬†disappointment¬†after the success of the previous one – indeed, many artists end up releasing crap after coming off of a killer album. Luckily, this album is anything but crap. It’s definitely different from their last, but it’s still a sublime arrangement of electronica-inspired beats mixed with a dizzying array of different samples, loops, and other musical tidbits.

I think Alex Silveri, a staff reviewer at SputnikMusic, summed it up best:

This is absolutely unreal.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much work they put into this, every moment here is scripted to perfection and the variety of sounds they manage to pull together with still remaining distinctly Shpongle is just… stupid.

The beginning of Shpongolese Spoken Here is some of the craziest s’hit I have ever heard. Bloody genius.

Indeed, the beginning to that song really is crazy. If you have a good pair of stereo headphones, you’ll be blown away and the number of directions all the sounds are coming from.

Basically, if you like electronic music at all, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. I’ve posted the first three songs from the album in the Grooveshark widget above – get them a listen and see if you like their stuff.