If you were at Atmik Ritual in November 2013, you witnessed one of the best and most unique psychedelic trance festivals in India, taking place for two nights and three days far away in the magical hills of Kodaikanal. Superior quality sound and musicians, magnificent nature, special powers from mother earth controlling the rain, freshest nutrients, real crowd and magic made it a complete, mind-opening psychedelic journey.
The theme of this festival organized by MadMuzik Records was ‘Awareness & Evolution’. Speaking to the organizers, “The aim of this gathering was to help raise the vibration of our planet, our generation, of our friends and family, to reinforce the message of peace, love unity and respect.”
A great deal of care was taken during the conceptualizing of the festival – the location, the dates, the sound, the chosen ‘sonic engineers’, the lineup, were done with the intention of “The evolutionary awaking, the opening of the third-eye, the realization which is the driving force of the new era, the new dawn.” The organizers said, “If we were able, through the help of this ritual, to raise awareness by even one degree, then we have aligned ourselves with the universe and there is no greater good than that.”
The dates for Atmik Ritual were during the full moon phase of November, which, according to the organizers, also coincided with the Leonids Meteor Shower, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at their peak, causing a lot of active energy radiating during these days. Indeed.
The supreme quality sound set up, the backbone of the festival, was done by JLawrence Pro Audio, and was undoubtedly one of the best in India, with giant speakers blasting 25,000 watts of sound resonating through the hills. The man behind this mastery was the extremely talented Jibi Lawerence who was a vital part of Atmik Ritual, aiding with the sound and décor, and keeping the stage and sonic hardware dry during the rains.
The driving force behind the festival were musicians coming from all over India and Europe, artists and DJs, boys and a girl, blasting tunes from progressive, morning, forest, darkpsy and ‘crystal’ with a dash of hi-tech. The set timings were carefully planned for a complete journey from kick-off to full power thod-phod to morning delight to slow-down.
On the evening of the first night, unexpected rainfall made the setup of the stalls and main stage décor challenging. Thankfully, the sound system and tarps had been set up the previous night by all the friends who volunteered their time and efforts so there was no stopping the show. The music started in the evening and by nightfall most of the crowd gathered in the chill-out stage, which had a sheltered area, a camp fire and its own chill floor for meets and mingles. There were chadars and posters of Legalize it – India.
At 11PM we are anxious because the artist ESP had begun playing.
By midnight it’s time to move. Come rain or storm, we put on our dancing shoes – it’s time to party.
Walking towards the main stage from the campsite is an incredible experience, with selective lighting illuminating the path, letting you know there is some serious forest trancing going on. The music is blasting from close to the chill-out area and it is a decent hike to the sacred main stage, but once we get there it is something out of this world. There are huge speakers hoisted on a major scaffold structure on either side of the wooden console. There is rain protection over the speakers and the console, as well as white cloth on the front almost hiding the artist/DJ but protecting the precious gear from the rain. There are a few chadars hanging from the scaffold structure.
1AM: Of course, at a festival like this, magic happens. The rain stops, the clouds make way to the full moon, shining ever so brightly right above the console. DoHm, aka Domas Gudelis from Lithuania, comes on dishing out deep, atmospheric, powerful forest sounds with seductive basslines complete with enchanted fairies. Adored by fans all over India for his intelligent music, Dohm made his debut in the land at Atmik Ritual. Towards the end of his set, Dohm plays some of his faster forest music, which we hear for the first time in India. The dance floor is wild and the party is on. “Really it was great for me to play there, it was the best time. I have no words.” said Dohm.
4AM: Fuzulu, Ehsan Kamran from Mumbai, sets the floor stomping with dark, vigorous psychedelic power as the dawn approaches. As the first rays of sunlight pierce the morning mist, Fuzulu brings out a ‘Kaossilator’ for some mind-twisting sound effects as the dance floor is vibrating with delight. Experiencing this performance reminds us that Fuzulu is one of the greatest artists from India and it was an honor to have him at Atmik Ritual. Ehsan said, “Amazing location, absolutely superb monstrous sound system and great vibes all around from a group of like-minded friends who put in this huge effort towards making a connection with each other through music and art.”
7AM: System 22, aka Ryan Lewis from Mumbai, made a comeback to the decks after two years, playing pumping old-school morning for the dance floor to kill any trips from the cold darkness of the night, and come out radiating and smiling, full of happiness. This is the time to look around, see the beautiful nature, admire the amazing sound system, and connect with the friends around. Ryan said, “Atmik Ritual was an experience that changed my life. I enjoyed playing my set, it was after two years that I was getting behind the decks and enjoyed every moment of it. The organization was awesome. I was taken great care of and the usual, made a lot new friends. Can’t wait till we meet again. Lots of love and light!”
9AM: Also a first-timer to India was DJ Atman, Laurynas B from Lithuania, who played a special treat of Lithuanian forest morning with uplifting atmospheric tunes, which harmonized like magic with the location and weather, as the light showers of rain began and the wind seemed to dance along with the music. As the rain got heavier, the console had to be protected by none other than mastermind Jibi and his team, who strategically gathered the water from the top tarp of the console and pushed it out. The rain, however, had no adverse effect on the dance floor, as the crowd kept smiling and stomping. Laurynas said, “It was amazing experience in India, and in Kodai really magical place surrounded by very beautiful mountains, enjoined playing morning set in the mist. Also about people there. Party is not only music, decorations, etc. Here it was so good to be surrounded by lots of dedicated and positive people. Remember when Megalopsy was playing, you could not find anybody around – everybody together in one dance. Very good feeling of community. Respect and thanks for opportunity to be small part of this.”
11AM: Due to the rain the party was shifted to the protected chill-out area. Fresh fruit plates, handpicked from Mangalore by Love Forest were made available, as well as chai and sandwiches powered by Altaf’s café. The chill zone had its own lineup and smaller speakers. There were also stalls operated by Instant Karma, Goa Mixing Bowls and PsyYug604, selling clothes, handmade accessories and mixing bowls. There were also sandwiches and cakes provided closer to the campsite by Dan, who set up shop under a veranda. The campsite also had a buffet set up for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A very special treat was the artist Avilente, Faheemul Hasan from Bangalore, who played a live set from 3PM to 6PM at the chill-out stage. Among the best ambient music ever heard, Avilente’s detailed organic and living sounds create a soothing atmosphere, which gently massages your mind to naturesque serenity.
Second day evening has drier weather. The deco, powered by Gumax Productions, has been put up. It is a stack of multi colored cubic boxes arranged as a pyramid based on the flower of life, giving the dance floor a 3D effect. There are also brightly colored drawings hung over the console. It looks bright and pretty with the massive array of UV lights.
DJ Freeatmah, aka Asad Zaidi from Mumbai, is playing dark psytrance at 11PM. Asad is one of the pioneer EDM DJs from India. He began DJing in 1986 and has been playing psytrance since 1991. One of the most loved and respected figures in the Indian psytrance scene, he conceptualized and organizes the popular ‘Dance Ganesh Visarjan’ that takes place annually in Mumbai. He also set up and managed the most popular open-air psytrance club in Goa – Paradiso, from 1994 to 2000. Asad said, “Atmik Ritual is a gathering of like-minded people coming together to achieve a higher state of consciousness whilst experiencing nature in all its glory. A truly divine experience for me.”
We are all waiting anxiously for the surprise act, Megalopsy, Nicolas Di Bernardo from Argentina.
2AM: An explosion is a rapid increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner, usually with the generation of high temperatures (*). This is what happened when Megalopsy came on.
Psychedelic supersonics are amplified by the massive speakers, entering the open mind, melting sections of the brain, taking the dance floor, which is now a sacred stomping ground, to places that transcend time and space. Channels are open, internal is external, and there is no hiding.
However, this is when it becomes evident that the bright UVs and loud colors are not fitting with this “music”. Some genius answers the crowd’s prayers and switches the UV lights off, giving the darkness its way for Megalopsy’s crystal sounds to shine, under the sole brightness of the full moon. It’s time for some serious killing – dancing, trancing, trips and ego. On a public social media platform, a couple of months before Atmik Ritual, psytrance maestro Pablo Kamino, aka Kashykkk, (who was not at this festival or associated with it in any way) rated Megalopsy’s sets as “one of the Best Shamanic Experiences”. This was a perfect description.
5AM: He is done and leaves the dance floor in a state of shock, transformation, respect and gratitude. It is now time for Abduction Investigaters.
Abduction Investigaters are an experimental dark psytrance duo, Dinesh Raman and Rohit Suresh from Bangalore. Were they able to pick up after the shocking set of Megalopsy? A little unease at first, but their hi-tech tracks combined with the light of dawn were a perfect combination for continued killing. Abduction Investigaters’ powerful, speedy set was just what the dance floor needed to stomp off the darkness to a smiling and happy morning. Dinesh said, “The sunrise set felt like the dance floor had been abducted to another dimension. All these visions began as the sun started rising, that’s when I could see things more clearly – that we were dancing to an ancient tune in a different realm. This was purely the sign of cleansing that happened overnight. It’s this special place that does this to you and of course you start to feel so good because the entire idea of Atmik Ritual was to have a REAL psychedelic experience.” Rohit added, “It was a ritual indeed… the best crew.”
8:00AM: The investigaters have abducted and then there is silence – a few moments of serenity after the fast blasting, giving the crowd time to admire the beauty and sanctity of the location as they look around in amazement, hoping that the party has not ended.
Next to the dance floor, Love Forest had set up stall with water and fresh fruits including watermelon, papaya and oranges brought all the way from Mangalore to help energize the crowd. Generous helpings of fruit salad were available, and a big shout-out for the freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning! Big Mamas Bakery was distributing raw organic space-chocolate balls on the dance floor.
After no more than five minutes, the silence is broken as Extrasensory Perception (ESP) takes the console. ESP is Nikola Krstevski who flew all the way from Macedonia to make his India debut at Atmik Ritual. Signed with MadMuzik Records, ESP plays Macedonian forest – a slower BPM than the madness of the previous sets, for a more relaxed environment. ESP’s uplifting, atmospheric sounds have the crowd grooving with the sun now brightly shining. Nikola said, “The festival was nice, full with positive people and good vibe. It was like a dream to me – didn’t seem real with those cool lights and the wind shaking the trees they were alive and dancing with us. I was very happy when I was playing. I noticed that the people got the message very fast and lost themselves in the beats and the beautiful ambience.”
10AM: Representing some serious girl power, DJane Payal, aka Payal Thapa, takes the console. A pioneer female psytrance DJ from Nepal, Payal is a well-known and loved lady with an amazing fashion sense and a full power yet comfortable approach – just like her set. Payal spins some morning and forest tracks, which are perfectly matched by thick clouds hiding the sun. The crowd immediately feels her love and light through the massive speakers, keeping their feet charged with smiles as they dance around, especially the girls, who gathered in front of the console for a girl power ‘boom’ ceremony. Payal said, “Atmik Ritual was one of the best music gatherings that I have attended and played for. Amazing location, good crowd, killer energy, all super artists playing – proper line-up. All in all a full power package of great times. Thanks to the crew for putting in so much of hard work. I hope it happens every year.”
Noon: From the coastlines of north-west France, comes Veav , Monsieur Vincent Vandenbroucke. Vince is one of the co-founders of MadMuzik Records and a DJ and producer of progressive trance. It is as if Veav commanded the bright and sunny weather to escort his tunes, and so it is. He starts off with Come..as you are… as you were… as I want you to be… and the crowd feels nostalgic as one of their favorite songs is mixed prog-style. Vince’s progressive set proved that a lower BPM can very well be full power as he had the dance floor stomping, giving an added boost with his own bobbing behind the console. Vince said, “Atmik Ritual was a first for me occasion to play my music in India, and what was the surprise! A magical place, a public with a big heart, a beautiful scene, love and light … This is the kind of evening that I cannot find in France, a real treat!”
2PM: It is now more cloudy than sunny and DJ Tronix is on for the closing set. Tronix plays a progressive set, a perfect come-down for the crowd to dance to the close of the party. Dan brings a plate of local cheese and tomato sandwiches to energize the dancers as most of the crowd gathers to the front of the stage for the final cheer when the music is officially stopped at 4PM as scheduled.
Finally, coming back to magic, a couple of seconds after the final note, the crowd is dragging around, gathering their stuff and picking up the garbage from the dance floor. Suddenly thunder strikes…loud, and louder, and then, as it if to complete the (Atmik) ritual, it’s the final cleansing, rain starts pouring down heavily, so much that everybody gathers, packed close to one another under the protection of the console and the control tent. For an hour and a half, more than fifty people are vibrating with the sound of music still echoing in their ears, waiting for the rain to slow down, as if the three days of mental connections were so strong that they had to transform to physical closeness. Quiet, weary from the festivities, damp and cold, it was still so comfortable, safe and fuzzy-warm to have friends from all over the world shielded under each other’s protection.
And that was the end of Chapter 1…
Writers note: this recap was written from the writers own experience which was primarily on the main stage. The writer is in no way associated with any gains from the organizers and entities mentioned.
(*) definition taken from Wikipedia.