Cyclic Defrost

An Australian magazine focusing on interesting music

Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia – Digging In The Vaults

Way way back in 1991 I danced to two amazing EPs on the Belgian industrial label KK Records by a mysterious group called Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia at a proto-industrial-meets-rave club in Darlinghurst. Shortly after I tracked them down at Red Eye Records (the only store in Sydney at the time to carry any of that sort of stuff in any real volumes)

Familiar with Psychic TV, the odd spelling hinted at a lot. Unlike Psychic TV – who were on the tail end of their acid house trip (which was petering out in a pretty unappealing way after Jack The Tab) – PWOG made what was, at the time, strange sounding ‘ritual’ trance. Around the same time Coil released Snow EP which fully developed the acid house-meets-occult (eccult?) explorations of their seminal Love’s Secret Domain album. (Coil was made up of founding members of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, if you didn’t know)

The first PWOG EP, Maenad was full of repetitive stumbling drum loops, muted hi-hats, and heavy breathing (! – the maenad were, in Greek mythology, wild women worshippers of Dionysus) and hinted at the promise of the follow up – Exit 23. Exit 23 starts minimal before a Timothy Leary sample stops the proceedings – ‘return . . . . to the source’ – then it is six minutes of analogue bass rumble, endless Middle Eastern wailing, and drums that wobble and waver. It is still an amazing track.

These singles were followed by an album Ov Biospheres & Sacred Grooves in 1992 – three long multipart tracks of minimal trance and ambient electronics. Opening with the only ‘up’/dancefloor-oriented music on the album, The Challenge (Part One), it beings in a vein very similar to Richie Hawtin’s tonal trance track as Up! called Spiritual High on Warp’s seminal Artificial Intelligence compilation (also 1992). Following that it sounded more like a sinister rendering of KLF’s wonderful Chill Out album – perfect for playing in the more twisted ambient rooms of those early 90s raves.

After that album there were a few more albums but none that still stands the test of time as well. But Exit 23 and Maenad got reissued, remixed and still refuse to go away. Just this year another set of remixes came out with Alter Ego tackling Maenad!

An offshoot of PWOG was Exquisite Corpse whose second album Inner Light (also on KK Records) is also worth tracking down. Inner Light is very similar in sound to those two first PWOG EPs – drum heavy tribal trance with minimal synths or samples. Although by this time the whole ‘psy trance’ thing was starting to take shape, if you listen to the tracks on Inner Light it is apparent that it got unfairly lumped in with the music that was pretty much its antithesis – florid, over produced, over synth-ed trance for nouveau-hippies.

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  • vaughan

    Seb : Do you know who designed the Ov Biospheres & Sacred Grooves cover?

  • http://fortunegrey.com Matthew Levinson

    I loved Ov Biospheres & Sacred Grooves way back, but listening back in recent years it’s never managed to stand up to memory.

  • http://kazumichi.com kazumichi

    pwog were an important bit of dance based filla in the break from the 80s EBM scene and the later end of the mid/late 90s epxerimental glitch scene…at least for me…

    it was like trance music i could stomach and a good diversion from the mountains of rubbish been produced at the time… even if it was over run by the cyber goth craze in the early 90s, at least they were listening to music that was a little more removed than the usual bollox.

    and of course, when i hear any PWOG thesedays, i get the flashes of a dream machine beaming across my retinas…

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  • barnaby

    actually: they were Dutch not Belgium

  • http://www.cyclicdefrost.com Seb

    Vaughan – there is no artwork credit on the sleeve. (sorry for the delay in the reply . . . the cd disappeared into the bototm of a cabinet!)

  • p o

    artwork one of the band members
    reinier brekelmans

  • tim freeman

    Hey someone remembers us! Supersweet! ;-) a tip for those who are interested: http://www.hidden.be , a small label run by another ex-pwogger…. and indeed we are dutch except for me (i’m english) and yep, the artwork on the first album was done by Reinier Brekelmans

  • http://www.vpmultimedia.com insider

    To be more precise, the artwork was the result of a collaboration between Reinier and someone known as Bobby Reiner, where Bobby provided most of the concept and Reinier did most of materialising. All of their original releases had their artwork incorporated. Even before PWOG they were into silkscreen printing and did some awesome artwork. Worth an exopsition on their own.

  • taoyoyo

    pwog were definitely one of my favorite artists of all time. saw them live a couple of times at the megadogs at the rocket and have virtually the whole discography (i remember going to virgin in london [when it still had a good selection] and buying all the cdsingles in one go). i loved the ritualistic aspects of the music… the fact that the music sounded more than just ‘dance tunes’, *something* was bubbling under that was never fully explainable.

    if anyone can offer any links to sites which might offer more information on the background to the music i’d be interested in doing some reading.

    i can foresee a big pwog-listening session happening in the very near future… ‘kraak’ was sounding fantastic last night!

  • http://www.vpmultimedia.com insider
  • boxer
  • 3rgot

    Of course we remember you!! I’ve played so many time PWOG records in my sets.. old time. much respect

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Cyclic Defrost is Australia’s only specialist electronic music magazine. We cover independent electronic music, avant-rock, experimental sound art and leftfield hip hop. Read more

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