John 00 Fleming’s new psy trance album ‘Alter Ego’ sets a precedent for Goa’s modern renaissance [Review]
John 00 Fleming, or JOOF as he’s nicknamed, plays a quiet leadership role from his base in the underground trance scene, using his keen ear and mastery of electronic music production to curate sounds that ripple out to all reaches of trance. Despite a continually changing soundscape, he remains a consistent figurehead of the genre.
Fleming’s career experienced another milestone entering into 2016 with the creation of JOOF Aura, an offshoot of his label JOOF Recordings dedicated toward cutting-edge progressive trance which he says is near and dear to his heart.
JOOF has said in the past that he gravitates toward music that takes the listener on a complex journey through sound and skews their sense of time. This quality is prevalent in Goa/psy trance, his second love in electronic, which he’s been promoting since its early days.
This passion also brought along the launch of JOOF Mantra in 0216, which aims to revive and continue what the original psy-oriented JOOF V.2 imprint had started. Through this new outlet, Fleming presents us with Alter Ego, his third artist album whose entirety embodies Mantra’s sonic vision.
Alter Ego is unabashedly Goa in nature. It explores a variety of sounds and tempos across the psychedelic spectrum, opting to focus not on maintaining the status quo set in place by the subgenre’s traditional productions, but rather on capturing what draws people to it in the first place: its spirituality.
Fleming develops his album story slowly, gently easing listeners into it with a highly technical “Paranormal” whose gentle running bass and easily dissectible components maintain a heavily vested interest throughout its duration. He slowly picks up speed with his remix to Liquid Soul’s “I See The Spirit” and “Mustang,” where metallic white noise and shrill guitar melodies lock in the deep trance created by the LP.
Each track on Alter Ego carries Fleming’s distinct musicianship built from years producing electronic music while scoring films on the side and running his record label. He draws from a variety of influences while maintaining the cornerstone psychedelic themes in each track. “Mythological Nature,” for example, feels almost like a trippy classical piece with haunting orchestral melodies joined by opera vocal samples.
Acidic overtones are paired with a high tempo in “Ascension” with Ovnimoon elucidating a shamanic effect that persists until the album closer’s last seconds. Meanwhile, his love for progressive sounds manifests itself in “Protected By Karma” whose gradual build and use of melody soften the otherwise powerful Goa composition.
The Bottom Line:
Ultimately, JOOF unlocks a meditative state of mind in blending multiple influences into a well-built psy trance album, preserving the subgenre’s mystical and spiritual appeal. One’s attention inevitably locks onto a wide array of subtle samples placed deep within each track’s sonic layers, building focus as relentless kicks guide contemplation. When all is said and done, Alter Ego sets a new precedent for Goa’s modern renaissance. While reinvigorating the genre’s root ethos, Fleming’s artful fusion of melodic and progressive elements into the fray will inevitably attract newer fans as psy continues to permeate the broader trance scene.