What Is Psycedelic Music?

Psychedelic music is music that uses elements of rhythm and melody to create an experience that can be spiritual or sensual. It started as folk songs that were used for healing rituals and relaxation and today psychedelic music is more popular than ever before and is often used in the context of psychedelic drugs like LSD, magic mushrooms, MDMA (ecstasy), mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvia divinorium and others.

The exploration of consciousness using psychedelics has a long history. Almost every major religion has its own type of psychedelic substances used for spiritual experiences such as sensory deprivation tanks, Ayahuasca drinks, Datura metel plants, Amanita muscaria mushrooms, and Salvia divinorum plant leaves. Take for example the use of sacred Iboga bark by the Ewe people in West Africa or San Pedro cactus by Native Americans.

While many different types of psychedelic drugs have been discovered since ancient times, one in particular has become quite popular; That being LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). The effects of LSD are so powerful that it created a new subculture known as hippie culture during the 1960s which was later embraced by rock musicians from blues rock through to electronic dance music.

Today there are countless artists who continue their legacy with original tracks produced under several aliases such as Gorgoliscious Records, Futureboogie Records and Acid House Kings Label showcasing various strains of psychedelics.

Why Psychedelic Music?

The use of psychedelics has been used for thousands of years in various cultures and religions for religious rituals and healing. When first introduced to the public in the 1950’s, it was immediately embraced by artists, musicians and followers of the hippie movement as a way to express themselves and find new ways to connect with others. In the 60’s psychedelic music was extremely popular and was used by artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Bob Marley as a way to express their feelings, thoughts and experiences. Today, there is a resurgence of psychedelic culture with young artists and musicians exploiting the benefits of LSD, magic mushrooms, and other psychedelics to produce tracks that are intended to be listened to while experiencing the effects of the drug.

The Birth of Psychedelic Music and its Connection with LSD

The first psychedelic music track was released in the 1950’s by two musicians based in Los Angeles, California; Dennis ‘Sect’ Stewart and Albert Hoffman. They recorded the track “Love is Strange” and mailed copies to a few of their friends who played it on the radio. Due to its success, the two were able to release the song under the label “Golden Rod Records” as a 45 rpm single with its sales profits used to buy more LSD. The song became so popular that people would call radio stations looking for the psychedelic hit. Due to its success, “Love is Strange” was later released as a 7” vinyl single and credited to “Golden Rod Records”.

The birth of psychedelic music can also be credited to the introduction of LSD to the American population. The first reports of people using LSD appeared in the mid-1950’s, but it wasn’t until the 60’s that the drug was widely embraced.

LSD was first synthesised in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann after reading about chemical compounds in a literature search on the ergot fungus. Hofmann ingested his own dose of the drug and experienced mystical, spiritual and visual distortions. Hofmann later reported that he experienced intense hallucinations of colored shapes, strange patterns and images that he described as “expanding and contracting like a wave”.

LSD, Magic Mushrooms and the Origins of Psychedelic Trance

The connection between LSD and psychedelic music led to the creation of psychedelic trance. Psychedelic trance tracks are intended to be listened to while under the influence of LSD and have a relaxing, dreamy and sometimes hallucinogenic feel. Many artists who produce psychedelic trance attempt to create tracks that are “hallucinogenic” in nature, featuring complex melodies, synths and a heavy use of effects to make the music sound like it is coming from “space” or “another planet”.

The first psychedelic trance track was released by the British duo Voyager in 1996. Later on, the Psyonor label helped to popularise psychedelic trance by releasing tracks by artists such as Solarstone (who would later go on to produce trance anthems for well-known artists like Gareth Emery and Paul Van Dyk), The Thrillseekers and John Askew. Although the term “psychedelic trance” was coined in the late 1990’s, it was first used in the early 1980’s by the UK acid house scene. At this time, acid house was a fusion of disco music, funk and soul and was intended to be played in nightclubs as a way to “mellow out the crowd”.

The Evolution of Psychedelic Trance and Acid House

The popularity of psychedelic trance eventually led to the evolution of psychedelic house music. The original acid house scene combined elements of dub reggae, psychedelic trance and garage rock. Acid house was inspired by the psychedelic movement and featured psychedelic-inspired tracks like “Green Light” by Tipper or “Let No Man Put Asunder” by Deep Forest. The evolution of psychedelic house eventually led to the release of acid house tracks that were intended to be listened to while under the influence of LSD. Many of these acid house tracks were released on labels that were intended to be listened to while under the influence of LSD such as KMS Records or the Psychedelic Records. The evolution of psychedelic music eventually led to the development of the psy-trance genre. Psy-trance is a subgenre of electronic dance music that was created by trance producers and DJs with the intention; yet again; of producing music that was intended to be listened to while under the influence of LSD.

Psychedelic Rock: From the Origins to the End

Psychedelic trance is an evolution of psychedelic rock music. Psychedelic rock is an offshoot of the British Blues Rock movement that combined African American traditional blues with psychedelic rock. Psychedelic rock was originally inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin and featured distorted electric guitars, and heavily distorted vocals. During the late 1960s and early 1970’s, psychedelic rock music was extremely popular and was used by musicians such as The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and The Who in their performances. Psychedelic music at this time was intended to be played loudly and was intended to stimulate the senses and create a psychedelic experience.


The story of psychedelic music isn’t complete without mentioning the many artists who have contributed to the genre and continue to produce new tracks that are intended to be listened to while under the influence of LSD and other psychedelics. From psychedelic trance artists like Solarstone, The Thrillseekers, Futureboogie Records, PBK, John Askew, Gorgoliscious Records, Futureboogie Records, Acid House Kings Label and others to psychedelic rock artists like Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Grateful Dead and others; there are countless artists who are working to keep psychedelic music alive.