Spiritually-charged electronica has been around a long time, back to experimental pioneers Tangerine Dream and even earlier. In the 80s and 90s there was a strong faction of trance and progressive house that lauded the higher spirituality of rave and dance music, and that faction is definitely still present now, albeit not quite dominating the big rooms as much. Lately, however, there have been a rash of electronic and dance music artists taking spiritually-driven EDM into new and different places. From new artists like King Gheno, who has recently deigned to even make meditation tracks out of his trap hip hop, to M83 and his contemporaries who generally let the ambient sounds of their music do the talking.
Healing Spells, a new artist out of Tokyo, seems to be of the latter persuasion musically but like King Gheno he’s much more up front about his spiritual aims than some other artists. His recent EP Past Lives says so right in the title and if listeners were unsure, the album cover is Mr. Spells holding a bunch of crystals. It’s not subtle and it’s not meant to be. It doesn’t stop there, with almost every track title connoting some spiritual bent: “Levitate,” “Past Lives,” “Precious Love,” et cetera.
Musically, the styles vary quite a bit on Past Lives. While all in the wheelhouse of EDM, some of the tracks are so in-your-face spiritual, they might be better listening at home with friends, a lot of pillows and even more water, if you catch my drift. One album highlight which is definitely made for the dancefloor, however, is “Sanskrit.” This track also has varied styles, but with a fun, discernable beat and beautiful ambient overtones, the music really matches the message as the styles vary from a sort of fuzzy, M83-style feel to the retro breakbeat, trancy synths and of course the Indian/Sanskrit vocal track. It’s hard to pick a star of this show; all the elements seem to work on their own but even better together. It’s maybe not a big room track, but definitely great for a chill room (if those ever come back), or a between-bangers break track.
It will be interesting to see where Healing Spells goes with his next releases. He’s clearly wanting to push a spiritual message, but his varied and all-inclusive production style means he can quite easily tweak a few things and be either squarely in EDM or more on the experimental outskirts. In the meantime, Past Lives is at once fun, danceable and peaceful, and an excellent listening choice for ravers and hippies alike.