Just as lighthearted ambient house began to hit the mainstream in the early '90s, Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia foreshadowed a move to sinister downtempo music, more influenced by Coil and Psychic TV than the Orb. The Dutch group's shadowy nature and lack of connection to the close-knit dance community mystified some (their live shows were often performed behind large screens), but the band's sound -- organic tribal-trance with an understated use of samples -- became quite influential, as many groups mirrored the move to darker rhythms later in the decade.
The lineup for Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia -- Reinier Brekelmans, Bobby Reiner, and Robert Heynen, with soundman/producer Tim Freeman -- originally played in an industrial band called the Infants in 1985. Later in the '80s, the group appeared as Sluagh Ghairm (Spirits Cry), but by the end of the decade they had become known as Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia -- the name signifying membership in the Temple Ov Psychick Youth, the occult collective founded by Psychic TV's Genesis P. Orridge (though Psychick Warriors weren't connected musically to Psychic TV). In 1990, the band released their debut single "Exit 23," a minimalist trance epic with a haunting vocal sample from Timothy Leary ("return, to the source"). As with all their future work, it appeared on Belgium's Kk Records. The second single, "Maenad," was an upbeat tribal house mover, also focused squarely on the dancefloor.
The 1992 debut album, Ov Biospheres and Sacred Grooves, showed that Psychick Warriors could straddle the fence between floor-filling organic trance and dark ambience quite well. On tracks such as "Obsidian" and the Drum Club remix of "Exit 23" (added to the American Restless release), the chilling ambient groove easily overpowered any textured beats.
After a single release for "Obsidian" and the Heynen/Freeman side project called Disciples Ov Gaia (on which they remix "The Key," from Ov Biospheres and Sacred Grooves), Heynen left to form Exquisite Corpse, a group that focused on the minimal tribal rhythms evident on "Maenad." Three very different projects occupied Psychick Warriors during 1993-1994. The first was Psychick Rhythms, Vol. 1, a six-track EP of beats that -- the package warned -- was designed "for mixing, for breaks, for possession, for collectors." The second was a session for John Peel's BBC radio show, quite an honor for a continental electronic band. The three-tracker featured two titles remixed from Psychick Rhythms and the exquisite ambience of "Dust," a track that had first appeared on the Trance Europe Express, Vol. 1 compilation. The "Out Now" single appeared in Spring 1994, consisting of the ambient title track, a remix of "Dust" and two songs in more of a house vein.
By 1995, the Psychic Warriors' lineup consisted of Brekelmans and Freeman, plus new members Joris Hilckmann and Reinoud Van Den Broek. The "Kraak" single and a new LP, Record of Breaks, returned to the tribal rhythms of the first album, but still represented a textured ambient sound unlike any other band of the moment. Though Record of Breaks never received a full American release, the American double-disc compilation History of Psychick Phenomenon included most of the album, along with the entire "Obsidian" CD-5 and selections from the singles for "Exit 23," "Maenad," and "Kraak." ~ John Bush