It wasn’t until recently when I was revisiting Oakenfold’s Tranceport album that I came across this mix. A ridiculous number of people were telling others to go grab a copy for themselves, so I decided to check it out. After a thorough listen, I can easily see why a lot of people miss this type of trance. Here’s an impressive description and review of the mix taken from Resident Advisor

Year 2004 marked the ten-year anniversary and re-issue of Sasha & John Digweed’s seminal “renaissance: The Mix Collection” compilation, the landmark CD of its kind. It is the great Daddy of all DJ mix compilations – the cornerstone for all things progressive, and a massive influence for legions of DJs to follow. However, it wasn’t the only DJ mix of note to celebrate its ten years. Just as notable in its own right, it was the ten-year milestone of the broadcast of Paul Oakenfold’s Radio One Essential Mix, frequently referred to simply as “the Goa Mix”. Groundbreaking in its cinematic two-hour scope, it is an Essential Mix frequently cited as the best and favorite by both listeners and DJs.

1994. It was two years before the first Global Underground compilation, John Digweed mixed the Journeys By DJ “Silky Mix”, and Energy 52’s “Café del Mar” was merely one year old, not yet remixed to death. The Paul Oakenfold of 1994 was captivated with the then-new sound of Goa trance, and set out to share it with listeners everywhere. So named for the full moon parties that took place on the beaches of Goa, India, where it gained its notoriety, Goa trance bears little resemblance to the Dutch trance sound that has become so massively popular in recent years. Yes, it is a sound distinguished by the heavy use of melodies and synths in its structure – as opposed to the bass lines and groove foundations of house music – and the BPMs are generally faster than other genres of dance music, but Goa tracks frequently have a sinister, foreboding feel to them. This was music by which to take acid – not ecstasy. Labels such as Dragonfly, Flying Rhino, and Platipus began unleashing this sound on the dance world, and Oakey followed suit with the foundation of the Perfecto Fluoro imprint, which released numerous classic Goa tracks from the likes of Juno Reactor, The Infinity Project, Astral Projection, and the incomparable Man With No Name – who himself delivered a dancefloor-leveling Essential Mix in 1998.

Though Oakenfold’s Essential Mix is defined in part by its backdrop of Goa trance as its foundation, it’s much more than a series of records mixed front-to-back, or an attempt at recreating the sound an average punter might hear in a big night out. Oakey created a total sonic experience, a mix best suited to home listening, or headphones. It’s a concept being heavily pushed by many DJs of note today, one which is executed in the manipulation, remixing, or editing of the tracks used, with a heavy emphasis on programming. Oakenfold’s approach ten years ago was to mix Goa trance, track segments, and pieces from movie soundtracks; though it has become such a cliché over the years, the Goa Mix is a true “musical journey”.

The first hour begins with the eerie vocals of Mr. V’s “Give Me Life” and the solid groove of Grace’s “Skin On Skin”, the first of several tracks from the fledgling Perfecto label. When you reach the conclusion of the frenetic, bleak piano of Virtual Symmetry’s “Vaporize” from Sven Vath’s Eye Q label, you’re treated to the first of many soundtrack pieces – this one from Vangelis’ “Blade Runner”, an excerpt of replicant Roy Batty’s lament of memories lost, “like tears in rain”. After the sonic washing-over of Salt Tank’s “Eugina”, the Goa Mix begins in earnest, with the classic “LSD” by Hallucinogen. Peaks and valleys continue with a strings composition from the Dracula soundtrack, which segues into the Arabic tones of “Alcatraz” by Electrotete. Rounding out the first hour is a trio of works from Man With No Name: “Floor Essence”, his remix of Scorpio Riding’s “Dubcatcher”, and “Evolution”, a powerful conclusion to the first half of the mix.

Hour two begins with Goldie’s “Inner City Life”, and leads the listener into a more fevered pace – a full-on day-glo flecked trance session. There’s the squelch of The Infinity Project’s “Stimuli”, Marmion’s seminal “Schoneburg”, and in a shadow of the great tracks to come from Man With No Name, “Deliverance”. The otherworldly vocals of Lisa Gerrard in Dead Can Dance’s “Sanvean” lull the listener before the conclusion with 4 Voice’s “Eternal Spirit”, and finally the Raw Cane mix of Man With No Name’s delirious “Sugar Rush”.

The Goa Mix set the stage for Oakenfold’s equally eclectic-in-approach compilations “Perfecto: Fluoro” in 1996 (which is essentially a companion piece to the Goa Mix), and the following year’s “Global Underground 004: Oslo”. By 2000, Oakenfold had moved on from the Goa sound, making way for the “Perfecto presents…” series, his work in the studio, and the scoring of movie soundtracks. Perhaps in a nod to his Goa years, his most recent compilation, “Creamfields”, includes as its first track Li Kwan’s “Point Zero” – a reworking of the third track on the Goa Mix from ten years before. Paul Oakenfold will always have his naysayers and detractors, but nothing will take away from his accomplishment in creating one of the best and brightest mixes in dance music’s short history.

This recording is from an EM show in 2007, when Pete Tong was asked to replay his favorite essential mix. Check out the most requested essential mix ever:

Paul Oakenfold Essential Mix “The Goa Mix” (December 18, 1994)
01 Mr. V  – Give Me Life
02 Grace – Skin On Skin (Orange Mix)
03 Li Kwan – Point Zero
04 The Disco Evangelists – De Niro (Spaceflight Mix)
05 Virtual Symmetry – The V.S.
06 Vangelis – Tears In Rain
07 Salt Tank – Eugina (Pacific Diva)
08 Hallucinogen (featuring Ben Kempton) – LSD
09 Saint Etienne (featuring Moira Lambert) – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
10 Wojciech Kilar – Vampire Hunters
11 Electrotete – Alcatraz
12 Vangelis – Bladerunner Main Titles
13 Man With No Name – Floor Essence
14 Scorpio Rising (3) – Dubcatcher
15 Man With No Name – Evolution
16 Metalheads – Inner City Life
17 Wojciech Kilar – Love Remembered
18 Voodoo People – Co-Incidence
19 The Infinity Project – Stimuli
20 Trance Team – Wake Up! (Trance Mix)
21 V-Tracks – Heretic Voices (Angeles Mix)
22 Marmion – Schöneberg (Marmion Remix)
23 Karl Biscuit – Hierophone
24 Vangelis – Rachel’s Song
25 Virus – Sun (Oakenfold & Osborne Mix)
26Man With No Name – Deliverance
27 Perfecto Allstarz – Reach Up! (Indian Summer Mix)- Remix – Man With No Name
28 Para-Dizer – Song Of Liberation
29 Dead Can Dance – Sanvean
30 Voice – Eternal Spirit (Northern Mix)
31 Man With No Name – Sugar Rush
Download the mix here.