Stomping in the Monkey Mountains: A Lost Theory 2013 Review

The following review of Lost Theory Festival 2013 has been kindly written for the Psychedelic PressUK by Raine Trott, with photos by Elana Gurland.

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Psychedelic trance festivals like Lost theory are more than just a music event; they are an international gathering of gypsies, travellers, new-age hippies and spiritual enthusiasts from around the world, who all unite in a common mission: to lose themselves in the music whilst on a personal journey of release and celebration.

An appreciation of Nature features strongly in the ethos present in this branch of the festival world, and Lost Theory provided the perfect setting. My journey there occurred late at night when I alighted on the Croatian version of a countryside train station, which consisted of a structure that most of us would more commonly call a shack. This hinted at the isolation of where we were, and once the sun rose on the following day I was not left disappointed. I had replaced terraced houses with trees, high rises with mountains, and the first signs of British autumn for beaming Mediterranean sunshine.

The festival was set back from the Croatian coastline, nestled in a remote valley, where the only sounds were the thumping psychedelic bass lines emanating from the festival’s four stages. The days were spent hiding from the heat of the midday sun next to the picturesque stream, which was home to shrimps and huge magical water gliders, while at night the temperature dropped to such a level that bikinis were swapped for layers of woolly jumpers and thick socks.

Festivals are a treat not just for the ears, but also for the eyes, and the main stage at Lost Theory was a positive feast. Flowers of Life provided the decorations, which created a kaleidoscopic, three dimensional UV covering that provided welcome shade in the days and morphed into a giant psychedelic jellyfish at night, with ultraviolet tentacles streaming over and encompassing the dancefloor. The artists stage at the front was created by Quantum Tribe, who explore the realms of sacred geometry. The headpiece elicits images of many-armed Hindu gods, with the head of a monkey, which was a tribute to this year’s theme of the ´wise monkey´.

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The main stage was very much a dance temple, showcasing a delectable selection of forest and dark psy, creating the common oxymoron of the festival world’s lightest, fluffiest participants, raving to some of the darkest electronic music around. Wednesday and Thursday were a fitting warm-up, playing high class forest from producers such as Kraft and Whrikk who steadily raised the tempo. Friday night was the time to be on the dancefloor with a 20 hour stint of some of the finest names on the scene, with Ianuaria, Atriohm and other top class producers making the dust fly during the night.

As with most European festivals, the music does not stop when the sun comes up and so breakfast time saw the start of Sensient´s thumping two and a half hour set, while space on the floor became a commodity when the worldwide favourite Grouch set feet moving with his unique sound.  If anyone couldn´t keep up with the full-on pace of the main stage, Lost Theory provided a variety of other options that included the Masala stage, which was pumping out a continuous onslaught of minimal and techno, with the German producer Extrawelt being a highlight.

For something totally different there was the dub forest, serving up excellent pizzas and heavy dub. The experimental chill out stage was a truly Zen area. Located next to the stream in the shade of many trees, it had that magical fairyland feel that instantly makes you feel like a wander-lost child, exploring the realms of your mystical imagination. Musically, this was a space to which artists brought the kooky end of psy-trance, with experimental, glitchy tunes leaving you wondering what was coming next. Merkaba transformed himself into his more down-tempo alias Kalya Scintilla to take avid listeners on a psychedelic journey in which becoming lost in space in inevitable. The gorgeous goddess that seems to accompany all his performances led the dancers, moving her body in perfect harmony with the music with an expression of pure bliss.

The focus of Lost Theory was not just on music however, but also had a strong emphasis on its healing area and workshops, with an array of interesting and stimulating activities to choose from. For those that wanted to use their bodies in a way that was more than just dancing there was yoga, Qi Gong and poi or staff workshops, while more relaxing ones included henna, body painting and musical workshops. There were also daily performances at the main stage, from a contortionist to stilt-walkers and the hugely popular fire performances.

The walk between the camp and the main stage was a constant reminder of the travelling nature of these events, with a walkway of stalls and fly pitchers selling beautiful, mostly hand-crafted wares from all around the world. This leaves you with the feeling that there is something ancient at work here, a way of life that nomads have followed for thousands of years whereby they travel the lands, living day to day, and meeting at tribal congregations such as this to share ideas, news and goods in a celebration of the unity and connectedness of humanity. It gives hope that within this age of technology and disconnection, old ways of life are still going strong, and people are still meeting and seeing and nourishing their human soul.

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There was a strong Croatian influence in the food as well, showing the festival was not just a foreign invasion, but was in harmony with its resident country. A particularly welcome addition was a small Croatian stall that baked their pastries and muffins fresh every day—a fresh warm pasty is just want you need after a night of heavy stomping.

Monday night saw the closing of the festival, and it went out with a sparkle! In an almost pagan ceremony, a giant monkey was created out of hay bales. Fire performers then gave their best show of the festival, before lighting the monkey and letting it go up in a blaze, which was as dramatic as it was short. Members of the audience that had been squeezing close to watch the show ran back as the flames caught and whipped up the monkey, creating a giant furnace that challenged the desert cold of the night and sent revellers off with a sense of wander and excitement to take away with them when they descended from the monkey mountains.

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