The Trip is Dexter’s eighteen-track psychedelic, beat-driven, two-and-a-half-years-in-production opus. To describe the German producer’s music as sample-heavy isn’t doing it justice – it’s totally loaded. Layers upon layers of psychedelic rock record samples melt over head nod-inducing beats, conjoined by drug-themed snippets from late 1960s movies, fuzz guitar riffs, vintage library record loops, and extracts from crackly sunshine pop LPs. Listening to the album from top to bottom is like watching a giant flower-power era jigsaw puzzle come together.
More than a single trip, the album is made up of a series of short diversions that Felix Göppel, aka Dexter, would prefer were inhaled back-to-back, as a whole, creating one giant mind-blowing musical journey. “I’ve always enjoyed albums like Quasimoto’s The Unseen or Lootpack’s The Antidote. The short tracks seemed more special and had clever interludes,” says Göppel. “I really like all the scene changes, it felt like listening to those albums took you on a journey.”
Despite the mass quantity of samples and the funky influence of 1960s drug culture, The Trip is not a nebulous hallucinogenic free-for-all. Göppel has a clean beat making style and his frequent edits keep the tunes moving at a pace that is swift but not dizzying. The continuous flow from track to track makes the album seem more like an amazing mixtape, or the recording of a perfectly executed DJ set (although it’d have to be a multiple turntable affair with the most dialed-in DJ ever). You can’t possibly hear every layer, fragment, twist, or turn in a single casual listen. The Trip demands a thorough and worthwhile examination to catch all the intricacies. “I think it’s a concept that is difficult for some people to grasp if they just read about it,” says Göppel, “but if you give it a try I hope it will be enjoyable, and maybe it will even open the door to listening to psychedelic music in general.”
When I asked about the connection between the music, the album title, and the 1967 Jack Nicholson movie of the same name, Göppel says he watched the film not long after making the album. He decided that the title for a movie about a guy (played in the film by Peter Fonda) who takes acid and takes multiple trips under the supervision of an LSD guru would also be suitable for his album. “I was thinking about calling the album Orange Peppermint Rainbow, or another strange name, but I was watching movies like Psyche Out, Hallucination Generation, Easy Rider and then The Trip. My album seemed like the audio version of the The Trip, and so the title was set,” he explains.
Göppel makes music as a hobby, working as a pediatrician at a hospital during the day. When his co-workers are enjoying time off, hiking or taking riding bikes, Dr. Dexter is digging for, sampling, chopping-up, and looping records about revolutions, San Francisco hippies, and getting high. Compounding the unlikely existence of this record, Göppel lives in Stuttgart, Germany, home to fancy car manufacturers Porsche and Mercedes. It may also have been close to the Black Forest HQ of famous 1960s German jazz label MPS, but Stuttgart has never been a hotbed for psychedelic music. However, Göppel’s father is a long time psychedelic rock fan, and influenced his son to become the same. A local record store enables his habit by importing vinyl rarities, and Göppel travelled to America and bought records while making the album. As such, the majority of the sample sources coloring The Trip are from the U.S.A., with some British and Brazilian pieces, too. “It would have been an even more nerdy project for me to try to make an album using only American samples, and also my tastes are wider than just that.”
There were so many samples collected to make The Trip Göppel can’t actually remember where some of the ones he used came from, and after amassing eighty rough draft tracks he had to cut down to the eighteen featured on the album. “I might buy lots of cheap records, sample tiny pieces of them, and then resell them,” says Göppel. “I definitely don’t buy and then keep everything I find, I’m pretty specific. I usually buy something I want to listen to and DJ with. My collection is few thousand vinyls deep, but not as big as some of my friends.”
The one original vocal cut on the The Trip is “Pictures” and features the smoky voice of Josa Peit, front woman for the awesome UK-based Nostalgia 77. It proved to be the most intensive piece of production on the album. “The other tracks are like moments I captured, but I tried to turn this one into a real song,” explains Göppel. “It’s not a strict arrangement, but it was definitely more time-consuming to put together.” Göppel is no stranger to collaboration; he has produced for multiple artists including the popular (Platinum selling) German rapper Cro.
When listening to The Trip I find myself catching references, and then playing an absorbing game of pulling apart the elements. Trying to figure out where pieces came from, if they’re manipulated, and how they’re all glued together. It’s part of the experience, and it’s also close to impossible to do. Göppel works using only Logic, adding a few effects, a touch of Minimoog, and occasionally pulls out his old Akai MPD sampler. “Mostly the album is just samples. Anything I played I tried to make sound like a sample, and I don’t think anyone can tell,” he laughs.