This chapter explores how sound systems place electronic sounds in a social context, eliciting powerful affective experiences that are framed by conceptual meaning. The chapter begins by tracing the origins of the sound system culture and dub-reggae of Jamaica. This approach, which prioritizes DJ performances over ‘live’ musicians, would prefigure the electronic dance music culture of the 1980s and 1990s. Exploring this area, this chapter examines how the design of Chicago house and Detroit techno provided high-energy dance experiences that reflected the ethos of the respective sub-cultures. Later, in the UK rave scene, breakbeat hardcore, drum & bass, and ambient house each used sound design to support an accelerated youth-culture fuelled by ecstasy, delivering trance-like experiences framed by conceptual meaning. In the global Goa trance and psy-trance scenes, this capability is explicitly characterized as ‘technoshamanic’, and the DJ as a ‘master of ecstasies’.
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