Other Kinds of Mind There

Echologies of Psychedelic Sonic Substance


  • Trace Reddell University of Denver




Cognition in extended brain-body music systems becomes especially agile during psychedelic experience, necessitating a sonic rhetoric emphasizing transformative agency. Rooted in the recursive listening spaces of dub, three forms of psychedelic electronica—ambient house, trip-hop and glitch—foster an echological sensibility unique to records made largely from the bits and pieces of other recordings. In this article, longform albums representing each of these genres are offered as sonic pharmakomedia, pharmacologically activated non-human agencies that sustain psychedelic mind-machine systems. Managing the psychedelic experience by mediating set and setting through music selection is adopted in psychedelic research, therapy sessions and personal practices alike. I consider set and setting in terms of their contributions to a liminal sonic substance that facilitates encounters with non-human agencies. Putting indigenous shamanic practices in conversation with contemporary neuropsychopharmacology, sound studies and psychedelic music production, this article offers a diagnostic inventory of the effects of the sonic substance.

Author Biography

Trace Reddell, University of Denver

Trace Reddell (PhD) is a writer, artist and educator. Trace’s first book, The Sound of Things to Come: An Audible History of the Science Fiction Film (U of Minnesota Press, 2018), offers new ways of construing sonic innovation in science fiction cinema. A forthcoming book, The Magic Circle: Sonic Substance in Psychedelic Music (MIT Press, 2024), develops a theory of sonic psychedelia. Trace is a Professor in the Emergent Digital Practices program at the University of Denver. Website: <https://sonicsciencefiction.com/>