In Focus: Planet B.E.N. – Ant Invasion

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Planet B.E.N. (Ben Wierzoch) composed Ant Invasion in 1993, years before the widespread popularization of Goa trance. This enduring masterpiece of psychedelic electronics predates the vast majority of classics we commonly associate with the genre. Unfortunately, its place in history is often overlooked as it wasn’t formally released until 1996, when the movement was already in full swing. With a bit of research, it is now possible to reassemble the lost history of this infamous tune.

Ben began DJing electronic dance music at various Hamburg clubs in 1990, reputedly spinning early German trance and hard techno. Soon thereafter, he was initiated into the emerging psychedelic trance scene after being invited to perform at the very first VooV Experience, an important early trance festival held just outside of Hamburg in 1992. Ant Invasion was originally written after Ben returned from the second VooV. Inspired by the sights and sounds of the event, Ben set to work in his studio, seeking to capture the essence of being under the influence. The result is an astounding piece of music that vividly stimulates the imagination without any specific need for chemical augmentation.

Ant Invasion remained under wraps for several years while Ben completed the rest of the material for Trippy Future Garden, which was eventually released in 1996 on the obscure and poorly-distributed German imprint Polytox Records. As such, Ant Invasion remained largely unknown to global audiences until the legendary Blue Room Released licensed it for release on the Made On Earth compilation in 1997. Although this particular compilation was met with a lukewarm reaction from BRR fans, it introduced thousands of listeners to the exceptional sound of pre-millennial Planet B.E.N.

In the decade that followed its release, Ant Invasion has accumulated an immense following. For modern listeners interested in purchasing it on CD, it is perhaps most accessible as part of Ben’s third studio album, Test, which includes a re-release of the entire Trippy Future Garden album.

Photo by Salmen Bejaoui via Unsplash.