For all of you who are into Goa trance but still don’t know who Imba is, I suggest to start with his netlabel UAF Records and one of his first Goa trance projects – Space Elves (alongside with Arronax, CoaGoa and SETI Project), you will slowly get the feeling about his work, ideas and style. First Encounter is his debut full-lenght album, to be released on December 9th this year on Suntrip Records. Since Nikola Petrović (yeah, that’s guy behind Imba project) from Niš is owning me a couple of beers (and even more rakijas), I was blessed to get a digital copy of his new album fresh from mastering studio in return (Balkan Goa Mafia – it’s not a joke, it’s a reality), so instead of keeping it for myself, I decided to throw out few words about this release.

It comes with 9 new tracks and believe it or not – only one remix and one collaboration track. Yeah, it became some sort of bad joke to call out Imba for making so much remixes or collaboration tracks, but hey, some of the best remixes released on our label were made by him (Cellar Door, Blessings From Irij). Take a minute to think about it. As I said, new album has a lot of solo material to offer and it kicks off with Imbaba track and his 303 trancers (not sure who are thoose folks, but it seems they like acid). At the first listen you can already be assured you’ll get Imba vibe, not Imba wanna be someone else vibe. It has amazing acidic lines, perfect groove and flawless arrangement. It doesn’t try to sound ‘big’ or ‘epic’ it delivers Goa-groove and nice ride. Few melodies come and go, but it’s not your casual melodic Goa, it’s Imbabagoa. First track and I’m already liking this. Judging by the name, Hidden Paradise should be more ‘serious’ track and guess what? It is. Unlike first one, Hidden Paradise brings more melodies, a bit more of oldschool vibe and some really interesting breaks filled with nice vocals. It’s not my favorite track on the album, but if you’re into more emotive and deep Goa music, this one might do the work. However, I would love to hear the same track but with a bit more diverse and recognizable climax.

Cosmos In Her Eyes was the track that I had a chance to hear even earlier and I liked the version that has been posted, but this one seems a bit improved and upgraded. Unlike the second track Cosmos In Her Eyes has slightly better climax and more interesting details throughout the track. Perhaps it’s just me, but I find this one to be one of the better Imba’s works released so far. Ahhh here we go. Aliens. Yes, Nikola loves aliens and it doesn’t suprise me why he decided to choose this track as a release title (First Encounter). It makes absolute sense because it’s one of the better tracks on this album. Fast pacing, acid lines, invoking melodies and cool speeches. I’m liking it a lot and I think it will grow on me even more. Blacklight Beings starts with an unexpected intro – I would say it fits more to some psychill or downtempo music, but after the break it picks up to more straight-forward psychedelia. Not sure why, but it’s one of the lesser Goa tracks here. Unusual kickdrums and effects starts to appear, but not in a negative way, it just doesn’t feel right as previous tracks. I’m sure it’s more an experimentation (even it still sounds like Goa music, it doesn’t deliver that much of Goa for my personal taste).

With Creature Of Heaven we have totally different story, more details, more melodies, more snares and build-ups. Without any doubt this will become a true dancefloor anthem. Not sure does anyone from Suntrip tested it already on some gig, but I have feeling it’s one of thoose special tracks to be played in front of crowd. I think this sums up pretty much what you can expect from Creature Of Heaven. Ohh, here is Ephedra. And he doesn’t like digital things, just like Imba. Well, unlike the digital non-sense, this collaboration track got a lot of sense. It’s enjoyable Goa ride, spiced up with Ephedra flavour just in perfect moment to make this album even more interesting. I don’t know who Lydia Delay is, but the remix is another nice track on this album. It leans more towards classical trance sound with big and epic melodies, not chessy, but… you know, just trance. What makes the difference here is Imba’s capability to put enough of Goa ingridients to make it sound enjoyable and danceable. Not my favorite track, but it has nice groove.

Last track on this album – Rising Sun isn’t a downtempo. Shocker! Yeah, I expected some downtempo or goachill for the ending, but Imba doesn’t agrees, he wants to finish this album in style so you will go through 9 minutes of really mystical, but fast-paced Goa music. Not sure why, but this track reminded me on one old Trancemaster compilation tune – it also has catchy lead melody. Nice track for the ending.

So was it good? More than that. There are many reasons why I consider First Encounter more than just good. First reason is because we worked on Impossible Astronaut release for Neogoa earlier this year, and somehow I couldn’t put enough of attention towards this (newer) material. The other reason might be really nice Suntrip release schedule for this year, including a bit more anticipated releases (at least in my case) such as Ra or Morphic Resonance, so Imba wasn’t on the spotlight for me.

I guess I was wrong because this album brings exactly what it’s supposed to be – Imba sound. If you’re one of thoose guys who followed him around since his first compilations on Phototropic or UAF Records, you’ll know what you can expect. It doesn’t try to be different or someone else, it’s realistic, it brings groove and it’s more or less straight-forward Goa music. I can say it’s a little bit linear on certain parts, and it wouldn’t hurt it to have a bit more variations, but it won’t bother you if you like this guys work.  Regarding the artwork, I’m not the biggest fan of generic Goa artworks, but I know how much Imba likes alien imagery (as many of you), so this one makes sense.

For more informations about this release, please visit official Suntrip Records website.

Written by Richpa.

Imba's First Encounter - we're reviewing his debut album on Suntrip Records
Even it's a bit short review under first few listens I can recommend First Encounter because it represents 7-8 years of hard-work by Nikola, not only in music making or music releasing, but also as being an important and vital part of this scene and culture. I didn't have any big expectations and I was positivley suprised by this album. It doesn't try or want to be something else, it's just honest and danceable Goa music from Balkan region - made with a lot of passion and as such, it should get a deserved attention and support.
Music & idea80%
Sound & production86%
Artwork & visuals61%
  • Very good sound & production
  • It doesn't include many remixes
  • Represents truthful Imba style
  • Too linear on certain parts
  • Generic artwork
76%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (4 Votes)