Moon Juice Stomper
A novel (Goa 1987-96)
Graham St John MA, author of “Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT”
Falling under the spell of a bewitching siren, Asia traveller, Jules Nightingale, dances out of his body in a party paradise. In Disco Valley, in a trance, an Omen is revealed to fashionista, Zsu Rivieria. Bollywood actor, Naresh Kumar, undertakes an undercover assignment in a subculture which turns his life upside down. Up-for-it enabler of edgecore dance floors, Doc Silver, on his Enfield chopper works the jungle telegraph between Spaghetti Beach and Joe Banana to keep the scene grooving against all odds. As a lost tribe of the future seeks redemption through rave, their party paradise becomes imperilled by its popularity.
Every epic era needs its chronicler, and in Moon Juice Stomper, Goa has found its Homer. Set in a Golden Triangle for cultural exiles and outcastes, a haven for human flotsam and jetsam surging up the electric shores of the Arabian Sea, where bodies are levitated above the sands of distant languid beaches, this story does not release the reader from its spell. Remixing the music, politics, intrigue and psychodrama of the era, Ray Castle amplifies a movement in its un/making. Under the guidance of a master dada-jockey, we are transported through cosmo-psychic dimensions of this scenius, with the building tension achieving climax at full moon party under the Banyan Tree in 1988. In a story sculpted in peerless patois, and with attention to detail reminiscent of Castenada and HS Thompson, Castle commands a scintillating white-knuckled ride though the mystical anarchy of “Gonzo Goa.” Capturing the atmosphere of this freak nadir at its explosive peak, Castle gets inside the minds of the habitués of this remote crossroads, even as they’re going out of their minds. And in doing so, he does what any freakologist worth his salt should do: he delivers us into the heart and soul of the matter.
Moon Juice Stomper is a must read for the freshly initiated as well as the experienced trance dancer. Not only is it a fantastic account of the pioneering era of psychedelic trance, but it’s also an impressively well written novel that I think every psytrance-freak should read for their own edification and amusement.
What is presented here is essentially that elusive and mythic idea of paradise on Earth, and how one should treasure it while it still lasts, for it always has been, is, and always will be, evanescent. This is not just his-story, but our story, as the fractal elders in the council of psychonauts will know. Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. Boom Bolenath!
Paul H Chambers MA Media Arts
Brilliant re-creation of the Goan party paradise of the late-eighties/early nineties.
Moon Juice Stomper transports the reader back to the genesis times of psy-trance and doof/festival culture. Set in the ex-Portuguese colony of Goa, situated on the Western shores of India by the Arabian Sea, a community of semi-permanent residents began putting on parties in the early 1980s playing radical electronic dance music. Held in a range of exotic locations, from beaches, jungle clearings, ruined fortresses and private properties, the events were held every few days in the winter months before the heat built up again and people headed elsewhere. Sites were decorated by painted banners and lit by black lights, the trees painted in garish day-glo colours. Party participants favoured brightly-coloured clothing, including stretchy lycra and spandex, perfect for all-night dancing under the stars. Those enjoying this paradisiacal milieu were fortified in their enjoyment by refreshments provided by local “chai mummas” and a cornucopia of soma substances, in particular charas, the psychoactive resin of the cannabis plant, and LSD.
The author adopts a writing style of fictional realism in order to describe this era, a good policy that acknowledges the difficulties and limitations of conducting interviews with those involved, several of whom would have passed away. It also side-steps associating individuals with potentially contentious issues of illicit drugs, corruption and participation in notorious cult activity. Instead, the book’s main characters are invented and fleshed out with archetypal attributes, all within a constructed psychodrama with all the depth of an ancient Greek epic poem. Such is the richness of ethnographic material, with a keen eye for the rituals and lifestyles of those described, that the reader is bought back vividly into this time and place.
Castle’s baroque descriptions of the dance floor experience, from the perspective of both the dancer and deejay, are unparalleled. A playful use of language, drenched in alliterative exuberance, contextual nuance and in-the-know lingo, unfolds in a non-stop flow of discursive novelty captured in all its euphoric transcendent glory.
Nick Taylor MA, Music Producer
A finely observed and entertaining odyssey through the Goa electronic music subculture.
Ray Castle’s Moon Juice Stomper is a gonzo Goa odyssey that tells a version of the origin story of psytrance from the authoritative perspective of someone that lived, danced and DJed through the thick of it. The narrative spans what were arguably the glory days of Goa as a postcolonial enclave for Western techno-hedonists, seekers and misfits; from 1987, the germinal phase of a subculture that was propelled by psychedelic drugs, Indian mysticism and the fresh, eccentric electronic dance music predominantly coming out of the USA and Europe, until 1996, by which time the once-eclectic sounds of a Goan dancefloor had been distilled into the conventional soundscape of psytrance and propagated around the planet by an ever-expanding network of labels, producers and DJs who had been infected by the Goa mythos. Castle’s keen eye for the subcultural minutiae of this specific time and place make for an immersive literary experience that dynamically conjures the sights, the sounds, the smells, the total sensory assault of India, of Goa, and of a Goa party in particular.
Although there is an absorbing plot cataloguing the psychodramas of a cast of colourful – at times almost familiar? – travellers, psychonauts, fashion designers, DJs, dealers, wannabe holy men and cult leaders, it is the captivating accounts of the parties that provide the narrative highlights of the novel. As such, for a novel that is so steeped in the lore, the lingo, the bells and the whistles of a particular niche subculture, it is very much written for a reader who was either there – for who it’ll be a saturation dose of intensive nostalgia – or who wishes they were, so would appreciate this ultravivid glimpse into the genesis of psytrance. And it is during those depictions of tripping on a dancefloor, consumed by occult electronic sound frequencies, that Castle’s mad-libbing, freestyling narrative voice is at its most unfettered, most sublime and is most at home; I’ve certainly never read anything that comes so close to capturing the euphoria, intensity and illogic of dancing to techno on acid. In the harsh light of 2019, some of the characters of Castle’s novel do come across at times as entitled Westerners throwing tantrums when they can’t have a party on an Indian beach that had only relatively recently been decolonised, but Moon Juice Stomper is not intended as an unpacking of problematic postcolonialisms, or of the sometimes dubious gender politics of the time; it is written as a document of a subcultural moment, and as such it is finely observed, highly entertaining and extremely successful.
It is the continuation of what Leary, Ram Dass, Ken Kesey, Grace Slick, Steve Hillage, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Osho and others had started.
When I had thought in 1985, that’s it with the music, I landed in Goa at the Spaghetti Beach, and Doc Silver taught me that it had just begun!
Ray is writing about a historical event, the rebirth of the Hippie Movement, the evolution of music into something our ears had never heard before.
So it is his writing, the master art of the “Poet of the Beyond”.
Reading Moon Juice Stomper is like taking Acid, doing Dynamic Meditation, and experiencing a Tantric Supernova all at the same time, while interacting with Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance, to reach new and never before experienced levels of consciousness.
Why you must read this novel
Whether you’ve “been there” or “been one of them” doesn’t matter, this is about the unexpected, the unplanned, the life changing experiences, the hedonistic Don Quixote hiding inside each one of us and Ray Castle knows how to put that all in perspectives and visions. Far Out.