Juno Reactor are easily the most well-known, ambitious, and musically diverse act associated with the Goa trance scene. They are known for their exploratory, genre-fusing recordings and spectacular, circus-like performances that incorporate colorful costumes, ecstatic dancing, and live instrumentation, particularly tribal drumming. They have also contributed music to numerous films and video games, and have amassed a large global fan base among ravers, industrial fans, cinephiles, and gamers.
Juno Reactor were founded in 1990 by British musician Ben Watkins, who had produced Alison Moyet and worked with Youth (in both the Empty Quarter and Brilliant) and formed post-punk group the Flowerpot Men (not to be confused with the '60s band of the same name) during the mid-'80s. Not long after, Watkins retreated to travel around the world with a portable DAT recorder, using the results to soundtrack a traveling art exhibition. After meeting up with Stefan Holweck, an old comrade from Brilliant, the duo formed Juno Reactor with Mike Maguire and occasional contributors Johann Bley and Jens Waldenback. Along with Nick Burton, Holweck and Watkins released additional material as Electrotete, and Watkins and Bley released two singles as Jungle High. Watkins also released an eponymous 1992 single as Psychoslaphead.
Juno Reactor signed to Mute's techno sublabel NovaMute and released their debut album, Transmissions, in 1993. The group hit big on the dancefloor with the album's second single, "High Energy Protons," and toured as the Orb's support slot for chillout room duty. A deal with the Orb's Inter Modo label resulted in 1994's Luciana, which consisted of a single hourlong dark ambient piece. The hype increased a year later as porn star Traci Lords recruited the group to produce her debut album, 1000 Fires. Signed to Blue Room Released, Juno Reactor returned with their third album, Beyond the Infinite, in 1995. Hypnotic released the album in America the following year.
By 1997, Juno Reactor had signed with Wax Trax! in the States, increasing their fan base among fans of industrial and techno outside of the trance scene. Bible of Dreams appeared in the summer of 1997; with the album, the group added tribal drumming and other global music influences to its sound. Natacha Atlas provided guest vocals on the single "God Is God," which sported a remix by Front 242. Songs from the album subsequently appeared in movies including Mortal Kombat Annihilation and Beowulf. Juno Reactor brought their exhilarating live show to the masses, collaborating with South African percussion ensemble Amampondo at the 1998 Glastonbury Festival before embarking on a five-week American tour opening for Moby. The group then collaborated with Siouxsie Sioux's band the Creatures, contributing a song to the 1998 Lost in Space soundtrack before appearing on the band's 1999 album, Anima Animus.
Juno Reactor then signed to Metropolis (in the States) for their fifth album, Shango. The album continued the global genre fusions of their previous album, with an appearance by Amampondo as well as steel guitar from B.J. Cole. In 2002, they released a single titled "Hotaka," which was recorded in Japan and featured traditional taiko drumming by percussion ensemble Gocoo. The group celebrated its first decade with the retrospective Odyssey: 1992-2002. Following Juno Reactor's collaborations with Don Davis on the film scores to The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, the band released the 2004 full-length Labyrinth, which featured an extensive cast of guest musicians as well as the Hollywood Film Chorale.
Watkins composed the orchestral score for the 2006 Japanese anime film Brave Story, which was recorded with the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and released by Sony Japan. Juno Reactor's seventh album, Gods & Monsters, arrived in 2008. The album featured several new additions to the Juno family, including Japanese guitarist Sugizo and dancehall reggae toaster Ghetto Priest. In 2009, Budgie (of the Creatures and Siouxsie and the Banshees) began drumming for Juno Reactor on tour. The remix collection Inside the Reactor appeared in 2011, with a Japan-only sequel (Inside the Reactor II: From the Land of the Rising Sun) following in 2012. The eighth proper Juno Reactor album, The Golden Sun of the Great East, appeared in 2013. The album partially returned to their earlier Goa trance sound while still incorporating their widescreen cinematic vision and global influences. The Golden Sun... Remixed followed in 2015, as the group continued to tour across the world. ~ John Bush & Paul Simpson