reviewed by Jack Derricourt
Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are set to spend a year in space. While it’s been done before on the Mir space station, spending that much time beyond the earth has never been the main project. These two chaps will send their bodies hurtling through the orbit of the earth each morning, cascading around mankind, entranced by the beauty of our infinitely tiny existence in the universe.
How do we mimic this feeling, this otherworldly association with our planet? Until Richard Branson and Elon Musk get us all out among the stars, it might just be Studies in Trance. The new split tape from Arachnidiscs puts Hazy Montagne Mystique and YlangYlang on different sides of the drone spectrum — the former in a fourteen minute long tonal question, the latter with a triplet of shorter, more actively inquisitive pieces.
Hazy’s “chant / is sera lointain” is a beautiful car wash of white noise. The listener is placed at the center of the recording, with many objects and delights that flit across the stage for the entertainment of the ears. Initial voices, imitating chants of mystic quality, give way to static and throbbing bass synth notes. The piece is stripped, collecting nuances of natural disorder, and keeping things entrancingly not of earth.
YlangYlang’s portion of the split is a wide turn away from his counterpart. The tight, piled transitions of “Temple of Tears” encroach upon the ears with dense sonics. I almost found it too much, the bird song crowding a steel drum synth and revolving door tones; but this is a maximalist piece of music, condensed. The highly pleasing “Smoking With Spirits” is a delightful collection of space debris, a wealth of synthesized sighs and melodic highs. Crowding the short minutes with a cast of drone-worthy characters, YlangYlang creates a fruitful cosmology, rich in contrasting tones.
Whatever life in space for a year must feel like, Studies in Trance is a gorgeous half an hour of drone music. The air around your speaker system will thank you for listening to this gem. I wonder if there’s any way to send it up to the ISS on Mr. Musk’s next cargo delivery?
Top Tracks: “chant / il sera lointain” ; “Smoking With Spirits”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)