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Lustmord – Dark Matter

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Lustmord - Dark MatterLustmord has long had an affinity with space, both the sonic space of his heavily dub-inspired soundscapes and the actual physical space of the cosmos. For people of Lustmord’s and my generation, space was our future — where we all expected to be hanging out by the start of this century. Thanks to, in William S Burroughs‘ words, “the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams”, it was not to be.

As is the nature of advance review copies these days, Dark Matter arrived in digital format. After a couple of plays, it was evident that my Mac speakers, adequate for most things, were not up to the full sonic spectrum here… so a bit of re-wiring to link up my PA system then… ah that’s more like it! Despite being pigeon-holed as the founder of “dark ambient”, Lustmord’s music is anything but ambient and demands to be heard at as high a volume as is practical (fortunately my neighbours were away).

A precedent to Dark Matter may be Tangerine Dream‘s 1970 masterpiece Zeit — both share an alchemical power to morph time and sound into space — but whereas TD employed cutting edge electronics of their era to evoke the vastness of the universe, Lustmord uses the sound of the universe itself. The three tracks, each over twenty minutes long, are constructed from cosmological recordings obtained from NASA, The Very Large Array, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and various educational institutions and other sources who “wish to remain anonymous”, and are sewn together to stretch out into infinity… and beyond.

Lustmord’s interest in astrophysics was first evident in 1993’s The Place Where the Black Stars Hang, and Dark Matter does in some ways seem like a sequel. In the intervening twenty-three years, Lustmord has naturally acquired far more experience and Dark Matter subsequently gains a deeper tonal range and more noticeably, a wonderfully expansive yet subtle spacial soundscape.

If you listen to the album at high volume or through headphones, you are guaranteed to float off into space… at a fraction of NASA’s budget. Dark Matter is very different to Lustmord’s previous release The Word as Power, which came up close and intimate to explore the rich textures of the human voice — the human element is entirely absent here, apart from its insignificance in the scheme of things; but hey, who wants the same thing twice?

Apparently some of these sounds are actually generated within the range of human hearing, despite the conception of there being no sound in space, while others have been transformed into our range via software manipulation. According to Mr Lustmord:

The recordings of these interactions in space come from several different environments including radio, ultra violet, microwave and X-ray data and within these spectra a wide range of sources including interstellar plasma and molecules, radio galaxies, pulsars masers and quasars, charged particle interactions and emissions, radiation, exotic astrophysical objects, cosmic jets and flares from magnetars.

Turn out the lights, turn up the volume and bon voyage!

-Alan Holmes-

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