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Outer Space – Phantom Center EP

Editions Mego

Outer Space – Phantom CenterIn the past couple of years or so there has been a resurgence in synthesizer music, with more and more titles being released every month by various labels. Most of the work I have heard has been of a high quality and is generally packaged well. Many of these albums make use of, and note on their sleeves, old analogue synthesizers to create these sounds. John Elliot’s Outer Space have been around for a number of years now, running concurrently with his now defunct band Emeralds, and mainly releasing tape-only items in the early days. Over the last couple of years there has been a rash of vinyl releases from Elliot which, as a vinyl collector, has pleased me greatly. So here we have Outer Space as a two-piece band and two brand new tracks to savour.

Both sides of the vinyl last just over 11 minutes each. Side one is called “Arrival and Assessment” and starts with a throbbing bass synth sound. This is joined by galactic swirls of synth and a high-hat rhythm to help keep the pace. Slowly a wash of cosmic synth comes in and I am reminded here of the soundtrack to the film Logan’s Run. Stabs at the synth come in but in more of a Eno ambient way than in any dance-orientated fashion. This is music created at the edge of black holes or that pinpoint of light that turns into the Starship Enterprise. Comparisons could be made to the ’70s output of both Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream as the sounds are both hypnotic and deep space relaxing at the same time. This is music to build space stations to. Three quarters into the track and robotic bleeps begin to take over; these travel hyper nod-like over the swelling chords. More synthetic swirls arrive like small meteors passing by and slowly the track draws to a close… blissful.

Side 2 is called “Crixa/5925,” and here we begin with a Ligetti high choral-sounding drone out into the dark cosmos. It is the stillness and quiet of space. This reminds me of the old NASA albums Symphony of the Planets that used recordings made by Voyager of the planets themselves. A bass drone note hits in and we are travelling very slowly past celestial objects. Synth noises rattle around as if you are hearing sounds through a space suit helmet. This is edge of the solar system stuff, like you are travelling beyond the solar wind and looking back towards Earth. An eerie note enters and slowly a bass rhythm begins to build. As the notes mount, they feel like hearing a call from a distance as they are slightly muted. Then comes a rush of sounds lead by the bass that makes you feel like you are travelling further out from any known forms of life. Some sublime wibbles give the effect of motors kicking into action and then we are down to the bass drone again; here we enter the world of Jim Kirkwood or even Dweller at the Threshold at times as computerised sounds chatter over the deep throb. Then we are left with the last radio wave washes from Earth as we pass beyond our solar system.

Two fantastic tracks of pure kosmische music; if you are a fan of Elliot’s work then you won’t be disappointed. It’s thanks to bands like Outer Space that there is such a great resurgence of wonderful space music.

-Gary Parsons-

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