Moby & The Void Pacific Choir
More Fast Songs About The Apocalypse (Mute)
There may be a buncha riots going on, but on Moby’s More Fast Songs the apocalypse is personal, and it feels less like Armageddon than a sleepless night spent sifting and cycling through dire thoughts that are universal, but banal for that. The bouncy ’80s synthpop of “In This Cold Place” should constitute the album’s fun peak, but chirpeth Moby: “I got no life / I got no hope / I got no will / I got nowhere to go.” Sheesh. The rest of Moby’s title is honest: More Fast Songs is full of peppy, sweeping guitar-and-synth grooves; it sounds like a post-punk aerobics record.
Three Willow Park: Electronic Music from Inner Space, 1961-1971 (Basta)
Maverick composer Raymond Scott isn’t just groundbreaking; his music is in our DNA, whether through samples by Gorillaz and J Dilla or through its adaptation for Warner Bros. cartoons (as well as “The Simpsons”). Three Willow Park amasses dozens of sonic experiments—some are fascinating sketches, like “Domino Sugar Demo,” which recalls Scott’s signature tune, “Powerhouse.” Others work as finished pieces: the beguiling space samba “Portofino #3” and the trancey-yet-whimsical “Dorothea.” The extensive liner notes include essays and individual track notes. A delight.
Voice of Saturn
For the last few years Travis Thatcher has been a mainstay in Charlottesville’s music scene, producing the Telemetry and Frequencies electronic music series and playing in bands such as Space Saver, Petal and Personal Bandana. Voice of Saturn is Thatcher’s solo project, and Shapeshifter is a righteous hour of varied electronics. There are gestures to house and techno on “Rechnenderraum” and “Contunnel,” and frisky humor on the jabbering “Trim.” But ’70s space music is the prevailing vibe, with layers blooming and pulsing, piling up and falling away—Shapeshifter is an engaging exploration.
Reflections-Mojave Desert (Luaka Bop)
English neuroscientist Sam Shepherd has released a clutch of recordings as Floating Points, covering a range of electronic styles from dubstep to ambient. Recorded with a full band, live and en plein air in the titular locale, Mojave Desert ditches the dance for appropriately widescreen soundscapes rife with early-’70s synth timbres. There are introspective moments (less lyrical than those on 2015’s Elaenia), but the conspicuous influence here is Pink Floyd, especially on “Silurian Blue,” where Leo Taylor apes Nick Mason’s drumming from “Echoes” on Live at Pompeii (the album’s accompanying video renders the homage baldly obvious).
Space, Energy & Light: Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88 (Soul Jazz)
Reissue stalwart Soul Jazz comes through again, compiling the outer limits of commercial electro-acoustic music in the golden age of synthesizers. Cult faves like Laurie Spiegel and Richard Pinhas are here, alongside obscure cassette-only artists. There’s the foundational new age of Iasos, the Hearts of Space ambience of Michael Stearns, the musique concrète of Tod Dockstader, a mesmerizing extended piece by pioneering synthesizer ensemble Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company and a stunning, tremulous vocal by Beverly Glenn-Copeland. Drums are in short supply, but most everything swings and sways. A fantastic primer.
Com Truise (né Seth Haley) has released a passel of EPs and full-lengths since 2010, but he claims Iteration “illustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1 before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace.” Got it. Too bad Iteration—dominated by tepid tempos, ’80s synths and up-mixed drum machines—sounds more like a cheesy cop movie, the daytime scenes when the partners drive around town and nothing is happening. Tunes bearing affected titles like “Isostasy” and “Syrthio” just spin in place. Or space, I guess.