I try to get in as many great albums as I can throughout the year. I’m always searching for another record that’s going to blow my mind sky high and make me examine the world that surrounds me with new eyes and ears. I am but one man(but with many clones working behind the scenes), so the chances of me missing out on something great the year before only to discover it barely two weeks into the new year are always pretty high.
This new year transition is no different, folks.
I was asked by musician Timothy Fife if I’d heard Xander Harris’ Termination Dust. I’d said not yet and his reply was that it was amazing and that I should definitely check it out. 2017 rolled along and I kept forgetting to heed Mr. Fife’s advice, so about a week or so before we wished 2017 a fond adieu(and a hearty f**k you) I went to Xander’s Bandcamp page and bought Termination Dust. It arrived yesterday and I’ve been listening to it ever since.
Timothy Fife was right. It’s amazing.
I should’ve listened to Mr. Fife sooner, but if I had I wouldn’t have had this great musical surprise at the beginning of 2018. Harris works within a world of mysterious rhythms, slinky grooves, and sunken, eerie melodies. He makes songs that sometime move like techno, but not in a repetitive, undulating dance floor way. They move with purpose. They beckon you into their musical sanctuary. “Jaws Of Saturn” opens like this cross between the Orb and Popol Vuh as they’re scoring some seedy, grainy early 80s horror film. You can almost imagine an opening credit crawl over some faceless person in black as they walk down Times Square back when doing so would’ve required a S.W.A.T. team and a shot of penicillin for protection. Then we move right into “Carrion Gods In Their Heaven” which takes us from gritty city streets into some ethereal world of posh landscapes and dream-like atmosphere. This is simply a gorgeous track that takes 80s electronic sensibilities and meshes them perfectly with more headier intentions. “Oblivion Mode” is total Komische, Berlin School wonderment. Deep space meets deep thoughts by Xander Harris. This is the kind of thick, heavy synth stuff that takes you into that realm where all seems possible and nothing impossible. If Edgar Froese had ever met up with Boards Of Canada they might’ve sounded like this.
Xander Harris may bring up familiar musical vibes, but he’s building a musical world all his own. Take “Frontier Death Song” for instance; it’s all slinky menace and electronic, existential pondering. If Denis Villeneuve is looking for someone to score his Dune adaptation, something like this would fit in perfectly. All mysterious vastness and science fiction dread. It’s absolutely gorgeous and wholly unique. “We Smoke The Northern Lights” celebrates the new world with dance floor exhilaration and sweaty new age enlightenment. “Worms Crawl In” has an 80s Tangerine Dream vibe, Froese-ian warmth envelopes you as you succumb to this track’s hypnotic charms. “Swift To Chase” closes out the album on a deep space feel. Whether he’s using analog equipment or not, this track has the bubbly warmth of classic 70s Krautrock. Xander Harris tips his hat to the titans of mind expansion like Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, and Klaus Schulze while modernizing their musical DNA with his own deft touch. It’s a brilliant way to close the record.
Termination Dust is fueled with heavy Komische vibes and heady dance floor aspirations. Xander Harris is a brilliant composer and musician, building worlds within his songs that make listening to the album feel like a tour of some alternate timeline or reality. A timeline where we welcome enlightenment and celebrate the human condition, despite the pain that sometimes comes with that condition. It’s a soundtrack to exploration, both internal and external.
2018 just got a hell of a lot more interesting.